Most cruise ships berth at the Sporgente pier in Taranto port, close to the imposing Castello Aragonese.
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Taranto (Tarentum in ancient days) is located on the inner heel of southern Italy. Taranto is a port and important naval base, with shipyards and other industries.
Taranto is a modern city that still keeps an ancient heart. It stands on a shoreline famous for its beauty, balanced between the Mar Grande and the Mar Piccolo. In the northern part of the city there are the calm waters of the Mar Piccolo, at the southern end the grandeur of the Mar Grande bursting in the Gulf of Taranto (on the Ionian Sea). The secret of its glamour is there, in the Small and Big Sea. The swing bridge is the connection between the past and the present, the island of the città vecchia and Taranto. It is mainly in the old town and in the National Museum that one can find evidence of the glorious history of Taranto, colony of Sparta and capital of the Magna Graecia.
The old town centre is a fascinating maze of narrow alleyways.
Wandering around Taranto is a very pleasant experience and there is lots of interest to see. The Cattedrale di San Cataldo, right in the heart of old Taranto, dates back to the 11th century and houses the relics of the city’s patron saint Cataldo. The façade of the cathedral is baroque though the cupola shows clear Byzantine influence. Inside is a wonderful mosaic floor, similar to the one in Otranto’s cathedral, while the chapel of San Cataldo, where the saint’s relics are preserved, is adorned with a superb series of frescoes by Paolo de Matteis dating from 1713.
Taranto’s other great monument is the Aragonese Castle, built by King Ferdinand of Aragon in the 15th century. During the 18th century the castle became a prison before eventually passing to Italian Navy. Today it is open to visitors and is one of the town’s most popular tourist attractions. Nearby is the beautiful canal with its ponte girevole, a swing bridge that opens to allow the passage of the navy’s fleet. You might be lucky and see the locals watching, waving and cheering the sailors as they return home!
It pays to compare your cruise line shore excursions here.
Along the coast are many lovely places to enjoy a relaxing and fun vacation, whether diving into the crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea or simply enjoying the sun while lying on the fine white sand. To the north of Taranto, Marina di Ginosa, a small, coastal jewel where the transparent water of the sea reflects the blue of the sky and the green of the pine forests.
Near Salento is Marina di Pulsano, where low cliffs, white inlets and clear waters offer visitors a truly beautiful landscape. To the south of the provincial capital, another charming area, Marina di Leporano, is perfect for those who prefer a jagged coastline with cliffs interrupted by small sandy beaches.
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Opening Hours and Holidays:
Most shops and businesses in Italy open from Monday to Saturday from around 8am until 1pm, and from about 4pm until 7pm, though many shops close on Saturday afternoons and Monday mornings, and in the south the day can begin and end an hour later.
In the north some businesses work to a 9am-5pm day to facilitate international dealings. Traditionally, everything except bars and restaurants closes on Sunday, though most towns have a pasticceria open in the mornings, while in large cities and
tourist areas, Sunday opening is becoming more common.
January 1 (New Year's Day)
January 6 (Epiphany)
Pasquetta (Easter Monday)
April 25 (Liberation Day)
May 1 (Labour Day)
August 15 ( Ferragosto ; Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
November 1 ( Ognissanti ; All Souls Day)
December 8 ( Immaccolata ; Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
December 25 ( Natale ; Christmas)
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