The coast of Taranto in Apulia spans over 87 mi, with a diverse and beautiful natural landscape: wild areas with sheer cliffs, long stretches of fine sandy beaches that blend with the deep blue sea and the green maquis, in some places completely deserted, in others enlivened by quaint seaside resorts.
Gentle hills, wide valleys and rocky areas make up the landscape of the hinterland, interrupted by characteristic villages, ancient and isolated farms and karst caves, a sign of ancient rock dwellings. In many areas the famous trulli are visible - they are typical Apulian cone-shaped buildings that, in the village of Alberobello, comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many farmhouses have been restored and today accomodate important farming and winery activities, attesting to Apulia's ancient tradition of producing excellent products, such as olive oil and wine.
A scenery varied as a mosaic, where natural environments harmoniously fuse and bear the traces of the different cultures that have settled and moved here over the centuries: churches, castles, palaces, and ruins remaining long after their ancient civilizations contribute to the rich cultural heritage of Taranto and its territory.
History also lives in the folklore that enlivens the festivals, popular and religious, that are celebrated all through the year; many of them are dedicated to ancient crafts that are still created today in small artisan workshops. The itineraries for exploring this corner of Puglia are numerous and feature one common denominator: the region's rich and tasty cuisine, still prepared according to ancient traditions that are made with quality ingredients and, above all, the passion of the people of Taranto.
"The City of Two Seas" is how Taranto is called: located on a spit of land that separates the open sea, it divides what are known as Mar Grande and Mar Piccolo. The artificial channel that connects them is surmounted by the famous Swing Bridge, beyond which lies the heart of old Taranto, an ancient Medieval town comprised of the Cathedral of San Cataldo, the Aragonese Castle, also known as Castel Sant'Angelo, and many other monuments that recount of its ancient origins.
It may be the city of two seas, but it is also the city with two faces, because beyond the bridge, progress and modernity have designed the new Taranto, a city developed around the 19th-Century village facing the waterway. Housed in the former Convent of San Pasquale Alcantarini, the National Archaeological Museum is famous for its rich collection of rare finds.
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.
The sea, though beautiful, is not the only attraction here. An extraordinary landscape makes up the beautiful hinterland of Taranto: sometimes green and lush with large vineyards and olive groves, sometimes rocky and rough with ravines, caves and gorges where ancient civilizations settled.
In Massafra, the Ravines of San Marco and La Scala are a dense network of paths, slopes, caves and places of worship around which the modern part of the town was built. The Ravine of Laterza, 7.5 mi long, is of considerable size and historical importance as evidence of the ancient origins of this town. The "city of many caves:” so Grottaglie is called, an ancient village whose first settlements date back to the 1st Century AD. It is famous worldwide for its handmade pottery, a craft whose roots hark back to ancient times.
The area's ancient farms became spearheads of local agricultural development during the Middle Ages. They are scattered all over the Apulian territory, but around Crispiano are some 100, thus earning it the nickname the "city of 100 farms."
Remarkable also is the presence of prehistoric ruins, including the Village of Triglie. Castellaneta lies in the heart of the Park of Ravines, a mix of natural environments made even more evocative by ancient ruins. North of Taranto, Martina Franca is a charming town that overlooks the Itria Valley, with its lush green nature contrasting with the white trulli and ancient farms that frame the old town's Baroque architecture.
The desire to rediscover things made according to historic traditions has grown significantly in recent years. Hence, the idea of "routes" dedicated to experiencing authentic flavors and traditional crafts has expanded in Taranto Province, with many routes for enjoying the finest wines and olive oils, or the creative art of ceramics that has made this land famous.
The many landscapes in this area of Apulia offer the possibility of organizing very interesting excursions. An interesting destination for lovers of photography and birdwatching is the Lake of Salinella near Marina Ginosa, where pine forests, clearings and sandy areas are home to a rich variety of wildlife and birds.
Immersed in the beautiful scenery of Riva dei Tessali, lapped by the clear waters of the Ionian Sea, golf enthusiasts can find ideal places to practice the sport. And if the sea is your passion, opportunities for water sports certainly abound.
The gastronomy of the Province of Taranto is characterized by a twofold tradition that makes it complete and captivating: the sea and the land.
Mussels and oysters, the pride of Taranto, but also fish and shellfish, can be tasted along with typical Apulian pasta or served as main course, and enhanced by exquisite, local extra-virgin olive oil. The crops in the hinterland provide excellent raw materials for dishes based on vegetables and legumes (excellent when combined with fish). Do not go without tasting the typical cheeses - among all the burrata - and sausages, including the tasty capocollo of Martina Franca.
And finally, a wide variety of very sweet fruits round out the menu: grapes, oranges, and the famous clementines of the Gulf of Taranto. Intense flavors that deserve to be paired with the excellent wines of the province, such as the Primitivo di Manduria, the Martina Franca and the Lizzano.