Overlooking the Ionian Sea, the Province of Taranto lies between the “heel” and “toe” of Italy’s “boot”. It centres around the ancient capital of Taranto, which was one of the most important settlements in Magna Graecia and a cultural hub for writers and philosophers. On the Province of Taranto’s coat of arms is a scorpion, which is said to have been chosen to deter enemies.
Things to do in Taranto
With ancient archaeological wonders, blissful beaches and scenic nature reserves, the Province of Taranto is an underrated gem of southern Italy.
Sightsee in Taranto. Wedged between the Mar Grande and Mar Piccolo, Taranto was founded by Spartans in the 8th century BC. It boasts an atmospheric island old town, which is home to the beautifully carved facade of the Basilica Catedral de San Cataldo. Browse the ancient artefacts on display at the MArTA Archaeological Museum and tour the 15th-century Aragonese Castle, which was designed by the Italian architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini.
Explore Parco Naturale Regionale Terra delle Gravine. Sprawling across the provinces of Brindisi and Taranto, this protected natural area is known for its spectacular ravines that were formed around 125,000 years ago. Hiking trails wind through its forests, meadows and wetlands that provide habitat for porcupines, badgers and a diversity of birdlife that includes kestrels, black kites and Egyptian vultures.
Relax on the Ionian Sea beaches. You can kick back on the sands of Spiaggia di Montedarena, a rock-framed beach backed by grassy dunes that is a popular spot for snorkelling. Alternatively, head further south to Spiaggia d’Ayala, a quieter stretch of sand lapped by crystal clear waters. It’s fringed by the pine and scrub-covered dunes of the Pineta d’Ayala.
Getting around Taranto
Brindisi Airport is the aviation gateway to the Province of Taranto and has seasonal flights to destinations across Europe. Trains connect from cities across Italy to the Taranto railway station and buses connect to smaller towns and villages throughout the province. Renting a car is the most convenient way of getting around the Province of Taranto.