On a cruise to Taranto, a city that’s tucked neatly under Italy’s heel, you’ll be enchanted by the city’s old-world charm and traditions. Borgo Antico, the island meeting point between the open sea and the bay, is filled with narrow alleys and streets. Stroll down Vicolo dei Bacio, also known as “kiss alley,” as it’s impossible for two people to pass on this street without brushing against each other.
The sea provides a scenic backdrop while stopped here on a cruise to Italy from almost every venue in both the old city and the more modern area of Taranto. The Sailor Monument, which pays homage to Italy’s Navy, the bridges that connect the old and new city, and the fishing boats tied up on the northeast side of the island are ever-present and gentle reminders of the beautiful bay and the sea beyond.
Walk the charming streets and admire the historic architecture of this old town center that sits at the meeting point of two seas and connects both sides of Taranto. Visit Castel Sant’Angelo, which dates from the 900s, the Ponte Girevole, with its moving deck that swings out to allow boats to pass, and the Temple of Poseidon that dates from the 6th century B.C.
Learn about the history of the Spartans who had a colony in what is now Taranto. Once inside, you’ll be taken to the museum, which is located underground in old chambers built thousands of years ago by Spartan craftsmen. Explore the museum’s fascinating collections of armor and artifacts.
Discover one of Italy’s most important archeological collections at the National Archeological Museum of Taranto. See incredible displays of bracelets, earrings, and precious artifacts that show the evolution of goldwork in the city during the 3rd and 4th centuries B.C., in addition to the largest collection of Greek terracotta in the world.
Experience dolphins in their natural habitat at the Jonian Dolphin Conservation. Take an exploration tour of wild marine life in the Ionian Sea that’s a perfect combination of relaxing boat ride and marine education.
Take in magnificent coastal views on a leisurely walk along the Lungomare Vittorio Emanuele, a lovely polished stone promenade from which you can view the Aragonese Castle and pass the Ponte Girevole. Stop to admire the Monument to the Sailor, a soaring bronze sculpture dedicated to the sailors of the Italian Navy.
Travel an hour out of Taranto and take a step back in time when you visit Matera, one of the oldest settlements in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the fascinating limestone cave-dwelling district called Sassi di Matera and marvel at the 13th-century frescoes in the church of St. Lucia alle Malve.
Taranto’s beaches are generally small and spectacular with rocky outcroppings and golden sand. Spiaggia Capo St. Vito offers plenty of restaurants to catch a bite and people watch. If you’re looking for an active adventure, snorkeling, windsurfing, and kitesurfing are available.
The food of Taranto centers on fresh-caught seafood, given its seaside location. Most restaurants are small and family-owned and feature local catches. Try roasted oysters with oil, lemon, and garlic, and mussels prepared several ways. The special pasta of the region is orecchiette, or “little ears”. Taste the region’s creamy mozzarella. Olive oil is prominent and spectacular here.
Taranto has a history that dates back 3,000 years to Spartan origins and was known as the capital of Magna Graecia. On a cruise to Taranto, you’ll see the proud heritage of that era in the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon. The city’s strategic location has always made it a thriving commercial port, and today it’s an important naval base.
The Taranto cruise port is located at the Falanto Port Service Center, a new passenger terminal built in 2017. The terminal houses a tourist information desk, restaurants, and a bar, as well as a public exhibition area, an auditorium, and conference rooms.
The Taranto cruise port provides a free bus shuttle service to downtown Taranto. Once in the city, walking is the easiest way to see the sights. Book shore excursions to enjoy Taranto’s best sights.
You’ll find shops along the side streets of Borgo Antico. Local hand-painted ceramics are popular souvenirs. The city offers several small shopping malls, including Porte Dello Jonio.
The euro (€) is the recognized official currency in Taranto. Many places accept credit cards, though you should carry some cash as well. ATMs are concentrated in the main city area and close to the Taranto cruise port. Tipping is at your discretion and are appreciated by taxi drivers and tour guides. At restaurants, the tip may be included in your bill, so check before you add one.