-Taranto is the main city of its own county.
An ancient history, one of the first greek colony and, around 500 BC, one of the largest in the world, with population estimates up to 300,000 people.
Taranto is known as “The Spartan City” because it was the only colony ever founded by Sparta, in 706 BC.
Currently it’s the third largest city in continental South (not including Sicily and Sardinia).
The city is also known as the “city of two seas” because it is washed by the Ionian Sea (called Great sea) and by the vast reservoir of the ‘Little Sea’.
Taranto offers many interesting activities:
Old town tour, this part of the city is connected by two bridges (one is mobile, called ‘swing bridge’ – ponte girevole) to the land.
The bridge is opened to let the big navy boat ether to exit or enter the city depot centre.
It’s an island (not natural, though).
Currently the condition of this part of the city is not the best, for years was almost abandoned by its population.
Many buildings are in ruins, however it’s very interesting to walk from one point to another to see a genuine lower class lifestyle and conditions.
Many fishermen families still live here.
Aragonese Castle was built in the 15th century with the intention to protect the town from the Turks’ frequent raids.
The castle replaced a pre-existing fort which was deemed unfit for 15th century warfare.
Nowadays is a navy military base.
Tours in english are available too! It will be a couple of hours of interesting information about the city.
Best beer in Taranto: TABIR!
Everytime I visit the city, if I want a beer, I only go to Tabir.
This is where you get ONLY best beers available.
No commercial beers, only from small breweries and/or quality ones.
The owner is a real beer lover and expert and he’ll be happy to guide you to the best combination of drink and food (all local products!)
Grottaglie is the capital of ceramic in South italy.
The town can be reached via air through 2 airports, Bari and Brindisi, both within less than 100 km.
It’s a beautiful, though not touristic, town in Apulia, a region that has been re-named by british as salentoshire and trullishire, due to the raising number of english travellers in love with this region.
And I can’t agree more!
There are so many reasons to visit this land, I’ll try to list few:
Expect a warm sun, almost the whole year, during summer time, expect a really warm weather! 🙂
Ionian sea is only 20 km far, it’s the most beautiful sea in continental italy. Adriatic sea is only 60 km far. Ideal for an affordable coast-to-coast. In land is very green and refreshing, with pine forests, fertile soil to grow olives, tomatoes, almonds and every good product.
Another interesting caratheristic are the ‘gravine’ kind of caves in natural canyons, where the ancient population lived many centuries ago
You might not be aware of the fact that an high % of the wine produced in italy has a base made with grapes from this land. The wine ‘Primitivo di Manduria’ (a town far only few km from Grottaglie) is a must to try.
As mentioned in the landscape, here you can try wonderful BIO products from agriculture. Tomatoes, almonds, grapes, olives, all sort of salads, watermelon and so on…
My recommendation is to enjoy a great dinner at ‘Casa Lacorte‘, in the historical part of the town. This newly open restaurant has an amazing terrace and also the internal part is very nice. A must to try is the fave’s cream (see picture)!
Grottaglie has one of the biggest historical centre in the whole region.
Few years ago a talented and smart young local decided to invite the most famous street artists from Europe, to redecorate streets and buildings.
Unfortunately the festival (FAME) had been active only for few years, however the pieces of ART are still visible all around the town.
Take a stroll and admire all of them, there are many huge graffiti taking the whole building, as well as smaller ones.
Art lovers will find Grottaglie a paradise also for its ceramics.
The city is considered the ‘capital’ of this ancient art.
There is a nice neighborhood/district all dedicated to small stands and shops, where you can fine real pieces of handcraft art.
Everywhere entrance is free, feel free to ask about the products (however english is not widely spoken, you know italians :)…), take pictures and admire the steps of the long process and creation of a ceramic pitchers, jars, urns…
Grottaglie has an old castle, entrance is free together with its museum of ceramics.
Despite the evident language barriers, do not hesitate to ask for any information.
Locals are incredibly nice and kind and will do their best to help out.
The atmosphere in town is really easy-going, we are in deep South italy, stress is something far from the daily life.
Expect shops to be closed after lunch, until 16 or even 17, because ‘siesta’ is not only a spanish habbit!
Best meeting point for a nice chat with locals is Bar delle Torri. The owners, Ciro and Saverio have created a very pleasant place where to have a drink and in general, good time.
Well…this is something that you should try!
Here is the best place at very good price.
Not easy to get back in the writing habit! My last post was something like 4 months ago and many things changed since then.
Don’t want to bore my 4 dear readers but let me tell you something related to this post, a nice italian song from the golden 80’s said ‘…voglio andare ad Alghero…in compagnia di uno straniero…’, which means ‘wanna go to Alghero with a foreigner companion’.
Well, I did it and my foreigner companion is my beloved girlfriend from Slovakia. I hope a bit of gossip could help rising my followers and contacts 🙂
Anyways, let me start describing Alghero, a small city in Sardinia, the second biggest island in the mediterranean sea (after Sicily), with a very close airport with several low-cost flights from all over Europe.
Alghero is famous for its dialect with catalan’ roots and for its red coral jewelery. The nice city is a very well-known touristic destination, during summer there are many visitors, enjoying the beautiful beaches, sun, good food and nightlife
For this reason I decided to go off-season. Plus I needed a short break after the long polish winter…oh yes! this would be my second gossip news that I’ll treat in more details in the next posts.
To be honest in this period of the year many restaurants, bars and other premises are closed, awaiting for the peak season, however for a budget traveller like me it wasn’t such a big deal.
I could enjoy the more genuine city soul, local people were happy to see tourists and like to take care of them.
I happened to stop in a small bar (nearby the cathedral) for a couple of glasses of ‘cannonau‘ and ‘buio‘, sardinian good quality wines, receiving appetizers and snacks, mostly from genuine local products, such as olives, ‘pane curasau‘, sausages, ‘pecorino‘ cheese…
The same happened in the small B&B run by Giovanni (firstname.lastname@example.org), where I spent 4 nights in a double bed room, for 28Euro/night.
Every morning the owner was preparing a tasty breakfast with local bread, cheese, vegetables, organic extra virgin oil, fresh baked pastries…
In summer, no doubts!
Enjoy the sea and the beaches. Sardinian sea is considered the most beautiful in Europe.
Long white sands beaches are all along the northern cost.
The most famous beach is ‘spiaggia delle bombarde‘, few km far from the city.
Other beaches are ‘Mugoni‘, Lazzaretto, Lido…
Something not to be missed is definitely ‘Capo Caccia‘ and its famous ‘Grotte di Nettuno’, a natural cave accessible either via sea (with organized boat tour, only with good weather!) or via the spectacular ‘Escala del Cabirol’ – Cabirol steps.
You will never forget about its 600 steps, effort paid back by an incredible view.
Capo Caccia is a beautiful cliffs at the end of a natural fiord.
There is also a very nice spot where to enjoy a breathtaking sunset…
Narrow streets, with numerous bars, cafes, restaurants (renowned for excellent seafood like spaghetti with sea urchins) and small artisanal shops.
There are also interesting markets with food and local products, during the week-days.
The road from Alghero to Bosa, a smaller town towards the south coast is also worth, for the beautiful view.
Last but not least, let me suggest to try the sardinian beer ‘Ichnusa’.
Italian beers are not that bad, after all… 🙂