Travel enthusiasts already know that Italy is shaped like a boot. While the most popular tourist attractions are in Rome and the Northern Regions, the Southern Regions and their towns have its own charm. I’m blessed to have visited one of the towns in Puglia – the Heel of the Boot.
Flying time took a day from Manila – Abu Dhabi – Rome – Bari – you get less time for rest when grabbing a cheaper flight.😊 From Bari, we rented a private vehicle to Taranto where we stayed for the next 4 days. Although this trip was for business, I still had the chance to get around the Old Town of Taranto and tried their most popular seafood cuisine and of course authentic Italian Pizza. (Simultaneous with this trip, my family visited Hanoi, Vietnam for sight-seeing and I missed the family adventure for the first time).
The view from my hotel room is impressively beautiful facing Piazza Fontana and overlooking Ponte Di Pietra.
On the right side view of the Hotel is Via De Tullio where you can see really old establishments which wowed me a lot knowing that the Old Town is as old as Rome (probably older), me being a retrophiliac.
Taranto is popular for it’s seductive alleyways – the narrowest that I’ve seen and walked on so far. At first it seems like you’re walking towards a dead end but you’ll be surprised where the alleys will take you and you’d definitely want to explore more. Minus the dog p**p, I think it’s actually romantic to walk around the Old Town, even more perfect if you are someone who loves the rain. (When I visited Rome during the same season, I also experienced some rain and rain showers during the afternoon. I’d have to visit Italy in a different season next time or I might actually think Italy is the land of rain showers.)
Taranto Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Cataldo) located in Via Duomo – just a few alleys from Piazza Fontana. I have already visited a lot of cathedrals in EU and this seems to be one of the oldest.
Before going to the airport for my flight back to Manila, I decided to visit the Castello Aragonese – the main fortification in Taranto, which was only a 30-minute walk from the hotel. On my way, I have passed by these two Doric columns from the Temple of Poseidon. Taranto was founded as a Greek colony and was established by the Spartans. When you visit the souvenir shops, you’ll see a lot of “I love Sparta” t-shirts and other collectibles.
Most of the guide maps indicated that I can visit the castle (I love castles!) from 1pm to 2pm on a guided tour. I took my time strolling around and arrived few minutes before 1pm at the Tourist Center. When I entered the gate, a local told me in Italian that the castle was closed. That got me confused because I have confirmed it was open and that the next tour was about to start. I continued walking and the local told me again (this time in a louder voice) that it was closed. I re-confirmed with another tourist and from I what I understood, she said that it was indeed closed. I don’t know what happened but I got scared from their stares I ended up walking out of the gate LOL.
In short, I didn’t get to see the castle and it didn’t make me feel good. I stopped by at the souvenir shops (only accepting cash), bought a few stuff and moved on.
Taranto – the City of the Two Seas also boasts of it’s fresh seafoods and local gastronomy. The Old Town is a small one but I’m surprised by the number of restaurants (there are plenty) in it. Also, I would say that staying for less than a week is too short to understand why there are restaurants open on a weekday and close the next day. Less are also open when it starts to rain.
You should not miss Ristorante La Galleria dell’Arte located in Via Giuseppe Garibaldi where I had the most of my authentic pizza and pasta experience during my stay. (1 pax costs around 15 EUR only)
Another restaurant that serves mouthwatering Italian dishes is Ristorante Il Porto located in Via Porto. I had salmon as appetizers, seafood marinara for main course and fresh shrimp cooked in I don’t know, to be honest it just tastes really good. 😀 (1 pax costs around 30 EUR)
There are a lot more places to see and restaurants to dine in – I’d definitely go back, hopefully (definitely) for a longer stay. I have not even visited the New Town!