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|Comune di Taranto|
|Frazioni||Talsano, Lido Azzurro, Lama, San Vito|
|• Mayor||Ippazio Stefàno (SEL)|
|• Total||209.64 km2 (80.94 sq mi)|
|Elevation||15 m (49 ft)|
|Population (April 2012)|
|• Density||950/km2 (2,500/sq mi)|
|Demonym||Tarantini or Tarentini|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||Saint Catald of Taranto|
|Saint day||May 10|
Taranto (Italian pronunciation: [ˈtaːranto] ( ); Latin: Tarentum; Ancient Greek: Τάρᾱς Tarās; Modern Greek: Τάραντας, Τάραντα Tarantas, Taranta; Tarantino "Tarde") is a coastal city in Puglia, Southern Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Taranto and is an important commercial port as well as the main Italian naval base.
It is the third-largest continental city of Southern Italy: according to 2011 population census, it has a population of 200,154.
Taranto is an important commercial and military port. It has well-developed steel and iron foundries, oil refineries, chemical works, some shipyards for building warships, and food-processing factories.
Taranto's pre-history dates back to 706 BC  when it was founded as a Greek colony, established by the Spartans. The ancient city was situated on a peninsula on which the modern city has been built over the ancient Greek city of which only a few ruins remain including part of the city wall, two temple columns dating to the 6th century BC and tombs.
The islets of S. Pietro and S. Paolo (St. Peter and St. Paul), collectively known as Cheradi Islands, protect the bay, called Mar Grande (Big Sea), where the commercial port is located. Another bay, called Mar Piccolo (Little Sea), is formed by the peninsula of the old city, and has flourishing fishing. Mar Piccolo is a military port with strategic importance.
At the end of the 19th century, a channel was excavated to allow the military ships to enter Mar Piccolo harbour, and the ancient Greek city become an island connected to the mainland by bridges. In addition, the islets and the coast are strongly fortified. Because of the presence of these two bays, Taranto is also called “the city of the two seas”.
The natural harbor at Taranto made it a logical home port for the Italian naval fleet before and during the First World War. During World War II, Taranto became famous as a consequence of the November 1940 British air attack on the Regia Marina naval base stationed here, which today is called the Battle of Taranto.
Taranto is also the origin of the common name of the Tarantula spider family, Theraphosidae, even though strictly speaking there are no members of Theraphosidae in the area. In ancient times, residents of the town of Taranto, upon being bitten by the large local Wolf Spider, Lycosa tarentula, would promptly do a long vigorous dance like a Jig. This was done in order to sweat the venom out of their pores, even though the spider's venom was not fatal to humans. The frenetic dance became known as the Tarantella.
Taranto faces the Aragon Castle. The city is known as the "city of two seas" because it is washed by the Great Sea in the bay between Punta Rondinella to the northwest and Capo San Dante to the south, and by the vast reservoir of the Little Sea.
The Great Sea is frequently known as the Great Sea bay as that is where ships harbour. It is separated from the Little Sea by a cape which closes the gulf, leading to the artificial island. This island formed the heart of the original city and it's connected to the mainland by the Ponte Girevole. The Great Sea is separated from the Ionian Sea by the Capo San Vito, the Isole Cheradi of St Peter and St Paul, and the three islands of San Nicolicchio, which are completely incorporated by the steel plant. The latter form a little archipelago which close off the arc creating the natural Great Sea bay.
The Little Sea is considered to be a lagoon so it presents problems of water exchange. It is virtually divided into two by the Galeso river flows into the first half.
The two seas have slightly different winds and the tides and underwater springs of different salinities. These affect the currents on the surface and in the depths of the Great Sea and the two halves of the Little Sea. In the Great Sea and in the northern part of the Little Sea, there are some underwater springs called citri, which carry undrinkable freshwater together with salt water. This creates the ideal biological conditions for cultivating Mediterranean mussels, known locally as cozze.
The climate of the city, recorded by the weather station situated near the Grottaglie Military Airport, is typical of the Mediterranean with frequent Continental features.
The spring is usually mild and rainy, but it's not uncommon to have sudden cold spells come in from the east, which often cause snowfall.
The summer is very hot and humid, with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees C.
On November 28, 2012 a large F3 tornado (Likely an EF4 or even possibly an EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale), hit the port of Taranto and damaged the Taranto Steel Mill where workers were protesting against the plant's pollution emissions, about 20 people were injured, and another man was reported missing. The tornado is one of 9 to hit Italy since October 1.
|Climate data for Taranto|
|Average high °C (°F)||12.2
|Average low °C (°F)||6.0
|Rainfall mm (inches)||43.0
|Avg. precipitation days||6||6||5||5||4||2||2||3||3||7||6||7||56|
Taranto was founded in 706 BC by Dorian Greek immigrants as the only Spartan colony, and its origin is peculiar: the founders were Partheniae ("sons of virgins"), sons of unmarried Spartan women and Perioeci (free men, but not citizens of Sparta); these out-of-wedlock unions were permitted extraordinarily by the Spartans to increase the prospective number of soldiers (only the citizens of Sparta could become soldiers) during the bloody Messenian wars, but later they were retroactively nullified, and the sons were then obliged to leave Greece forever. Phalanthus, the Parthenian leader, went to Delphi to consult the oracle: the puzzling answer designated the harbour of Taranto as the new home of the exiles. The Partheniae arrived in Apulia, and founded the city, naming it Taras after the son of the Greek sea god, Poseidon, and of a local nymph, Satyrion. According to other sources, Heracles founded the city. Another tradition indicates Taras as the founder of the city; the symbol of the Greek city (as well as of the modern city) depicts the legend of Taras being saved from a shipwreck by riding a dolphin that was sent to him by Poseidon. Taranto increased its power, becoming a commercial power and a sovereign city of Magna Graecia, ruling over the Greek colonies in southern Italy. Its independence and power came to an end as the Romans expanded throughout Italy. Taranto won the first of two wars against Rome for the control of Southern Italy: it was helped by Pyrrhus, king of Greek Epirus, who surprised Rome with the use of elephants in battle, a thing never seen before by the Romans. The second war was conversely won by Rome, which subsequently cut off Taranto from the centre of Mediterranean trade, by connecting the Via Appia directly to the port of Brundisium (Brindisi).
Like many Greek city states, Taras issued its own coins in the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. The denomination was a Nomos, a die-cast silver coin whose weight, size and purity were controlled by the state. The highly artistic coins presented the symbol of the city, Taras being saved by a dolphin, with the reverse side showing the likeness of a hippocamp, a horse-fish amalgam which is depicted in mythology as the beast that drew Poseidon's chariot.
Taras was also the center of a thriving decorated Greek pottery industry during the 4th century BC. Most of the South Italian Greek vessels known as Basilican ware were made in different workshops in the city.
Unfortunately, none of the names of the artists have survived, so modern scholars have been obliged to give the recognizable artistic hands and workshops nicknames based on the subject matter of their works, museums which possess the works, or individuals who have distinguished the works from others. Some of the most famous of the Apulian vase painters at Taras are now called: the White Sakkos Painter, among others.
The wares produced by these workshops were usually large elaborate vessels intended for mortuary use. The forms produced included sovradipinto) in white, pink, yellow, and maroon slips.
Often the style of the drawings are very florid, and frilly, as was already the fashion in Fourth-Century Athens. Distinctive South Italian features also begin to appear. Many figures are shown seated on rocks. Floral motifs become very ornate, including spiraling vines and leaves, roses, lilies, poppies, sprays of laurel, acanthus leaves, etc. Often the subject matter consists of naiskos scenes (scenes showing the statue of a deceased person in a naos, a miniature temple or shrine). Most often the naiskos scene occupies one side of the vase, while a mythological scene occupies the other. Images depicting many of the Greek myths are only known from South Italian vases, since Athenian ones seem to have had more limited repertoires of depiction.
In 1991 Taranto was declared a high environmental risk area by the Ministry of Environment. As a consequence of the poisons discharged into the air by the factories in the area (most notably the ILVA steel plant, part of Gruppo Riva), Taranto is the most polluted city in Italy and western Europe. Only 7% of Taranto's pollution is inhabitants-related: 93% is factories-related. The European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER) showed that in 2004, estimated dioxin emissions from the ILVA plant were responsible for 83% of Italy's total reported emissions.
Every year Taranto's inhabitants inhale 2.7 tons of carbon monoxide and 57.7 tons of carbon dioxide. The latest data provided by the INES, the Italian national institute of emissions and their sources (Inventario nazionale delle emissioni e loro sorgenti), confirm that Taranto stands comparison with China's Linfen and Copşa Mică in Romania, the most polluted cities in the world due to factories' emissions.
In particular, Taranto has dioxin. 92% of Italy's dioxin is produced there and, in other terms, 8.8% of the dioxin in Europe. In ten years, leukaemias, myelomas and lymphomas increased by 30–40%. Furthermore, dioxin accumulates over the years: so far at least 9 kilos of dioxin have been discharged into Taranto's air by its factories, i.e. three times the quantity discharged in the Seveso disaster (the one in 1976 where the Italian city Seveso was contaminated by dioxin).
Grazing is banned within 20 kilometres (12 mi) of the Ilva plant.
The Municipality of Taranto was declared bankrupt because - as ascertained by Francesco Boccia, chief of the liquidation committee - as of 31 December 2005, it had accrued liabilities in an amount equal to 637 million euros. This is one of the biggest financial crises which has ever hit a municipality.
The fact that the municipality went bankrupt was officially declared on 18 October 2006 by the receiver Termomeccanica.
Taranto has a number of sites of historic value. Sitting along the Little Sea, The 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.
The old town, including Piazza Fontana, the church of San Domenico, the Madonna della Salute Sanctuary, and a number of old palazzi, is standing exactly as it did a thousand years ago, when the Byzantines rebuilt what the Saracens had razed to the ground in 927 AD. The picturesque alleyways, arches and stairwells, along with the old crafts workshops, contribute to its unique atmosphere.
Taranto features several Greek temple ruins - some stretching as far back as the 6th century BC - such as the remains of a Doric Temple still visible on Piazza Castello.
A number of 18th-century palazzi adorn the town centre. For years, they served as the main residence of local aristocratic families and these include Palazzo Carducci-Artenisio (1650), Palazzo Galeota (1728) and Palazzo Latagliata.
The Ponte Girevole (swing bridge), built in 1887, runs across the navigable ship canal that joins Mar Piccolo (Little Sea) with Mar Grande (Big Sea) and stretches along 89.9 meters or 294.95 ft. When the bridge is open, the two ends of the city are literally left without connection.
An important institution of Taranto is the "Galileo Ferraris" high school, founded in 1848, located in via Mascherpa 10. This school is famous for its highly-developed level of instruction, due to the high quality of its teachers and students. Others schools are: IIS Archita, IIS Quinto Ennio (in Literature), IIS Aristosseno (Languages), and ITIS Pacinotti (in IT) and ITC V. Bachelet (in Commercial and Accounting - famous for the activities at BIT MILANO).
Taranto is twinned with:
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2009)|
These historical figures have had a relationship with the city. Not all of them were actually born in Taranto.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (May 2010)|
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