Posted by: Jerry Garrett | June 12, 2012

Taranto: Italy’s Worst Tourist Destination

Taranto used to be beautiful, but poorly regulated industrial polluters, municipal malfeasance and corruption have changed all that. (Jerry Garrett Photos)

[UPDATE: Was I too tough on Taranto about its pollution problems in this article? I don’t think so, based on the announcement by Italian prosecutors in early October that they were ordering Taranto’s giant Ilva steel mill to shut down its operations, because it is causing an “environmental disaster” with its pollution of the area’s air, agriculture and water. Tumors, tremors and “many deaths” have been caused by the pollution, prosecutors say.]

TARANTO, Italy

Taranto certainly has a lot going for it. It is at the historic crossroads of the Magna Grecia and the Appian Way. It has a large, natural harbor of turquoise waters. And its climate is mild and moderate most times of the year.

But what a cesspool it has become – through centuries of corruption, mismanagement, greed and uncontrolled industrial development. The past 50 years of industrial growth have been especially egregious.

Here are 10 good reasons to cross it off your list of must-see destinations in Italy:

1. Taranto is not only the most polluted city in Italy (take that, Naples, Genoa and Gela, Sicily), it is the most polluted city in all of Western Europe. In fact, its pollution levels are approaching those of the world’s most polluted cities (most of which are in China). Don’t blame people, cars or weather-related anomalies; 93 percent of Taranto’s pollution comes from its relatively unregulated industries: Steel mills and iron foundries, oil refineries, chemical works, cement manufacture, a container port, shipyards, and food-processing factories. Italy has identified it as one of the country’s “Sites of National Interest” for extreme pollution.

2. Only in Taranto can you experience accumulated dioxin levels that are three times the levels of those found in the 1976 Seveso disaster -the result of which caused an entire Italian town to be evacuated – permanently.

Red dust lines the roadway.

Most of the dioxin has been traced to the ILVA steel mill; a drive past it is truly frightening – the highway outside has turned rust-red, road signs have corroded away, and vegetation seems burnt.

3. Every year, the city’s nearly 200,000 inhabitants (third largest in southern Italy) and unsuspecting visitors inhale 2.7 tons of carbon monoxide and 57.7 tons of carbon dioxide.

4. The city’s Mar Piccolo (or small sea), which is fed by brackish seawater and undrinkable freshwater springs (“Citri”), is the site of huge mussel- and fish-farming operations. It is unclear where the mussels and fish raised in these questionable conditions are consumed. To be safe, you may wish to opt for something besides the fish in local restaurants, markets or seafood vendors. Also: Stick to bottled water.

5. Layoffs at the steel mills and other industries have contributed to a spike in area unemployment – above Italy’s double-digit countrywide jobless levels. There’s been a corresponding increase in crime, and a decrease in public safety.

Taranto skyline: Smokestack lightning

6. The city’s mayor was convicted of corruption and sent to prison in 2006, for a scandal involving regulation, or lack thereof, of polluters.

7. The city declared bankruptcy in 2005 – with nearly $1 billion of debt – in one of the largest cases of municipal bankruptcy in history. A receiver was appointed by a court, to take over administration of the city’s finances, after it was found local officials were too corrupt or incompetent to be entrusted with the city’s purse strings any longer. Basic city functions have yet to be restored to levels that might be expected of a city of this size; trash pickup, in particular, seems to be a lost concept.

8. The city is a main base of the Italian navy. The navy maintains a strong presence here, with all the warships, combat aircraft and support personnel one might expect. The navy is a comparatively responsible citizen, however, when considered against the area’s industrial complex. Taranto’s strategic importance in history has led to it being burned, bombed, attacked and sacked at fairly regular intervals. Half the Italian Navy was sunk here by the British in 1940; the success of the raid inspired the Japanese in 1941 to bomb Pearl Harbor.

9. Traffic is atrocious. The main thoroughfare through town crosses a one-lane medieval bridge. It might have been adequate for chariot traffic 2,000 years ago. You can imagine what it is like today – especially with the anarchic style of Italian motorists thrown into the mix.

Trash & turquoise waters

10. I stopped along a beach, south of downtown. The aquamarine water looked inviting. But the beach itself – although it was crowded with thousands of sweating Italians attired in appalling speedos and Brazilian bikinis – was filthy, as far as the eye could see. Not surprisingly, the bay is polluted by unregulated agricultural waste (pesticides and animal waste), heavy metals (including PCBs and PAHs) and polluted waste water discharged by industries, municipal garbage and at least 14 human sewage discharge pipes. When I saw a used tampon floating in the water, that was pretty much all the motivation I needed to get in my car and leave Taranto forever.

P.S. Taranto, home of some nasty-looking but usually non-fatal spiders, is the source of the word “Tarantula”.

[Editor’s Note: Other finalists in the “race to the bottom” as Italy’s worst tourist destination were gritty downtown Naples, considered the petty crime and pickpocket capital of Italy; and Palermo and Gela in Sicily, bastions of mafia crime and political, municipal and industrial corruption.]

Jerry Garrett

May 12, 2012

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Responses

  1. Ha ha ha! I was last there in 1981, for a two week vacation at the beach. Cant say I remember it being this bad, but oh well!

    • According to a couple of government reports sent to me since the story came out…up until the 1950s, Taranto was (mostly) a quiet agricultural town, on a pretty waterfront. Then the industries came in and it’s been going downhill more and more rapidly since then. I guess the 1990s were a free-for-all.

      • Dear Mr Garrett,
        there is a huge difference between describe a place, higlight its bad aspects, the characteristics of the citiezens… and vilify the people and the towns.
        Taranto has a lot of humongeus problems, that’s unarguably true, but you’ve been such a terrible describer. “P.S. Adding to the “ick” factor: Taranto, home of some nasty-looking but usually non-fatal spiders, is the source of the word “Tarantula”” Are you kidding me??? Spiders are every where!!!

      • This is from Wikipedia. I did not invent it.

      • Dear Mr Garrett,
        I was born in Taranto and I moved to Rome when I was 19. I acknoweledge the tremendous conditions of this unlucky city’s environment, but I really cannot believe that this is the only reason why somebody would suggest not to go to Taranto. Tarantinians die from cancer EVERYDAY, they try to fight against an “invisible” monster that does not want to give up his money in exchange of people’s health. We have been fighting against Ilva and Eni for the last five years, trying to be heard from national televisions and media that noticed our awful situation just one or two years ago.
        Suggesting people not to go to Taranto is like denying one of the few possibilities that this city has to recover. Our sea, beaches, ancient ruins and landscapes are inviable, and even the most arrogant industrials and politicians cannot do anything about it.
        Best,
        una tarantina fuori sede

    • Time marches on! I was stationed in Taranto in 1960 thru mid 1963 as a member of the U.S. Air Force. I learned to speak Italian. NOTE: U.S. medical authorities banned bathing on the beaches for many miles south of the city (to Lido Silvana & Lido Gandoli). It was filthy way back there! I married a girl in Taranto too. She wouldn’t go in the water closer to town either! There was no big plants there back then, Imagine today! We were strongly advised back then to NOT eat the ‘frutta dei mare’ (sea food) back then too. No sewage treatment to speak of back then either.

      • Jay Williams…Do remember a Raymond and Helen Mackey…my mom and dad. My father (USAF) was stationed there at the time you are describing. We lived in high rise apt. bldg. I remember spending many weekends on the beaches there…not sure what side…I recall the WWII “pill boxes” still located on the hillsides…I would swim in old lava flow tidal pools…The water was so blue and clear…I would love to go back to visit where my memories began. It was beautiful.

        Mark Mackey

      • My father worked on the missile installation there, and I have slides dated from 1960. Very interesting. Did you know William Trawick?

      • Sorry. I did not know any of the civilians who I think mostly worked at the Gioia Del Colle Italian AFB. I also sort of recall that most of them worked for Chrysler (contract with AF)

      • My father, William Trawick worked on the missile installation, engineering. I have a lot of interesting slides from it. Dated 1960.

  2. I concur about downtown Naples, and only went there to visit their astonishing museum, and left immediately afterwards.

    • I did get a good value on a three-bottle gift pack of Campania’s red wines at a Q8 station there recently!

      • Buying Wine at Gasoline Station. That’s the kind of trips James Joice was teaching us.

      • What a valuable couple of comments, the two of yours. Geez…

      • “the two of yours” There were two comments?
        NOTE: In 1960 – 63 the U.S. Air Force was there. HQ in Taranto (Luigi Bologna, an old abandoned Italian AF seaplane base.) I was there. Married an Italian and had a son there. It was NOT beautiful! Sure, compared to now it might be, but American military were told to not use any beach side resort or get in the water until way south of town starting at Lido Gandoli plus Lido Silvana. The water was really filthy! BTW operational HQ was at Gioia Del Colle (Italian air base there now (still?)) A little over half way between Taranto and Bari. Went girl hunting with friends a couple of times (I spoke Italian) at nearer to Taranto beach areas. Didn’t go in the water. It was something to watch the people wading through the garbage floating in the water! Eating the Fruta dei mare from around there not infrequently brought some cases of hepatitis.

      • Jerry….
        Did you live the military family “high rise” apt. building in Taranto?
        Do you recall Raymond Mackey? He’s my father…wife Helen.

        As a child, I loved living in Taranto…learned to swim on one of the beaches…all I remember is the beautiful blue water, lava tidal pools, old WW2 “pill boxes” on the hillsides…

        Mark Mackey

      • “Did you live the military family “high rise” apt. building in Taranto?”
        ———————————————————————————
        No. There was no, per se “military “high rise” apt. building in Taranto” That describes most of Taranto’s apt buildings. It did happen that a fairly high number of families lived in one general neighborhood near where the enlisted “high rise” apt bldg was located. You see the base ran a regular bus to the base. That’s where we ate, shopped, our headquarters was at, etc. and there had to be transportation to the base.

        A new high rise apt bldg had been leased for our barracks in town because there was not enough space on base. After I got married I rented an apt many blocks from there. We could live anywhere we wanted to. I also spoke, wrote, and read Italian. It has been a lot of years ago. I am 83 now.
        ————————————————————————————
        Sorry, I probably knew your father. The outfit was not all that large, but after so many years I just do not recall. I was in the Air Force security force stationed there. We pulled duty at one or the other of ten outlying missile launch sites.
        ————————————————————————————-
        “Do you recall Raymond Mackey? He’s my father…wife Helen.”

      • Thank you, for the reply, Jerry…
        My father passed away last year…I was just curious about you having possibly known him. He was a liq. ox. specialist for the missiles…
        I still hope to revisit Taranto before my time is up…It was where all of my memories began…
        All the best, Jerry.

        Mark Mackey
        Webster, TX

      • One in which a supposedly tourist come to Naples just to see a museum and immediately leave (right, I wonder the zombies, mafia mobs and all the stuff chasing at her in anger, of course while eating pizza and pasta… furthermore I’m sure there’s nothing worth visiting out there), and another one which adds that there’s a wine deal at a gas station in the area (right, of crouse gas stations are famous for such deals, and italians use to buy good wine there).
        Better going to Rome, a city in which, as stats show, there’s no pickpocketing, as in every other major touristic city, right?

        I’d never talk this way even about Detroit, and I can tell you that Detroit was… quite a peculiar place, let’s put it this way.

        Sometimes the perceptions of tourists, can be quite lame and offending, especially when they’re based on “I heard that…”, “I saw on Facebook…” and “the Sun reported that…”.
        You’re talking of the largest historical center in Europe, a UNESCO world heritage site, a place bustling with life from 2500 years. You’re talking of one of the stunniest views on a gulf. You’re talking of a site who yesterday was packed with foreign tourists, I feel sorry for who didn’t take the chance to be one of those, and immediately left or missed the city.
        I guess that Subway is a more appropriate “tourist” destination for some tourists…

        And by the way, the only two times I’ve been pickpocketed were in Barcelona and Prague (and a failed attempt in Rome). It happens, just try not to sleep when you walk. You’ll find a “BEWARE PICKPOCKETS” signature even in Munich, in the clean and tidy Bavaria.
        For the same reason, I could suggest somebody to avoid visiting Philly, because he could get killed, given the murder rate 10 times higer than Naples. Not to mention the nightmar-ish experiences I had on Chicago and NYC subways after sunset. Oh, and forget going to Hollywood, you might get assaulted by a drunk homeless! Clearly, suggesting somebody to avoid those destinations would be such a lame thing to do…

  3. YUUUCK!! Thanks for advising us all to not go here, if you say there was a used tampon in the water, then that is all it takes to disgust me and take this off my list. (not that I ever intended on going there :P) What an awful city, I have to kinda feel for the people that have to live there… 😦

    • Yeah, it’s a real tragedy. Greedy people with no regard to the environment or quality of life ruined something that had been a real paradise for thousands of years!

      • Jerry not all tarantini are ‘Greedy people’ …a lot of us fight pollution, Taranto is not only diossina and pollution !!! You was too hard in the description of the city where I was born …. there is people that clean beach and fight against pollution ….

      • I say thank you to Tarantini who fight against pollution! I hope you win.

      • EW I HATE YOU WHY YOU BE THROWING SO MUCH SHADE

    • io sono stato a Londra,città visitata da miglioni di turisti ogni anno,eppure ho visto oltre monumenti(ben pochi…) e parchi(pochi…)spacciatori ,ubriachi dappertutto,traffico 24 ore su 24,smog e aria cattiva,Tamigi inquinatissimo,delinquenti ovunque per strada in metropolitana,tanti problemi razziali ,quartieri in cui è preferibile non avventurarsi ,il tutto ben visibile tutt’attorno alla vostra “city”!Eppure londra pur avendo questi problemi,grandi problemi,è sempre una meta turistica.

      • …paragonare taranto a londra è completamente fuori luogo….paragonala ad una città di 200mila abitanti…e magari italiana, all’estero perdi sempre (PS=MILIONI, senza la G)…

      • Giovanni says;
        “I have been to London, a city that is visited by millions of tourists every year, yet I have seen..beside a few monuments, and a few parks, – vendors (of crap) drunks everywhere, 24/7 heavy traffic, dirty air and smog, filthy Thames, (scary) youths roaming the streets and underground, so many racial tensions, parts of the city where it would be wise not to venture. And these problems are evident all around the city.But even though London has all these problems, huge problems, it is still a location that tourists seek out.

    • Taranto ha problemi seri,ma non è brutta!
      Ha attorno ad essa un territorio meraviglioso che voi potete solo sognare…
      la provincia di Taranto ha centinaia di km di costa meravigliosa ,certo il bagno non lo si fa dove è stato mr Garret,sotto la città,tuttavia io (che non ho mai fatto il bagno in quel luogo dove è stato mr Garret)preferirei fare il bagno lì a San Vito mille volte piuttosto che immergermi anche solo per un istante nel mare di Brighton…

      • …a proposito…a San Vito c’è la condotta di scarico dei liquami delle scuole CEMM e a lido bruno sai cosa c’è?….io il bagno tra i ratti e le fogne non lo farò mai più….

      • prima di tutto io devo dire una cosa ai signori inglesi che sono stati in italia: non si sperperano cose di una città che non si sa neanche le sue origini e la sua storia, e poi si si voi inglesi sarete tanto puliti ordinati ( che poi questo e’ da vedere io ci ho avuto a che fare con gente come voi ,perchè ho lavorato in in un Resort dove venivano atleti inglesi,romeni, cecoslovacchi,russi ecc, ma a me non mi sembravano tanto puliti ; anzi io andavo a pulire i loro alloggi dove stavano e facevano davvero schifoooo mamma mia!!!!) Cmq apro parentesi e la chiudo , e poi Taranto e una città bellissima, non e’ per niente brutta anzi io appena l’ho vista la prima volta mi sono subito innamorata e questo vuol dire che se dite che Taranto e’ brutta allora anche tutte le altre città d’Italia sono brutte perchè Taranto e’ una città Italiana e quindi se offendete Taranto offendete anche le altre città io sono fiera di essere Italiana al cento per cento sia della cucina, sia dei territori,sia per tutto il resto e poi c’è da dire un altra cosa la cucina Italiana e molto più gradevole di quella inglese vi dico la verità,allora se voi turisti dovete venirie in Italia per offenderci non venite proprio perchè delle vostre offese non ne abbiamo proprio bisogno!!!!!!!!!!

  4. […] have written on the subject of Taranto’s horrible pollution problem previously; a reader suggested I revisit the topic again, in light of new […]

  5. I wish I could say that this was not true but unfortunately, it is. Both the selfish belief of people that “I do my best to survive, fuck the rest” and the politicians and the cruels capitalists have ruined a beautiful city. To be honest, there are too many negative sides…

  6. My father was stationed there when I was quite young…1961/62… My “memories” begin in Taranto…I remember the incredibly blue, warm water where I learned to swim…On the beach every weekend…Never remember it being crowded…or dirty…I recall, it was a rather money poor city, but the people were wonderful…I can still smell the fresh baked bread and rolls, from the bakery connected to our apt. building…How VERY< VERY sad to know it is so "toxic" now…Hard to Believe…I hope it isn't too late, but Dioxin poisoning is terrible…just ask those who came back from Viet Nam suffering from its effects. Is there an ideal destination in Italy any more?

    • You and I must have lived in the same apartment building. The bakery was on the ground floor and my family’s apartment was on the 4th floor. My father was also stationed there. I went to the american dependent school there. We would eat lunch in the mess hall across from the PX. 1959-1962 Jim Schoonover

      • YES…There was a bakery and a glass/mirror shop as well…A very large recreation/play yard along side of the building…You and I had to have at least bumped into each other…We lived on the 4th floor as well…!!!…my dad was Ray Mackey, mother Helen…I loved Italy…We weren’t there long…Viet Nam changed everything…Let’s do the facebook thing…? Look me up there….

      • James and Mark, I lived in Taranto from 1959 to 61. My brother was born while we were stationed there. I well remember the dependents school and also eating at the mess hall. And oh, the Italian bread! Did either of you know the Hainline family? Joe, Carol, and LaDonna and two little brothers Kevin and James? I will look you both up on Facebook. I have always wished there were some sort of connection for those of us who lived in Taranto at that time. laDonna

  7. Something you said is true e.g. regarding the pollution, but you’ve written also some of stupid and unreal things. Please come back in Taranto again and i will show some different positive aspects that you didn’t see or you’ve not intentionally written about.

    • Thank you for the invitation. I would like to come back and see the good of Taranto.

  8. Hi man, I’m a 13 years old from Taranto. I read this post and I’ve something to say.
    Taranto is one of the most beautiful place in Italy and in the world, I think.
    Taranto have a long story that start from the Magna Grecia, it was a Roman empire town, and some of the most greatest king and emperor fought for conquer it, like Pirro and Annibale. Taranto have got a beautiful sea, a wonderful tradition. Taranto, is a beautiful place, but the politic corruption destroyed EVERITHING. Taranto was the most wrong place where to build the industry, and ILVA, ENI, and all the industries are destroying everything.
    Here people die, here the child are sick,this industries are killing everyone.
    Industries are killing everything, the sea, the mussels, the fish, the story and the environment. SINCE 50 YEARS ALL THIS INDUSTRIES ARE COMMITTING CRIMES BUT NO ONE SAYS NOTHING. THE MEDIA DON’T TALK ABOUT TARANTO’S PROBLEM, AND THE POLITICIANS HAVEN’T DONE NOTHING BECAUSE THEY’RE PAID FROM THE INDUSTRIES’ BOSS.
    The Judiciaries ordered for close the ILVA for environmental disaster and the 15th of January over 30,000 people marched in the Taranto’s street for scream that WE WANT TO LIVE! WE WANT TO BREATHE CLEAN AIR.
    Just this morning there was an another march with over 10,000 peoples.
    For me Taranto is not dead, I hope that one day my city wil be clean, beautiful like it was a lot of years ago…. this is my dream.

    • This is a very good dream, and I share it with you, my friend. Thank you for your words of hope and inspiration. The people of Taranto deserve clean water, clean air, and a safe place to live.

      • Thanks my friend, i hope that you can come back in ten years and see an another Taranto, without pollution and without cancer…I know that there are a lot of Taranto’s people (Tarantini) that are stupid and that don’t care nothing about Taranto and about the clean of the city, that say, ”just think about me, fuck everything” but, the most of population is intelligent, and care about the city.
        In this post there are written a lot of bad things, maybe too much, but I know that the most are real.
        Despite all the problem Taranto still a fantastic city, maybe when you came you didn’t visited the most important part of the city.
        My friend, I want to ask you something… PLEASE, PLEASE share Taranto’s problem, on Facebook, ok Twitter, in all the way possible, because the world have to know our situation! Please say to everybody our story, because it isn’t possible that in 2013 there is a city where people die thank to industries.
        I’m very sad for my city’s problem… please share this problem with all your means.
        In this day, the prosecutor are deciding if close the ILVA or not… i will keep you informed… stay tuned man…. SHARE !!

      • Thank you Mirko. I will share your dream of a beautiful Taranto, because I want to see this place again, but this time in its glory!

  9. one of the best wine of Italy is Primitivo di Manduria!
    prima di parlar male di una realtà che ignorate cercate di documentarvi…

  10. Dear Mr. Garrett,

    To some extent what you say is certainly true. It is true that Taranto air pollution is a critical issue and it is also true that corruption and mismanagement have destroyed the city and its economy. The editorial choice to complete a ten point list, anyway, does not justify many other things you’ve written on Taranto.

    First of all, fish farming and mussels cultivation are regulated by Italian law which is one of the strictest regarding food quality and food processing.
    For your information, fish from Taranto, particularly mussels, are, considered of outstanding quality and for this reason exported across all of Italy.
    We can say the same regarding water: in Italy controls on tap water are very strict, often stricter than bottled one (no exception for Taranto).

    Secondly I don’t understand why a tourist may be conditioned by the presence of navy. Also Venice has an important naval base…do you think that people really cares about it?

    Regarding traffic, from your article it seems that we are talking about a mini Jakarta. From my personal experience, traffic is usually not a problem at all. It is true that there is a medieval bridge to get inside the city, but it is also true that it is not the only one (did you forget about Ponte Punta Penna??)…

    Finally I have really never heard such a commentary on Taranto beaches. I really don’t know where you went to bath, but reality is well different from what you have described. Did you know that Ionian sea is one of the cleanest in Italy?

    Tourism in Taranto is not discouraged by the lack of beautiful beaches and clear water or by the bad quality of food, but by the presence of ILVA which by itself dissuade many tourists to give a chance to our city.
    We don’t need also this terrible propaganda, based on a bunch of superficial analysis.

    I think that Taranto and its inhabitants deserve some excuses.

    Regards,

    F.B.

    • As I said, Taranto is an area of great natural beauty. In the past 50 years, the poor environmental record of factories that have located in Taranto have helped to spoil the beauty. The factories have polluted the air and the water and lands around them. There can be no grazing of farm animals within 20 kilometers of the factories! Taranto has been named as the most polluted city in western Europe, and among the three most polluted cities in the world. This is horrible. I did not invent this. These are the facts of life in Taranto. It is not “superficial analysis”. There are many other scholarly research papers available on these subjects. People should read them.

  11. Dear Mr Garrett et al,

    I would like to share a thought as someone born and raised in Taranto, but now resident in London (which I very much love).

    I am afraid Mr Garrett’s points are valid; Taranto does have the potential to be one of the best spots in Italy on multiple levels (climate, culture, food, history, landscape), however it has had the big misfortune of being administered by criminals – if not arses. And, frankly, Tarantini are not a shining example of civic sense. They seem not to care about their city, to the poin of dumping anything in the streets, even couches!
    I see lots of people getting heated about Mr Garrett’s not, but they are denying reality: streets are trashed, dog’s mess is everywhere, public beaches are dumpsters. If Tarantini really cared about their town, they would keep it as neat as their own home, for God’s sake.

    I applaude the many demonstrations held regarding the Ilva question, which needs serious strategic intervention, but I would also remark that a thorough change in attitudes and behaviours is in order before our city can turn into a touristic hub.

    I love going back home to visit in Taranto, but it is always a bittersweet feeling when I see the city in it current state.

    I wish you all a good night.

    M.A.

    • Thank you for your reasonable comments and observations. I think everyone can agree Taranto has much to offer, if and when civic pride trumps unprincipled capitalism and corruption.

  12. i’m sorry mr garret,
    you painted my city only in one way. we all know about the pollution problem, but it’s more, don’t you think? and the tarantola?? really?? i have never seen one tarantola in all my entire life…i’m sorry, did you take this information from wikipedia? do you know that everyone can write on wikipedia? if tomorrow i decide to write that in nyc there are flying pig you will write about this in your next article? not professional at all…

  13. dear jerry it’s true that my town is polluted but >>I don’t accept the thing that the beaches and the sea are like you say. where di you go? surely not on the beaches which lies around the eastern part of taranto . there the sea is not polluted and you don’t find garbage in the water. the tarantole don’t live around here, wikipedia wrote a nonsense and you were so naive to publish it.

    • I spent a week in Taranto. I went to the beaches on the east side of the harbor. Along Viale Jonio. I walked along them for many kilometers. The beaches were filthy. But plenty of people were swimming. Disgusting things were floating in the water. Trash was everywhere. Broken glass. Household garbage. I am a visitor to your city. This is what I saw. Maybe I should hide my eyes?

  14. what a bunch of ridiculous bullshit!!!

  15. Dear Mr. Garrett, I’m a Taranto citizen,
    I invite you to return to Taranto. Today, citizens have become aware of the beauty we have to offer. I do not know when you have been here, but the sea, the countryside around, the story of this city are amazing and unknown to many.
    if you want I can be your guide … and bring a friend.

    • I thank you for your invitation. I plan another trip in May or June. The people of Taranto are its biggest blessing!

      • I hope to meet you

  16. for points 1, 2 and 3: In italy torino and in general north is more polluted than south, just as matter of fact that big indistries are concentrated there: http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/01/daily-chart-11
    point 4: what the hell are you writing? are u sure what you eat is safe, pure and non toxic? Are you aware of food indistry that produce all kind of products thanks to toxic chemistry and unhealthy conditions???
    point 5, 6 and 7: your lack of knowledge is shown clearly. Taranto is not the only italian city with crime, in wealthy north italy there is too, mafia is everywhere and politician are puppets in mafia´s hands everywhere.
    Point 8: ????
    Point 9: this is South italy, if you dont like kaotic traffic go to austria and germany
    Point 10: you surely havent seen anything. sea and beaches around Taranto are the most beautiful in continental italy

    • The Economist article you cite deals with particulate pollution, such as from heavy trucks, industrial machinery and smokestacks. Taranto’s problem is chemical pollution – dioxin, other heavy metal poisons, unregulated pesticide runoffs and a variety of chemical wastes. Clean it up, don’t rationalize it or cover it up. Then maybe Taranto can have its dignity back.

  17. Yes Jerry, the positive thing about allthis negativeness about my city of Taranto is that someone has pinpointed some facts. I have lived in South Africa for nearly 50 years and when I go to my city of my birth -Taranto- to my friends/relatives I mention the negatives of my home town and the Great Potentials that Taranto has. Jerry have you gone back in the history of Taranto? as far as the Roman Empire days and before then? Yes, indeed I have to agree with you about the ” Tarantini” being a little laid back. is it the sea level that does that?…..But, yes the potential are all there for the city to become a turistic attraction. There is plenty, plenty to know about taranto and the connection with the Irish crusaders landed all over the province. Do you know the connection of S. Cataldo patron of Bari and the Irish crusaders?…..Now lets look at the positives that can come from the negatives…..I will be in Taranto soon with my wife and stay at our “Trulletto” in Martina Franca. Should you be in Taranto I would like to meet you to talk about Taranto and many, many other places which need a re-vamping including big cities like London …..and areas where tourists are advised not to go because of danger.
    By the way, thank you for the negatives you brought up. Some constractive criticism is always welcome.

    • Thank you for writing! I agree with you that Taranto is a place with great natural beauty. I think the problems have come in the last 50 years, with poor controls on industries and commercial development. That is sad to see, and I hope it is helpful to speak up about it. I know Tarantini would love to have their city more respected by these industries, commercial interests and especially the politicians. Maybe all can live together in peace, harmony and beauty.
      P.S. I appreciate your invitation. Sometime soon I plan to stay in a trullo, and experience that way of life.

  18. I was in Taranto today. Worst place ever I the western hemisphere

    • After reading the above posts, I can agree that the people of Taranto were extraordinary kind and welcoming. Strangers helped us to cross a busy intersection, waive away a pack of stray dogs, and find water.

      I have traveled to 30 countries on 4 continents. I was really shocked and disturbed by the Old City of Taranto. The perfect location is filled with crumbling multistory buildings with no windows, graffiti, and trash. It was the first time that I actually wanted to go home from a vacation. We considered getting back on the train and leaving, but we were too hungry after a 4 hour bus from Salerno.
      The old city looks like the apocalypse after a war. Sorry to people that live there… but for visitors it appears dangerous and not a happy holiday. Also, not many people spoke English so we communicated with hand gestures.
      The city was also empty of people all day. Around 7pm the streets became full of people of all ages. Smiling, laughing, playing with children. I felt more relaxed.
      A bartender choose some great red wine for us. Another elderly man in neon green with a popped collar shooed away a beggar from our table. The people of Taranto are very welcoming!
      This is definitely a unique city, rich in history and culture. I think it could be something very beautiful
      Oh- Encyclopaedia Britannica confirms Taranto as the origin of tarantula.

      • Thank you for your comment. I think locals might not look at Taranto through the same lens as visitors.

  19. Thank you for this information, I was just checking that should I stop at Taranto on the way to Bari, but now I don´t think so. I want to see unspoilt nature, clean beaches and waters and soulful cities. It seems that Taranto is not for me.

    • Dear madam, do not listen to the author if this article. i encourage you to look beyond the biases and the terroism spread by the news. Taranto has clean beaches, unspoilt nature and is a soulful city. Boat tours are organized every day to spot the dolphins living in the Mar Grande. Mar Piccolo (“small sea”, an inlet bay) is home to migrant species of birds and a WWF oasis. A beautiful spa center is located there too. Visiting the castle, the National Archeological Museum, the Old City, the Cathedral and many other things is worth your time and it would be a pity to miss them for a single bad review.

  20. I’ve been to Taranto and enjoyed the city very much. Although all troubles pointed by the author of this article do exist, it depends on the traveller to be affected by them. Clearly the author of this article made a terrible mistake going to Taranto, as clearly the city is not for his taste. The author of this article should stick to large, developed cities around the world: Paris, Rome, London, NY… He should avoid Asia to all costs; Turkey is clearly out of his scope. Latin America? No way! Just stick to places where you can feel at home and you will be fine. So I would not think that this post is useful for travellers. This post is useful for people trying to avoid the Other in his/her travels. And, in this regard, this is an excellent post! Obviously Taranto (and other cities around the world) does not want this sort of traveller. Taranto wants the explorer, that sort of tourist that is willing to get immersed in the cultural difference and wants to meet the Other. So cheers to Taranto! As for the author of this post, nice work too – but you’re not talking to me.

    • Interesting perspective. Thanks for your insights.

  21. You visited ONE beach and you think you can judge them all?! What a fine observer you are. At least three of your points from the list here add to the same argument. I could make a list of a thousand points to VISIT Taranto to counter yours. First of all, because Taranto needs more tourist to build a tourism based industry and your article puts people off. You don’t even know that the spider you mention has been proved not to be harmful. Plus, you can MAYBE find it in the wild countryside, sure not in town in the streets.

  22. I stayed in Tarranto for one month doing training at the NATO logistic base. The city is very beautiful, but has definitely been tainted by mismanagement and corruption. The city is not in the best condition in order to attract tourism.

    It has such good potential as a major tourism destination, except for the industry which is very off putting for people wanting a peaceful and environment friendly vacation. Run down buildings, litter etc can easily be dealt with, but environmental mismanagement can take years and billions of Euro,s to deal with.

    I live in London but I am originally from South Africa. We have a similar problem in the Western Cape where a large steel mill was opened on the sea front. Luckily we do not have the same environmental problem. It is absolute madness to open large industry in places of such beauty and effects that area,s tourism.

    The people in Tarranto were all very pleasant and the food was fantastic. But there are some very serious problems facing the city. Unfortunately a large part of Southern Italy is very corrupt and sometimes ungovernable. I would dearly love to return to Tarranto on a vacation whereby you can relax on the beach without the eyesore across the bay.

  23. […] for that town. Taranto will not go on my Bucket list. For more reasons to avoid Taranto, check out this blog post. […]

  24. Dear Mr Garrett,

    thank you for taking the time to visit Taranto and speaking about it in your interesting blog.

    I want to take some of my time too in order to share a few thoughts about your writing:

    1. First of all I want to congratulate you on the pictures, which show the reality as it is: an amazing sea and unacceptable rubbish

    2. Some of your information seems not accurate as their sources (such as wikipedia) cannot be considered reliable: as a person originally from Taranto, I would like to take proud of the origins of the word “Tarantola”, but those are in fact unknown as there is absolutely no special spider in Taranto area; also I wonder what type of measure of dioxin you are considering in your comparison with Seveso (i.e. cumulated, punctual, etc.): I believe that Taranto cannot be compared with the disaster in Seveso at any extent.

    3. Some of your comments are really surprising as a sensitive ear can perceive them as somehow racist: when there are over 30 degrees people sweat irrespectively of their origins and even irrespectively of their number (thousands??). Similarly, I believe that your brilliant website should deserve some a more careful words’ choice: cesspool should be easily avoidable even if truly applicable.

    Lists have now become very popular! You mention 10 elements to support removing the city from the must-see destinations. But people making lists often forget to mention the criteria behind their listing.

    In fact, from my point of view, the same 10 elements in your list may prevent somebody from moving and living in Taranto, but -on the contrary- should support the decision to visit the city. Alleged pollution is definitely harmless for a short-staying and the chance to go there and look at the consequence of industrialization on such an history-rich city is priceless. Besides the chance to enjoy the very nice sea and the food…

    You took this chance, you enjoyed it and you told us about it. I believe many others should do the same.

    Commenter’s Note: For similar reasons, of course I suggest also visiting Naples, Palermo and Gela, which are very beautiful and popular destinations among educated and sophisticated travellers around the world.

    p.s. I appreciate very much the comment from Paul Hodgkinson and having recently moved from London to Brussels (where the NATO headquarter is located), I would be please to meet and host him either in Brussels or Taranto, should he find himself in any of the two cities.

    Best regards

    • Thank you very much for your comments.

      • I am almost brought to tears reading what has become of Taranto…I’m 57 yrs. old…My childhood memories begin there…I swam in unbelievably clean water…Lava flow, tidal pools…We lived for the beaches…How can any nation allow such a thing to occur? Mark Mackey – Former Resident of Taranto, Italy…

      • Taranto has such stunning natural beauty. It is so sad to see it spoilt.

      • Jerry,

        I hope to one day return to Italy and visit Taranto…and the place of my birth, Etain, France…My wife and I were curious as to how someone lands a job, like yours, traveling about the globe? I’ve always been a traveler/carpetbagger, due to my upbringing in the military, then due to my various jobs throughout my adult life…Need any help? 🙂 Mark Mackey

  25. […] and “tarantula” both originated in the city of Taranto, Italy, a picturesque but purportedly polluted seaport where the bites of these spiders were once believed to cause wild spasms of frantic […]

  26. Born there. Escaped Taranto 23 years ago.
    To fix its problems you don’t need Environmentalists, you need Geneticists (and a Team of very good ones…)

  27. You are clearly very biased – you are comparing it to…..?

  28. Only someone with a QI below zero can think of taking into consideration all the rubbish that you wrote in this article!
    First of all: where are all the world famous tourist attractions of the city?? Where are the descpritions of museums, hypogaeus, castles, churches?
    Do you really think that a tourist would die within the days of a vacation because of pollution? What about other world-renowned cities with the same problem? Would you write the same about London and Los Angeles?
    Most of all: have you been to Taranto? I really don’t think so. It looks like you just copied and pasted whatever negative you found on the net. I’d be glad to be your guide and try to change your mind.

    • I came, I saw, I left

      • Sorry, but you came and left, but you didn’t see. Your words are misleading and unprofessional. Pity.

      • I’m glad, though, that you had enough time to see every single tourist destination in Italy (we’re talking about at least 10,000 places!) in order to say that Taranto is the worst of them. Good for you!

  29. I am currently visiting my in-laws in Italy for a month and while I cannot speak to the truthfulness of much of what you say, (I won’t fact check you, but I believe there is a lot of pollution damage caused by Ilva), I can say that even though I’m from one of the most pristine cities in the world, Seattle, I can appreciate Taranto’s story and its people, even with it’s filth, corruption and crowded chaos.

    Did you visit the National Archeological Museum? It is clean, organized, professional and it’s fascinating to see the myriad of Greek, Roman and Byzantine artifacts found over the years, right under our feet! Did you visit the various archaeological sites around the city? The tomb of the athlete who won awards at the original Olympic Games in Athens? The Ancient Greek (Spartan) burial chambers? The necropolis? Did you see the cathedrals built on Roman temples that were built on Greek temples in la citta vecchia? Did you see the Crypt of the Redeemer, with frescoes of Christ, his apostles, and hear the associated legends of Paul and his first baptisms in present-day Taranto?

    The surrounding countryside should also not be missed by a traveler as seasoned as you claim to be. Scattered trulli among the olive trees and rolling hills make for some uniquely beautiful drives. Martina Franca, Alberobello, Matera, Cisternino, Ostuni and many, many more villages are more beautiful and fascinating from a historical perspective than anything I’ve seen in Northern Italy.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Jerry. I have visited Taranto numerous times, and each time I come, I am surprised by it’s fascinating history, charmed by the people, and can’t wait to come back again.

  30. I must add a few other reasons why Taranto is worth visiting.

    Have you seen Cathedral San Cataldo with it’s Byzantine era mosaic floors and adjacent chapel made completely with fitted marble? This church itself has countless stories to tell as it is the oldest cathedral in Puglia. And its sepulchre with frescoes of many saints, including one of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of nearby Bari should not be missed.

    How about the British Commonwealth Cemetery of WWI soldiers on the outskirts of town? It is pristine and still kept up by the Commonwealth. It’s a sacred place and transplants the visitor to a significant time in the city’s recent history.

    Have you taken a boat tour of the city? It’s stunning, especially at night in the summer and, no doubt, you’ll learn fascinating, little known facts about Taranto. Make sure and bring a translator if you don’t speak Italian, but even if you can’t do that, the view of the city from the sea gives you an unmatched perspective.

    I have given you a significant list of reasons to come back for a true visit of Taranto, and I know even I haven’t seen everything yet!

    • Well said!

  31. If you claim to be an acculturated tourist, maybe you shouldnt’ describe Taranto’s “Ponte Girevole” as 2000 years old while it was built in 1887. Does it really look like medieval? Also, clams farming was stopped two years ago because of the pollution level, but brackish waters are exactly what made them one of the best variety of clams in Italy. Water supplies are perfectly safe, too. Taranto’s citizens are victims, don’t keep hitting them with your inaccurate journalism. I must add, finally, that since you were including Palermo in your list of “worst tourist places in Italy” everything you write suddenly became untrustable. Listing some facts doesn’t make you a tourism blogger, wish i could read some good sides of your staying in Taranto but you preferred sensationalism.

    • Thanks, Vito! Well said!

    • Anyone dare say anything negative and look what it gets you! I lived there three years! I married there. I worked part time as an interpreter, along with my other duties. .I never saw anything worthy of mentioning.. A few ancient things in a small museum lend little to a place being something to go out of your way to see. The Appian Way was NOT through Taranto. Other cities, e.g., Lecce and Brindisi, to name a couple, had things to see. There is little vegetation in the area (Apulia- the heel of Italy)).. A lot of tourists visiit the Trulli area which is fairly unique. Let Taranto rest. Some day it may be worth visiting. AND yes, the beaches are terribly polluted. If there is any sewage treatment for the city you’d never know it!!!

      Jerry never made up a thing. He was honest and on target!

      • Thank you sir!

      • Dear J. Williams,
        the fact that you didn’t see anything worth mentioning during your 3-year-long stay in Taranto doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to see. You must look for things to see in order to see them. I can see, though, that falsehood calls for falsehood! The Appian Way DID pass through Taranto: it was actually the only way under the Roman Empire that could connect both the Ionian See (Taranto, the old Tarentum) and the Adriatic See (Brindisi, the old Brundisium) with Rome. Lecce didn’t even exist at that time. Look it up in any history book and you’ll see. I can understand that tastes are personal, and that you don’t like Taranto (many do and many don’t), but it’s not fair to lie about it.

      • Mr J. Williams, I will just repeat what Tom has said: if you do not look for things they will come on your way. The Città Vecchia of Taranto is rich with history, unfortunately not many know it, as often churches and cloisters are closed because of the lack of funds to mantain them open, but anyway they are beautiful and interesting. Maybe you dont even know there is a mosaic in the Cathedral depicting Federico II as the Devil. Maybe you have never seen the baroque marbles. Maybe you have never seen san Domenico cloister, or Palazzo d’Aquino. Defining small the Museum of Taranto is laughable as it has one the largest collection of ancient Greek exhibits in Italy.

  32. Taranto is polluted… but Puglia is not only Taranto. If you want nature and aquamarine, fresh unpolluted sea and joiful people you can go fourty Kms far away from Taranto for example in Castellaneta Marina or on the east side in Campomarino di Maruggio. IN THIS WONDERFUL sea you can see every day playing dolphins….And you can relax having wonderful baths at a low price.

    • Puglia is a treasure. Taranto could be too, but it seems to prefer profit and pollution over nature.

  33. Hi, mr. Garrett. I was born and raised in Taranto, and i’m not one of those “fanatics” who have to scream everytime how much their city is the best place in the world. So I will try to give you an honest “inside look” about this weird city.

    1) Taranto is basically the Detroit of Italy. Glorious Past, Awful Destiny.

    2) Yes, we’re actually one of the worst places in our country. Our Government makes a ranking, every year, of all the italian cities ordered by quality of life and we’ve never been further away from the third-last place. So yes, we’re statistically and officially a very bad place. And even if I really apprecciate the power and the pride of some citizens who continue to scream that our city is the most beautiful city in the world, unfortunately..that’s not true. And if you belevie it, you’ve never been in any other city. It’s enough to move even a few kilometers to understand how much the world is different. Taranto is an awful place…but it could have been an awesome place. We traded our past for a steel monster, and the social attitudes that ensued from it will never be changed.

    History teaches us what happens when you build an entire city around a single, ill, business. We are a living monument to this fatal mistake. We have hundreds of archaeological excavations abandoned and closed to the public. Our “old town” is a microcosm of anarchy, crime and degradation left to itself without control, without support from the authorities and without a way to escape. Yeah, like the Old Town in Sin City but with less glamour.

    But..unfortunately many areas of southern Italy are in very very similar social and economic conditions..destroyed by corruption, poor administrative management, crime and unemployment.

    3) Yes, Taranto is insanely full of crime for such a small town. The equation is the same: from a Working Class city we became an Unemployed Class City. My parents are unemployed. And I break my back since I was sixteen to afford for the awfully high italian university studies costs. Poverty brings ignorance, ignorance brings degradation and degradation turns into violence and crime. I don’t feel safe. Even walking through the crowded downtown shops, on the weekend, with families and smiling children around you, you have to be careful to avoid the gaze of the thousands of kids from the “ghettos”, if you don’t like 1 vs 10 fights.

    But..we’re just the 81st most dangerous place in Italy, according to our Justice Minister, in a ranking of 106 city. Surprisingly the first is the unsuspected Milan! But of course it’s easier to dissipate insecurity among 3 million people in a rich, well organized and advanced city, rather than in an handful of people of a small, dirty and odd looking town. I myself feel safer in milan.

    4) No. We’re not New Dehli. Our water is safe to drink and comes from a larger aqueduct that brings water in other cities. And the food that you will eat in the restaurants is not contaminated like in Pripyat and very often not even comes from our area, but comes from all over Italy and the world, as in any other city of the Europe. And hey, food in Italy is always awesome.

    5) No. To be fair our beaches are among the most populars in all the country. But the best beaches are not IN the town itself. They are not far from the city, along the coasts, the promenades and villages..Probably a little ‘hard to find for a foreign tourist, because of our bad (practically absent) information service or tourists assistance.

    By the way..yeah, you will probably find sweaty people in bikini in every beach in the world. Because you know, summer is just hot.

    6) No. Anyone I’ve ever known has ever seen a tarantula in his life. Maybe in some exotic pet store?

    7) Sadly, the pollution problem in Taranto, and ILVA almost total impunity, is something that surpasses all possible conception of human rights violations. Our government did nothing, the EU did nothing. Italy is one of the most important countries in the “advanced and civilized” Europe (we’re in the G8) but nobody seems to care of this problem. You know, Taranto is pretty far away from Rome, Florence, Milan, Turin and the other Cool italian cities. They’re not in danger. Europe is not in danger, so..what’s the problem, huh? I can see the mortal smokestacks even now. What a beautiful world!

    Well. That was my analysis. Even if your article is more about news stories and wiki facts regarding the city instead of a real review, I can’t blame you for having such a bad first impression. I was born here and the most selfish and cruel thing I could do would be to force my future son to grow here. So, i know that. This is not a city for tourists, and this is just not a place where people or animals should live. In any case, we should question about the guilt of this situation, about of those who have allowed this to happen and why no-one cares nothing about. So thanks anyway for discussing it with the world.

    Best Regards.

    • Thank you for your valuable comments. What Ilva has been able to do this area is indeed shocking. And criminal! How I wish Taranto was able to return to its past glor…

  34. Hi Jerry,

    You certainly weren’t too hard on Taranto in regards to it’s pollution problem. However, you have done Taranto and it’s people a real disservice in your write-up. In actual fact, Taranto is a fascinating place, with loads to see and do. You’ve neglected to mention any of its tourist attractions, unique events, architecture, legends or history (Okay, you did mention the Battle of Taranto). Why not? Contrary to your title, it’s actually a great tourist destination. What it isn’t, is a great place to live long term.

    ILVA and ENI have ravaged the environment. It’s a scandal, but it’s also a really complex issue. I heard that combined they generate something like 20% of Italy entire GDP. I’m not sure how accurate that figure is, but in any case I’m sure their contribution to the national GDP is massive. Italy’s economy is not doing well. That’s why they have been allowed to get away with it for so long.

    They are also the biggest employers in the area. Closing down outright would cause massive unemployment. I’ve actually seen local employees on Italian television begging for the plants to stay open. They’re terrified of not being able to provide for their families.

    Worst of all, the pollution has been linked to a lot of health problems. But you have to remember Jerry, those people experiencing illness due to the pollution are the residents. those people that have been breathing their air all of their lives. Visiting occasionally as a tourist is much less dangerous. Please don’t write articles that damage Taranto’s current and future tourist industries – the people will read need these in the future to support the local economy and provide employment. Remember all those unemployed ILVA and ENI workers that’ll be kicking around if/when the plants get shut down!

    Now, let me tell you about just a few of the interesting stories and tourist attractions Taranto has to offer.

    Taranto is unique in being the only Greek Spartan city in Italy. There’s a great legend about how the city was founded, I recommend you to look it up.

    Taranto has one of the most stunning cathedral dome’s in Italy, in the Cattedrale S. Cataldo in the old town. The old town is fascinating, full of hidden temple ruins, churches, secret catacombs, narrow alleyways, hidden piazzas, and the 15th century Aragon Castle.

    Taranto is a great place to see dolphins!

    Taranto is the home of panzerotti, which go great with the local beer, Raffo.

    Local food, including seafood is fantastic.

    The unique Easter processions through the city – the masked Perdune, the Procession of Our Lady of Sorrows, – things you can’t see anywhere else.

    There are beautiful beaches just a short drive away south past Talsano. The best beaches are those that are clubs. They say “members only” but you can always get in by paying a couple of euros. The teenagers who don’t want to hang about with old folks or young screaming kids go to the free beaches, and as such they often leave behind cigarette butts and beer bottles as most teenagers will. Maybe that’s where you’ve been?

    Taranto is nearby to so many beautiful and interesting places, so the area as a whole is highly recommended.

    Taranto is the home of the Tarantella. I think you got confused about the spiders… Tarantella is a part dance, part spiritual exorcism, where girls dance and spin wildly to Pizzica (meaning “Sting”, i.e. sting of the spider) music, often ending up convulsing on the floor. The old ladies would say it was that this dance was the only way to sweat out the venom of the wolf spider. I was told by locals that the dance was more about rebelling against sexual repression. Anyway, it is the root of the word tarantula, BUT not the same spider that we call a tarantula today. The dance relates to the wolf spider – barely venomous at all. The locals just think it is. They’re funny like that and have a few unfounded fears. For example, that if you touch a gecko it will leave a permanent mark on your skin. Who knows why?

    By they way, I have been to Taranto many times. I’ve seen loads of geckos. I have never once seen any spider of any kind.

    To address some of your other points. I’ve never found the traffic in Taranto any worse than anywhere else in Italy.

    I’m not sure why you mentioned the presence of the Navy as a negative? Neither positive nor negative in my view.

    I also don’t agree that crime is particularly bad there. Anyway, petty crime is a socio-economic problem. Unemployment is at root of any crime you might have experienced.

    The vast majority of people are extremely friendly and helpful. It doesn’t have the character of reputation of somewhere like Napoli where tourists are a target for scammers and people trying to take advantage of you.

    The people of Taranto have been given a really rough deal and deserve clean air, good health, employment and respect. All of their problems stem from the industrial plants. They didn’t ask for these big industries to establish themselves on their doorsteps. One of Taranto’s best hopes for the future is to become a popular tourist destination.

    Hopefully anyone considering factoring a Taranto into their trip to Puglia won’t be put off by what you’ve written.

    • Hi Rob,
      Thanks for your comments and worthwhile insights. Yes, I was drawn to Taranto for exactly the attractions you mention. I was just shocked when I arrived and saw the pollution, corruption and neglect. Taranto is not unique in these kinds of problems, individually, but I don’t know of anyplace in Italy that has ALL of them. And yes, for the record I was just noting the town’s name and the non-hairy wolf spiders found there were the origin of the word tarantula. The big creepy spiders we more commonly know as tarantulas are mainly found in the southwestern United States, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, Australia and Africa. There are, however, more than 900 species in the tarantula family – of which the wolf spider is one. I encourage anyone who wants clarification on the subject to consult the very comprehensive page on Wikipedia.

  35. By writing this article you are NOT HELPING the situation change in any way. There are so many things in Taranto which make it a unique destination. it is a pity really that you cannot look beyond what the news say and the terrorism they are spreading. Facts are that levels of air pollution have diminished significantly in a year. As for water, i will just say that dolphins have made Taranto their cradle, with two species (stenella and grampus griseus) raising their baby dolphins in the waters of Taranto. You are ill informed.

    • “Levels of air pollution have diminished significantly in a year…” I call that a win. Glad a few people are starting to realize the problems of Taranto were reaching a tipping point, and something needed to be done. I hope more improvements are on the way.

  36. Dear Jerry: remain in your sad, dark and filthy city in GB! We don’t need you!
    What do you think about your industrial towns? I don’t think they are better!
    Regarding Taranto, I think you should know better what you write : don’t tell silly and false thinks ( tarantola, medieval roads..).

    • Who is British?

      • Even worse Maria, hes AMERICAN!

  37. I think that this article is soo negative! Pollution is everywhere! Look at London or Los Angeles! Taranto is a beautiful city with so much to do and all you talked about was pollution hah! About the people in speedos and brazilians, thats their culture, its what they wear, and if you don’t like it and cant accept it, stay in America.

  38. Did America invade Lombardia?

    • No, ma i lombardi hanno invaso l’America (did you means USA?)
      Mi sono preso la liberta’ di essere maleducato (spero sia ancora possibile esserlo senza conseguenze penali) visto che ti sei preso la liberta’ di fare e di far sapere al mondo una lista di soli punti negativi (like a checklist) giusto per essere d’accordo con te stesso. Dove e’ la lista dei punti positivi? Hai cominciato le 2 liste nello stesso momento? O hai cominciato, proseguito e finito solo la lista negativa?
      Il commento piu’ giusto potrebbe essere: “Anche le pulci hanno la tosse”.

  39. I see you made no mention of the imposing Aragon Castle, which happens to offer free guided tours daily. I think the two Doric columns opposite the fortress merit a word or two as does the entrancing Città Vecchia with its crumbling palazzi and functioning medieval churches. Pollution aside, Taranto is a city that is easy to get around, is relatively tourist-free and a history buff could happily lose oneself in the past whilst exploring the myriad alleyways and narrow streets of the Città Vecchia.

  40. WHY SO MUCH HATE? IGNORANCE CREATES HATE. REMEMBER THAT.

  41. This article has not sense,…Taranto has some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy and its history makes the city very awesome.
    It’s right that some years ago, the pollution was one the most elevated in all the Europe, but now, the industry has closed the majority part of its
    departments.
    This article is made up by ignorance….
    Taranto has 2 seas (1 internal the city-Mar Piccolo- and one external -Mar Grande-) a river (eulogised by Orazio), a beautiful weather, the Martà (one the most important italian museum), the Aragon Castle, all the fantastic “old town”, and the unique Swing Bridge (Ponte Girevole) the only one in Italy.
    Furthermore the city was praised during the history by Virgilio, Orazio and etc.. so please inquire before writing this crap.

    • You may notice this article was written a few years ago now. If the area has been cleaned up in the years since then, that’s great. My point is this: Taranto is an area of great natural beauty. I hope the industrial polluters will see this and stop what they have done – and now clean it up! The people of Taranto deserve respect for their environment.

      • One point should not be forgotten: you have to offer job alternatives, or create the market conditions for such job to flourish.
        We have examples of closed big industrial comples which had been followed by… nothing. Bagnoli, just to stay in Italy and to speak of something I know well, but we can think to the rust belt as well, in which nothing but a giant void has been left.

  42. Please forgive the massive amount of typos, it’s late and I’m tired. 🙂


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