Taranto

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Taranto (Italian pronunciation: [ˈtaːranto]  ( listen); Latin: Tarentum; Ancient Greek: Τάρᾱς Tarās; Modern Greek: Τάραντας Tarantas; Taranto's dialect "Tarde") is a coastal city in Apulia, 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 the 2001 census, it has a population of 201,349.

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.

Contents

Overview

Taranto's pre-history dates back to 706 BC when it was founded as a Greek colony. The ancient city was situated on a peninsula, protected by a helm; the modern city has been built over the ancient Greek necropolis.

The islets of S. Pietro and S. Paolo (St. Peter and St. Paul) 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 old city, and there fishing is flourishing; Mar Piccolo is a military port with a 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. 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 Greek colonists from Sparta called the city Taras (Τάρας), after the mythical hero Taras, while the Romans, who connected the city to Rome with an extension of the Appian way, called it Tarentum.

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