Taranto (the stress is on the first syllable) was an important port even in Greek times, and it's still Italy's largest naval base. It lies toward the back of the instep of the boot on the broad Mare Grande bay, which is connected to a small internal Mare Piccolo basin by two narrow channels, one artificial and one natural. The old town is a series of palazzi in varying states of decay and narrow cobblestone streets on an island between the larger and smaller bodies of water, linked by causeways; the modern city stretches inward along the mainland. Circumnavigating the city can be quite tricky, with a confusing series of flyovers and junctions. Take it as slowly as you can and follow the signs for the centro storico (city center) where the main sights are situated.
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