16. From Bari to Taranto.
Distance 5U2 31. Railway (opined 1SCS) in 4'4 hrs.; tans 12 1. 65.
8 1. 90, 6 1. 35 c.
Stations Modugno, Bitetto, lirumo, Aequavira, Gioia, a town
with 14,000 inhab. The journey thence is at first uninteresting.
The Terra di Bari is quitted, and the Terra d'Otranto entered.
The following stations are .9. linsilio , < astellaneta, I'alagiariello,
Palagiano-Mottola , Massafra , prettily situated on the slope of a
limestone hill. Extensive plantations of olives are passed as
Taranto is approached.
Taranto (Albergo Fleury, or Europa, in the Piazza, excellent
fish), a fortified town with a population of 17.000. situated on a
rocky island at the entrance of the Mare Piccolo , a natural har¬
bour, enclosed by two promontories, to which the ancient town
owed its prosperity. It is divided into two portions by the pro¬
montories II Pizzone and Punta della Penna. At the E. extremity
is the influx of the river Cervaro , which is believed to be the
Gahesus of the ancients. At the S. extremity, :V4 M. from Taranto,
stands the villa of S. Lucia, once the property of the celebrated
archbishop Capeculatro (d. 1816), afterwards of General Pepe, now
in a dilapidated state, but worthy of a visit. This i< the finest
point in the environs; the harbour, enclosed by olive-dad hills,
the insular Taranto, the luxuriant gardens and the distant moun¬
tains of Calabria and Basilicata present a pleasing picture.
The streets of the town are narrow and gloomy, and although
Taranto is the residence of an archbishop and the seat of govern¬
ment of the district, it presents a sombre and deserted appea¬
rance. The * Cathedral of S. Catablo contains among-d several
important monuments that of Philip of Taranto, son of Charles II.
of Anjou and his consort Catharine of Valois.
The ancient Taras, as it was called in Greek, or Tarentum, was one of
the mightiest and most opulent cities of Magna Grsecia. Founded by Spartan
Parthenians under Psalanthos, B.C. 707, in a beautiful and fertile district.
to the S. of Jit. Aulon, W. of the influx of the fialsesus, it was specially
protected by Poseidon and subsequently rose by its commerce and navigation
to great wealth, which eventually led to a fatal degree of luxury. It pos¬
sessed an army of 30,000 infantry and 5000 cavalry, vessels of war and
other resources. The citadel stood on the rocky island now occupied by
the town; the ancient town stood on a promontory to the NAV. and pos¬
sessed spacious streets, a forum, theatre and museum. Here Pythagoras
once taught his philosophy, which was carried to greater perfection by the
great mathematician Archytas of Tarentum fHor. (Id. I. 2Nj. Tarentum
defended itself with the a'id ol Pyrrhus against the attacks of Home, but
after his departure succumbed, II. r. 2(2. In tic 2nd Punic war it revolted
in favour of Hannibal, but in 200 was reconquered by the Romans, plun¬
dered, despoiled of its works of art, and 30.UOU of its citizens were sold as
slaves. In 123 the Romans sent a colony to Tarentum and by means of
its commerce (especially celebrated for its purple and wooli it soon lo^e a
second time to affluence". Thus in lb .race's time Tarentum was a favorite