I say Taranto and I think: the town of two seas, the turning bridge, Cheradi Islands and breathtaking sunsets from the Lungomare. Those who have been in Taranto at least once in their life know what I'm talking about and have an idea of how important the sea is for it. Without the sea, Taranto would feel lost: the has given to it everything, even its patron saint. Those who have arrived in this place from Mar Grande or have had the luck to make a boat tour on the two seas of Taranto may have notice the statue of a man dressed as a bishop at the entry of the harbour. Who is he? He's Saint Catald, the patron saint of Taranto, indeed.
|Taranto from Mar Grande|
This Irish monk arrived in Taranto from the sea in the 7th century and went ashore exactly in the same harbour that nowadays hosts the ships of the Navy. According to the legend, the saint arrived in Taranto by divine will. Indeed, during a pilgrimage in Holy Land, he had a vision of Jesus who told him to go in a town that was a victim of paganism and to re-evangelize it, Taranto. What could the good Catald do if not to obey diligently? Could he criticise orders coming from above? Obviously not! And here he was, sailing towards Taranto.
You must know that Saint Catald is also known for several miracles. He had already made many of them and once in Taranto got down to work. Always according to the legend, actually, at his arrival in Mar Piccolo, he was welcomed by a storm, but he didn't let it intimidate him and throw into the sea his pastoral ring to calm it. With that simple act not just the storm was placated, but a "citro" - a source of freshwater - was created in the exact point where it fell and nowadays it is called "Saint Catald's Ring". This was the first of many of Saint Catald's miracles in this town, of which he became the bishop,too.
On May, 8th, 9th and 10th people of Taranto celebrate their beloved patron saint with an evocative parade. On the first day, a parade by boat of the statue of the saint on a ship given by the Navy, from Mar Grande to Mar Piccolo, recalls the arrival of the saint in the town, renewing his bless. It's a sight that people of Taranto and not don't want to miss and those who haven't the luck to join the parade with a boat, join it looking at the procession from the Lungomare. Seeing the parade of the ship carrying the saint, followed by little boats, with the Castle and fireworks on the background make you feel the atmosphere of joy and love that people of Taranto have for their patron saint.
|Saint Catald - the parade on earth|
Then, there are folk and singing shows and you can find spots where you can eat in the little streets of the old centre. On the last day, there is another parade, on earth this time, which ends this festive period that honours the saint who did so much good for this town.