Located in the Taranto province of Italy, Castellaneta is a medium-sized comune which has a population of around 17,000 people. The town is perhaps most visited for its array of churches that date back over the last few centuries, but Castellaneta is also just 20km from the coast of the Ionian Sea and the Gulf of Taranto, so offers an excellent base for both a beach holiday and visits to bigger cities such as Bari and Taranto.
The centre of Castellaneta has a number of historical buildings, and if this is your forte you will be well at home visiting old attractions such as the 13th century Chiesa di San Nicole, the 15th century Chiesa di Francesco d’Assisi and the 13th century Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Lucce – the latter of which is home to a number of interesting frescoes. Castellaneta’s most famous son was the actor Rudolf Valentino, and you will find a number of buildings and businesses named in his honour as you continue your stroll around town.
If you would rather get out and about exploring the local landscape, a strong recommendation is to visit the Gravina of Castellaneta. The area is home to a number of carved caves which were once inhabited by locals, but some of which are now used as churches. The reason for the cave-dwelling was the scarcity of trees in this part of Italy, and some residents also built their homes out of rocks. Some of these layered rock structures (known as trulli) still stand, and can be seen at various points both in the town centre and the surrounding countryside.
Castellaneta is 20km by road from the nearest town of Mottola, and this old destination makes for a great day trip. Mottola has a number of ancient churches and cathedrals, and is well-visited for its elevated position 400 metres above sea-level, which permits some stunning views from around the town. Taranto, the capital of the province of the same name, can be reached in around 45 minutes by car and boasts the best amenities in the region.
Average high temperatures in January in Castellaneta are a mild 12C, and these increase by two or three degrees every month until the hottest months of July and August, which often see temperatures above 30C. If you are intent on avoiding the rainfall it is best to visit Castellaneta between April and August – though the old short shower is unavoidable whenever you visit.
Taranto Airport does not receive direct flight from the UK, so the best way of getting to Castellaneta is to fly to Bari Airport (BRI), which is 69km to the south of the town. The airport (which is also known as Palese Airport), receives UK flights from British Airways and Ryanair. The use of a hire car is the best way of getting to your Castellaneta accommodation.