The long-delayed urban regeneration project in Taranto, known as “the city of the two seas”, is finally taking shape. The area on the Southern Italian city’s waterfront, dominated by heavy rail, road and shipping infrastructure, is to be reclaimed and transformed into a public space with retail, cultural and leisure components.
Taranto is now “looking beyond steel” to a more sustainable future, local authorities said. For decades the city has been dominated by the massive and highly polluting Ilva steelworks, once the largest in Europe, which are set to undergo a clean-up operation which will cost up to €2 billion.
In the meantime, thanks to a €32 million contribution, half from the Italian government and half from the Taranto Port Authority, work will begin on the new waterfront. The idea is to provide a much-needed link between the port area and the city, with a pedestrian walkway that will connect the centre of town with the harbour.
“The project will not only improve the urban context and the environment but it will have a positive impact on the local economy,” said Rinaldo Melucci, Mayor of Taranto. “By offering services and leisure opportunities, the old town will finally become a destination for city users like students, commuters, workers and students.”
Another financial contribution of €88 million from EU funds should enable work to start soon on the new University campus on the other side of town, in a long-abandoned area with many obsolete buildings.
The new campus will focus on biotechnologies, green technology, aerospace and the “blue economy” that looks into the sustainable development of the sea and its resources. The so-called “Blu Campus” aims to be a high-tech research, innovation and teaching hub that could attract labs and start-ups and revitalise one of Italy’s economically depressed areas.