imageOn our trip to Lecce we visited the castle at Tarento. An iron swivel bridge from 1958, which tore out one of the castle turrets when it was made, connects the castle (which is on an island at the mouth of the harbor) to the mainland.

Padlocks cover the railings of the bridge.  The first time we walked over the bridge we didn’t know what the locks were for, but the second time we looked more closely and my Dad suggested that maybe couples put the locks up there when they decided to be together.  Later we discovered that this tradition was started about 20 years ago in Italy but now it is popular worldwide.  After the padlocks are secured couples will throw the key in the water.

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Sometimes two padlocks are connected to each other.  The top one says: insieme grazie al fato (“together thanks to fate”); the bottom one: 1 anno insieme (“one year together”).

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The translation: “Always, however, wherever”

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We would later also see a lamppost covered in padlocks next to the Roman amphitheater in Lecce:

Lecce lamppost locks

Lecce lamppost locks

But back to Taranto…

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Here we are at the castle in Tarento

Entrance to the castello

Entrance to the castello

The castello is owned and operated by the Italian navy. They gave us a tour, even into some of the passages underneath. When they started to restore the castle eight years ago, they found a secret passage cut in the rock under the shipping channel leading to the other side (there used to be a drawbridge across there too). It’s 18 meters under the water.

the door

The secret underwater passage comes out at the arched door on the right side across the channel.

They also found weird things buried in the walls, including a cat, walled alive into the masonry near the foundations. It sort of turned into a mummy. They had it in a dusty glass case with some other things they found. The guide said that maybe it was a black cat and they had killed it so it didn’t inflict bad luck on the castle or maybe it was another type of cat and they had put it in the walls for good luck when defending the castle.

The poor cat

The poor cat

There was also a Roman aqueduct channel at the bottom, and a fresh-water spring. The castle sits on its own rock island within the island that guards the harbor.

The aqueduct channel

The aqueduct channel under the castle. My dad was excited.

Micah liked exploring there.

Munchkin firing a cannon

Munchkin firing a cannon