Paestum

 

14 July 2017

When, in Naples, Stefan declared himself exhausted by all the Roman ruins Italy had treated us to I was slightly concerned about my planned day trip from our stop in Agropoli. However, on the basis that it was Greek ruins and not Roman I felt sure he would appreciate the difference!

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With poor Suzie from SV Toy Buoy incapacitated with a bad back, we thought she needed some peace and quiet so took Mike with us. We hadn’t left the station before the first age related jokes started.

Like Ostia Antica and despite its relative proximity to Naples and Salerno, the archaeological site of Paestum is remarkably uncrowded and is simply remarkable. We knew from our tour of the underground city in Naples that the Greeks had been in Italy before the Romans. Paestum was founded by them in the 6th century BC and named Poseidonia after the Greek god of the sea. Taken by the Romans in 273BC it retains to this day three incredibly preserved Greek temples.

The Temple of Neptune dates from 450BC and only its walls and roof are missing. We suspect that heading to Greece, these might be the first but not the last Doric columns we are going to see on our travels!

Next door is the smaller but equally spectacular Temple of Hera, even older from the mid 6th century BC.

And at the other end of the site is the Temple of Ceres originally dedicated to Athena.

In between we wandered through areas of housing. We were disappointed to find the pool at the House with the Pool empty of water. On such a scorching hot day we could have done with a dip! We also found the amphitheatre, cut in two by the modern road and the circular stepped seats of the council chamber. Apparently the Romans were not such big fans of democracy and when they took the city built over this forum for debate and decision making.

Inside the (slightly underwhelming) museum we found some of the reliefs which would have clad the buildings.

There was also a large collection of beautiful painted stone tombs including the 5th century BC Tomb of the Diver, rare for the time in depicting a human form.

After all the walking around the site we let the old man have a lie down in the shade and bought ourselves a granita (flavoured crushed ice) to cool down. Stefan regretted his choice of menthol flavour although it did turn his tongue a lovely shade of green!

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Selfie, with the old relic

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