The influence of ancient Greek civilization is much greater than we think. And it is not only in what we call today Greece .
It is in the province of Salerno not far from the irreverent Amalfi Coast which resides – and resists – one of the largest and best preserved temple complexes in Ancient Greece: the Paestum .
Today an archaeological site unmissable to visit in Campania region , just half an hour from the city of Salerno around here we find three large Greek temples, tombs and other buildings.
Built in the 7th century BC, well older than the Colosseum , Paestum was a large city in Magna Graecia, in the south of the Italian peninsula, serving as a prosperous commercial center. The state it is currently in is impressive, with its massive columns built in travertine – a type of limestone rock.
With all this historical, cultural and social weight, it is no wonder that the city is UNESCO World Heritage close to the cultural landscapes of Cilento mountainous region of Campania.
And the most interesting thing, which leaves a hint of mystery in the air, is that most of the site has not yet been excavated. In April this year, some artifacts were discovered during excavations at a Greek temple along the walls of the ancient city, among them the image of Eros, the god of sex, riding a dolphin.
Are there more discoveries ahead?
What to visit in Paestum
Since it was a large city, Paestum expands over around 120 hectares and is surrounded by a wall that is almost five kilometers long and more than 10 meters high. The ancient Greek city today belongs to the commune of Capaccio .
Originally called Posidonia , the city continued to exist in the Roman Empire, but ended up abandoned over time, including decay in the Middle Ages. It was only rediscovered in the 18th century and today we are presented with a very well preserved piece of history.
Connected by a train station on the Naples-Salerno-Reggio Calabria line, ideal for a day trip to Salerno and the Amalfi Coast there are three almost intact temples that we can see up close, as well as ancient paths, tombs, a Roman forum, amphitheater and a modern museum.
The archaeological park is the heart of the ancient city and one of the biggest reasons to go to Capaccio. There are almost three thousand years of history that we breathe and see when we set foot here.
There are three main Doric temples in the archaeological park, all of which are surprisingly well preserved.
O temple of Hera goddess of women and marriage, is the oldest, dating from around 560 BC. One of the most majestic is the temple of Neptune also called the temple of Poseidon, erected in mid-5 BC There is also the temple of Athena built in following centuries.
And don’t worry: children also have fun and learn here. To recognize ancient Greek architecture, we just need to look at the large stone blocks that fit together, often with a hole in the middle, with other stones. To the little ones, I explained that they were like “Lego” pieces, with precise fittings.
Inside the ancient city we still find ruins of the Roman Forum and from one amphitheater .
It is important to note that to enter the old city it is necessary to pay a fee of €12 (around R$63) between March and December and €6 (R$31) between December and February. The ticket gives access to the archaeological site and the National Archaeological Museum of Paestum.
O Paestum National Archaeological Museum It was opened in the 1950s in the old city itself and has an internal garden and rooms that go back to objects, artifacts and the entire history of the place.
The museum itinerary takes us through the transformations of the city, since its foundation by the ancient Greeks, as well as changes in social spheres, religious rites, daily life, and crafts.
Viewpoint and typical restaurant
If you want a panoramic view of the old city with landscapes that extend to the sea, the tip is to leave the old city. Head to the Piazza Tempone in the center of the commune of Capaccio, where a terrace awaits us with privileged views of the surroundings.
If hunger strikes, the tip is La Dispensa di San Salvatore , which provides us with a delicious break. The project is a mix of an agricultural farm and a restaurant, that is, almost everything – around 80% – of what reaches our table is produced by themselves, such as wine, olive oil and buffalo.
We are surprised by a traditional cuisine that puts “nonna food” on the plate with regional products, such as artichokes, chickpeas, beans and wheat. It’s also worth stopping by the shop and enjoying the buffalo creams, with flavors ranging from pistachio to caramel and vanilla to hazelnut.
A stone’s throw from the Amalfi Coast
When we talk about the Campania region and the province of Salerno, however, the big star is the longed-for Amalfi Coast a region that comprises small towns on the banks of the waters of Tyrrhenian Sea an arm of the Mediterranean.
The rugged coast, with its cliffs, small beaches, fishing villages and pastel-colored houses, makes us sigh alongside the blue sea and lives up to its title of UNESCO World Heritage.
The cities are crossed by a coastal road of around 50 km that connects Sorrento to Salerno and passes through unique locations, with mouth-watering Italian cuisine and its own local culture.
Amalfi, Ravello and Positano are the best-known cities on the Amalfi Coast. Below, learn a little about each of them and include them in your itinerary for a trip to Italy:
Source: CNN Brasil
Johanna Foster is an expert opinion writer with over 7 years of experience. She has a reputation for delivering insightful and thought-provoking articles on a variety of subjects. Her work can be found on some of the top online news websites, and she is currently lending her voice to the world stock market.