Sunday, December 03, 2006

Paestum 11.28.06

(so sorry, we are still not able to post photos but we are working on trying to resolve this problem. I just wanted to keep things moving and eventually (hopefully!!) be able to show you some images.)

A day in the ruins of Paestum

Paestum is the site of the only well-preserved Greek temples outside of Sicily. If you have been following our blog, you know that we have visited all of those! Agrigento, Selinunte, Segesta. All wonderful. Each site different from the other. We enjoyed every one. There is something so incredible about the first time you see these majestic golden stones against a brilliant blue sky and we wondered if it would be anticlimactic after those first visits to ancient Sicilian temple sites. It was not. Paestum was founded around 600 BC by Greek colonists, became Roman in 273 BC, began to decline by the 1st century BC, and was done in finally by malaria. Eventually it was abandoned and was swallowed up by the forests and swamps and completely forgotten. No one went there, fearing for their lives. It was only discovered again in the 18th century if you can imagine that, stumbled upon while they were building a road. We imagine that in Italy you can barely stick a shovel in the ground without hitting some archeological site.

Most of the excavations have been carried out as recently as the 1950s and I assume are still going on. The city itself seems huge. The ruins sit on an open plain, most of the trees having been cleared. There are still some wonderful huge umbrella pines and cypress and it is quite spectacular. We are fortunate to be here at this time of year as there were only a handful of other tourists wandering about and we practically had the place to ourselves. We arrived around 10am and were the last to leave around 4pm! The weather was gorgeous and the light, especially in the late afternoon was spectacular. It was so quiet, so serene, we felt so peaceful just to sit there and look up at these remarkably intact temples, all the columns standing, interior walls as well, without a single piece of scaffolding in sight. We toured the entire site, left for a few hours to have lunch and visit the museum that has on display all the finds they excavated - the jars and statues and the carvings from the temples themselves and some wonderful, unique, funerary frescoes, like the famous Tomb of the Diver (actually symbolic for journey to the afterlife).

The drive there was less than stellar along this straight stretch of the Gulf of Salerno. It still amazes us that there can be this amazing sea and yet the architecture (and I use this term generously) that runs along the coast can be so dreary and downright depressing. You would think they could fix up this area and make a wonderful seaside resort area but no, not exactly, and it simply astonishes and disappoints. We intend to drive further south of Paestum, along the Cilento Coast, which is supposed to have an attractive coastline.

Today the garbage trucks picked up the garbage! We began to notice on Sunday evening that the piles around the overflowing collection bins seemed to be multiplying. On Monday we thought perhaps they had not come yet and the weekend garbage was heavy. We knew that there were garbage strikes in Naples but didn't realize it reached down here as well and have not been happy to see it. Yesterday we asked Martine about it and she told us that sometimes they go on strike because there is no place to put the garbage. We don't totally understand this phenomenon and were not at all happy to see the piles and piles of trash along the roadsides, getting bigger and bigger. But this morning a garbage truck passed by our street here and seemed to be picking it all up. Yeah.

This morning we plan to go to Cava de'Tirreni. We stopped there one afternoon when all the shops were closed and want to go back. It looked like a nice place for a wander and it's very close to Vietri, just up the hill in fact.

A più tardi!
Rosemary e Roberto

1 comment:

Annika said...

I'm so jealous. You are where I want to be!

If you ever get to Amalfi again, and manage to get a good photo (which should be no problem for talented photographers like you), would you mind sending me one for my desktop? I would be so so so happy!