Paestum was at one time a Greek settlement, founded in the 6th century BC, in the former Magna Greca. It’s located in present day Campania on the Cilento Coast, which is south of the beaten path that is the Amalfi Coast.
The Greeks named their settlement Poseidonia and it thrived and survived until sometime around 270 BC when it was conquered by the Romans and renamed Paestum.
How did the temples survive the ages? Apparently, Paestum began a slow decline beginning in the 4th century through the 7th century, and then malaria-carrying mosquitoes moved in and took over.
The entire site became overgrown, helping to keep the temples hidden and, more important, from being destroyed.
Paestum is an amazing site to visit and worth a day trip if you’re staying on the Amalfi coast. It’s really just as deserted as these photos suggest, making it a special and personal experience.
While visiting Paestum, we had a marvelous al fresco lunch adjacent to the site at Ristorante Nettuno. And don’t miss the amazing dairy, Tenuta Vannulo, around 12 km from the archeological site, for the best mozzarella di bufala anywhere. They have amazing yogurt and other products made from buffalo milk, as well.
If all of that is not enough reason to visit, check out this video from Khan Academy for more insight and information about the temples, their history and their archeological significance.
- Day Tripping – Amalfi Coast to Paestum (dreaminginitalian.org)
- Holidays in Cilento, Campania, Italy (vino-con-vista.blogspot.com)
- Roman ruins, Greek ruins, ruined knees and rheumatism. (patanddavidinitaly.com)
- Italy’s Cilento Coast (travelandleisure.com)