Salerno

Discover Paestum

You will meet your guide at the pier and you will reach Paestum where you will have a guided tour of the archeological area.

One of Italy’s most majestic sights lies on the edge of a flat coastal plain: the remarkably preserved Greek temples of Paestum. This is the site of the ancient city of Poseidonia, founded by Greek colonists probably in the 6th century BC. When the Romans took it over in 273 BC, they Latinized the name to Paestum and changed the layout of the settlement, adding an amphitheater and a forum. Much of the archaeological material found on the site is displayed in the well-labeled Museo Nazionale, and several rooms are devoted to the unique tomb paintings—rare examples of Greek and pre-Roman pictorial art—discovered in the area.

At the northern end of the site opposite the ticket barrier is the Tempio di Cerere (Temple of Ceres). Built in about 500 BC, it is thought to have been originally dedicated to the goddess Athena. Follow the road south past the Foro Romano (Roman Forum) to the Tempio di Nettuno (Temple of Poseidon), a showstopping Doric edifice with 36 fluted columns and an entablature (the area above the capitals) that rivals those of the finest temples in Greece. Beyond is the so-called Basilica. The oldest of Paestum’s standing structures, it dates from the early 6th century BC. The name is an 18th-century misnomer, though, since it was, in fact, a temple to Hera, the wife of Zeus. Try to see the temples in the late afternoon, when the light enhances the deep gold of the limestone and tourists have left them almost deserted.

 

Pompeii and Herculaneum

A very knowledgeable local guide will meet you at the port and you will depart to Pompeii excavations where you will enjoy a 2 hrs guided tour.

In 79 AD, Pompeii was an active Roman town in the outskirts of Naples; this area of Italy, situated south of Rome, enjoys a splendid climate and used to be so prosperous and wealthy that the ancient ones called it “Campania felix”, happy Campania.

The 20,000 inhabitants of Pompeii did not even know they lived on the slope of an active volcano. The tragedy, the sudden darkening of the sky, the continuous rain of burning ash, caught them totally unprepared. It is believed that only a thousand survived, and those who did, escaped because they fled, as fast as they could, as soon as the catastrophe began. But for those who remained, simply thinking or hoping that the disaster was going to be over fast, there was no way out.

All this old world was destroyed, and preserved under hardened ash for centuries. Today Pompeii’s ruins are known all over the world, but their discovery only began in the 18th century. And what archaeologists found was a clear and valuable fragment of the ancient Roman world. So, walking through Pompeii’s roads, still marked by the age-old transit of the wagons, is like being transported back in time by 2,000 years.

Once at the site, the tour will be conducted on foot. The viewing of the main part of the archaeological site will allow you to relive the former atmosphere thanks to your guide who will share all his or her historical knowledge with you. You will be able to visit the huge forum, great temples, homes, shops and most of the buildings that were buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 ad by ash and pumice stone.

After Pompeii, you will proceed to Herculaneum.

Lying more than 60 feet below the present-day town of Ercolano, the ruins of Herculaneum are set among the acres of greenhouses that make this area one of Europe’s principal flower-growing centers. About 5,000 people lived here when it was destroyed; many of them were fishermen, craftsmen, and artists. In AD 79 the gigantic eruption of Vesuvius (which also destroyed Pompeii) buried the town under a tide of volcanic mud. The semiliquid mass seeped into the crevices and niches of every building, covering household objects and enveloping textiles and wood—sealing all in a compact, airtight tomb.

Casual excavation began in the 18th century, but systematic digs were not initiated until the 1920s. Today less than half of Herculaneum has been excavated; with present-day Ercolano and the unlovely Resina Quarter (famous among bargain hunters for its secondhand-clothing market) sitting on top of the site, progress is limited. From the ramp leading down to Herculaneum’s well-preserved edifices, you get a good overall view of the site, as well as an idea of the amount of volcanic debris that had to be removed to bring it to light.

Though Herculaneum had only one-fourth the population of Pompeii and has been only partially excavated, what has been found is generally better preserved. In some cases you can even see the original wooden beams, staircases, and furniture. Much excitement is presently focused on one excavation in a corner of the site, the Villa dei Papiri, built by Julius Caesar’s father-in-law. The building is named for the 1,800 carbonized papyrus scrolls dug up here in the 18th century, leading scholars to believe that this may have been a study center or library. Given the right funds and political support, it is hoped that the villa can be properly excavated and ultimately opened to the public.

 

Pompeii & Amalfi Coast

Pompeii and Naples

Naples and Caserta

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