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José F. Grave de Peralta
Tour of Paestum:
The archeological site of PAESTUM, south of the Bay of NAPLES and Salerno is perhaps the largest and most impressive templar area in the Mediterranean. The city was founded during the time of so-called MAGNA GRECIA, long before the Golden Age of ATHENS and Sparta, and it boasts temples, houses, and hundreds of architectural and votive artifacts once used and inhabited by the thriving population of Greek colonists who formed what is referred to as MAGNA GRECIA.
The trip to PAESTUM may be made by train (from Rome, changing trains in Naples, approximately 4 1/2 hrs.) or by private automobile, and it merits staying overnight, in order to spend a full day visiting the archaeological museum and of course the grand Archaic age (6th century B.C.) temples and city. When Romans conquered the town in 273 B.C., they saved some of the Greek elements, transformed others, and "imposed" a Forum and other typical civic structures. Today one can clearly see the various layers of time and belief systems from the different epochs, including a rich collection of tomb frescoes dating back to the Greek period and also the Lucanian centuries in between the Magna Grecia era and the Roman. The perimeter of the ancient city in the form of a solid wall dating back to the time of the Greeksframes the excavation site -- and together with the area mountains, sacred in ancient times for the alignment of the buildings, the overall impression of a trip to PAESTUM will mark the heart and memory of any traveler to Italy.
The view of this painting from the days of Italy's GRAND TOUR shows the alingment of the Archaic Greek temples with the mountains as well as the frame of the old city walls dating back to the same period.
Fresco from tomb dating to 480 B.C
Depending on travelers interest, can include a small presentation and discussion of a classic work by greek philosopher PLATO, " The Symposium" or banquet. The subject of Love, which is addressed by Socrates in this dialogue from the 5th century B.C, provides an ideal conversational background for the appreciation of Greece;'s legacy in Italian culture.
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