Friday, October 12, 2012
Paestum the most beautiful city in Magna Grecia!
“….We still feel (in a Greek temple like the one at Paestum, for example) almost as if a god, playing one morning, had built his residence out of these enormous masses; at other times as if a soul had all of a sudden magically entered into a stone and now wished to use it to speak.”
Paestum is in the Italian region of Campania and a sub-region called the Cilento located just south of the Amalfi coast. Here the majestic Doric temples, illuminated by sunlight and the long coastal strip, brushed by a sparkling sea, are the elements which make this place a charming place in which you can spend your holidays. The old city is located in a strategic position, a few km South of the Amalfi Coast and on the north of the Cilento Coast, it is the door to the National Park of Cilento. Considered by the U.N.E.S.C.O. as a world heritage, Paestum remains, for its art, nature, tastes and events which characterize it, one of the most important beautiful cities of Magna Grecia, which must be visited and discovered.
History and Archeology
Greece started to expand in the 8th century B.C. into southern Italy and Sicily, where they founded colonies among the small, agrarian settlements that were not organized well enough to be able to defend themselves from the arrival of Greeks in this case Achaeans coming from Sybaris. Around 600 B.C. the Greeks settled in "Poseidonia," named in honor of the god of the Sea.
After the Romans conquered the south they founded a Latin colony called Paestum here. The Paestum Plain is outlined by the river Sele to the north, by the Calpazio, Soltano and Soprano Mountains to the east, by the hills of Agropoli to the south and to the west it extends in to the sea. But, as in many of the coastal areas, population declined seriously in the Late Empire some fleeing to the hills to avoid malaria, others falling in Saracen raids. Paestum was lost to the world by the 12th century, discovered by road crews in 1752 and "re-discovered" in the 18th centuries when poets like Goethe, Shelley, Canova, and Piranesi visited and wrote about the ruins while on the "Grand Tour." Paestum has three of the best preserved doric temples in Italy: the Basilica of Hera, the Temple of Ceres, and, on the southern end of the site, the Temple of Neptune, built in 450 BC, the oldest and best preserved of the Greek temples in Italy.
The National Archeological Museum of Paestum is one of the best museums in Italy. It consists of various sections which allow the visitor to retrace the Geek, Lucan and Roman history of the city. It was built in 1952, using a project planned by the architect M.De Vita, and it is situated inside the walls of the town. The first section was built in order to hold the archaic Metopes which were found at the Sele. Another room, designed by the architect E. De Felice, was added to the first one. The latest set up of the Museum dates back to 1999, when a Roman Room and a Didactic room were added.Entering the Museum the visitor will find the Archaic Metopes, which are the most important and interesting findings of the ancient world; bronze vases, which were found inside the "sacello ipogeico" , the famous Diver's Tomb and the painted slabs of the tombs, which belong to the Lucan Age.Moreover, in the Roman Room, sculptures and many silver coins are also visible.The National Museum of Paestum possesses photographic, printmaking and restoration laboratories and a big archive.
The coast and The National Park of Cilento
On the Paestum shores , very thin sand is lined by a little stream. It sketches out a scenery which is characterized by a white beach which extends for about 14 km. At night it is possible to experience a unique sunset on an iridescent horizon. In the background you can see the uncontaminated beauty of the maquis near a dense pinewood. It is a place full of colours, fragrances , lights and shadows where a sensitive soul could experience moments of intense emotion.
The National Park of Cilento is one of the biggest in Italy. It is the final result of the combination between man's work and nature. Cilento is an interesting place to visit because of its fusion between sea and mountains and because it possesses natural and cultural resources. That's why the National Park of Cilento meets the requirements demanded by Unesco. It is an outstanding example of the ecological and biological process of the Mediterranean ecosystem and in the Park you can find numerous plants and animals (marine and terrestial). The Park comprises a lot of buildings which represent the Greeks' colonization period , all the buildings remain undamaged. The National Park of Cilento keeps wonderful traces of the past cultural origins.
A place where it is possible to discover genuine flavours and, high quality products which hedge in the producers' experience and wisdom. Anthropologist, doctors and nutritionists think that the genuine and good quality food is a very helpful medicine to prevent malfunction, illness, etc., but it is also a means of enjoying good food, above all the food which can be found in this wonderful area - the Mediterranean diet – the Mediterranean diet has its origins in Greek eating habits. Indeed this wonderful diet, although it has been slightly changed through the ages thanks to better economic and hygienic conditions, has always been used and integrated with resources and typical products which are cultivated on a fertile and rich soil: the Paestum and Cilento soil. Actually, this diet was studied by the American nutritionist Keys, when he was in the army and he came to Paestum in 1944. His study allowed the Mediterranean diet to be included worldwide in books which speak about a good diet, thanks to the excellent nutritional values, such as cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruit, milk and olive oil, present in the Mediterranean diet, which protect the body from chronically illness.