Paestum

I popped into Villa Castelli today to visit  the barber’s for an haircut.

IMG_0014

The place was busy and the locals were chatting away about the most important subject of the day. It wasn’t the reforms of Renzi that interested them as Rome is a long way away and in the main of little consequence to them. The reform of the Senate merely induces yawns from everyone. It wasn’t the rather pleasing fact that Uber the phone app booked taxis have arrived in Rome causing the usual protests by official taxi drivers and the ubiquitous Italian union solution to every threat to their price controlled competition free  status quo, a strike.

Actually just staying on that subject for a moment, Uber started just a few weeks ago having already stirred the market up in Milan. They are seeing double digit growth figures each week and have just launched some amazingly competitive taxi fares to and from the Rome airports. The taxi union is having kittens because the airports originally promised they would not allow them in showing that luddism even exists in a more modern airport environment. However they then did a 180 on the union.

It will come as no surprise to my brother in law Dick that Rome taxi drivers are rated bottom of the all the European continental countries for customer service, knowledge and friendliness.  They are also the most expensive taxi drivers in Italy apart from Milan so you can see how Uber target cities now.

No the subject everyone wanted to talk about was the weather and the storm that swept through in the early hours of this morning dropping 3 inches of rain on my house alone.

Yesterday morning after that memorable breakfast we went to Paestum ruins via the railway station.

Train Arrives

If you are in Naples or Salerno the train service to Paestum is excellent and the station a 5 minute walk from the ruins so amazingly convenient too.

Paestum Gate

From the station you walk through this old gate and down to the ruins.

 

Paestum is one of the world’s best kept secrets and the local council seem determined to keep it that way. There are many articles by distinguished archaeologists bemoaning the fact that so little is done to improve facilities or even let the world know it is there. the comune on the other hand make their money from the fly or drive flop brigade that arrive in their droves in June/July/August. They are easier to please, and require almost no outlay by the local citizens.

Paestum was built by the Greeks in 600 B.C.   who named it Poseidonia after the Greek god Poseidon ( the Roman god Neptune). They built a town there and  three temples.

in 273B.C. the area now run by the Lucans after the Greeks left was invaded by Romans and taken. The Romans renamed it Paestum..

As a result of deforestation on the hills surrounding the town the rivers that ran to the sea silted up and the area became a marshy swamp. Malaria became rampant and the population that didn’t succumb to disease left the old town and moved off up the hill.

The Greek and Roman town disappeared into the swamp and was covered over by vegetation .

It was not until the 18th Century when excavations began at Pompeii that archeologists began to also look for this lost town and began to excavate.

They were amazed to find the three temples almost intact and in far better condition than the parthenon in Athens or anywhere else in the Mediterranean .

Big Boy

 

This is the Temple to Poseidon built in 450 B.C. and is the biggest of the three.  The photo is taken from the roadway that runs along the site and from which you can saunter down snapping all the various finds without paying a single penny. The amphitheatre for example has the road where the stage should be so you are right in it.

In 1957 further excavations uncovered the Roman town built close to the Greek site. Pathe News covered it though on this clip the sound was lost.

 

I always say when there can you imagine if this had been found in say Arizona, what kind of tourist trap would it be.

Indeed Paestum reminds me of Stonehenge 30 years ago when you pulled off the A330 parked on a grass verge, strolled around the site, sat on a few of the stones for a photo and to both drink your hot chocolate from a thermos flask and eat your cheese and tomato sandwich. Then back in the car and on to Devon for your real holiday.

Just think this picture above was taken yesterday the 22nd of July, high season, on a cloudy but as yet dry day when most people were at a loose end and  just after midday.

What can you see ? Three people that’s all wandering in and around the huge temple. I wonder what the Parthenon in Athens ( which incidentally you can’t get close to anymore) looked like at the same time yesterday or Pompeii ?

I always park alongside a bar just a 2 minute walk from the first temple. Cappuccino there is still €1 a cup . What do you reckon a cappuccio is that close to Pompeii and good luck drinking what the Greeks might give you that they call cappuccino.

It is alway nice because guests you take see the first temple and if you haven’t explained the place they assume that is what you have bought them to see. Wow they go fantastic and start taking loads of pictures. Because of trees the other two are not seen from the first. Then you walk them on and past the line of trees they see the monster in front of them. Their faces are always a picture.

The heavens then opened and the drive back to Martina Franca started.

 

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About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally with Thomas Cook North America. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
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4 Responses to Paestum

  1. sjradcliffe says:

    Uber launched in Hong Kong last month too and as you know, taxi’s here are ubiquitous and possibly the cheapest of any developed city in the world. I was at a lunch hosted by the CEO last week and when asked why on earth he thought people would pay 12quid for a ride that usually cost them 4quid he said “You might like McDonalds, but you don’t eat it every day”. He seems to have been right too, the figures for HK were extraordinary and the business model of using existing limo companies rather than buying your own fleet means he’s got no serious ongoing overheads (apart from his ridiculously overqualified staff- all of whom seem to have been recruited from high finance positions, and who seem to get hired only if they have 10,000 friends on facebook….who says the modern working world is just a popularity contest?!).

    • hereinpuglia says:

      Guess no job for me then with my 23 facebook friends though what quality they are ( in case any are reading this) ! Your brother was saying last night he can’t remember the last time he took a black cab in London and only once did the driver struggle to find the destination.I wished they franchised as it would work a treat down here.

  2. royburnham says:

    Mike,

    We visited Paestum over 50 years ago. It hasn,t changed a bit, although the weather was better then!

    Roy

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