We did not have a Cole Porter moment on our last day but it did…
Another hot sunny day. Since we were toast from the beach yesterday we opted to drive up the coast to Paestum, a Greek ruins that has some spectacular temples in not bad repair. I refused to trace our steps along the coast so we trusted Penelope to guide us through another route. Either she forgot to tell us to take a left turn at Albuquerque, or I went off a roundabout wrong, but knowing I am blameless she gave us a bum steer, up high into the mountains, on narrow hairpins that multiplied and complexified until I felt I was navigating someone’s small intestine. Through a few tiny villages with cobbled streets and past umpteen “masseria” in shambles, we wound up hitting the northern coast in just over an hour.
The three main temples worth seeing are Neptune, Hera and Athena; small galleries follow.
The rest of the ruins are of significant archaeological value (Colgate University was on site overseeing a dig) but rather shabby for the tourist. It was hot. Hot and dry. It got to the point that we were deking from the shade of one olive tree to another.
Above: Shots of the temple of Neptune. Below: Three shots of the temple of Hera.
Above eight shots: Temple of Athena. Hard to see in the pictures, but the floor was gradated so that she would have been on a pedestal. Below, a few pics of the amphitheatre. Of note, in 1930 a road was built through it. Lore has it the engineer was tried for the crime but who knows.
The museum has some excellent examples of amphorae, cemetery frescoes, friezes from the temples and vintage photos.
In the above, the stonework from a temple shows Heracles killing Alcyoneus. The frescoes from a grave-site show a winged victory from a two horse chariot race, return of the warrior, and partially seen a man on a cart pulled by a mule, etc. Old stuff. BTW, in case it needs to be spelled out, the Greek name for Neptune was Poseidon, Paestum was originally Poseidonia; generally, when it comes to Greek and Roman mythology, SS is quicker than Wikipedia–he even corrected a guide at Pompeii.
We are on this “new” kick, skipping lunch to indulge with less guilt at dinner, so early afternoon we jumped back in the Audi and headed home. Penelope took us on a whole new route, more direct, through tunnels and over bridges which were feats of engineering, past stone outcrops and dry riverbeds and never once apologizing for the morning.
Before returning to the B&B we stopped in the marina for some water where we met our neighbours and spent some time under an umbrella discussing the Italian proclivity for structure (where the bar owner decided she needed a siesta and closed shop), and ended up back on the deck at the B&B chatting about sustainability (he’s working on a book), a Swedish charity which provides free medicine to refugee camps (she works for an NGO) and, of course, Game of Thrones, which I have never watched, never will, and just wanted to get that in on the blog.
Their middle room has the original olive oil press from the estate. In the room. In the bedroom. How cool is that? A museum hotel room.
Speaking of olives, I don’t think we’ve posted on the trees here. There aren’t so much olive groves as there are cliffsides strewn with olive trees; most with knots and burls where the netting (spread out and used to capture the fruit when the trees are “shook” during harvest) is tucked for the off season.
Last day in the province of Salerna. Tomorrow we pack up and head three hours inland to Basilicata.