Temples at Paestum
The temples, amphitheater, and ramparts of Magna Grecia city Poseidonia rear up from a dusty plain lying 100 kms south of Naples. Dating from about 600BC, the city was taken over by the Romans in 273BC, when the Greek Empire declined, changing the name to its present-day Paestum. The magnificent Doric structure of the Temple of Neptune is the best preserved of the three; it has 36 fluted columns crafted from local limestone seven and a half centuries ago. Alongside is the even-older Temple of Hera, with the external columns still standing proud. The Temple of Ceres is the largest, with an eclectic design suggesting it was built around 500BC; it has a battered pediment and squat columns behind. Also onsite are the Roman additions of the Forum and Amphitheater, which had a road gauged through it during clumsy excavations in the 1750s. The Museo Nazionale offers a surprisingly comprehensive collection of pots, ceramics, tiny bronzes, and carvings from the site. Visit Paestum at twilight in early summer; the ground is covered with wild flowers, there are few(er) tourists in comparison with Pompeii, and the dramatic setting is romantically floodlight as the sun sets.