Friday, May 3, 2013

Paestum Greek Ruins & an Artichoke Festival

We had been talking about going to Paestum for over a year, but for some reason we kept putting it off. The Greek ruins at Paestum are said to be some of the best preserved Greek ruins in the world outside of Greece. The city, originally called Poseidon, was founded in the 6th century BC and then came under Roman control in 273 BC. It was an important trading port until the fall of the Roman Empire when the citizens abandoned the city. It wasn't rediscovered until the late 18th century when the locals were trying to put a major road through the area.

We drove the 1.5 hours to Paestum, parked the car, and headed to the site. You can see the massiveness of the Greek temples from afar and it's amazing how much of them are still intact. Three major temples were built; The Temple of Neptune, The Temple of Hera (also known as the basilica), and the Temple of Athena.

So small in such grandeur - Temple of Neptune

Temple of Hera

Temple of Athena

Among the temples are remnants of a city that once was, with old remains of houses and streets, a Roman Forum, and an amphitheater.

The Roman Forum

The ekklesiasterion, an area for meetings

The comitium, another meeting room

We basically had the place to ourselves but funny enough we ran into people that we know. They told us about an artichoke festival (Sagra del Carciofo) that was happening nearby. Italy loves their festivals and whenever a fruit or vegetable comes into season many small towns have festivals promoting that product. Typically a festival that is featuring a product will have one inclusive menu with dishes highlighting it. At this particular festival we each had the menu completo: two artichokes, two separate pastas with artichokes or an artichoke sauce, fried artichoke hearts, artichoke hearts with potatoes, and some saucy artichoke hearts, with a bottle of water or a glass of wine on the side. Yum!!!

A lot of artichokes!

The final product!

Seeing the immense ruins at Paestum was spectacular and it's one more thing we can cross off our list. The festival was a nice surprise and added to our lovely day trip out of the Naples area!

1 comment:

  1. WOW!! This is amazing!! First, I can't believe that these structures are still standing for over 2000 years! Unbelievable!! Just walking around all the ruins transports you to a completely different time and place. It's so hard to imagine what life was like for these people back then, but you can certainly try to envision it just by being there. And then there's the Artichoke Festival! I never knew you could do so many things to artichokes! I have to admit that I'm not an artichoke fan, but maybe, just maybe, I could become one if I went to an Artichoke Festival!! But it does sound like a lot of fun with a lot of good food!! Sounds like you had a great time on your day trip!