Like allmost everyone, we also came here because of the temples.
When we arrived to the trainstaion, everything was closed (at march ) including tourist info. And ticket sales, so you should by a return ticket to train where ever you come from, if you come by train.
There was no maps, no signs any kind. We had no idea where should we go first. We were expecying to come to village/town like Herculaneum, and walk through some village, but we came in the middle of "nowhere". So we walked through the empty staion to the other side and when I saw the old wall, I said it must be there. We started walking (there was about 10 of us, everyone looking like lost in their way, we didn´t talk to the strangers, but peoples faces told a lot. Then we just started walking, and some people started to follow us, and in the end everyone came to same way. I was hoping it was the right way, (there was only one other way, behind the rails) because people were following us. After maybe 5 or 10 min of walking, just before we would have lost our faith, we saw something witch might have been a part of the temple area. And it was. I showed by hands to people coming behind us, that it was there. Everyone smiled. How strange there was no signs from railwaystation!!
The tickets were sold at the museum. At least at "off season". There was only some tourists but many buses full of local students.
But anyway, it was worth waiting, the temples were great and even if it still was cold, the sun started to shine.
Keep in mind, that you wont need many hours to see the area, so see the train timetable before you go. Even if we came around 14 or something (2 p.m.), we needed to wait for an hour to get to train. We did walk at the area maybe 1,5hours, then eat hot sandwishes, walk around (trying to find a mozzarella shop-witch was closed) saw all the souvenir shops (just to kill time) and then went for an ice cream, we still had to sit and wait for the train. If you go to archeological museum, I belive it helps, but we didn´t feel like seeing it this time. We saw photos from it, and felt like we have seen enough this kind of small archeological museums for a while. And we didi saw Napoli archeological museum day before.
There is only two or three restaurants (one, a pizzeria had Trip advisor sticker on the door), so we kind of hoped we would have had something to eat with us.
If you go to Pompeii, you just have to take another day and visit Paestum. It isn't that much further south.
These are Greek Ruins, older than Pompeii.
The area is flat, no hills to climb and nice trails, places to stop and sit and just take in everything.
The ruins are terrific and there are large buildings/temples like the photos below. Plan to stay at least 3 to 4 hours with a guide book to lead you. There is a cafeteria on the far side for snacks. Also there is a restaurant near this snack area.
If you are looking for a place to sleep, check out my page on a nearby agriturismo.
Prices from website:
4,00 euro (solo museo); 6,50 euro (museo e area archeologica)
Beside the beautiful temples there are also very nice sand beaches around and you can enjoy your vacation there. There are lidos (places with deckchairs, restaurant, sunbed) where you pay for the service and public beaches where you're free to place your towel whereever you like.
You can visit also the museum to get a knowledge about Paestum history. there are many funeral picture of Lucan age (5th sec. B.C.) and other interests archaeological contexts. the funeral picuture is only one case of picutures in Greek age, this photo is one of it, it's drowing an angel of death is pickking up a spirit of dead person to take in next world.
Don't forget to see beautiful panorama from inside of the building.
To this day there are enclaves of Greek-speakers in Italy -- notably in Puglia and Calabria, the heel and the toe of the Italian 'boot'. They are descendants, culturally if not altogether biologically, of Greeks who began colonizing southern Italy and Sicily in the 8th century BCE.
Paestum, in Campania, offers the best-preserved Greek buildings outside Sicily. The town, originally called Poseidonia -- for the god the Romans called Neptune -- was founded around 600 BCE. The main structures were built in the 6th and 5th centuries; within 200 years of its founding the town began a steady decline, though it remained inhabited well into Imperial Roman times. The decline resulted from nearby rivers silting up, reducing Paestum's usefulness as a port. Hidden (and protected) by marshes and woodlands, the town was not rediscovered until 1752.
I first visited Paestum in 1964. During the next 43 years the site expanded at least four-fold. The ampitheatre, among other structures, had not been uncovered on my first visit. And the adjacent, well-designed museum was also new to me in 2007.
Sometimes called basilica, this temple was consecrated to the goddess Hera and is actually the oldest of the three temples and the oldest building of the whole town, being built at the middle of 6th century BC.
Originally consecrated to Poseidon, the god of the seas, it is the biggest and best preserved of the three temples. Only natural for a town of Poseidonia, as Paestum was called before the roman times. And Neptune is how Poseidon was known in the roman pantheon of gods. The temple was built around 450 BC and its sheer size is overwhelming – as you can see from the comparison with people standing around.
The temple of Ceres is the first one you will discover when visiting the ruins. It might be the smallest, but it leaves a lasting impression.
While at one time, it was converted to a christian basilica, originally it was dedicated to Demeter, the greek goddess of agriculture and harvest, being built in 6th BC. Ceres is the romanized version of the goddess Romans adopted in 5th BC. As one of the main reasons of installation was agricultural exploitation, it is quite fitting to see the temple of Ceres as the first from antique Poseidonia.
I much preferred Paestum to Pompeii or Herculaneum. Entrance was fairly cheap at EUR 6.50 for a combined ticket to the site and the museum. The site opens around 8.00 am and closes at sunset, with the ticket window closing one hour before sunset. The museum is closed on the first and third Monday of each month.
I spent about two hours exploring the site (at a moderate level of interest). Greek-lovers will want to spend longer. I hustled through the museum in about forty-five minutes, only taking in the highlights. Paestum could easily be done in a day-trip from Salerno, and hard-core travellers could even do it from Amalfi (with a very early start).
See below for the phone number for Tourist Information (they speak English).
Every year in late April and/or early May, the residents of Paestum hold the Festa diel Carciofo, otherwise known as the Artichoke Festival! The area around Paestum is well-known for it's great artichoke crop, and as you drive to the site you are sure to see many farmers with stalls along the road, selling their fresh artichokes to passing travelers. The event usually runs for about a week and includes tasting events and traditional music and dance. Dishes to sample include stuffed pastas, sausage with cream of artichoke, and of course, artichokes served braised, fried and baked! It is located right across the street from the site (Via Nettuno side) so you won't be able to miss it!
Across the street from the archaeological site at Paestum lies a Paleo-Christian Church dating back to the 5th century. Known as the Chiesa della SS Annunziata, it was transformed from an open basilica to a closed basilica as times changed. Doors are always open and admission is free. Inside it is dark and gloomy: you feel as though you've stepped back in time to an era where there was no electricity or heating!
The most famous image found at the site, The Paestum Diver was recovered from the inside lid of a sarcophagus. The image represents diving willingly from life to death, in order to acquire more knowledge. Apparently. The five decorated surfaces from the well-preserved sarcophagus can be seen in the museum.
Please note that this image was taken without the flash from my camera. Flash photography can damage (through fading) sensitive artwork!
The museum at Paestum shares the opening hours with the archaeological site. It is spread over three floors (the first floor was closed when I visited in April 2006) and includes great artifacts taken from the site. Lots of statues, vases, tools and busts were rescued during excavations.
The amphitheare would have been used for sporting events, games and displays. Today, you can enter the amphitheatre and also climb up small stairways (beside the entrance) for a higher view (from inside the window).
The original Greek forum and marketplace (agora) was later built over by the Romans, who used the area as their forum. In the photo you will see a building from the 6th century BC, which served as either a real grave or an empty grave (known as a heroon), in honor of those who founded the city.