Paestum was a major ancient Greek city on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea in Magna Graecia. After its foundation by Greek colonists under the name of Poseidonia (Ποσειδωνία) it was eventually conquered by the Lucanians and later the Romans. The Lucanians renamed it to Paistos; the Romans gave the city its current name. The ruins of Paestum are notable for their three Ancient Greek temples which are in a very good state of preservation. Today the remains of the city are found in the Province of Salerno in Campania, Southern Italy. The date of Poseidonia’s founding is not given by ancient sources, but the archaeological evidence gives a date of approximately 600 BC. It became the Roman city of Paestum in 273 BC after the Greaco-Italian Poseidonians sided with the loser, Pyrrhus, in war against Rome during the third century BC. During the invasion of Italy by Hannibal, the city remained faithful to Rome and afterwards was granted special favors such as the minting of its own coinage. The city continued to prosper during the Roman imperial period, but started to go into decline between the 4th and 7th centuries. It was abandoned during the Middle Ages and its ruins only came to notice again in the 18th century, following the rediscovery of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The decline and desertion were probably due to changes in local land drainage patterns, leading to swampy malarial conditions. In the film “Mare Nostrum” by Rex Ingram, they visit Paestrum.

The Ruins of Paestum

Our first excursion since our arrival to Pisciotta was to a mozzarella farm and then to Paestrum. We got a tour of the farm, saw the buffalo piss and shit on each other, got disgusted, and then ate loads of fresh cheese and gelato. The food was so worth it though, and once we filled our tummies way past the diary quota for the month we headed to the old Roman temples in Paestrum. 

Paestrum is beautiful and quiet. No too many tourists make it out there, but with seeing how amazing the ruins are I don’t see why. I wish there was a way to travel back in time and see how the city looked like in it’s prime, although I wouldn’t want to stay there, it’s way too unhygienic. 

Oh snap. I think I’m finally up to speed. 

Also, the townspeople held a fourth of July party for us in the piazza. They tried to cook some “authentic American food” and though they didn’t really get it right, the gesture was enough and way too adorable. The drinks were oh so cheap and it was the one night we could be “those loud obnoxious Americans.”