Skirting a coastal plain in the southern Campanian region of the Cilento, the archaeological site of Paestum is a testament to the ancient Greek influence over southern Italy. This period of mass migration, starting in the 8th century B.C., earned this part of the country the name “Magna Graecia” and infused Greek ideals, beliefs and practices to those of the native Italian tribes. The city of Paestum, originally dubbed “Poseidonia” by the Greek settlers, attests to the artistic and engineering prowess of the colonists- most visible in three majestic temples that celebrate the Olympian gods and goddesses. These temples will be the focal point of our exploration of this enigmatic city.
Our day will begin at the train station in Naples where you will meet your docent, usually an archaeologist or classical historian, and head out to Paestum by local train. During the ride, we will discuss the origins, growth and decline of the city, which was all but abandoned after the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, and set up a socio-historical context that will help us better understand our surroundings later on in the day.
Upon reaching the site, we will spend roughly three hours exploring the grounds and discussing the fabric of the ancient city, which includes a forum, a Basilica and intact city walls. The imposing temples, which dominate the horizontal landscape, are classic examples of Greek order and balance. The group will then spend some time in the museum, where immaculately preserved tomb paintings (such as “the Diver”), votive offerings and funerary furnishings speak to the religious views of the populace.
In comparison to the more highly-visited archaeological sites of Campania, Paestum offers a reflective respite from the crowds and a more intense appreciation of an ancient culture whose artistic endeavors speak to the enduring power of the spirit.
|Duration: 5 hours|
|Venues: Paestum Archaeological Site|
|Incidentals: Entry Tickets- $25|
Maria Laura Chiacchio
Marialaura holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Naples and a Master's in Museology from the Ecole du Louvre in Paris. She is a native of Naples and is fluent in four languages; Italian, English, French and German. She is a specialist in 17th and 18th century art, and is also an expert in the 19th century excavations of Pompeii and the archaeological museum of Naples. She divides her time between Paris and Naples.
Fiorella Squillante holds a degree in modern languages and is a specialist in art history and Neapolitan culture and art.
She works with the main museums of Naples as a member of the educational section. She also works closely with Friends of Museums from abroad.
Fiorella is the president of the cultural association "Fine Arts", which organizes private viewings and themed routes in Naples and Campania, cocktails and visits to stately homes and private collections. She writes about Naples and Campania for a popular guide book and is the author of a guide to Neapolitan art and architecture called "Naples in 3 days".
Iris Mueller is a native of Germany. She has lived extensively in the U.S., where she received her Ph.D. in history from Yale University. She returned to Europe in 2002 to study Latin at the Pontificial Gregorian University in Rome. In 2003, she moved to the Naples/Salerno area. Besides leading itineraries for our visitors, she is working on Medieval manuscripts at the Naples National Library.
Riccardo holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Naples Federico II and a degree in Art History from the University Suor Orsola Benincasa. He is a native of Naples and also a classically trained musician, with a degree in classical guitar from the Conservatoire of Naples San Pietro a Majella. Besides his work as a licensed tour guide of all the archaeological sites (Pompei, Herculaneum, Oplontis, the Phlegrean Fields), churches, and museums of the Campania Region, he has held many conferences about medieval illuminations, and about relations between visual arts and music during Roman Antiquity and the Middle Ages. From 2006 to 2009 he worked as assistant professor at the "Suor Orsola Benincasa" University, in Naples. Riccardo also teaches art history at a secondary school.