Ellie’s already mentioned that all of Italy seems to take a quick look at the calendar, rather than the weather forecast, before getting dressed in the morning – further proof of that came on the road towards Paestum. You know it’s officially late autumn when even the roadside hookers are wearing thick, heavy clothing… Sunday afternoons seem to be prime-time, as that’s provided both of the occasions we’ve spotted them out in force on this trip.
Anyway, Paestum. It’s another set of old ruins, basically. Colonised by the Greeks, the city lasted about 1500 years before being abandoned to the malarial mosquitos which plagued the flat swampland around here, just over a thousand years ago. It’s now fertile plain, with herds of Buffalo grazing, producing the milk for Mozzarella. Surrounded by not very much, apart from some slightly scruffy beach resorts, the ruins of the city are mainly just foundations now. The one exception to that is the set of three temples – to Hera, Neptune and Ceres – which are amongst the best-preserved Doric temples in the world.
Those resorts are virtually all closed for the winter by now – we found the one campsite that wasn’t quite closed up yet, and enjoyed a fantastic sunset. As the sun sank into the waves, the outline of the Amalfi coast was just about visible from the sands right next to our pitch in the middle of yet another grove of freshly harvested and trimmed olive trees. Lovely.
However, since it was a Monday, the campsite people told us that the ruins would be closed. We thought we’d have a swing by anyway – and found it open (although not the museum). Even so, once we took one quick look, we didn’t actually bother paying to enter the site. The temples are so large, so close, and so visible that there didn’t seem much point…