According to legend, Paestrum was established by Jason and the Argonauts. The Greek temples there were devoted to Poseidon, Athena and Hera. The site is located on the road linking Agropoli to Battipagli in the province of Salerno.
The excellent state of preservation of the Paestrum ruins is attributed to abandonment of the area due to malaria and marauding Arabs. Admission is 5€, 6€ with the museum. The lady selling the tickets says, “Museo? No Museo?” Eventually I catch on and go for the Museo option.
The Museum has many fine examples of pottery, statues and frescos. You can see soldiers carving each other up and the blood is still red on some of the artwork.
The site was rediscovered about the time of the American Revolution and was an important stop on the “Grand Tour”.
The Argonauts were mythical sailors on the ship Argo.
We drove back roads out of Paestrum on the way to Sicily. In a small mountain town the inhabitants seem to consist entirely old men in 1940 dress styles and old women in widow’s black. I ask Mrs. Phred to adopt this style of dress for life if anything happens to me. After a long negotiation, she promises me a week.
In 1944, an American officer surveyed the location for a potential airstrip. Somehow, he recognized the historical importance of these old stones and located the strip in another place.