About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paestum and the Amalfi Coast

Today we are heading to the Amalfi Coast.  We took Rick Steve's advice and hired a private driver for the day - "Fun loving Carmello Monetti (a jolly, singing, in love with life, grandfatherly type who speaks non-stop 'inventive English')", was our driver for the day.  He took us in his taxi, #17. 
Carmello picked us up at 8am sharp and we headed out.  Rick was right, Carmello was friendly and talked non-stop, some of it hard to understand, but we got the geneeral idea. 

Our first stop was an overlook in Sorrento, where Carmello filled us in on some local history as well as lists of many famous people who have visited Sorrento and even been in his cab. 

Then we headed to the inland Autostrada (expressway) to head south toward Paestum.  We would visit the Greek ruins in Paestum, then head back north along the Amalfi Coast. 

Overlooking Salerno

We arrived in Paestum around 11am.  Carmello parked at a local pizzeria where we would have lunch after sightseeing in the ruins. 

Paestum (PASTE-oom) is known to be one of the best collections of Greek temples anywhere.  The town was founded as Poseidonia by Greeks in the 6th century B.C.  In the 5th century the Lucanians conquered Poseidonia and changed its name to Paistom.  The Romans took over in the 3rd century B.C. and changed the name to Paestum.  Finally, malaria infested mosquitos conquered Paestom and kept it deserted until it was rediscovered in the 18th century.  

Temple of Ceres, although later discoveries showed that the temple was probably dedicated to Athena instead.

Greek Memorial Tomb
This tomb, from 500 B.C. survived because Romans respected religious buildings.  The mystery here is that Greeks generally buried their dead outside the city, so archeologists are not sure of this tombs purpose or meaning.

Roman pool  The stones walls at this end likely supported a wood deck.

A shallow rinsing pool at the entrance to a home

Temple of Neptune, dates from 450 B.C. 

Why do 9 year olds have to be goofy anytime a camera is pointed at them?!

Temple of Hera

The Temple of Hera was constructed in 550 B.C.

  It is thought that the Temple of Hera served as an inspiration for the Parthenon in Greece, which was built later.

Temple of Neptune

Temple of Neptune

After walking the grounds of the Greek ruins, we made a quick visit inside the museum, then headed to the pizzeria for lunch. 

After lunch we headed back north along the Amalfi Coast.  The Amalfi Coast if filled with mountainous coastal scenery, hillside towns and historic ruins.  The Amalfi coast road was built in the 1800's.  The mediterranean is a breathtaking 500 feet below.  In many places the road is barely wide enough for cars, let alone all the tour buses that travel this route in the summer.  

Mosaic tiled church dome

Brandon was feeling froggy while in Amalfi Town. 

We stopped in Ravello, and finally Amalfi Town as the sun began to fade.  We ended up skipping Positano and decided to come back another day.  

Carmello, our enthusiastic driver for the day!!

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