Saturday, October 4, 2014

WEST COAST OF ITALY


The harbor in Marina di Camerota
From Puglia, we drove across the lower part of Italy and over several mountain ranges to reach the west coast of Italy.  First stop was the little town of Marina di Camerota situated on the Tyrrhenian Sea.  Our hotel overlooked the harbor from whence many Italians 
Church in heart of Marina di Camerota
emigrated to South America in the 19th century.  It was a very typical Italian town where older men gather in front of a little bar or along the waterfront playing cards or just talking.  They are obviously retired and I imagine the wife sends them out in the morning with orders not to return before mealtime. 
Agropoli's feudal castle
Continuing north along the coast, we visited two different areas about 60 miles south of Naples that were settled by the Greeks in the 7th century B.C.  The first town was Agropoli, the name is a version of the word acropolis meaning high town.  It is situated on a promontory that curves around a bay.  It was a good trading point for the Greeks so they settled here and built a temple dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of hunting. Later, the Byzantines took over and built a castle on top of the promontory overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Burial walls
A much larger Greek settlement developed slightly north of Agropoli in 625 B.C.  The Greek name was Poseidonia in honor of the god of the sea; the Italians later changed the name to Paestum.  Control of the city changed hands several times over the centuries, but the Romans eventually won possession and added a forum, amphitheater and housing.  
Temple of Athena 500BC

Temple of Hera 550BC
The ruins at Paestum are magnificent. There are three Greek temples in all. Surrounding them are the foundations of homes where people lived during the Roman era.

Although it is a UNESCO World Heritage site, Paestum is not as well known as other ancient ruins in the general area. Consequently, the area is not overrun with tourists.  There were hardly any on the late September day we visited.  The adjacent museum houses countless artifacts including many of the walls of burial sites.  The custom was to paint the interior of the walls surrounding the tomb with pictures that depicted the dead man's life -- or the life he wished he had lived. Women were not granted the same honor.


Then (2nd Temple of Hera)
 Now
The original Greek buildings were decorated and very colorful. Over the years, the colors have faded and disappeared from the exterior buildings. Paintings that were protected (as in the enclosed burial chambers) have been remarkably well preserved.
    
Foundations of Roman buildings




Our hotel in Meta
While visiting Paestum we stayed at a lovely hotel with a private beach.  Then it was on to Meta, a little town just a few miles from Sorrento.  As is often the case, finding our hotel was an adventure that took us up and down and around very narrow, one way, curving streets.  Finally, a kind young man scouted out Laqua for us on his motor scooter, came back and led us there.  I am afraid we would still be turning in circles if it weren't for him. 
Historic center of Sorrento
Our balcony at Laqua

Sunsets in Meta


Lacqua is a miniature hotel and spa; only 6 rooms.  But each has a private balcony with a little pool overlooking the sea. We took the bus to Sorrento one day even though we have been there several times.  The streets were crowded with tourists and we were glad to get back to our idyllic lodging where the sunsets were magnificent.