Paestum and its Museum

The temples of Paestum have long been admired. Only recently, writes Neil Ritchie, have archaeologists unearthed a wealth of associated works of art.

Of the hundreds of thousands of tourists who flock every year to Pompeii and to a lesser extent to Herculaneum, although the latter is in many respects more rewarding as an example of a Roman city, probably not one in a hundred troubles, because of busy modern schedules, to travel a mere fifty miles further south to visit Paestum; and in the summer of 1973 when both Pompeii and Herculaneum were closed to the public after an outbreak of cholera in Southern Italy, Paestum remained open, since given the paucity of visitors no health hazard was envisaged.

Yet with the opening on site in recent years of a magnificent new museum and with the equally recent closing - as a result of shortage of staff - of whole sections of the National Museum in Naples which houses the Pompeii collections among others, Paestum today provides the most exciting encounter with archaeology in the whole of the Mezzogiorno.

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