The Exchange reserves a programme of free guided tours in Paestum and Velia to speakers, journalists and visitors
To participate it is necessary to fill out the booking form and hand it over to the “Guided Tours Secretariat” the day before the chosen tour.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK OF PAESTUM ITINERARY Friday, November 3rd and Saturday, November 4th
Poseidonia was a Greek colony founded at the end of the seventh century BC by the Sybarites. Conquered at the end of the fifth century BC by the Lucanians, in the third century BC it became a Latin colony with the name of Paestum. Protected by five kilometers of pentagonal walls, the imposing Doric temples rise, dating back to the fourth and fifth centuries BC: the Basilica of Hera, the Temple of Neptune or Poseidon and the Temple of Ceres. The Basilica is the most ancient of the temples of Paestum: it rises solemnly, with the gilded columns of the arch, orienting to east. The most classic and perfect example of a Doric temple of the Greek world is surely the temple of Neptune.
National Archaeological Museum
The Museum collects unparalleled relics coming from the city and the territory of Poseidonia-Paestum: prehistoric funerary equipments, recovered architectonic and sculpture relics found during the diggings. Some artifacts of great interest are the seated fictile statue of Zeus from the sixth century BC, a large feminine bust, lacking her head, from the end of the sixth century BC, the bronze hydria amphoras from the sixth century BC. The painted slabs coming from some of the 120 tombs so far recovered are beautiful, one of the most famous is the painted tomb of the Diver from 480 BC. Sculptures, marmoreal registrations, cult objects, fragments and amphoras are the testimony of the Roman Age in Paestum.
Deposits of the National Archaeological Museum
The life of the ancient city of Poseidonia – Paestum does not end in the monuments of the archaeological area or in the artefacts exhibited in the Museum. In Paestum, alongside ancient history, there are many other stories, more or less contemporary, which go beyond any exhibition room, any visit path or caption. They are the stories of people, professionalism, activities, choices and emotions that animate the Paestum warehouses. The goal is to accompany visitors “beyond the Museum” to the heart of the Park, where things actually happen, before the museum is set up. The deposits extend for about 1400 square meters and contain 1 million exhibits: they are presented every day as they are without retouching and tricks and whoever enters will see the deposit in all its beauty, not immaculate, but real. Visiting the warehouses means living a unique experience and exploring its many secrets, listening to the voice of those who work in these environments. At the end of the tour, visitors will have understood, appreciated and loved our Park even more. The security assistants will accompany the visitors, focusing of “Depot 2” with the famous painted plates of the Lucanian age, identifying finds of the Museum of Paestum.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK OF VELIA ITINERARY Friday, November 3rd and Saturday, November 4th
Velia, the ancient Elea, was founded around 540 BC by the Focei settlers who came from Asia to battle Cyrus’s army. Parmenides and Zeno were born here and with them the Eleatic school, reference in the philosophical culture of the antiquity. The city structure is clear in its relics, and it is entered by the “Rosa Door”, the only surving example of Greek architecture with round arch. The wall of the sacred fencing is particularly valuable, with its charming stoà or porch, paved in bricks from the Hellenistic Ages.
Other archaeological sites in the province of Salerno
Antiquaria of Roccagloriosa
At Roccagloriosa in two Antiquaria, exhibits that are proof the the Lucan settlement (fourth century BC) found in the necropolis are exposed, with “emerging” tombs. In the first Antiquarium (former Church of St. Mary of the Martyrs), among others, the precious discoveries of the tomb n. 9 (female burial) are exposed, containing a rich array of jewelry, arrived intact, which testifies the contacts with the production of Taranto and links with ancient Italian traditions. The second Antiquarium offers a photographic exhibition on the site of the Necropolis and the graves, especially n. 19 and 24, whose exhibits are also on display. The protagonists of the exhibition are the vases, among which three large pieces (more than one meter in height) with red figures stand out, representing a uniqueness as there have been no other finds with similar measurements outside Apulia. Among them there is the loutrophoros, whose crater is 112 cm high with spiral horns decorated with gargoyle heads.
Antiquarium of Palinuro
The site of Palinuro (Centola) is of particular interest in the intersection of cultures that have been setting and whose traces are found in the Antiquarium, located on the steep slope in Ficocella that offers visitors a picturesque view of the gulf. The building houses archaeological finds (ceramics and obsidian furnishings of about six thousand years ago) found during the excavations, undertaken in the area of the town, which since 1948 have unearthed a necropolis of the VI century BC. The public can see exhibits of imported Attic pottery with black-figures, and Ionic ones decorated with stripes; the vessels also reflected a kind of local pottery decorated with geometric patterns whose elements recall the ones from the Island of Cyprus and the ceramics from Percenzia in Northern Apulia dating from the late VI century BC. The setting also includes the materials of various funerary items from the necropolis, of the Enotrio type, in the San Paolo district.
Archaeological Area of Fratte – Salerno
It is an important pre-Roman settlement, with remains dating back the VI century BC, when Etruscans, Greeks and natives co-existed. The archaeological area was defined an “acropolis” both for the topographical position of the findings and because the structures found revealed a religious and civil center at the top of the settlement.
Impressive remains of the Samnite necropolis at the end of the IV century BC are also present.
Early Christian Baptistery of Saint Mary Major – Nocera Superiore
The Baptistery, called “the Rotunda” for its circular shape, was part of a larger complex.
The first written attestation dates to a diploma of the year 841 AD. The dome is set on 15 arches, supported by as many pairs of smooth columns, it covers the central octagonal baptismal font, second in Italy only to the one of Saint John in the Lateran. The marble of the architectural decoration, bases, shafts of columns, capitals and molded frames are bare and with evident function of reuse.
Arechis Castle – Salerno
The “Castle” that sits on Bonadies hill, already occupied in the Roman age and then a Byzantine fortress, was equipped with a Turris Maior, that made it “impregnable by nature and art, not being in Italy a better equipped rock than it” (Paul Deacon, in Historia Langobardorum). With Arechis II, who expanded the territory of the city to the East and West surrounding it with new walls, as showed by the illustrations accompanying the poem by Pietro da Eboli, Liber ad honorem Augusti, at the end of the twelfth century the castle became a symbol of the centrality of his principality. Gisulf II, the last Lombard prince of Salerno, minted the famous coin with the legend “Affluent Salernu”, iconographic mirror of the city, dominated by the Turris, before it became, in 1077, a Norman fortress, ruled by Robert Guiscard. It later became an important defensive element of the Aragonese chessboard, and then progressively lose its importance with the changing techniques of warfare. It was completely abandoned in the nineteenth century. The restoration of the castle and the Bastille, which started in 1982, led to the functional recovery of the architectural components and the redevelopment of the entire area, aiming, first, to refund the readability of the largest architectural qualities of the fortified structure, subject to continual expansion and adjustments dictated by the succession of governments in the historical period of its defensive function and by the emergence of new military techniques. Today, through structures of link, service advanced security thematic itineraries are possible. the excellences are the Media Gallery, the Museum, the virtual display system of the Turris Maior and the Bastille, which is home to the contemporary sculptures by Lorenzo Spirito (the “new guards”), attached to the castle through a didactic-naturalistic route.
Church of Saint Peter at Court – Salerno
The church of Saint Peter at Court, known as the Palatine Chapel founded by prince Arechis II in about 787, today is the complex of greater importance of the historical centre of Salerno. Archaeological surveys currently in course has brought to light the Roman area. The area comprises, beyond the spaces immediately below, once occupied by shops, also the area pertaining to the confraternity of S. Anne. In the XIII century the church was used as a meeting centre for the Parliament: public ceremonies were often celebrated there, among which the bestowal of the diplomas of Schola Medica Salernitana.
National Archaeological Museum of Eboli and the Middle Valley of Sele river
The Museum is housed in the Convent of St. Francis, founded in the XIII century and extensively remodeled in the sixteenth. Before World War Two it was used as the town hall, the district court and the local high school. The bombing of the war caused its partial destruction and abandonment. It has been returned to public use after a recent restoration and the entire west wing of the complex is made available to the Municipal Administration by the Archaeological Superintendence of Salerno and Avellino, that oversaw the setting of the Archaeological Museum.
Currently, the Museum collects artifacts, mostly tombs, from the old town of Eboli, that, thanks to its location in the coastal plain at the mouth of major routes such as the Tusciano river valley and the path of Ofanto – Sele river, represents in the ancient times a boundary between territories participating in different cultures.
The exhibition is chronologically organized tended to present the main stages of more than millenial life of the settlement: Prehistory, Iron Age, Orientalising period, the VI and V centuries, and, for now, it ends with the rich documentation of the fourth century BC. By its nature in the near future it is bound to also host the testimonies of the territories around the middle course of Sele river.
But it should be noted that this particular museum, created to tell the story of a not culturally homogenous former district, will feed and grow with the results of field research, which is why the exhibition, that on the upper floors is still under construction, will become dialectically linked to the archaeological investigation and the subsequent reconstruction of the ancient landscape. In the lobby there is the base of a statue with an inscription (183 AD) known as Eburina Tombstone, which had been reused in the bell tower of the church of Saint Maty in Intra. This epigraphic text makes it clear that Eburum enjoyed the status of Municipium.
National Archaeological Museum of Pontecagnano “The Etruscans of the border”
The construction of the new National Archaeological Museum of Pontecagnano – founded by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture with the contribution and participation in the Campania Region and the local municipal government – is the final stage of an ambitious project led by the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage the provinces of Salerno and Avellino in close collaboration with the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’ and with the University of Salerno, and configures itself within the exceptional importance of the archaeological heritage as it gathers the most significant proofs of the Etruscan expansion in Southern Italy, returned from one of the most important site of ancient Campania and Southern Italy.
The new and larger structure shows in a strictly scientific, but at the same time charming and attractive way, through the development of various issues, the results of the intense and constant research begun in 1964 in the municipality of Pontecagnano following the discovery, one of the most significant of the last fifty years, of a large Etruscan settlement, which had urban characteristics as early as from the Archaic Age.
The importance and the size of the site are documented by more than 8000 very rich funerary equipments, that attest the attendance from the First Iron Age (end of X – early IX century BC) to Roman times, when the Etruscan-Italic settlement overlaps the Picentia colony (263 BC). The main core of the museum’s display is made up of princely outfits of the Orientalising period (late eighth-seventh century BC), at the peak of the flowering of the center.
Provincial Archaeological Museum – Salerno
It contains a rich documentation of the entire province of Salerno, from Prehistory to late antiquity. In a prominent position there is the equipment of the princely tomb of Roscigno, from the end of the V and beginning of the IV century BC. There are also Samnite, Lucanian and from Campania ceramics from the Hellenistic age, Etruscan pottery, bronze ornaments including the beautiful head of Apollo found in the waters of the Gulf of Salerno. It is a precious late Hellenistic original, dated in the first half of the I century BC, attributed to the artist Pasiteles, born in Magna Graecia.
Roman Archaeological Museum of Positano
At the end of the first century BC also the valley that today hosts Positano, with its beach, steep limestone walls and particularly healthy microclimate, becomes the site of a sumptuous villa for idleness. The Roman elite had long ago chosen the coasts of the Gulf of Naples and the Sorrentine Peninsula to build luxurious residences where they can spend their free time amidst gardens and rich frescoed rooms with spectacular views of the coastal landscape.
The existence of a villa had been known for some time. Karl Weber, in charge of the Bourbon excavations, in 1758 described in structures with frescoes and mosaics below the Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption and the bell tower. Since 2004, two campaigns of works have brought to light a portion of inestimable archaeological interest of the Roman villa in Positano. The presentation of the archaeological finds takes place with the contextual museumification of the prestigious rooms belonging to the overlying the Mother Church. The luxurious residence was irreversibly damaged by the Vesuvian eruption that destroyed Pompeii. The eruptive column rose into the atmosphere for over twenty kilometers, overcoming the high ridge of the Lattari Mountains and falling back to the south. The heavy rains, which are always associated with eruptions, triggered avalanches of mud that swelled towards the valley floor and reached the villa with considerable speed, filling the rooms and causing the roofs and attics to collapse under the enormous pressure. This accumulation of debris protected the remains of a cupboard that held the bronze pottery. The middle part of the east wall underwent a shift of about forty centimeters towards the valley, witnessed by a large fracture, the most spectacular evidence of the violence of the event.
Urban Archaeological Park and National Archaeological Museum “Marcello Gigante” of Volcei – Buccino
From the plateaus overlooking the wide valleys, where the Platano and Tanagro rivers join, it is possible to overlook the Sele river valley where, since the third millennium BC, man has left traces of his presence. An ancient territory, a crossroads of people and cultures, a natural connection of ancient roads and river routes. Here the city of Volcei arose, of which, in the historical sources, only brief hints remained and the memory of the name, changed over time into the current Buccino; its historical significance can be summed up in its position of control over the lower Tanagro valley, the Sele plain and the Gulf of Paestum. The modern town of Buccino therefore coincides with that of the ancient Volcei. In the town buildings and architectures related to the Lucanian, Roman and medieval phase of the settlement coexist, which lead to talk of “widespread setting” in the village and of the Urban Archaeological Park. The National Archaeological Museum of Volcei is dedicated to the memory of Marcello Gigante, illustrious citizen of Buccino, philologist, Hellenist scholar and papyrologist. The building that houses it is a fifteenth-century construction considered by many scholars to be the oldest Augustinian monastic foundation in the Salerno area, of which we know as early as the fourteenth century. The evocative structure houses the finds on a completely restored surface of about 1600 square meters distributed on the four levels through which the exhibition itinerary winds.
Church of Saint Mary of Lama – Salerno
The first document mentioning the church of Saint Mary of Lama dates to 1055: “Ecclesia sancte Marie ubi lama dicitur… constructa intus hanc salernitanam civitatem”, but it probably has more ancient origins. Saint Mary of Lama, located in the heart of the historic city, contains the only evidence of the Lombard period of Salerno.
Inside, two columns are decorated with almost life-sized frescoes: one of them represents Christ with the cross, the other one a female figure, perhaps Mary Magdalene.
Hellenistic-Roman Theatre – Sarno
It is one of the greatest scenic buildings of ancient Campania. Built in the second century BC and scenically set against the southern wall, it was enlarged from 76 to 96 m during the Augustan or Tiberian age.
It underwent further restoration after the earthquake of 62 AD.
Both the orchestra and the frons scaenae were adorned with precious marble and statues.
Roman Villa in Minori
This accommodation reflects the type of the villa maritima on two floors with large reception rooms, then split into smaller rooms (on the West wing) and thermal environments (on the East wing), which are still recognizable tepidarium, calidarium and praefurnium.
Few elements on the upper floor, built later, are still not clearly legible, including the stairway on the West side.
The lower floor is rather well preserved. Its buildings lie on the hill behind, playing also a static function, as terracing, for the higher ones.
In some areas the decoration in third style and the stucco vaults are still kept: they are arranged around a large triclinium with nymphaeum (about 70 square meters), with a ceiling decorated with stucco ceilings and patterned ground and the remains of frescoes in the IV style, with beautiful mosaic floors.
Built in the early first century AD, the villa has undergone several restorations and alterations during its life.