Tag Archives: Segesta

We have time…

13 Oct
…so we went to Paestum. 
The good things:
Temple of Ceres.
Temple of Ceres.
  • Very old Greek temples, still standing. One is from 550 B.C! Amazing!
  • Inexpensive lodging at a rather delightful little place. Euro 73.00 per night including an Italian-style breakfast.
  • An excellent — who’d have guessed it?– restaurant right next door to our hotel. Truly a fine meal, nice people, very raffinato (refined, elegant). In fact, we will return this evening. And they give a discount for people staying at our hotel. 
  • There is a nice museum with well-preserved artifacts.
  • It was not crowded and the weather was darn-near perfect.
The drawbacks:
  • It takes a long time to get here. From Roma, door-to-door took us 7 hours including 2 buses, 1 Metro, a Frecciarossa,  Regionale and a 20-minute walk. There was a fair amount of waiting time, partly due to guasto (malfunction) on the rail line. We also got to had to stand up all the way on the Regionale. 
  • There’s the archeological site, the museum, and that’s about it in Paestum.
  • There’s the mare, but the seaside here made the town of Seaside, Oregon (not my favorite place) look like a high-class resort.
  • We stayed one night too long, it seems.
A few hearty souls at the beach. In summer no doubt it is crowded.
A few hearty souls at the beach. In summer no doubt it is crowded.
Sad little seaside Paestum. I am sure it is lively in the summer, but I suspect it still feels sad.
Sad little seaside Paestum. I am sure it is lively in the summer, but I suspect it still feels sad.
We seldom go anywhere for one night. In fact, the only place I can think of that we did that was in Tivoli for the summer lights one August. And Tivoli is a hell-of-a-lot easier to get to than Paestum.
We have also seen the impressive Greek temple and ruins in Segesta. Perhaps if one has not seen those, this would knock your socks off. My socks are still on. We did get to be the first people in the archeological site, which was pretty fun. The tour groups showed up about 10:00 as we were exiting looking for an espresso. 
A tour group passes through the archeological site.
A tour group passes through the archeological site.
Maybe I am also jaded by the dead kitten I saw along one road and the dead rat along another. I have not had the misfortune to see roadkill in all of our travels. This in contrast to meticulous care to remove trash in the ruins.
Temples are lighted at night.
Temples are lighted at night.
If one were to want to see Paestum (and I understand why it would still be a draw despite my commentary), I would recommend a day trip from the Amalfi Coast or a one-night stay. The nice thing about staying a night is getting to see the temples lighted, and also seeing the site in both morning and afternoon light. We are not people who read every display in a museum or poke into every corner of a site. (Three hours at Pompeii was plenty for us.) If one does like to explore a bit more, perhaps Paestum would warrant more attention. We are happy we came, but a little bored as I write this. I am very happy we did not divert a vacation day-or-two when we were working. But we have time now.  
Surveying work in progress. Only about 30% of the site has been excavated.
Surveying work in progress. Only about 30% of the site has been excavated.
Temple of Nettuno.
Temple of Nettuno.
Of course there were ferals around.
Of course, there were ferals around.
A bright spot in the Roman ruins. Only the temples are Greek. The surrounding ruins date "only" to Roman times.
A bright spot in the Roman ruins. Only the temples are Greek. The surrounding ruins date “only” to Roman times.
Ric at Temple of Ceres.
Ric at Temple of Ceres.
Old Roman road to the sea, which was once much closer.
Old Roman road to the sea, which was once much closer. It’s now about a 20-minute walk via modern road.

Sicilia – Part I

11 Mar
View from apartment, Trapani

City wall of Trapani, as viewed from the terrace of our apartment.

When I said we were going to Sicilia, Italian friends sighed, American colleagues raved, and my dear friend Nicholas whined that he could not be there too.  Thanks to all, I received some great advice on things to do and places to see. Sicilia is beautiful, to say the least, the people are friendly to a fault, and the food is divine.

We took our first flight since arriving in Italy last May. It seemed strange to fly out of Rome instead of taking a train and we were pleased to discover we had not forgotten how to drive, as neither of us had done so for 10 months.

We are staying in the small city of Tràpani in Northwest Sicily. Rather than try to “do” the whole island in one trip, we selected a corner of the region to explore. If we like it – and we do so far – we have plenty of opportunity to return and explore more of this vast and interesting island. With an ocean-front apartment reached via 60 steps (no elevator) we are living local. Luckily we didn’t have to haul our suitcases, although each only weighs 20 pounds or so, because the building has a rope and pulley system to assist in baggage handling. [NB: two-and-half years ago

Laurel in Lo Zingaro

Stopping by the grotto in Lo ZIngaro. People lived here as long as 10,000 yeasr ago.

we stayed in Vernazza in an apartment that had a climb of 57 steps. We struggled with that climb to the point that we really thought about it before we went up or down to minimize the number of trips per day. Now we are both in far better shape with weight loss (both of us), “new legs” and a gym program for me, 6-7km per day walking, and daily jaunts up the 64 steps to our apartment in Roma. The 60 steps in Tràpani are a piece of cake!]


I wanted to stay in Erice, a medieval town about 2400 feet abve Trapani, but Francesco, Rick and Jane were right to advise against it as a base. It has been encased in clouds for 3 days now. It’s much better here at sea level.

Erice in Clouds

Erice is atop the hill hidden in a mass of clouds.

Our arrival day devolved into a miserable rain and chill, warded off by an amazing dinner involving the best caponata we’d ever eaten, fresh fish, and a couscous preparation like none I’ve ever had, served with a whole roasted fish and a tureen of fish broth. With a crisp local white wine, we were satiated and slept a full 8 hours for a change! 

Lo Zingaro

Crystal clear waters far below the trail in Lo Zingaro.

Fortunately Sunday dawned bright and clear, so we headed to La Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro for a hike. What a beautiful and unusual place! It’s a little bit like parts of Hawaii with stark and interesting beauty, unusual plants, and ever-so-quiet. The water is clear with many shades of blue and turquoise contrasting with the lush green of a spring-rain freshened landscape.  I have not been anywhere quite this quiet (only the sounds of birds and the wind) for many many years. We felt far removed from our bustling Roma, which was the point of this vacation. Lizards darted across our path, and the wild flowers opened almost before our eyes

Lizard in sun

Little lizards dart along the trail enjoying the sun. So did we.

as the sun warmed the day. A half-hour or so into the hike, we encountered a small museum dedicated to the contadini (farmers) where an amicable man told us about the activities and dwellings of a typical farm family. We were his first visitors this day so he was ready to chat. My Italian understanding is really coming along, thank God, and we had a decent conversation. There is a grotto along the trail where they have determined people have lived for some 10,000 years. Amazing to consider how ancient this land is. Also, I got some sun as ordered by my doctor who thinks I need more vitamin D.

The hike was a good workout so we indulged in a fine Sunday lunch of fresh fish, fresh pasta, and an arugula salad, enjoying the antics of little children dining with Nonna e Nonno at an adjacent table.


Greek temple at Segesta, viewed from afar.

Clouds come and go, with passing showers. The temperature is not warm enough for beach time, but excellent for exploring, so Monday we headed to Segesta, where we saw our first-ever Greek ruins. This is a marvelous time of year to visit without crowds or the dizzying heat of summer. We found ourselves alone beside the magnificent temple, in the ancient arena, and along quiet paths. The temple is huge and well-preserved. One can walk completely around it for an excellent perspective on the architecture. Built in the 5th century, B.C., it has survived at least three earthquakes, and has withstood the ravages of man for so many centuries, but the courthouse in Salem, OR, barely lasted a decade due to poor construction.

After an up-close encounter with the temple, we ascended the hill opposite (305 meters above sea level) where the city used to be, to the location of an ancient arena. There we found gorgeous views back to the temple across fields of wild-flowers in bloom.

Luckily, as this is Italy, one can get a fine espresso freshly pulled by the barista, and

Ric at Segesta

My favorite travel companion in the ancient arena at Segesta.

a freshly made pastry even at an archeological site. Try that at Silver Creek Falls or the Mount St. Helens.Stay-tuned. More to come….

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