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Discovering Metaponto’s archaeology and beaches in Basilicata’s Matera province 

Wednesday, 04 May 2022 09:59

Metaponto, with its sandy beaches and the Basilicata region's most important archaeology, is a small town in the province of Matera which is a must for visitors to the region. Exploring this lovely Ionian coastline with its white powdery beaches is particularly popular in the summer months.

The Magna Graecia area was colonized by the Greeks

The ancient city was founded by Greek colonists from Achea in the 7th century BC in a fertile area between the Bradano and Basento rivers. It dominated the plain which is now known as Metapontino at the very centre of Magna Graecia (the vast area at the foot of Italy colonized by the Greeks) and today is a key area for important archaeological remains.

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One of the only five Ionic temples in Italy

Thanks to the grain trade it became an important commercial hub. So much so that an ear of corn was printed on its coins and became the symbol of the city. When the Pythagoreans were expelled from Crotone, Pythagoras chose Metapontus to continue his teachings, and his home was later transformed into the temple of Hera. In Metaponto, there are the remains of one of the very few Ionic temples found in Italy (there are only four others) and, dating back to around 470 BC, it is dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, fertility and beauty.

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A small, well-preserved archaeological park

Whether it be the charm of age-old myths and gods, or the thrill of discovering  remarkable ancient and historical finds, the Archaeological Park of Metaponto, which is small, private and very well preserved, has a truly unique and compelling atmosphere. Among the other temples is that of Hera, the wife of Zeus and today we can still see fifteen of its imposing columns, the so-called Palatine Tables. These continue to testify to the importance of this area for the original Greek colonists. It was truly a sacred place, and today it still resonates with the same magic.

The ancient traditions of artisan life

Another interesting area is that of the kerameicos, or the potters’ district, which offers us a glimpse of the traditions of artisan life. Then on the opposite side of the park, the Castro Romano area emerges in the form of a long arcaded gallery and was used up to the end of the 6th century AD.

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Borgo San Gaetano

Lovers of all things beautiful will feel totally at home in Borgo San Gaetano, a charming relais located in the elegant town of Bernalda, a short distance from the coast. The seven suites in an old mill blend vintage and contemporary and prices range from €90 to €150 for two people per night, including the delicious and abundant Bernaldese breakfast.  

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