Today I ventured outside Puglia into the Basilicata region to see all the sites in ancient Metapontum, present-day Metaponto. This is an extremely small town with an incredible number of fascinating artifacts from the time when the Greeks settled all over this area. Metaponto is on the Ionian coast right in the instep of the boot that is Italy. When you look at a map, it is easy to understand why the Greeks would come here.
There are three main areas to visit. First, you can visit the Temple of Hera, with only the Doric columns remaining.
After you leave the temple, you make your way to the archeological park, where there are the remains of the agora. They are currently in the process of restoring this area (welcome to Italy!), so you are somewhat on your own to explore and discover. This has its advantages, though. There are no fences or long lines of people interfering with your view. Of greatest interest to me was the ability to see up close the column capitals and architectural details that are usually too high to completely enjoy. After seeing the Doric columns of the Temple to Hera, Ionic capitals were the main attraction.
Finally, don’t leave this small town before making your way to the Archeological Museum. This place is a treasure trove of artifacts, and it seems that very few people even know about it. There were fully formed vases with remarkable detail, incredible pieces of jewelry, items needed for clothing and play, and religious artifacts.
This is really an incredible collection of items. The most ironic part of the visit was seeing a wall full of pictures of various items from Metaponto in other museums – one of those being in my own hometown of St. Louis, Missouri! We really don’t know what is right under our noses.