Museo di Paestum


Facing the east side of the ruins, the Museo di Paestum houses a collection of much-weathered metopes (bas-relief friezes). Among these are originals from the Tempio di Argiva Hera (Temple of Argive Hera), 9km north of Paestum, of which virtually nothing else remains. The most famous of the museum's numerous frescoes is the 5th-century-BC Tomba del tuffatore (Tomb of the Diver), thought to represent the passage from life to death with its frescoed depiction of a diver in mid-air.

The fresco was discovered in 1968 inside the lid of the tomb of a young man, alongside his drinking cup and oil flasks, which he would perhaps have used to oil himself for wrestling matches. Rare for the period in that it shows a human form, the fresco expresses pure delight in physicality, its freshness and grace eternally arresting. Below the diver, a symposium of men repose languidly on low couches and brandish drinking cups.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Paestum attractions

1. Paestum's Temples


Very different to Pompeii, Paestum’s ruins are smaller, older, more Greek and – crucially – a lot less overrun. Consequently, it is possible to steal some…

2. Tempio di Cerere

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Tempio di Cerere (6th century BC) was originally dedicated to Athena and served as a Christian church in medieval times.

3. Tempio di Nettuno

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Dating from about 450 BC, the limestone Tempio di Nettuno is the largest and best preserved of Paestum's trio of temples; only parts of its inside walls…

4. Basilica


The so-called basilica (a temple to the goddess Hera) is Paestum’s oldest surviving monument. Dating from the middle of the 6th century BC, it’s a…

5. Tenuta Vannulo

1.81 MILES

The first organic producer of bufala (water-buffalo) milk, Tenuta Vannulo is a 10-minute drive from Paestum. It makes its mozzarella exclusively from…

6. Il Castello

4.94 MILES

Built by the Byzantines in the 5th century, the castle was strengthened during the Angevin period, the time of the War of the Vespers, which was initially…

7. Trentova-Tresino

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Those frustrated by the dearth of well-marked hiking trails in the Parco Nazionale del Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni should pay a visit to this mini…

8. Castello dell'Abate

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Approached from its coastal sidekick, Santa Maria di Castellabate, the summit of Castellabate is marked by the broad Belvedere di San Costabile, from…