In stark contrast to the dramatic Tyrrhenian coast, Basilicata's Ionian coast is undistinguished and dotted with large tourist resorts. Metaponto, once a Greek Achaean colony known as Metapontum, is an exception. A sprawling archaeological site, all that remains of a prosperous city of tens of thousands, is twinned with a museum built expressly to house the archaeology the site keeps giving up. Together they bring alive the ancient civilisation of Magna Graecia in southern Italy.
Archaeologists studying the undisturbed ruins have managed to map the entire ancient urban plan. Settled by Greeks in the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Metaponto's most famous resident was Pythagoras (he of the theorem), who founded a school here after being banished from Crotone (in Calabria) in the 6th century BC. After Pythagoras died, his house and school were incorporated into the Temple of Hera (known as the Tavole Palatine), whose elegantly ruined columns remain.