If you are looking for traces of Greek civilization in southern Italy then don't miss out on Metaponto and the vast ancient ruins of the city complex.
Metapontum was founded in 773 BC by the Aechaens from the northern Peloponnese. They were probably attracted to the area for its fertile land and corn, a stable diet of the ancients.
The Greeks merged well with the indigenous 'Lyki' tribe and the town became an important cultural center. So important that Pythagoras of theorem fame transferred there and set up a school which lasted 200 years.
The ancient town is located on the coast, properly in the 'instep' of the heel of Italy.
From 773 BC the area was a flourishing Greek colony, 'almost legendary 'as APT Basilicata understate in their brochure.
Nevertheless, Metapontum made a big mistake by backing Hannibal during the Punic Wars. His defeat saw the city destroyed in revenge and the golden era was gone forever.
The site is well preserved and is dominated by 15 (of 32) Doric columns from the temple of Hera. These form the so called Palatine Tables (main image above) and are the symbol of Metaponto and, indeed, Basilicata itself.
Also look out for the 'Forum of the Muses' which is notable for being the spot where Pythagoras died.
Further along the coast at Policoro, the truly keen can visit the 'Museo Nazionale della Siritide' which conserves the finds from the colonies of Siris and Heraclea. Both date from the 8th century BC.
Siris is perhaps the most evocative as it was founded by the Trojans of wooden horse fame. Read our comment below which references the image above. The small label for the artefacts states 'Metaponto, locality Crucinia. 5 centruy BC. Iron tools used for the working of wood, bronze blades, iron horse bits, fragments of lekythos vases'
Do also visit the National Archaeological Museum beside the Park of Apollo Licio.
Today, Metaponto Lido is part of the comune of Bernalda and is a notable seaside resort with a splendid beach.
Still an important agricultural centre, try the delicious apricots, peaches, oranges, and mandarins as well as the local hand made 'fifina' pasta with cheese and vegetables.