VELIA: sea, sun and excavations in the ancient town of Magna Graecia
Culture or relax? A great tan or an intellectual holiday? Body or mind? Fortunately it is not always necessary to make a choice. Ascea, that includes Velia the ancient Greek town of Magna Graecia, like many other Italian regions offers a wide range of opportunities for tourists: a wonderful sea, gastronomy, and the excavations of Elea (now Velia) which was the site of the Eleatic school of thought and philosophy.
Travelling is a great chance to forget stress and worries, and to relax, but also to enrich one's cultural heritage thanks to the many interesting spots worth to be visited. If you come to the National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano, we recommend to have a stop in Ascea too, in the past usually considered a place where to spend a holiday only made of sea and fun. The sea is beautiful, the beach is sandy and wide, ideal for families with children. Ascea boasts a strategic position on the Cilento Coast: it is 22 km from Palinuro and 18 km from Acciaroli. However, this town keeps a precious treasure: the remains of one of the most important towns of the Magna Graecia, Velia or Elea (Velia is the Roman name, Elea the Greek one).
Velia was fundamental for the commerce between Greece and Italy and became very rich and prosperous for many reasons: thanks to the two ports, to the fact that it was very well defended also because of the mountains protecting it in a natural way, and for its diplomacy which helped to avoid conflicts and to be invaded by the Lucans, as it happened to Paestum. Velia was the site of the Eleatic school of philosophy, to which Parmenides, Zeno and Melissus of Samos belonged. During the Roman period, there was also an important school of medicine.
Walking in the ancient agorà is a very exciting experience: it is the place where philosophers walked, met and talked about their theories, where it was usual to go to the 'centre', and meet other people for a talk and exchange ideas. People still have this habit in Southern Italy. The most interesting remain of Velia is the entrance called 'Porta Rosa', the only example of Greek arch of the IV century B.C.. Today the acropolis of Velia still preserves the ancient theatre and the base of the ancient temple on which a medieval fortress was built between the X and XI centuries A.D., once the heart of a ancient medieval hamlet in Velia, in the meanwhile partly abandoned. This hamlet also boasted a church dedicated to Our Lady, of 950 A.D., today containing the findings from the excavations.
Once visited the excavations, continue visiting the whole Cilento, this ancient land rich of traditions, and taste the typical local dishes with a delicious local wine.