Interview with Gabriel Zuchtriegel, site-director of the Archaeological Park of Paestum
How many people visit Paestum each year?
Last year, 3,000 people visited the site but the number is growing. We are planning on conducting surveys on the origin of our visitors that will also rate their degree of enjoyment. However, judging by the number of audio-guides rented, I would say that more than half of our visitors are Italians.
How long does it take to visit the excavations?
One week. However, in one day you can manage to gain a fairly comprehensive overview of the private houses, the forum and the walls.
What do you like most about the archaeological site?
Entering the temples is always a thrilling experience and one that is now once again possible following their recent re-opening after a twenty-year hiatus. Taking in the landscape surrounding the site from the inside is particularly exciting. It makes you feel at one with the landscape, the monuments and history. Paestum is an absolutely fascinating place, it’s like entering an oasis of peace that is cut off from the rest of the world, a truly special space.
You have focused on making the excavations child-friendly. How have you achieved this?
With educational activities for schools and families. My ‘Roman Days’ initiative has proved to be particularly successful. Two days during which children have a chance to meet gladiators, priests and senators. It’s a way of introducing children to history and archaeology. We will be repeating the initiative on 23 and 24 July.
How does the Museum fit into the wider area of Cilento?
We try to act as a gateway to Cilento, an area that is not only rich in tradition but also one that boasts an extraordinary historic, artistic and archaeological heritage. Thanks to brochures and our website, we offer tours to Velia and Padula as well as various itineraries that also enable visitors to discover the inland. We collaborate with Ept, with the communes in the area and with the National Park of Cilento: the feedback has been extremely positive.