Starting in the 8th century BC, Greeks settled parts of what is now southern Italy and Sicily, then known as Magna Grecia, or Greater Greece. There are several well-preserved Greek remains to visit, most of them on the island of Sicily.
Top Greek Temples, Theaters, and Sites on Sicily
Valley of the Temples, or Valle dei Templi, is a large archaeological zone with well-preserved monumental Greek temples, erected in the 5th – 4th centuries BC. There’s also a good museum and you can buy a combination ticket good for both. The Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is in the town of Agrigento in southern Sicily and is open daily from 8:30 AM. If you also visit the medieval town above the site and the nearby Garden of Kolymbetra, you could easily spend the whole day in this area.
Greek remains in the Archaeological Zone of Neapolis and on the island of Ortygia in Syracuse include Sicily’s largest Greek theater, a Greek military installation, temple remains, and the base of the huge Altar of Hieron II. Syracuse is a city in southeastern Sicily that was once a major Greek city founded in 734 BC. The Greek and Roman sites of Syracuse also make up a World Heritage site.
The Greco-Roman theater in Taormina, Sicily, is in a stunning setting overlooking the sea with views of Mount Etna. The theater dates from the 3rd century BC but was renovated by the Romans. It’s now one of the venues where you can go to summer performances and concerts in ancient sites.
Top Greek Temples and Sites in Southern Italy
Paestum, the northern point of Magna Grecia, has three impressive Doric temples, the most complete in Italy, as well as extensive Greek and Roman ruins and a good museum. The Greek city, called Poseidonia in honor of the God of the Sea, was founded about 600 BC and renamed Paestum by the Romans. Paestum is south of Naples and the Amalfi Coast in the Cilento Peninsula and is open daily at 9AM.
The ancient Greek town of Velia, another interesting site on the Cilento Peninsula, has a 3rd century BC theater on the acropolis, ancient houses and thermal baths, and a small museum.
Metaponto, near the sea in the Basilicata region of southern Italy, was a Greek colony established in 638 BC. Outside the town of Metaponto are remains of a Greek temple and an archaeological park with a Greek theater, remains of a crafts district, temple remains, and a necropolis. The National Archaeological Museum has a good collection of finds. The site and museum are open daily but closed in the morning on Mondays. Also nearby is the Siris Herakleia Archaeological area, that was a Greek town founded in 440 BC, and National Museum in Policoro.
More Greeks in Italy: Greek Towns in Salento, Puglia
More Archaeological Sites: Ancient Roman Sites in Italy