Excerpt from the travel diary of Charles Townley

Paestum, southern Italy, 23-27 March 1798

Part of a journey from Calabria to Naples

Charles Townley (1737-1805) was a collector of classical antiquities and former Trustee of The British Museum. He kept a diary of his travels in Italy and France during the eighteenth century. In the spring of 1768, on his first Grand Tour, he visited the magnificent Doric temples at Paestum, south of Naples. He was accompanied by Vincenzo Brenna (1745-1820), a Florentine architect, draughtsman and painter, and Jacques Volaire (1729-1800/10), also a painter. They were to make sketches for him.

On 25 March the travellers set out for Paestum from the town of Salerno and headed for the temples, but were beaten back by high winds. The next day they rose at six and, having breakfasted, set out from their lodgings. Townley recorded:

'[We] went immediately to the antique temples which were distant from this house about 300 yards. Monsieur Volaire drew a view in perspective of the three temples in flank. Signor Brenna and self took measures of the largest temple and the middlemost, in the drawings of which it will be explained. Returned to dinner at ½ past twelve. Walked round the fair which began this morning. Many of the country people brought their goods yesterday evening, and past [sic] the night out of doors making small fires on the ground and sitting together in different groups.'

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More information


B.F. Cook, The Townley Marbles (London, The British Museum Press, 1985)

A. Wilton and I. Bignamini (eds.), Grand Tour: the lure of Italy (London, Tate Gallery Publishing, 1996)


Height: 185.000 mm
Width: 125.000 mm (closed)

Museum number

Archives TY 1/3


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