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Twenty kilometres south of Metaponto, the area between the Sinni and Agri rivers was in its time one of the richest areas on this coast and site of the two Greek colonies of Siris and Heraclea. The latter was where Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, first introduced elephants to the Romans, and, although winning the first of two battles in 280 BC, suffered such high losses that he declared another such victory would cost him the war – so bequeathing to posterity the term “Pyrrhic victory”. Artefacts unearthed from the area can be seen in POLICORO, where the Museo Nazionale della Siritide at Via Colombo 8 (Mon & Wed–Sun 9am–8pm, Tues 2–8pm; €2.50; t 0835 972 154) has a fabulous collection of clay figurines and jewel-bedecked skeletons, among other items. The ruins of Heraclea are just behind the museum and although in a poor state, they’re worth a wander. It’s a fifteen-minute walk from the centre of Policoro, or a five-minute walk from the nearest local bus stop.

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