I tweet something Goethe wrote on the day in question. His description on March 23 deserves more than 180 characters.
Through Tischbein Goethe had met the painter Christoph Heinrich Kniep, who is now renowned for the drawings Goethe hired him to execute on his Italian travels. On March 23 they traveled in a two-wheeled carriage, to Paestum, alternately taking the reins. Goethe was initially not pleased by what he saw. As he writes, he found himself in a thoroughly alien world. His eyes, he writes, his whole being, were accustomed to slender architectural forms, "so that these blunt, cone-shaped, dense columnar masses seemed annoying, indeed awful" ("so daß diese stumpfen, kegelförmigen, enggedrängten Säulenmassen lästig, ja furchtbar erschienen"). But, he adjusted his eyes, as can be seen in this nice translation posted by "Rome Art Lover":
I pulled myself together, remembered the history of
art, thought of the age with which this architecture was in harmony,
called up images in my mind of the austere style of sculpture -- and in
less than an hour I found myself reconciled to them and even
thanking my guardian angel for having allowed me to see these
well-preserved remains with my own eyes.
Picture credit: World Tour