Friday, March 11, 2016

Winter in Sicily Agrigento/ Valley of the Temples

This is a place I have been wanting to see for years, but it is not exactly on a major tourist track. When our last guests were here, they also really wanted to see the site, so we hired a driver and a guide and headed out. Our driver, Giovanni, was a trip all to himself. He was so sweet, helpful and knowledgeable. He was part of the Basula tours.  I highly recommend this company if you are wanting to travel within Sicily. Driving is difficult. The roads are VERY narrow, with large pot holes. People park on both sides of these narrow streets, so the 2 way street is in effect a very narrow one way street. None of the streets are marked, and the GPS seems to have lost its mind here in Sicily. Other than that, no problem!

The drive from our house to Agrigento was about 2.5 hours. We went through beautiful agricultural terrain filled with groves of oranges. It reminded me of stories I've hear of what San Jose, Ca. used to be like.

The term "valley" for this site is a misnomer, as the site is up on a ridge not in a valley. It is huge, about 3200 acres, and is the largest archeological site in the world. The site includes the remains of 7 temples all in the Doric style.

A five hundred year old olive tree stands as a welcoming sentinel to the site.

The Temple of Concordia is remarkably preserved and is ranked among the most notable structures from ancient Greek times. It was built in the 5th century BC. This is really hard to imagine when you are standing there looking at it. The temple is simply magnificent. One of the reasons it is so well preserved is that it was turned into a church in the 6th century AD, but later the walls of the church were destroyed and the Greek temple was allowed to remain in all of its splendor.

Temple of Concordia

Off to the right of the picture, you can see the town of Agrigento. The temples are by themselves, without all of the tacky tourist shops that one often finds near these type of sites.

Temple of Juno Lacinia

This to me is one of the most magnificent things I have seen in Italy. We were so lucky to have been able to go and see it. We had a beautiful, if cold, day. The light was pure, there were very few tourists, and we had an archaelogist for a guide. All in all the day could not have gone better. I highly recommend this stop for anyone going to Sicily. The Stoic One and I both said we would return.

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