September Travels – Agrigento, Sicily

[This post is part of a series which records my road trip to Sicily during September. I took loads of photos, but have only included a few at the end of each blog post.]

I’ve been to Agrigento twice now, and each time it’s been excessively hot. This may be because Agrigento has a unique climate, or just pure change. Either which way, Agrigento was hot! It was probably one of the hottest days of the holiday and I’m not sure if anyone reading this has been to Valle dei Templi, but the UNESCO site is pretty big and involves lots of walking. One thing that my MIL is not so great at is walking, so I was a bit apprehensive to begin with.

We arrived at one of the upper gates and parked up. After paying to get in and the general faffing that occurs with any group of people larger than 2, we eventually made it into the park and started to make our way around the temples.

The first temple we saw was the Temple of Juno. It’s partially standing still and is pretty impressive.

Temple of Juno, Valle dei Templi. Photo: AJTC

Temple of Juno, Valle dei Templi. Photo: AJTC

The main attraction of the upper part of the park is the Temple of Concordia as it’s in such a good state of preservation. I could go into all sorts of important and useful analysis/discussion of its architectural features, but I wont.  What I can say is that I was more interested in the range of people who came to look at it. I really like Temples and old stuff, but compare these two photos:

File:Agrigent BW 2012-10-07 13-09-13.jpg

Temple of Concordia, Valle dei Templi, Agrigento. Source Wikipedia/Berthold Werner

Temple of Concordia, Valle dei Templi, Agrigento. Photo: AJTC

Temple of Concordia, Valle dei Templi, Agrigento. Photo: AJTC

There’s a clear difference between the Temple’s impressiveness when in isolation and with space and when overrun by tourists. Obviously, we were tourists as well, but still.  Suffice to say, we didn’t take that long to look at the Temple. It’s also quite difficult to get near it as it’s now enclosed. However, I do agree that it is probably one of the most impressive remains of the Greek Civilization. And I love the colour of the stone.

We were all in desperate need of coffee by this point so we walked straight past the Temple of Heracles, and headed to the cafe for refreshment. The coffee was, as per, excellent and made me fee so much better.

Temple of Heracles, Valle dei Templi, Agrigento. Photo: CanadianKate

Temple of Heracles, Valle dei Templi, Agrigento. Photo: CanadianKate

The Olympeion field is very confusing to walk around. It’s apparently the largest ever Doric temple constructed (but never completed and now a total ruin). However, it’s really difficult to imagine when walking around the site. All that was apparent was that the 18th century citizens of Agrigento did a pretty fine job of appropriating bits of the temple for their own use.

However, the remains of a Telamon (an atlas: a support sculpture in the form of a man that can take the place of a pier) was pretty impressive and did show the scale of the Temple. It’s also one of the earliest surviving Telamon in the world.

File:Agrigento Telamon.jpg

Fallen Telamon, Olympeion field, Valle dei Templi, Agrigento. Source: Wikipedia/Giambattista Scivoletto

I think that the best, and most memorable part of the Valle dei Templi was trying to find the Hellenistic-Roman quarter that are on the outskirts of the park. For one thing, the walk crossed a lovely orchard with olive and pistachio trees in it. There were sheep grazing in the lush grass under the trees under the watchful eye of a shepherd. On the way, we startled many lizards and managed to get some good shots of the temples. Furthermore, there were no people!

Once we arrived in the Hellenistic-Roman quarter, it too was deserted but for some Sicilians cleaning mosaics which had been recently unearthed. They invited us to come and have a look and started talking in Italian. In my broken Italian, I could just about understand what they were saying, but not enough to really communicate. Looking down at the mosaics, I fell in love with the colours. They had been faded in time, but were a beautiful grey/blue, white and black. If I could, I would have those colours in one of my rooms.

We were pretty tired by this point, so headed out of the Park, and into a local bar for refreshments (lemon granita obvs) and then wandered down the hill back to the car. After a (relatively) uneventful drive back, we crashed out at home and enjoyed some local wine.