Sicily, my summer destination. From Catania to Agrigento
Are you looking for the next destination to discover? Reasons to visit a place rather than another are several. Mine are often very simple. This time the locations of the Inspector Montalbano series (Il commissario Montalbano) and the flavour of a wild fennel Made in Ribera sauce I’ve recently tested are very inspiring to me.
Sicily we are going to meet very soon!
Maurizio and I land in Catania, where we collect a surprisingly new car we rent a couple of days before. We will spend a week in the South part of the island. It’s June and the period to visit the region is amazing. Days are endless and warm is still bearable.
We move direction Agrigento (about 2 and a half hours car from Catania). Our attention is continuously caught by motorbikes carrying 4 people all together and without helmets. Paddlers selling freshly caught fish stored in clapped-out bangers are everywhere along the streets.
We stop over in Piazza Armerina for a quick lunch and a brief visit to the Cathedral which overlooks the narrow streets of the city with its huge dome.
We absolutely must come back very soon. Piazza Armerina and the nearby Villa romana del Casale with its impressive Roman mosaic deserve an extensive visit for sure.
The sunny arid land flows slowly till we arrive in Agrigento. All the way long granita (a typical different flavours crashed ice) movable vending machines are ready to rescue travellers from thirst.
Where to stay in Agrigento
The balcony offers a nice view on a piazzetta (a small square) and the Shrine of San Calogero.
The Archeological Park
We leave our luggages in our room and in about 10 minutes car we reach the main attraction of the day. We are very excited as in a few moments we will visit the Archeological Park “Valley of the Temples” in Agrigento. With its 1,300 hectares it is the most vast archeological park of the world. Temples are scattered all the “Via dei Templi” long. Anyway my attention is focused on the Temple of Juno and that of Concordia which leave us an immense artistic and archeological heritage.
As concerning dimensions and other constructive features, they seem to be twin temples. The Temples of Juno dated Vth century BC was erected on a mound and preserves 30 columns. This looks sweet to me, and sounds like poetry in my mind. Its warm yellow ochre mixes with the landscape, as it had always been there. The Temple is now a piece of nature!
In a moment I come face to face with the Temple of Concordia built in the same period and later become a basilica. All around me a constellation of old temples witnesses the cultural magnificence and beauty of the ancient Greek city of Akragas.
Our visit takes about 3 hours. I would like to stay for the night to see the remains lighted up by a gentle moon. But we are tired and need a dinner.
A fine dining in Agrigento
The choice for the dinner falls on “Sal8” Restaurant. The venue is cozy. We are delighted by a grilled octopus on a bed of hummus and a Sicilian citrus and pistachio gratinated swordfish. Absolutely amazing!
A unique scenario: the “Scala dei Turchi”
The next day a spectacular landscape is waiting for us! Only 15 minutes distance by car nature is the host. The “Scala dei Turchi” is in front of us in all its beauty. This is a unique cliff made of stratified calcium and clay. It looks like an impenetrable solid. Its snow-white colour is almost dazzling.
No cloud. The sky is like a light blue dome over us.
In this scenario the “Scala dei Turchi” is immense and seems to be sacred. Actually some dots are there. Mostly unperceivable as in a painting of Seurat some people are over its pure mantle. Luckily there is no overcrowding as in the high season. Maurizio and I can relax surrounded by an exclusive piece of nature.
- June is a good time to visit Sicily, as warm is still bearable. Night temperature can drop considerably, therefore do not forget to bring some heavy clothes in your luggage.
- it is forbidden to park along the streets leading to the Valley of the Temples. Parking facilities are available near to the main entrances of the park. For more info click here.
- from July to September you can enjoy The Valley of the Temples by night. For more info click here.
- to avoid high season overcrowding you should not visit the Scala dei Turchi in July and August. If you cannot arrange your trip in an alternative period it is recommended to reach the location in the early morning.