Valley of Temples

Trip Start Nov 14, 2011
Trip End Feb 28, 2013

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Flag of Italy  , Sicily,
Friday, August 10, 2012

Jeff's Contributions:
Our travels have been trouble free for the most part over the past ten months so perhaps we were overdue for a reminder that things can sometimes go wrong. As we left Syracusa for Agrigento our GPS turned off without warning.  After checking things out, we figured out that the power outlet on the car wasn't working so the battery on the GPS was dead.  At about the same time I felt something odd with the steering on the car.  We stopped on the side of the highway and discovered that we had a bad air leak from the right front tire.  We had run over a screw and the evidence was still in the tire.  We turned around, found a service station, put in lots of air, and headed back to Syracusa.  With a little ingenuity we were able to find the local Hertz office but they didn’t have a replacement car.  The closest Hertz with a car was an hour away in Catania.  We made the decision to drive to Catania with the leaking tire to get a new car – one with a working power outlet.  We made it but I could hear the air hissing from the tire as I handed the keys back. With all the misadventure, we had lost half a day - and a chance to visit Ragusa on our way to Agrigento as we had planned.  When we did finally arrive in Agrigento, it was late afternoon.  We had a nice walk around the town, returned to the hotel briefly and then headed out for dinner.  It was around 8:30 p.m. but the restaurants were empty.  After wandering around for a while we decided on a nice outdoor place that had 2-3 tables occupied and by 9:30 all the tables were full.  In fact by 11 p.m. the place was still full and lots of the tables had young children.  The southern habit of eating late is still alive and well.

Agrigento is a coastal town located high up on a hillside overlooking the Mediterranean.  First colonized by Greeks around 600 BC, it has a rich history and perhaps the most obvious evidence of this history is the Valle dei Templi (or Valley of Temples) that lies just outside of town.  This was our destination for the morning before we headed back to Catania.  Valle dei Templi is one of the main attractions of Sicily and includes the remains of seven Greek temples, most dating to the 5th century BC.  These impressive ruins are spread out over a large sloped ridge.  Some of the fortified walls surrounding the temples seem to have been carved from the ridge itself.  It was a hot sunny day but we took our time and enjoyed walking from temple to temple in this vast archaeological site.  I hope the photos we took do it justice.  No doubt people have enjoyed this site for the 2,600 years of its existence.

We had packed a lunch and our plan after leaving Valle dei Templi was to drive down to the beaches of Agrigento on our way back to Catania.  Initially all we could find were small crowded beaches with no shade.  As we drove east along the coast, our persistence paid off and we found a section of more rugged beach with an area shaded by trees.  We ate with the sight and sound of the surf crashing on the shore.  It was a real vacation moment.
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