Another day of clambering around in the past over eight temples on rocky crests south of the little town of Agrigento. There’s no Valley here at all!
(I took a photo of my shoulder bag propped near the Temple of Hercules).
Modern Agrigento used to be the Greek city of Akragas, a colony of settlers originally from Rhodes and Crete who moved west and cultivated those essentials of life – grain, olives and grapes.
There are still plenty of vineyards and paddocks of olive trees along with market gardens of cabbage, fennel and tomatoes.
Agrigento was one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden age of Ancient Greece.
Hannibal took this city for Carthage in 406 BCE but, after the First Punic War (264 BCE), the Romans ended up in charge.
There’s a long beach and a safe harbour, handy for marauding armies of any century.
Agrigento Beach through the bus window
The Saracens recorded many a raid here, as did the Ostrogoths and the Normans.
The city itself is up on top of a high plateau.
You can see a lot of Norman architecture still, including fine churches, although much of the ancient city was destroyed by bombing raids in WW11.
Porta di Ponte
I trekked through the old city for an afternoon but to explore it thoroughly would need stronger legs than I have. I’m filled with admiration for the locals and their daily hikes up and down.
Agrigento isn’t as frighteningly hilly as Ragusa but the wind here is like something out of a Hollywood disaster movie. Easy to understand the presence of wind farms on the (even higher) hills just beyond the city.
I was glad of a break, with a panino, in these lovely little gardens near the train station.
Agrigento is only two hours from Palermo by train but I stayed for a couple of nights anyway. It was worth it for the Valley of the Temples.
It’s much easier to get around Sicily from Palermo than it was in the south east. The trains are good and the bus service excellent.
Distance is viewed differently here, a couple of hours on the train is nothing (and with jaw dropping scenery of craggy countryside, startling mountains and the occasional ancient hill fort) yet the Sicilians I talked to always saw me as an intrepid explorer.
I love this island.