April-May 2005 in Italy and Malta
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April 24-27 Capri
May 6-7 Sicily, Scilla and Charybdis
May 7-8 Tropea (Capo Vaticano)
May 10-12 Abruzzi National Park
May 12 Tivoli, Villa Adriana
Valley of the Temples near Agrigento
Agrigento is a town near the middle of the south coast of Sicily. Giardini-Naxos is in the northern part of the east coast. About half of the 250 km of highway connecting them is a hilly two-lane road, quite heavily travelled by transport trucks and occasional farm tractors. So, although it is quick to get to Enna by the autostrada, the drive overall is quite long. But it's worth doing.
Agrigento is on a ridge. Across a fairly wide valley there is another ridge, on which were once about a dozen Greek temples. This ridge, for some obscure reason, is the "Valley of the Temples". Unfortunately for us, the ancient Christians, showing their usual tolerant disposition, destroyed most of them, but converted one for use as a church. Now it is the only reasonably complete temple left, though substantial portions of several others remain standing.
The whole ridge, or rather, the part with the temples, must be two or three kilometers long On the valley side toward Agrigento are ruins from the early Christian times, including some catacombs that were not open for visit when we were there, though they looked as though they might sometimes be open. At one end of the ridge is a large temple undergoing restoration, in the middle the one surviving temple, and at the far end an area with the foundations of several temples and a few standing columns, including the delicate portico segment in the picture at left..
From Agrigento, we decided to take a different route home, by way of the south coast road to Gela, and then through the countryside back to Catania. Unfortunately I didn't take many pictures, but here are a couple, which don't do justice to the variety and beauty of the terrain.