April-May 2005 in Italy and Malta

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April 17-22 Rome
Arrival in Rome,
Tourists in Rome

April 22-24 Bay of Naples

April 24-27 Capri

April 27-29 Amalfi to Maratea
Amalfi Coast and Paestum,

April 29-May 3 Sicily
To Sicily,
Sicily (Taormina)
Mosaics at Villa Imperiale di Casale,
Valley of the Temples,

May 3-6 On Malta
Blue Grotto and Temples
Valetta and Archaeological Museum,
Exhibits in Archaeological Museum
Hypogeum, Gozo and Ggantija,
Tarxien and Clapham Junction

May 6-7 Sicily, Scilla and Charybdis

May 7-8 Tropea (Capo Vaticano)

May 8-10 Puglia
Matera, Grotto, Trulli of Alberobello

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.

"Valley" of the Temples. (left) Town of Agrigento on the right, the single surviving complete temple in the distance on the left. (right) looking from the ridge in the opposite direction.

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..

An old olive tree
Portico columns of temple to Diana
The remaining columns of a temple (left and above)The survivor that was used as a church. Note the roman inner wall. A temple undergoing maintenance and restoration.
A massive destroyed temple of Zeus, showing a huge column capital block. More of the ruins of the Zeus Temple. (left) Agrigento in the background. (middle) note the horseshoe grooves in the enormous column blocks, presumably for aligning and linking the blocks. (right) distant view of the Zeus temple site.

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.

Fields and hills near Cantagirone And a castle.