The ferry from Lampedusa brings you to a place called Porto Empedocle which is the port town to Agrigento, a fairly large gorgeous city perched on a hill on Sicily’s Mediterranean Coast and the gateway to the Valley of the Temples. This is a very important UNESCO World Heritage Site and a very cool place to visit. Not to be outdone, Agrigento has a few reasons to stay a night as well with great restaurants, cafes and an old world charm that is unmistakably Sicilian.
It was never actually our intention to stay a night in Agrigento or even to spend much time there at all to be honest as we were originally going to try to get to Catania on our way to Sardinia but a two hour late boat from Lampedusa pretty much killed that plan and we were left scavenging for a place to stay in Agrigento. Sometimes good things come when you least expect them.
Agrigento is an old town perched high up and very hilly. Its old streets are incredibly charming and nothing like what I expected. While its residents don’t even know where the train and bus station are, they certainly know how to do great bed and breakfasts and killer Sicilian food in great little alleyway streets.
Our little B&B, we found by chance as it was next to the one we had wanted to stay at but they didn’t answer their door, so we lucked out with a cheaper room and much nicer. The B&B recommended a great restaurant called Prosecco which we happily took them up on and the food didn’t disappoint. The surprise of dinner was that Jane Curtain, the former Saturday Night Live actress and one of the Coneheads was right next to us with some friends. That was pretty cool. The next day we headed to the Valley of the Temples. I didn’t have many expectations as I have been disappointed by many UNESCO sites in the past but this one held up its title.
The Valley of the Temples is on the site of the ancient city of Akragas as is exemplified with the site of seven Greek temples, the best preserved of which is the Temple of Concordia as you can see in the picture above. The other temples are more fragmentary and are semi-standing with most of the relics knocked over on the floor but you can still roam around the grounds and get the feel as there are temples to Zeus, Hercules and Hephaestus.
The actual site is really well kept a nice place to spend a few hours in the searing Sicilian sun. Bring sunscreen and plenty of water and especially don’t forget your camera because the views of Agrigento and the Mediterranean behind it are stunning.
After the Valley we headed by bus to Catania which is Sicily’s second biggest city and an important coastal port. The drive was spectacular although I didn’t take any pictures because I forgot, including Mt. Etna. The landscapes of central Sicily are amazing and will keep you up on any three hour bus ride, at least most people! I can’t underscore it enough how pretty it is and it makes you realize why Michael Corleone loved this land so much. From Catania we caught a train to Rome to catch a flight to Barcelona.