As per the prior blog, after a day of exploring the nearby towns of Monreale and Cefalu, we were ready for two more day-side tours to Erice, Segesta and then to Agrigento. Typically, it takes over an hour to drive from Palermo to Segesta, and 11/2 hour to Erice. Both Segesta and Erice are west of Palermo. It took us over two hours and 15 minutes to reach Agrigento, south of Palermo.
Erice appears in the clouds like a medieval hilltown in a movie scene. It is such a spectacular, fortified town set high above the harbour of Trapani (800 meters above sea level). This historic town is surrounded by defensive town walls, crowned by a castle as it dominates its surroundings area, overlooking the sea. It is surmised that the town was originally built by the Elymians, an ancient pre-Roman peoples. When we visited, we were hampered from conducting a truly in-depth exploration because of the strong winds and shifting clouds.
We did get to see what is remaining of the temple of Venus, built to house the shrine which the Romans dedicated to the Goddess of Fertility.The guide book indicates that the fertility rites probably took place on or around the temple site, at the highest point of the town.
High up in a mountainous area there is the beautiful magical Segesta archaeological complex. Segesta was founded by the Elymian people, one of the native people of Sicily. They later assimilated with the Greeks, making Segesta one of their important Classical towns. It was later ruled by the Roman empire, but declined in importance before being abandoned around the thirteenth century.
The still standing 5th century BC Doric temple is truly magnificent. It has always been roofless because its construction was never completed. It is one of the best-preserved examples of a Greek temple.
A short, but steep walk from the temple brings you to the Greek (and later Roman) theater, a open amphitheatre where in the summer Greek plays are staged. The views are so stunning from the top of a mountain plateau that you can see for miles over the valleys below.
As the site of an ancient and important town which was abandoned in the Middle Ages, Segesta also boasts the archaeological remnants of other times and cultures. The ruins of a Norman castle, a small church and a mosque are still there.
Agrigento, located on Sicily’s southern coast, is one of the greatest legacies of ancient Greece. The town’s Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The parade of well-preserved Doric temples, dates back to the fifth and sixth centuries BC.
The temples are spread along a rocky ridge, and a short walk to the south of the medieval center of town, in a designated archaeological park.
Agrigento’s Museo Archeologico which is situated between the town and the archaeological site, has a wide range of exhibits from the area.
Our 7 days in Palermo
Within 7 days of residing in Palermo, we had done extensive walking to check out the major attractions, shops, winding narrow streets, noises, smells, cultural contrasts, foodie places, peoples and families enjoying themselves in the early evenings. The following is a collage of photos to help you get a feel for being here in Palermo. Also, I included photos of the outside nearby towns that we toured, Monreale, a picturesque hillside town with a renowned Norman cathedral; Cefalù, a photographic dream of a hill top town which winds down to a wide, beautiful sandy beach.
Below is a picture of horse and buggy on the Palermo streets.
Below is a pedestrian only street.
Below is photo of Palermo’s port.
Below is a photo of a hall in the Palazzo Normanni:
Below is a photo of ballet dancers practicing at the Massimo Teatro:
Below is a photo from a local market:
The importance of agriculture in Sicily is reflected in the following Projectto India report (See the below link):
“At the exact center of the Mediterranean, Sicily has always been a crossroads of cultures and agriculture. A legacy that even today is manifested in the richness and variability of an unparalleled gastronomic heritage. at the time of Greeks the vine and the olive tree of Sicily were the most important crops. Then under the influence of Rome Sicily became the wheat granary of the empire. In recent times the island took the role of garden of Europe, with its unique fruit and vegetable products as the red orange of the plain of Catania, lemons and artichokes of Syracuse, the cherry tomatoes, the table grapes of Mazzarrone and Canicattì and the pistachios of Bronte.”
Below is a photo of souvenirs:
Here is a picture of two pets looking out of the window. I did notice that there were quite a few stray cats in Sicily and Rome. We have surmised that they are either fed by kindly folks or they just do what cats do, hunt for their food.
Note the hanging clothes. Even today, the clothes dryer is not a widely used.
This is from the Federica blog: “
The Sicilian “Carretto” is made in several provinces in Sicily each with their own style. Carretti made in the province of Palermo have more of a square box design, those made in Catania are made with more elaborate ‘keys’, and then there are the carts made in Agrigento which have their own distinctive style In modern-day Sicily, the tradition continues in small, three-wheeled motorized vehicles (called lapa ). They are often painted in the traditional way.
Below are photos of the Palermo foodie scene:
Monreale And Cefalù, towns near Palermo
Below are Monreale photos (Hillside town, south of Palermo):
Below are Cefalù photos (seaside town east of Palermo):
TRAVEL FROM PALERMO TO TAORMINA
To travel from Palermo on the west coast of Sicily to the east coast, Taormina, we sought the assistance of a local travel agency, VIRTUS, viaggi e turismo, Via Maqueda 260, Palermo; 091/ 601 4515 (This agency specializes in trips from Sicily to the Greek Islands). The gracious agent booked for us a tour from Palermo to Taormino with the Palermo Walks touring company; 0039-320 931 7846/ 0039 320 751 1079; firstname.lastname@example.org. (The agent did obtain prior approval from Palermo Walks, so that we could bring our luggage).
We were met on time by our tour guide, Daniela and her driver/ best friend Giuseppe. They both spoke English. Daniela had spent time in the United States visiting her brother in Pittsburgh and then in Long Beach, California. We were advised that it would take over 3 hours to reach our destination.
It was obvious that Daniela has years of experience in the tourist industry as she was very competent, informative, and knowledgeable She made our trip to Taormina a pleasant, fun event. I would highly recommend her for any touring needs around Palermo.
Book your Holidays in Sicily – Palermo Walks – Walk, Tour, Itinerary in … www.palermowalks.org/ Book your Walks, Tours, Itineraries, and Activities in Sicily. Palermo Walks – Sicily as you’ve never seen it before…
[PDF]Origins of the Sicilian Mafia: The Market for Lemons http://www.gu.se/digitalAssets/1439/1439958_mafia14.pdf/ University of Gothenburg by A Dimico – Dec 31, 2012 – the mafia arose out of the need to protect citrus production…