Valley of the TemplesMarch 5, 2017 in Italy
Our friend Cath had recommended a visit to the Valley of the Temples near Agrigento, about half way along the south coast of Italy. On the approach, commercial outlets inevitably allied themselves to this famous UNESCO site and we saw signs for the Valley of fruit, cars, shops etc.
Will had found a water tap in the town using Maps.Me but yet another road was closed and the ensuing confusion and blocked streets made it impossible to get to. The reason for this road closure was a political rally, there were about 35 coach loads of people waving flags, including a bright red Communist Party one. Having recently seen photos of the NHS demonstration back home, it did make us think of how much our way of life has changed. A year ago we would have been involved in the fight for positive change and standing up against disastrous policies that increase inequality. Today we feel somewhat dislocated. Sometimes this is better for our personal state of mind as we don't get so frustrated, upset and angry. However it has also taken something away from who we are right now and the worth we place in our actions.
After so many tight squeezes in town it was a relief to find ample parking in the car park for vans. After passing by a small gathering of stalls selling tourist tat, we approached the ticket office expecting to pay €10 each, but were pleasantly surprised to be handed two free tickets! Following obligatory body scans we entered the site through an orchard, guided by a corridor of yellow, orange and blue wildflowers. Amongst the trees were blossoming almonds, some of their white petals tinged with pink being occasionally blown off and catching the light as they fluttered down. The scent of nectar enticed butterflies which in turn enticed birds who trilled as they flitted between the trees. It truly felt as if spring had sprung.
Further into the site stood a 500-600 year old knarled olive tree - true living history! We noticed fig trees in bud, the orange and lemon trees were fruiting and the pomegranates that were still attached to the branches, hung shrivelled and black. Will picked a windfall almond from a now flowering tree but it too was well past its best.
The stone ruins dating back nearly 2,500 years were spread over several hectares. On the drive we'd passed a large grid of worn down walls and had spied a huge temple from afar. Commencing our exploration within the site, remnants of buildings could be seen up close and even climbed upon. Many of the massive bricks were cut from sandstone, itself probably millions of years old and containing a myriad of shells from that time. The warm coloured blocks were rounded and compiled into Doric Temple columns, some of which were still intact with only a low wire between us and them. This is just the sort of history we enjoy; wandering amongst artefacts in situ and being able to imagine as much as possible how life was back then.
There were several sets of columns at various points, denoting where previously grand temples had stood. However, the Tempio della Concordia was the crowning glory, the rectangular structure standing complete on its stepped plinth, majestic and imposing with 38 columns and a roof. The cumulative impression of so many magnificent ancient buildings and remains spread over such a vast site was incredible. We are very glad it was recommended to us and would in turn recommend it to others.Read more