Girgento was a city in Southern Sicily until Mussolini and his fascist buddies decided:
‘From now on your city is to be called Agrigento.‘
‘But wait Benito, I prefer the other name!’ said a poor farmer who had lived there all his life.
Mussolini drew his pistol…
Nobody had anything good to say about Agrigento: ugly, famous for crime, badly planned… The view from a distance is what is most often complained about, with seemingly random high rises built during the 70’s obscuring the vista. It was an interesting place, definitely not ugly once you are walking on the streets.
Agrigento looking from The Valley of the Temples
The city is built on a large hill and the walk to the summit is wonderful. Narrow winding alleys lead through densely packed tiny houses until you finally discover the 14th century Norman cathedral. The city is very quiet at night and there are no bars or nightclubs, just sleepy restaurants. Check a guide to find a good place to eat though to avoid receiving the slop that I was presented with.
The Temple of Juno
The main reason to visit Agrigento is to see the finest Greek temples anywhere outside Greece. La Valle dei Templi/Valley of the Temples is what remains of a hugely important city of the Magna Graecia era. The remains date from the 5th century BC and incredibly one of the temples, Tempio di Concordia, is preserved almost perfectly.
The Temple of Concordia
The ruins are split both sides of the road that leads from the autostrada (motorway) into the city. As you pass through areas of green fields suddenly you will see a huge golden Greek Doric temple set on a hilltop. As you look around it becomes clear that there is a line of them, 7 in total, running along a ridge.
Just as the city’s name was changed, the names of the temples were also. During the Renaissance, the names Juno, Concordia, Heracles and so on were added for artistic affect.
True to their nature, the English get in the middle of everything. Here though, an Englishman called Alexander Hardcastle, actually built his house in the middle of the temples [pictured above]. It is located between the Temple of Juno and the Temple of Concordia and overlooks the city. Between 1925 and 1932, he gave financial assistance to the restoration work. Who says money can’t open doors?
Built 2500 years ago
The temples are regarded as one of the most impressive sights in Sicily, and rightly so. A visitor would need perhaps 2 hours to see everything. Someone who is interested in archaeology or history could easily spend a day immersed in the wonder of the site only to be finally dragged away. The temples are illuminated at night, when they look quite simply mind-blowing.
Look at pictures of the Greek theatre at Taormina.
Back to the Gaff
Scandalous Narratives of Contemporary Ireland
Back to the Gaff is a book by new author John P Brady, which describes the excessive and outrageous nature of Irish night life. Meet an array of eccentric individuals who populate the bars of Dublin, living lives of decadence and abandon. Their frolics inevitably lead to a trip ‘back to the gaff,’ which in Dublin-speak means gravitating towards someone’s place of residence where the depravity continues.
Ebook and Paperback available: