Published: March 28th 2012March 25th 2012
Sunday - Agrigento and Enno
We left Palermo and headed south to the Valley of Temples overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Driving south we followed the route Patten took when he was heading North with “recognizance in force”. He was ordered by Eisenhower to allow Montgomery to reach Messina first but Patten could do recognizance. Patten followed orders, sort of. He took his entire army north, doing “recognizance” on the way, met little resistance, reached Palermo and liberated the city. Another order reached him from Eisenhower. “Do not take Palermo”. Patten replied, “Should I give it back?”
The landscape is dry and though it is green now, soon it will be brown. Now it resembles Ireland with emerald green grasses. Groves of flowering almonds and olive trees line the road. It is quite lovely.
WE drove through the city of Agrigento just as Mass was letting out. It is beautiful and I would have liked to wander around a bit but the temples called. This group of temples includes the best-preserved examples of Greek architecture from the Doric period. They have been standing here for 2,500 years. We are enjoying another wonder sunny day. Our weather has been perfect
for sightseeing. Starting at the top of the hill we wander from temple to temple-honoring Hera, Hercules and Zeus. Some restoration has been done but the first two are in remarkable condition, especially Hercules temple. Here the interior three rooms are almost in tack.
After a quick snack we are off to Enno, a mountain village in the center of the island that offers wonderful views. The winding roads up to the village present a real challenge to the bus driver, one he meets with great skill. The clouds are lowering when we get to the monastery at the top of the mountain. I accept the challenge to walk to the rocky pinnacle and am really surprised when I actually climb up all the steps. They are very high, over a foot, no hand rails, made of uneven stone and really present a challenge. BUT I DID IT!!!!! The views were incredible but Etna was shrouded in clouds and that was the point of the climb. I could have gotten the same views from along side the bus but still I’m glad for the exercise.
From there we headed out to Taorimina.
Monday – Tuesday
TEMPLE OF HERA
This is a little slice of heaven on the Ionian Sea. The streets are so narrow that we had to transfer to small shuttles in a parking lot off the highway and even they had trouble turning into the smaller streets. Right now I am on the balcony facing Mt. Etna and looking out over the Ionian Sea. A flock of swifts just had their evening meeting and happy hour isn’t far off. Pam is feeling poorly and Jan sprained her ankle so I’m hoping that if things happen in threes I’m not the third.
Breakfast was a eggs and bacon, cereals, fresh and sliced fruit, yoghurt, Italian cheeses and meat, pastries of all descriptions and juices including squeeze it yourself blood orange juice. and of course, excellent coffee and tea. The day was perfect, clear blue sky and a fresh breeze to keep us cool. We started out at 9:30 for an orientation walk of the town. If there was of a flight of stairs, Mike took us on them, or so it seemed but I kept up and enjoyed the sites. We stopped at the public gardens and checked out the views, walked
the steep hills and curving alleys passing inviting trotterias and pasteries. We wandered down the Corso Umberto II to the city square and explored a couple of churches on the way. The first was charming, small and had paintings in a side chapel that seemed to be from the early 1900. The second was built as a combination church and citadel for the citizens if the city walls were breached. We are now in the city square for more wonderful views of the shoreline, the volcano and the hill town behind Taormina.
From there we walked back to the Greek Theater. This theater could hold thousands and was built to insure that the seating was comfortable in this hat location. It is located at the top of a cliff. The audience faced Mt. Etna and the southern breeze blew across the stage and into the seats. This helped the actor’s voices to carry and kept the audience comfortable. As we left the theater, the bells from the church high above the valley began their noon carillon, followed by the Ave Maria broadcast over the city. Magical!! We wandered the town looking for photo opportunities and they abounded. There was one alley in particular that had something interesting everywhere I looked; a ring of small bells handing from the wall, a statue of a nymph, a small black Scottie painted on the wall, a wrought iron dragon hanging from the corner. The doorknockers and doors, the balconies, and flower boxes, the puppies and kitties, snap, snap, snap. It was time for lunch and we found a little café in a narrow street just down a flight of stairs. We had a glass of the local red wine and I tried an octopus salad. This had to be a baby octopus as the chunks were thin and tender but every sucker was there and it took me a minute to decide whether to chance it, but I dug in and it was delicious, served warm over shredded lettuce and dressed with a lemony sauce. An afternoon nap was followed by an early dinner in the hotel. I enjoyed veal scaloppini and eggplant with mozzarella and a grilled vegetable salad followed by lemonchello. Tomorrow we visit Mt. Etna.