Sicily from the air
What is it that makes one place so uninteresting and the next enthralling? It is a question we have puzzled over. Visits to great cities like Vienna left us cold, but our last trip, to Sicily, had us enchanted from the moment our plane touched ground. Okay, actually from the air before landing. The landscape is dry, rocky, and rather harsh, yet something in it spoke to us; something in that Mediterranean landscape was instantly familiar. Sure, we are native Californians. Is that all it is?
When our friend Clare suggested that we use her father's house in the Sicilian countryside for a few days, we thought, "why not"? I'd always wanted to visit Sicily and this seemed serendipitous as we had a little time after the semester in Venice ended. And so we went, flying into Palermo and driving out to Cianciana, just about an hour north from the city of Agrigento in the southwest of Sicily.
Cianciana, like many rural Sicilian towns, is built into the hillside, the houses stacked upon one another so that they look like they are permanently tilted. Presumably this is done to protect from the heat, which came on when we were
At the archaeological site of Selinunte.
there. A sleepy town, there are only two restaurants and a couple of depressing-looking bars in the middle of town, and, disappointingly, no local market that we could find.
While Cianciana may not be much to look at, it is impressively situated in gorgeous, fecund countryside, rolling hills and valleys covered with wildflowers, vineyards, citrus, olive and almond groves. Orange blossoms scented the air. Vistas from the narrow, winding roads are some of the most beautiful I've seen. Just thirty minutes from Cianciana lies the beach and archeological site of Eraclea Minoa. This beach is one of the most stunning I've visited, with crystal blue water on pale sand, anchored at one end by Capo Bianco, a white stone hillside cliff that juts out at the northern end of the beach. Atop Capo Bianco are walking trails that wind through and around Greek ruins and a small, immaculately maintained museum. As I have discovered, Sicily boast some of the most fabulous Greek ruins anywhere---including Greece. Which leads me to the next part of the trip...
We left Cianciana after two nights because the water went out. We were warned this might happen, but no one could tell us
why nor when it might come on again. Hot, sweaty and dirty, we packed up and headed for the granddaddy of Greek temples at Agrigento. The Temple dei Concordia is the best preserved Greek building in the whole world and it is as beautiful and majestic as expected. Perched on a hilltop, over the ocean, this lovely site at the Valle dei Templi is rightly world famous. I felt like I had won the lottery all over again.
We stayed in the seaside resort of San Leone, which lies just two kilometers south of the ruins. There, we swam in blue, blue water, explored tiny rocky coves full of fish, and dried ourselves in hot, hot sun. We visited the weird white cliff formations of Scala dei Turchi, which look like a moonscape, and jumped off those cliffs into the deep, cool Mediterranean. We ate citrus right off the trees and fish straight from the water.
From there, we went off to Palermo, beautiful Palermo with baroque buildings and palm trees and sea, shouting vendors and delectable street food.
Sicily. I love it!
PS for a better view, you can click on photos individually.
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