Today may be shorter, we learned so much it is mixed up in my little bitty brain. Today we started out by heading south along the coast until we reached Agrigento, originally the Greek city of Agrakas, one of the most culturally advanced cities of the ancient world. Ours stop here was in the Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997 and one of seven in Sicily. The landscape, city organization and city size have changed dramatically since we left the influence of the Normans from our first few days. The city was founded in 581 BC on one of the most benign sites on the Mediterranean coast and lies on a hillside sloping down to the sea only three miles away. e took a tour of the remainder of the temples of the Greek gods. When we first got there, we were greeted by the local band students practicing in preparation of their end of the year concert. The area had wonderful acoustics so I am not sure the kids were that good or the if it just sounded that way. Strange to hear Supercalifragilisticexpealodoscoius and the Mickey Mouse Club song being played in Italy in an archeological area. Our first stop was at the top of the area at Hera's Temple where after a purifying bath in the river Agrakas, newlyweds used to offer Hera, the protector of marriage, a ewe lamb which had both its liver and other entrails removed as a symbol of their everlasting love. Think I like our way of exchanging rings better. The bride would wear a white sleeveless tunic that covered her feet. She had a belt tied around her waist representing the so-called "Hercules' knot." There is more to the story, but the gist of it is that is where we got the phrase "tying the knot." The original temple had 34 columns, six in front and rear and twelve on each side and covers over 832 square meters. The area is seven and a half times bigger than the one dedicated to her husband Zeus. The Carthaginians destroyed the town in 406 BC and all that remains are 30 columns and the stone altar area in front of the entrance. As we walked to the extent temple, the guide pointed out the tombs that were dug out of the walls. She said some had been dug to deep and eventually broke down and became Windows. On we went to the most well preserved of the temples in the Valley, the Temple of Concord. The temple, dating back to circa 430 BC, is typical of classical Greece. Measuring only about 20x42 meters. In area and only 14 meters in height. This temple, like all others, faces east, following both Greek and Roman religious practice. the image of the God had to watch the sunrise, symbolizing light and life - never the sunset which stood for night and death. No one knew what God the temple was built for, but a Roman inscription found nearby became the name of temple meaning peace and harmony. When the Christians came here, most of the pagan temples were destroyed, but in 597 Bishop Gregorio converted it into a Christian basilica. It was restored to 1743, knocking out Norman walls. The last one we saw was the Temple of Herakles, one of the most beautiful in all antiquity. today it lies reduced to fallen and ruined columns. Herakles was the national hero of Sicily. The rectangular base more than 73 meters long and 27 meters wide. It reached a height of 16 plus meters. Only nine columns remain today - originally there were 38, with 15 standing along each side.
After this it was time for eat and headed off for a home-hosted lunch in this beautiful home. The hostess really outdid herself with homemade zucchini frittata, salad, pasta in individual foil packets, mashed potatoes, oranges, and wine. After lunch she served fresh lemon cake, almond cookies and expresso. Her great grandfather made intricately built and decorated casts. They were perfectly balanced so the the horses would not be straining to draw people or materials.Will have to tell about dinner tomorrow. Have to head to lobby to send. Will also have to get Luca to remind me about the carts.
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