Last night BBC weather gave a “fresh” wind for where we were in Sicily of 12mph. We had previously experienced a BBC weather “moderate” wind in Alghero (Sardinia) which had the local navy issuing gale warnings. It turns out, a fresh wind is pretty similar. We were buffeted and rocked through the night in our cliff top perch, only a short distance from a 750m drop. At one point we had hail storms, obviously I spoke too soon it seemed warmer in Sicily.
Unsurprisingly, we were up and about fairly early after our disturbed night’s sleep. We were waiting for daylight to headed out into Erice to have a look around. I had peeked out from our warm and cosy van the evening before between rain showers and found wet slippery cobblestones and no lighting and decided to wait til morning. However, the wind was howling still and it was only 7 degrees this morning, it was 8 degrees back home in Cornwall. We donned our warm coats like true Brits and walked through the city gates onto the ramparts of the old fortified town of Erice. There was a map every few yards giving a not quite circular route around the main buildings of the town.
There is a castle dating from Saracen times and another from the Norman period plus a Cathedral, multiple churches and some fantastic views to the surrounding countryside and coastline (despite the reduced visibility). The streets are cobbled and crammed with tiny stone houses, with interesting alleyways and staircases to hidden gardens, cellars and more houses ingeniously squeezed in. We were walking round at around 8am this morning and the town was deserted but for the council workers finally dismantling the Christmas market and event stage. We had hoped for an expresso but sadly we were awake before the rest of the town. The bitter wind hastening the speed of our tour.
After making our own expresso in the van we decided we may as well press on to Selinute Archeological Park. Selinute was a rich and prosperous city of 30,000 from the Greek era (409 BC) and they were the sworn enemies of the Elysian people of Segesta (that we visited yesterday) against whom wars were fought. Subsequently, the Carthegians took the city but then withdrew all inhabitants around 250BC when they came under attack themselves leaving the city abandoned.
Today, much of the once vast city is ruins, one of the eight temples has been partially restored. The oldest temple dates from 550 BC preceding Segesta by over a hundred years. The dedication of the temples iS not known and therefore they have been allocated letters for identification. However, you are allowed to walk inside and amongst the ruins and touch the stones first manhandled over 2000 years ago. Also, these being completed temples show much more of the internal structures which would have existed within.
The largest of these Temple G, named “Olympieion” is recognisably significantly bigger, the column bases etc which remain being on a much larger scale. The speculation being that this scale was to compete with temples in Asia, hard to imagine that level of connectivity between continents in that era.
They have also recreated some of the wooden tools that would have been used to lift / manoeuvre the stones and columns into place which was interesting to see. Apparently temples were originally made of wood and were only built in stone in later years. Big black clouds appeared all around on the horizon and we could see across the site to the few columns standing from the other 4 temples. Therefore, we opted not to hike over to the other side of the site which is apparently a 3 mile round trip and most people hire golf buggies to see it all. We are making our final ruins tour tomorrow for now to the infamous Valley of the Temples so we’re happy we had seen enough. We got into the café for our expresso and Arancini (Italian rice balls, our new addiction!), just as the hail started, so we executed that visit perfectly.
We decided that as it was only 1pm, because of our early start we would press on to our planned stop for tomorrow in Agrigento. We had all sorts of weather on route across country which did not compel us to stop anywhere else. The towns are not too pretty with lots of concrete square blocks of flats.
We stopped off at the Turkish Steps (Scala deli Turchi) on route. Unusal horizontal grooves / steps have been worn into the limestone cliffs through the action of the sea over the millennia. In all the photos we have seen people were walking along them, but access now is definitely fenced off. So we contented ourselves with some cliff top photos, as always though we spotted the perfectly angled shot we had missed only as we were back in the van driving away 😂.
So, we have now parked up at a campsite near to the Valley of the Temples ready for our tour tomorrow. So yet more temple pictures to come! We have seen a glimpse from the roadside as we drove in today. We may not have visited all three sites if we were travelling round a clockwise direction and hit the Valley of the Temples first, it being the most popular and famous. However, I am pleased we have seen them all as it has given a better context and revealed just how richly bathed in history that Sicily is.
2 thoughts on “Erice, Selinute, Scala deli Turchi – San Leone (Agrigento), Sicily, Italy”
Something not to be missed whilst in Sicily is the wonderful Grenida, lots of flavours, my favourite was coffee and some almond, eaten with brooch type bread for breakfast. Grenida is somewhere between icecream and sorbet. The Aranchini are wonderful too. Hope you find your way to lovely isla Bella at the base of the mountain town of Toarmina. If you travel via a small fishing village called Potsillo? This is birth place of Angelos parents and most of his family.
I read about Grenida and saw it translated as an iced drink which sounded odd with bread! But will definitely give it a try on your recommendation 😁 Isla Bella is on my list. Would be great to see Potsillo too. Is it also spelt Pozzillo? Near Catania? Thanks for the suggestions xx