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Posts Tagged ‘spring in Sicily’

AGRIGENTO IN APRIL

May 11th, 2012 2 comments

With the weather remaining unsettled in April and our marina contract not due to expire until May 1st, we spent much of the month readying Destiny for the upcoming cruising season.  On one sunny Friday, however, we joined fellow cruisers Tina and Pete in renting a car and traveling to Agrigento site of the famous Valley of the Temples.

Since Tina and Pete have a sweet little girl dog named “Bella”, this was to be a people and dog outing.  We set out from Marina di Ragusa in our tiny rental car with a GPS loaned to us by another cruiser and promptly got lost before we could get the device programmed.

What we expected to be a 2 hour drive proved to be 3 hours going (which included getting lost) and about 2 ½ on the way back, leaving only a few hours to visit the Valley of the Temples.  As it turned out the trip was worth it.

Entering the Valley of the Temples is stepping back thousands of years to ancient Greece.

Spring is a magical time to visit ancient sites.  As far as the eye can see, a profusion of flowers carpet the ground–yellow daisies and lavender flowers of unknown name.  Yellow is the predominant color of the flowering trees as well.  The plants remind me of Scotch broom lining the by-ways of Nantucket in the spring. 

Purple flowers peek out from the ancient stones. . .

and yellow flowering trees frame the walkways.

The Valley of the Temples is said to rank among the most impressive Greek ruins outside of Greece, with several temples surprisingly in tact given earthquakes and destruction wrought by Christians who believed them to be pagan.

The Temple of Hephaistos left a lot to the imagination, but was one of the lesser monuments.

Remains of Temple of Olympian Zeus is little more than a pile of rocks. . .

while the Temple of Juno's columns rise skyward after thousands of years.

At least one of the temples, Temple of Concord was converted to a Christian church in the 6th Century and is extremely well preserved.

Construction on the Temple of Concord began in 430 B.C. . .

and it is prominently situated in the center of the ridge along which the temples are arranged.

We happened to arrive at the Valley of the Temples, a national historic site, at the tail end of a week when all Sicilian cultural venues were open to the public free of charge.  The usual admission is 10 euros per person.

Tourists flocked to the Temple of Concord during free entrance days.

Dogs are not allowed at some archeological sites, so we took no chances and sneaked Jolie and Bella past the guard at the entrance.  Once inside, it was clear that no one cared about the dogs and they enjoyed a romp when not being carried like the little princesses that they are.

Jolie is in her bag hidden by Kent's jacket as we pass the security guard. . .

but it proved to be unnecessary--here they are relaxing under an olive tree.

There are

Ancient olive trees are scattered throughout the temples. . .

along with one bronze sculpture (circa 2011) that is . . .

thought provoking to say the least. Fallen angel? Really?

I’m a little perplexed by the title “Valley” of the Temples when in fact the temples line a ridge that parallels the modern city of Agrigento inland from the ancient site.

From the ancient site you see modern Agrigento is the inland ridge. . .

while in the opposite direction you see the distant sea. . .

and valley below through the broken fortifications.

Trekking around ancient sites has become quite routine since we have been in the Med, but it never loses its appeal.  Especially when the experience is shared with friends.

Tina, Pete & Bella take a break. . .

as do we. . .under yet another flowering tree.

But there is one more stop. . .at Temple of Herakles 6th Century BC.

We named the GPS “Betty” and followed her directions all the way home in record time.  Kent says he needs one of these gadgets for the rare times we land travel—I’ll second that!

We’re out of the marina and cruising again.  More adventures to follow.

HOMECOMING: SPRING IN SICILY

March 22nd, 2012 No comments

The old saying about March arriving like a lion and leaving like a lamb is certainly true in Sicily.  Kent spent the first two weeks of March in howling wind, pouring rain and temps in the 50’s at night. 

Every boat in the marina is heeling in the 50 Kt. wind. . .

as horizontal rain pelted the boat.

The Saturday before I arrived on March 15th saw the worst that Sicilian weather has to offer, with 50 kt. Sirocco winds filled with Sahara sand that stung your eyes and deposited red dust on every surface in the marina.  Coupled with driving rain that was reported coming sideways, everyone in the marina, including Kent and Jolie, hunkered down waiting for the sky to clear.

Once the rain stopped Destiny was covered with red Sahara sand.

Several cruisers who arrived during that terrible weather spent 8 hours getting from Catania Airport (normally a 1 ½ hour drive).   Bridges washed out and roads were impassable due to dirt and rocks washing off hillsides and covering roads.  Nearly a week later when I arrived, the landslides and uprooted trees were still evident and detours (or “diversions” in Italian) made the trip from airport to marina longer than usual.

On March 15th  a glorious, sunny day with light winds and high wispy clouds greets me in Catania.  The temperature was a pleasant 65 F. and although I’m jet-lagged having been up for about 24 hours at that point, I’m glad to be back.   Thankfully, the “lion’s roar” has been replaced with the sounds of birds chirping.  Kent and Jolie arrive in a rental car to take me and 75 lbs. of baggage (including a bottle of duty free Mount Gay rum) back to Destiny.

As we made our way to Marina di Ragusa, Mt. Etna’s snow encrusted slopes against the milky blue sky contrasted with a profusion of yellow wild flowers along the roadside.  The fields are a green patchwork of newly sprouted crops stretching as far as the eye can see.  The countryside is soaking up the welcome sunshine and is bursting with life.  As for me I am bursting with adrenalin.

Mt. Etna is snow covered but smoking

Arriving at the marina is a homecoming.  Familiar faces greet me with “welcome back”.  Destiny is even better than I left her.  Kent has had time to put everything back in order before my arrival, despite some frustration in needing parts to finish some necessary maintenance.

Kent is ready to get back to work now that the parts have arrived.

As I arrive, we are saying goodbye to friends leaving the marina in a couple of days.  Bill and Jean on Soliel San Fins are off to Naples to put their boat on a ship to the USA, a reverse of our trip.  I stay awake for some 36 hours but crash as the sun sets over the marina.

Sunset, March 15th. . .bedtime!

It’s good to be home.  The “Med adventure” continues.