Porto Empedocle / Agrigento
Just a few words to finish off our visit to Sciacca – we had a great meal out at a restaurant specialising in local cuisine. Knowing our linguistic attempts don’t get us very far around here, we threw ourselves on the mercy of the restaurateur and had the most amazing meal. It wasn’t cheap, but the amount of fantastic fish & flavours we got for our €80 made it really worthwhile. A fitting end to our visit to a great little town.
On next day to Empedocle, the nearest port to the Greek temple complex at Agrigento. There was no wind so we motored in the sunshine in flat, turquoise seas. This southern Sicilian coast is interesting with its long, empty sandy beaches, folded chalky outcrops, rolling green slopes, old watchtowers and compact castles and no ugly tourist development. Porto Empedocle is pretty
uninspiring and our berth for the night was expensive, but that is probably because it is the nearest harbour to the Unesco World Heritage Site of the valley of the temples at Agrigento:-
We managed to find a bus that zipped us to the ruins at top speed. It was an alarming experience as the driver spent the whole 20 minutes either on the phone or chatting animatedly to another passenger. This meant his swapping his phone-holding hand every time he had to change gear, taking both hands off the wheel to gesticulate or turning round to chat to his mate. The temple complex was very impressive though. It covers a huge area, spanning two ridges that dominate the skyline – you can easily see what made it so attractive a site. The Greeks must have settled there almost before their city states got organised, going back earlier than 700 BC, although most of what we saw was somewhat later. One of the ruins claims to be the largest Greek building ever started (but never finished).
Our visit was a little spoilt by catching the edge of a thunderstorm; which at least drove everyone else away, leaving the place to us towards the end. Then it was back to Empedocle for a pizza (L now can’t face another one – me I could live on them) & a quick get-away in the morning. Actually it turned out not so quick, as we needed gas (for the cooker) and the very helpful guy who fleeced us for the mooring insisted on running me to a chandlery to buy a fresh cannister – also for the most we’ve ever had to pay! The drive was another eye-opener – lots of unfinished buildings and road schemes – some clearly large scale & expensive. We’ve read about mafia influence – not sure whether this is the reason – or also the reason why some things are so expensive – but maybe…
Just one more note about Porto Empedocle for those of you who may have read any of the Andrea Camillieri books about the Sicilian detective Montalbano. The author came from here and sets his books here but calls it Vigata. The locals are so proud of this that they have decided to add the name Vigata to their town and have erected a statue of the fictitious detective on the main street.