Read more about the article Agrigento – Italy
Agrigento - Italy

Agrigento – Italy

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Ancient Akragas. The Valley of the Temples

Approaching the end of the year, however not the end of the trips for this year yet. Still some more to come even though it’s just days before the Christmas time, and exciting for another great trip to come over New Year’s Eve and the first two weeks of January escaping the freezing and ugly weather in Europe for some beached in the Caribbean and an amazing cultural heritage everywhere in Cuba! For now, this is way another incredible trip whatsoever. No need to travel very far to reach some of the most unique and incredible places on earth from one of the once most fascinating and developed ancient civilization, the Greek. Agrigento was back then, Akragas; one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia. Sicily is Italy, that’s for sure, however over the past millennia this has not been the case and before the Romans, the Greek were here, among other past civilizations.

Reaching this place becomes a rush of excitement since it’s one of this key destinations for any ancient civilization lover. It is, and it will be, as when I finally get to reach Persepolis or the Machu Picchu, or when I walked past the siq into the “Treasury” building in Petra. Here you will find some of the most elaborate, large and best preserved Greek temples from this civilization, comparable to these of another former Magna Graecia jewels, Paestum (southern Italy).

A magnificent city founded around 580 BC, it developed prosperously being one of the richest and most important cities of the Greek Colony, once of the oldest democracies in the world until the Carthaginians in 406 BC overthrew it to never recover. Thereafter disputed between the Carthaginians and the Romans during both Punic Wars, it fully became part of Rome in 210 BC who renamed it Agrigentum. Both Greek and Latin were the official languages for many centuries afterwards until the fall of Rome changing hands to the Vandalic and Ostrogothic kingdoms before the Byzantine Empire. Lastly the Normans during the entire medieval period until the unification of Italy in 1860 leaded by Giuseppe Garibaldi. (more…)

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Read more about the article Trapani – Italy
Trapani - Italy

Trapani – Italy

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Ancient Greek Drepanon

Once again returning to Palermo in Sicily however with a different objective. A year ago this was for properly visiting this incredible city; yet in this occasion the main points were reaching Trapani right after arriving into Palermo’s airport, and the following day for one of the most spectacular cities from the ancient Greek civilization, Agrigento with its Valley of the Temples. All in all, another busy weekend ahead, but no matter how tired I get this all is well worth it and will keep doing it on and on for as long as I can. Also, returning to Palermo will be a reality for sure, with so much more to see west of the island and in the city itself, it’s the perfect gateway.

Often bypassed by tourists, the city has a lot to see and do. Much more that I did originally think and expected. And when saying this, I am also including the nearby mountain top village of Erice which is linked to Trapani by cable car and you can consider another district of the city, and if time permitting, it’s way worth it visit the ancient Greek city of Segesta with its marvellous Doric temple so incredibly well preserved. It’s matter of minutes by train or bus from downtown Trapani, hence as if it would be another city’s district.

The historic city centre in the other hand, is small and easy to navigate, that’s the good news hence why this is a perfect day trip from larger Palermo at the northeast, or Agrigento at the south of the island where tourists prefer to make their main base; myself among them of course by staying in Palermo. (more…)

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Read more about the article Palermo – Italy
Palermo - Italy

Palermo – Italy

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Greek Panormos

Finally making a first contact with the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily, and Palermo itself, its capital city. A long time desired destination where unfortunately it is rare to find good flight deals at more or less decent flying times. We knew this trip was going to be quite a busy non-stop from one place to another, but definitely well worth it. Furthermore, the more we could visit the better in order to leave plenty of time to reach some of the many other cities and sights in the island for the next trips to Sicily, such as Agrigento, Trapani, Catania, Syracuse, Cefalu, Messina, Taormina. There’s a lot in the island, good enough for 2 weeks travelling and visiting non stop.

With so many sights and that much history everywhere on every corner, it is physically, and literately speaking, impossible to see everything not in just a day, but even a complete weekend will still be too short. You should calculate at least 3 days if you want to fully explore it. Just to give you an idea on how much heritage Palermo houses, many buildings have been listed UNESCO World Heritage sites as part of the “Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalu and Monreale”. This means Italy has the largest number of listings compared to any other country in the world, with the region of Sicily itself topping with the most number of sites.

The Arab-Norman style is something unique in the world and only to be found in Palermo and its nearby metropolitan area cities. This style was born right after the Normans conquered Sicily from the Arabs, destroying the majority of palaces and mosques of the once considered jewel not only in the Mediterranean but Europe itself; and in replacement emerged the new style combining arabesque decorations, Romanesque architecture and Byzantine mosaics, becoming once again a beautiful jewel city proud of its history. (more…)

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