What to do in Agrogento
One of Sicily’s oldest towns, christened with many names and resurrected on many ruins. First of all, we need to visit the Valley of the Temples and the extraordinary exhibits displayed in its Regional Archaeological Museum to better understand that Agrigento, founded in 581 B.C. by Greek, Rhodium-Cretan colonists, to become Akragas the following century, was one of the most resplendent centres in the Mediterranean. For that reason, in 1997, UNESCO registered it as a world heritage site. Of Agrigentum, you still have the remains of elegant noble villas and the regular roads of the Hellenistic-Roman District
1 – A walk along via Atenea
The historical centre extends on the hill of and its main roads are via Atenea and the nearby, panoramic Viale della Vittoria dominating the Valley and the sea. During our walk past shops, boutiques and coffee houses we will try the ricotta-based pecorino ice-cream. A delicate ice-cream made with sheep’s ricotta, a typical (unique) taste, a real, little known Agrigento product. Now let’s explore the maze of small streets connecting, based on their Arab layout, the oldest monuments.
2 – The Cathedral of San Gerlando
Founded towards the end of the XI century by Bishop Gerlando, it is in a Norman-Gothic style and is entered by a wide, gently sloping staircase flanked by a magnificent, unfinished XV century belltower. The building houses the precious Cathedral Treasure, particularly rich in works of art. Let’s climb the belltower to admire the roofs of Girgenti from above. The Cathedral of San Gerlando The Cathedral of San Gerlando
3 – Santa Maria dei Greci and Abbazia di Santo Spirito
Along via di Santa Maria dei Greci we reach the church of the same name, in the Medieval town’s oldest district. Built in the XII century, its foundations stand on the base of a V century B.C. Doric Temple which some believe to be that of Athena, on the Acropolis of Akragas. Preceded by a small, elegant courtyard, the Church facade has a XIII century Arab-Norman portal and lovely mullioned windows. Inside it has three naves with a wooden ceiling and is enriched by what remains of XIV century frescos, a XVI century wooden statue and a sarcophagus holding the remains of a nobleman from Palermo. From the left-hand nave you enter the northern base of the Doric temple, of which some column tambours are still visible. Santa Maria dei Greci Abbey of Santo Spirito. Built in 1260, the complex includes the church and the adjacent Cistercian monastery. Outside, the church has a magnificent Chiaramonte style portal surmounted by a rich rose window, in a more recent Baroque context. Inside, XVIII century, numerous Serpotta stuccoes decorating the church walls, a XVI century stoup, a Madonna by Gagini (or the Gagini school) and a 1758 wooden coffered ceiling containing the coat-of-arms of the Chiaramonte family. It was, in fact, the wife of Federico Chiaramonte, Marchisia Prefoglio, who made it possible for the complex to be built with a donation. The adjacent monastery, or Great Abbey, dated 1290, has a magnificent cloister with Gothic portals: one an imposing pointed arch flanked by mullioned windows, entrance to the Chapter House. Inside the Monastery has some XVI and XIX frescos. The monastery nuns prepare delicious almond and pistachio cakes, from a centuries-old recipe… let’s suffer and taste them!
4 – The Regional Archaeological Museum of Agrigento
It stands just outside town, in the S. Nicola district, and has a panoramic view of the Hill of Temples. It illustrates the story of ancient Agrigento and its territory, from the prehistoric to the Hellenization periods. The rich collection of historical finds includes the Telamon over 7 metres high, the Ephebe of Agrigento. Next to the museum, the medieval Church of S.Nicola containing the Sarcophagus of Phaedra (one of the maximum expressions of Roman sculpture in Sicily). Its lush garden awaits us for a cool break.
5 – The long beaches of Agrigento
They extend for kilometres, to the east and west, from Licata, city of ancient origins, passing through Punta Bianca, with a succession of almost deserted beaches, up to the more mundane San Leone, the nerve centre of summer in Agrigento. Something for all tastes and all with fine, white sand. San Leone – ph. Giuseppe Di Blasi
6 – The House of Pirandello
It is a country house dated end of the XVIII century in the Caos district, a plateau overhanging the sea amongst olive and oak trees. Rooms with views of the countryside are home to a vast collection of photographs, reviews, and honours received, first editions of books with handwritten dedications, paintings dedicated to Luigi Pirandello, posters of his most famous works played in theatres around the world. The House often hosts temporary exhibitions dedicated to the Author. Since 1987, the House has become one with the Luigi Pirandello Library. Up to a few years ago, the garden contained the centenary pine the writer used to pause to think and write
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Italian businessman, operating in the tourism sector in Sorrento form more than 15 years, owner of Di Nocera Service and Sorrento Luggage.
Passionate about soccer and sailing, he loves to go around the Amalfi Coast by his motorbike.
He also writes articles about news, tips and tour ideas on this blog!