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Report 2005: Naples & Sicily: Warmly Welcomes Travelers

By teezee from US, Spring 2012

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Page 11 of 13: Modica and Agrigento

The next day, heading for Agrigento, we made a morning stop in Modica in time to see the motorcycle racers taking off from the center of town. Modica is an enchanting combination of baroque and modern and quite a sophisticated town. The pastry shop near the church in the center of town on Via Vittoria Emanuele is excellent, with outside tables and very good coffee. We were fortified for a tour, naturally up hill, of the cathedral and small churches and various baroque buildings. There is also a fine local honey shop just past the church in the main square (there is a sign directing you to it up a side street perhaps a block from the church). Modica was yet another Sicilian city worthy of more than a morning’s visit but it was all we had.

Having decided that we could not fit in Ragusa, which we knew was a sad loss, we went on to Agrigento and easily found the Colleverde Hotel, our destination before our exploration of the Valley of the Temples. We had rather low expectations, having been told that this is a well-located hotel but rather “tour bus” in style. Not in the least: it is a lovely hotel, excellently situated, with gorgeous ceramics, a great and helpful staff, a beautiful garden from which to watch the temples as sun goes down, and it was a great value. We had booked rooms with views and one of them, 402, included a giant private patio which easily held the 10 of us (we had been joined for this part of the trip by two other friends from Europe) and we had our own cocktail party and watched the magic of the sun fading over the temples, which light up at night.

The next day was devoted to the Valley of the Temples and the amazing and absorbing Archaelogy Museum. We were a five-minute drive down the hill to parking and conserved our energy by putting one car by the Museum and one by the Temple entrance, some of us beginning at one end and some at the other and exchanging keys at a meeting place in the middle. As we were early and the tour season hadn’t started in earnest, parking was not a problem.

So much excellent writing is devoted to this unique site that the only thing I want to add is do not give the Museum short shrift. It is stunning in content and design and it easily takes two hours to do it justice. As for the rest, nothing you read is an exaggeration. You will feel that you are a lucky person to have the privilege of visiting this site.

Our one disappointment was our dinner at Ristorante Il Dehors. We had booked in advance and found that perhaps Sunday night was not the chef’s night but the chef’s night off. Our meal was expensive and pedestrian: nothing wrong with it but nothing to remember other than the nice view of the temples. I don’t know if it is more innovative at other times but I wouldn’t recommend it based on this single experience.

Most of the churches in Agrigento are currently under reconstruction so we ended our trip here, the next day, with a brief “drive through” and headed off to Selinunte. Again, we had no time in our plans for the lovely beaches of Agrigento, which looked to be well worth a visit and our friends, who had come the day before, regretfully informed us that we had missed a magnificent lunch at La Madea, which is a visit we must save for another time.

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