Ciao Palermo! After a lovely breakfast, we travel to Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples. Again we
climb, this time to see an array of majestic temples dating from the 5th century BC. Soon we are standing before one of the most well-preserved Doric temples from that time, a remnant of the Greeks who then occupied Sicily. The temple is made from sandstone that has eroded very little over the centuries. Its original white coating only remains in a few spots, but the interior columns are still intact. We can view the structure of the interior room and the pediment is solid.
We are about 2000 feet up. To our left is a wide stretch of the Mediterranean, slightly
misty in the distance since we are experiencing a bit of rain. This first temple is the Temple Concordia, or Temple of Harmony.
Continuing through the Valley, we see the Temples of Hera and Heracles. The Temple of
Zeus is sadly only a pile of rubble, but we see clear remains of what was once the largest temple in the world, as big as a football field and 100 feet tall.
Leaving Agrigento, we again roll through the countryside in search of a particular ristorante where we enjoy a robust lunch. I relish pizza with eggplant as it is very Sicilian and very good. Outside it is pouring. Our meal is accompanied by good wine and the sounds of rain pelting the thick clear plastic walls of our dining canopy. We remain dry. Wherever we have traveled in Italy, dining outdoors seems to be accommodated, no matter the weather!
On the motor coach again, I lean against the window and watch the passing hillsides, the countless beautiful blossoms on peach, pear, and almond trees. The land is lush and green, sprinkled with happy grazing sheep, a few horses and some cattle. I am enchanted by the beauty which is undimmed by the rain.
Soon our driver pulls through wrought iron gates, past a lovely fountain, and stops in front
of the impressive stairway to the Villa Gussio-Nicoletti. This 18th century villa was once the home of a baron and a thriving wine business. Now it is a spacious golf and spa resort in Leonforte, not too far from Enna. A hot stone massage has already been scheduled for me. (Our guide called in appointments from our bus!) The spa itself is luxurious and peaceful, the massage wonderful and healing. (Once back home, I try to duplicate the fragrance of Sicilian oranges filling the room.) Wrapped in a plush terry robe, I find my way to our room. We have a junior suite with velvet curtains, bolsters and lovely
velvet pillows on a king bed. Everything is the blue of the sea.
Dinner is in a separate building, at once rustic and elegant with traces of its previous existence as a wine press. We enjoy a fine meal, fresh juice, and extraordinary wine.