Agrigento, Sicily, Italy

Sicily is the most intriguing destinations in Mediterranean Sea. It's a blend of ancient culture, interesting traditions and cordial hospitality. The mild and sunny Mediterranean climate makes traveling in Sicily pleasant all year round. Even in winter you can take time out from sightseeing to sunbathe on golden beaches. This island is a land of breathtaking coasts, lush tropical greenery of layered cultures, fallen empires and ancient myths.
Agrigento (Girgenti in Sicilian language) is a picturesque town on the southern coast of Sicily and capital of the province of Agrigento. The city was established around 582-580 BC and by the Greek colonists from Gela, who named it Akragas. Akragas grew very fast, becoming one of the richest and most important of the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia. It was sacked by the Carthaginians in 406 BC and after that it became prosperous under Roman rule, when its inhabitants received full Roman citizenship following the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC.
Nowadays, Agrigento is one of the major vacation resorts due to its extraordinarily rich archaeological legacy. It also serves as an agricultural center for the whole surrounding province. Still, it's one of the poorest towns in Italy and it's renowned for the organized crime, particularly involving the Mafia and the smuggling of illegal drugs.
Agrigento is a modern town, having a few good hotels and villas for rent, but it still retains a number of medieval and Baroque buildings. These include the fourteenth century cathedral and the thirteenth century Church of Santa Maria dei Greci ("Our Lady of the Greeks"), standing on the site of an ancient Greek temple. The town also has a notable archaeological museum displaying finds from the ancient city.

Valley of the Temples

Agrigento is a historic city near the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples), which features the finest Greek ruins outside of Greece. The classic Greek poet Pindar called it "the most beautiful city built by mortal men". Prepare your travel carefully, summers in this part of the world are very, very hot.
Each temple in the Valle dei Templi is unique. We'll look briefly at five of them, going from west to east. Tempio di Castore e Polluce (Temple of Castor and Pollux) is a bit of a mess. It was reconstructed well over one hundred years ago by people who didn't know what they were doing. They slapped together elements from diverse ruins on the site. Tempio di Giove (Temple of Jupiter) was never completed. At more than 330 feet (about 130 meters) long it was one of the largest Greek temples ever built. Tempio di Ercole (Temple of Hercules) is the oldest of these temples. It was partially reconstructed over eighty years ago. Tempio della Concordia (Temple of Concord) is said to be the best-preserved Greek temple on earth. It was converted into a Christian church in the sixth century and restored in the eighteenth century. Everything is there, excepting the roof and the treasury. Tempio di Giunone (Temple of Juno) has an exceptional view of the valley below. You can still see traces of a fire that occurred more than twenty-four hundred years ago.
Across from the Temple of Castor and Pollux are several small temples that you may want to see as well. The Hellenistic and Roman Quarter consists of four old streets with mosaic pavements and some Roman house foundations. Right nearby is located Museo Archeologica Regionale (Regional Archeological Museum) with lots of antiquities.