“Sicilians build things like they will live forever…

          … and eat like they will die tomorrow.” - Plato

Friday – April 28

Last night when we went to bed we said, Sleep Quick – Sunrise is six hours and thirty minutes. This natural occurrence occurred right on schedule. Unfortunately, it did it without our supervision. We missed sunrise from our balcony, but we did rise shortly after when our bedroom filled with the morning light. Tom grabbed his camera and walked out to greet the day and this is what he captured.

It was going to be another beautiful day in paradise! Tom immediately started to get ready, but when he stepped out of the shower, he could hear voices. Who is in our room talking to Janet? The words were calm and slightly muffled so what was being said was not understandable, but it was on the deck. He quickly dressed away from the sliding glass door, and then peeked out to see our early visitor. It was Janet and her iPad taking in the beauty of the morning and preparing for her day with a yoga session.

Tom slipped down for breakfast while Janet continued her daily ritual of some form of exercise in the morning. The breakfast spreads offered in Sicily are quite adequate. Although the bacon and eggs are cooked differently than back home, they met Tom’s requirement for chicken babies and pig parts for his morning meal. Of course, the pastry table was over the top! It would not be hard to get used to a daily pistachio cannolo for a breakfast treat. Richard always smiled knowing chocolate was offered on these tables of delight.

Saying goodbye to our gorgeous view, we begrudgingly left the penthouse and headed to the lobby to meet up with the posse.

Our stay in Agrigento would be only one night. It is the only single night stay on the trip, but we felt very lucky to have gotten to stay in such a beautiful place with a view. You may have read somewhere, “that the last will be first”, and being the last to check-in was rewarded with a real treat. We had a few minutes to walk around the gardens and the hotel’s facilities before boarding.

The gardens offered a view of the Valley of the Temples where we would be heading shortly for a day amongst the ruins. (It always sucks when a pole or electric line is in the middle of a picture)

The ride to the entrance to the Valley of the Temples was very short. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one the best-preserved ruins of the Hellenic Period. We were met by our guide of the day, Lorenzo. We quickly realized that this was a man who loved what he did. It took him seconds to get the entire group excited about this special historic park.

Danilo had explained early on in our trip that when in a UNESCO World Heritage site, the guide must do the talking and answer all questions. There are laws against those who are not trained giving tours. So, Danilo stood silent as we gathered in the shade for Lorenzo to give us an overview of what we were about to experience.

After climbing a small hill, we were at our first stop, the Temple of Hera Lacinia (Greek) or Temple Juno Lacinia (Roman). It was built by the Greeks around 450 BC and used later by the Romans.

This temple was built to honor the Greek goddess Hera, who is the protector of women and family, as well as marriage. She is the same goddess that the Romans call Juno. Because of its location high on a hill overlooking the sea, enemies could be seen coming from miles away.

Lorenzo kept us mesmerized and entertained with his stories and facts of days gone by!

We walked around the ruins examining the workmanship before Danilo herded the cats and we began to walk to the next temple.

To our left behind walls of stone lay the sea. This hilltop was truly a defensive position, albeit the Carthaginians did lay siege and eventually were able to force the Greeks to leave the ancient city of Akragas. They would not rule long before the Romans showed up.

The temperature was rising and the day was getting prettier by the minute. Although our walk was short, we decided to follow this dog’s lead and take a break in the shade.

After a short pause for the cause… That would be a “Rehydration and Potty Break” (remember your TP and Euro) the group was reenergized.

The temple at the end of the path was visible and stood as tall as it has for the last 3000 years. Built by the Greeks in 430 B.C., the Temple of Concordia (Roman name) has stood the test of time. Like the Temple of Hera, it was used by the Romans, but in the 6th Century A.D it was converted into a Christian Basilica dedicated to St Peter and St Paul.

Lorenzo pulled up about 50 yards from the temple under a shady tree. Modern day Agrigento was visible from our outdoor classroom, and it gave us a visible contrast of then and now. Using a pad, he once again told us the highlights of the architecture, the history, and how the temple has evolved over time.

Scholars say that the Temple of Concordia and the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis are the best examples of Greek architecture that have survived to modern day.

A broken statue in bronze of Icarus, who had fallen to earth, lies in front of the temple. It was created by a Polish artist (name escapes me) about 15 years ago as part of an exhibition and really does give one a sense of place and time when pagan gods were worshiped here. Of course, there were a few comments made and pictures taken in front of the sculpture.

Lorenzo said his goodbyes and we all thanked him for a wonderful and educational tour. As a tour guide, Lorenzo was at the top of our list as the best guide ever! We slowly walked out of the archaeological park through a small garden to the bus where Salvo greeted each of us with a smile as we boarded.

Tonight, we would stay in Modica and by looking at Google maps on our phones, it appeared that we would have a beautiful drive down the southern coast of Sicily. Of course, we thought we would stop and have lunch along the way at some small village by the sea. Wrong!

Salvo drove the bus out of Agrigento and headed northeast in the direction of the interior of the island. Danilo over the sound system told us we were in for a treat. We were headed to an agriresort about one hour and a half away! Agritourism is very popular all over Italy as it brings tourism to a working farm or winery to enjoy the country life. It takes farm-to-table to whole new level. Most food one would be served probably slept on the surrounding farm the night before. Some agriresorts are hotels and some are just a bed and breakfast, but guaranteed you will taste tradition, place, and freshness served on their tables.

The bus weaved through the county side as we had departed major highways and the views outside kept our noses pinned to the window to see what was ahead. Salvo was Mister calm, cool, and collective as we navigated the narrow highway.

Arriving at Tenute Leano, a long table had been set for our arrival. We all stretched our legs a little before grabbing a chair. The covered outdoor patio was cool and even better there were no bugs. Outdoor dining in Virginia is never as pleasant because some type of insect is going to want some of your dinner… or worse a piece of you!

By this time, we had figured out the secret Sicilian code. Count the number of forks and that will let you know how much food to expect. Today would be a three-fork day with dessert.

Our lunch began with an antipasto plate with an arancini, grilled artichoke, two ham treats, surrounding some fresh ricotta cheese sprinkled with pistachios. The primi course was a pasta dish with meat sauce that was so simple, but the flavors were amazing. The third fork, our secondi course, was for a potato and pork dish. Sicily is famous for their Nebrodi Black Pig. It is an indigenous breed of Sicily and sometimes called the “Etna Black Pig”. Tom asked Danilo if this was the special black pig from Nebrodi, he just smiled and said, “No, No this is very special – it is Iberico from Spain” Damn it was good! Go Spain! The wine which accompanied this afternoon feast was Nerello Mascalese. It was the agriresort’s own label and it was a perfect pairing for our meal. For the non-meat eaters, the staff prepared a vegetarian omelet, which was stuffed with vegetables… mostly string beans. And yes, Janet and I did sit at the table with a Duke fan. I know it is hard to believe, but Brenda is so nice we made an exception. 😊

After a meal like this, we all spread out across the resort, some choosing to take a moment to relax...

Some just gathered to take in the beautiful sunny day…

Danilo got us pointed to the bus and as we boarded, Tom was feeling like a Nebrodi black pig and was ready for a nap as we headed to the hotel. Then from the voice of Danilo could be heard – Wait there is more! The next destination would be Villa Romana del Casale. We back tracked about 20 minutes to see these Roman ruins, but it did give us a chance to walk off lunch.

Our guide, Guisi, led the way with a pink umbrella telling us about what we were going to see in Villa Romana. Another UNESCO World Heritage site where the walls and floors are rich with vibrant mosaics. Built sometime in the 4th century A.D., the owner(s) are unknown. However, with the artwork and the standard of living provided in this villa, the owner had to be someone important. The whole site was covered in a mudslide sometime around 1000 A.D., and the natural disaster probably protected it for us to enjoy today.

We started the tour on the outside of the building in front of the baths. Something one would expect to see in a Roman villa, but once we moved inside the building, the engineering blew us away. The floor had been cutaway to expose a void between the floor and the subfloor. Water was circulated in this void to help keep the villa cool.

The villa had bedrooms, dining rooms, party places (adults only) and a great hallway that stretched the length of the villa. The hall separated the living quarters from the public areas and the mosaics on the floor told the stories of the past.

There are over 40 rooms in Villa del Casale, and the vibrancy of the mosaics in each room are overwhelming. The quality of work and detail were jaw dropping. Guisi lead us to a room with very special mosaics. To our surprise, women 2000 years ago were sporting bikinis! The room was probably for ladies who provided the villa a special service that was popular in the Roman era. There were nine and half ladies embedded in the villa floor. Bikinis in the 4th century, who knew?

One last shot of the floor in the villa so one can truly appreciate the detail of these works of art.

It was getting late as we boarded the bus. Guisi hitched a ride with us back to her town which was along the way to Modica. The ride to Modica, like yesterday, was very quiet as we all took in what we experienced and saw today. Arriving at Modica Palace Hotel, we dropped our bags and guess what time it was? Dinner Time! The food in the hotel was good, but did not compare to what we enjoyed at Agriresort Leano.

As we headed to bed, Plato’s Quote two thousand five under years ago rang so true about today!

“Sicilians build things like they will live forever and eat like they will die tomorrow.” - Plato

What a very special day and it was all possible because of two very special gentlemen!

Thank you, Danilo and Salvo!
What a Day - Ciao!


  1. Just one word…fantastic!

  2. JP - thanks for following the link. I am glad you are enjoying the blog. Stay tune - more to come.

  3. Tom and Janet, thanks again for keeping our Sicilian trip alive and well in our minds! Great job!