Stephano, our dear friend from as far back as high school, is a mastermind in planning trips. He researches unselfishly for months before we travel together to educate himself on the area to be seen. This trip his first choice of three days in the quaint city of Agrigento did not disappoint.
Located directly some 2 1/2 hours south of Palermo on the western side of Sicily, the Agrigento drive goes through the magnificent rolling hills of the farming lands, which are in the spring brilliantly green with the wheat crops. Wind fields lace the hilltops as far as the eye can see, and occasionally a herd of sheep grazes by the roadside with a shepherd and his dog close by, once with just the beautiful dog lying near. To see this during Easter week was such a treat as the Good Shepherd’s words were ever present in my heart.
All of Sicily is rich in history, but Agrigento’s hilly position above the sea caused early explorers, especially the Greeks, to put key settlements there. From the native limestone, mammoth edifices to themselves and their many gods were handsomely constructed and seen from sea afar. These marvelous ruins stoutly dominate the area, the Temple of Concordia predominately commanding the highest hilltop. Indeed, it was the focal point from our room at the elegant Villa Athena, which is actually adjacent to the temple park to which we walked via old fig groves. The temple has stood this long because it was later converted to a church by early Christians where reinforcing walls were added and have better supported the structure than the others around the area.
The symbolism of this is amazing! There is a song I recall from childhood, an old hymn, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less,” in which a verse says, “On Christ, the solid rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.” With all temples lying waste except this one, the rock of the church held this one up! Good reflection from Sicily’s past for our present!
On to a week in Noto with God, our group, and the beauty of Sicily! Ciao!