Situated on a plateau about 30 meters high above sea level, takes its name from Selinunte Selinon, a local wild parsley. It was founded by colonists from Megara Hiblea the 7th century BC.Selinunte found also colonies in western Sicily (Eraclea Minoa). When in the early 5th century, the war broke out between the Greeks of Sicily and Carthage, which ended with the battle of Himera in 480, Selinunte, strangely, he preferred an alliance with Carthage.He had numerous and strong contrasts with Segesta until 409, the year of its destruction by the Carthaginians own. Selinunte so he found himself subjected to the dominion of the Carthaginians, who fortified and rebuilt the area where once stood the Acropolis: the archaeological location remains of a settlement have mixed Punic and greek. The Carthaginian domination lasted until the punic war. Carthage decided to concentrate its forces on Lylibeo (Marsala), transferring the population of Selinunte, destroying the city and leaving it to ruin. An earthquake propably in the 10th century, perhaps eventually reduced to a heap of ruins the monuments of the ancient city. In the second half of the sixteenth century Selinunte was rediscovered by the historian Fazello . In 1823 the British undertook the archaeological excavations.
The highest active volcano in Europe, situated on the eastern side of the Island of Sicily between, Etna dominates the entire province of Catania with its grandeur. Identified since ancient times with the forging of the volcano, with its 135km perimeter and height of 3,340 meters above sea level, Etna is the result of a multitude of geological events which have taken place over the course of 10s of thousands of years. Its first eruptive manifestations reach back to the Piestoncenic period (570,000/600,000) years ago. Today the volcano, whose height under goes constant variations due to the accumulation of materials or to a collapse of the sides, stands on the old volcanoes; Trifoglietto, (whose collapse generated the crater pit in the Valle del Bove) and that of Mongibello (from the Arabic, ‘gebel’ to indicate the mount of the dead and the latin Mont, mountain) is active to this day. In addition to the submittal craters, the Montagnola and the Silvestri Mounts are of particular interest. Mount Montagnola is one of the most imposing temporary cones on Mt. Etna; it took shape south of the Central Crater on the southern slope where it opened up at a height of 2,500 m. following the eruption of 1763. The Silvestri Mounts were formed following the eruption of 1892. Between Mt. Silvestri superior and Mt. Silvestri inferior, the road which leads up from Zafferana and Nicolosi to the small town square at Rifugio Sapienza, which is the destination of all of the visitors who are ready to begin the climb up to the volcano, passes.
At 2,900 m. there‘s the ‘Torre Del Filosfo’ (philosopher’s tower), a construction so nominated in remembrance of Empedocles (492 B.C. – 430 A.D.), the agrigentian philosopher who went up the volcano to study it. But it’s not clear if this was done accidentally or willingly. It is thought that the building was constructed by the Emperor Adriano, who, between 117 and 138 A.D., climbed Mt. Etna. Fascinated by its magnificence and by the ampleness of the panorama, which one can enjoy from this strategic point of view over the Catanese province.
SEGESTA, TRAPANI SALT PANS (NUBIA) & ERICE
Segesta is situated in a splendid position, among gently sloping hills of yellow-ochre and ruddy brown that, at times, are thrown into marked contrast by patches of variegated greens around the excavated areas. All the while, the timeless landscape is presided over by the majestic of the Doric temple. The town was probably founded by Elimi; under Greek sponsorship, it soon ranked, like Erice among the leading towns of the Mediterranean basin. In the 5th C. BC, it was pitched against its great rival Selinunte: in an attempt to rally its defences against this threat, Segesta appealed for help from Athens in 415 BC, but these reinforcements were defeated by Syracuse whose forces were allied to Selinunte. In 409 BC, Segesta turned to Carthage for support: on landing in Sicily, these troops destroyed both Selinus and Himera, In turn, Segesta was destroyed by Siracusa, and rose again under the Romans. Subsequent developments are not documented, although it is thought that the city probably succumbed to further damage by the Vandals in the 5C AD. What is certain is that the area was inhabited in medieval times as ruins of a Norman castle and a small basilica. This part of the site extended over two areas separated by a hollow. The south-eastern section was predominantly residential, while the north was populated by public buildings, including the theatre. The Temple of Segesta, one of the most perfectly preserved monuments to survive from Antiquity, stands in majestic solitude on a hill surrounded by a deep valley, framed by Monte Bernardo and Monte Barbaro where the theatre is situated. Built in 430 BC (although scholars are divided about its exact date), the temple is a Doric building of extraordinarily harmonious proportions. The 36 columns of the peristyle are almost completely intact, their gloriously mellow golden-tinged limestone flattered by their smooth finish. The fact that the shafts are unfluted, coupled with the absence of a cella, has product the suggestion that the temple was abandoned before completion. This theory meanwhile is dismissed by some studiosus who claim that the lack of a cella (which usually comprised the first part of the sanctuary to be undertaken) might indicate that the building was intended to consist merely of a peristyle making it a pseudo-sanctuary. Furthermore the mystery surrounding the purpose such a construction would serve is exacerbated by the lack of any indication as to which deity it might have been dedicated. The road up to the theatre (by shuttle service) provides fabulous views back over the temple. The theatre was built in the 3th C. BC during the Hellenistic period, while the area was under Roman domination. It consists of a perfect semicircle with a diameter of 63m, apparently slotted into a rocky slope. The tiers of seats face west towards the hills, beyond which, to the right, may be glimpsed the broad Bay of Castellammare.
The area comprising Salt Pans of Trapani and Paceco is characterized by lagoons and marshes with shallow water ranging from 50 cm to 2 metres in depth. The reserve includes four islands. The lagoons were formed relatively recently by undersea currents which caused movement of the sand. The water flow in the resulting lagoons was severely reduced, the water stagnated and the temperature of the water rose. The primary activity in the lagoons wasthe production of salt: the method is fairly simple and consists of channelling sea water into small ponds, allowing it to evaporate under the sun and collecting the salt which is then left to dry in piles which are covered in terracotta tiles that take on the appearance of the roof of a house. The water was pumped using wind mills, some of which have been restored and remain visible today. A stop at Mulino Maria Stella will show you a beautiful panorama view on the Egadi islands. Part of this area is today a WWF natural reserve because of migratory birds such as herons and flamingoes stop here en route to Africa.
Erice is located on top of Mount Erice or San Giuliano, at around 750m above sea level, overlooking the city of Trapani, the low western coast towards Marsala and the Egadi Islands on Sicily's north-western coast, providing spectacular views. The ancient name of Erice was Eryx, and its foundation was associated with the Greek hero Erix. It was not a Greek colony, but was largely Hellenized. It was destroyed in the first punic war by the carthaginians, and from then on declined in importance. Eryx was conquered by Aghlebids in 831 and was renamed as Cebel Hamid (In Western sources Gebel Hamed, meaning Mountain of Hamid). It was ruled by Arabs over 3 centuries until Norman conquest in 1167. Normans renamed it Monte San Giuliano. It was known as Monte San Giuliano until 1934. In the northeastern portion of the city there are the remains of ancient elimian and phoenician walls indicating different stages of settlement and occupation in antiquity. There are two castles that remain in the city: Pepoli Castle, Venus Castle, dating from the norman period, built on top of the ancient Temple of Venus, where Venus Ericina or Astarte or Demetra was worshipped. According to legend, the temple was founded by Enea. It was well-known throughout the mediterranean area in the ancient age, and an important cult was celebrated in it. You could taste the medieval flavour of this town walking on the street, visiting the mother church, but also tasting the famous cookies “ericini” on the main bar in the road going from porta Trapani to the Municipio.
Agrigento was founded on a plan overlooking the mediterranean sea, with two nearby rivers, the Hypsas and the Akragas, and a ridge to the north offering a degree of natural fortification. Its establishment took place around 582-580 BC and is attributed to greek colonists from Gela, who named it Akragas. Akragas grew rapidly, becoming one of the richest and most famous of the colonies of Magna Graecia. It came to prominence under the 6th-century tyrants Falaride and Terone, and became a democrecy after the overthrow of Theron's son. Although the city remained neutral in the conflict between Athens and Siracusa, its democracy was overthrown when the city was destroied by the carthaginians in 406 BC. Akragas never fully recovered its former status, though it revived to some extent under Timoleont in the latter part of the 4th century. The city was disputed between the romans and the Carthaginians during the first punic war. The Romans laid siege to the city in 262 BC and captured it after defeating a Carthaginian relief force in 261 BC and sold the population into slavery. Carthaginians recaptured the city in 250 BC the final peace settlement gave Punic Sicily and with it Akragas to Rome. It suffered badly during the second punic war when both Rome and Carthage fought to control it. The Romans took Akragas in 210 BC and renamed it Agrigentum, although it remained a largely Greek-speaking community for centuries thereafter. It became prosperous again under Roman rule and its inhabitants received full Roman citizenship. After the fall of the roman empire, the city passed into the hands of the ostrogothic kingdom of Italy and then the bizantine empire. During this period the inhabitants of Agrigentum largely abandoned the lower parts of the city and moved to the former acropolis, at the top of the hill. In 828 AD the Arabs captured the diminished remnant of the city. They pronounced its name as Kerkent in Arabic; it was thus sicialinized as "Girgenti", until 1927, when Mussolini's government reintroduced an italiniazed version of the Latin name. Ancient Agrigento covers a large area, but is exemplified by the famous Valle dei Templi, "Valley of the Temples". This comprises a large sacred area on the south side of the ancient city where seven monumental Greek temples in the doric style were constructed during the 6th and 5th centuries BC. The archeological park is listed as a Worl Heritage site. The best-preserved of the temples are two very similar buildings traditionally attributed to the goddesses Hera and Concordia (though archaeologists believe this attribution to be incorrect). The latter temple is remarkably intact, due to its having been converted in a church in 597 AD. Both were constructed to a peripteral hexastyle design. The area around the temple was later re-used by early Christians as a catacomb, with tombs hewn out of the rocky cliffs and outcrops. The other temples are much more fragmentary, having been toppled by earthquake long ago and quarried for their stones. The largest temple is dedicated to Zeus olympia, built to commemorate the won battle of Himera (Termini Imerese) on 480 BC: it is believed to have been the largest doric temple ever built. Although it was apparently used, it appears never to have been completed; construction was abandoned probably after the Carthaginian invasion of 406 BC.. A late Hellenistic funerary monument erroneously labelled the "Tomb of Theron" is situated just outside the sacred area, and a 1st C. AD Heron (heroic shrine) adjoins the 13th century Church of San Nicola. A sizeable area of the Greco-Roman city has also been excavated, and several classical necropolis and quarries are still extant. Much of present-day Agrigento is modern but it still retains a number of medieval and baroque buildings. The town also has a notable archaeological museum displaying finds from the ancient city. Every year a Folk festival commemorate the almond in flower.
From Greek foundation, Cefalù derived its name from its situation on a lofty and precipitous rock, forming a bold headland projecting into the sea. But though its name proves it to have been of Greek origin, no mention is found of it in Thucydides, who expressly says that Himera was the only Greek colony on this coast of the island; it is probable that Cephaloedium was at this time merely a fortress belonging to the Himeraeans, and may very likely have been first peopled by refugees after the destruction of Himera. Its name first appears in history at the time of the Carthaginian expedition under Himilco, 396 BC, when that general concluded a treaty with the Himeraeans and the inhabitants of Cephaloedium. But after the defeat of the Carthaginian armament, Dionysius made himself master of the Town, which was betrayed into his hands. At a later period we find it again independent, but apparently on friendly terms with the Carthaginians, on which account it was attacked and taken by Agathocles, 307 BC. During the First Punic war it was reduced by the Roman fleet under Atilius Calatinus and Scipio Nasica, 254 BC, but by treachery and not by force of arms.Cicero speaks of it as apparently a flourishing town, enjoying full municipal privileges; it was, in his time, one of the civitates decumanae which paid the tithes of their corn in kind to the Roman state, and suffered severely from the oppressions and exactions of Verre. It also minted coins. During the Byzantine domination the settlement was moved from the plain to the current spur, although the old town was never entirely abandoned. In 858 it was conquered by the Arabs, and rechristened Gafludi. For the following centuries it was part of the Emirate of Sicily. In 1063 the Normans captured it and in 1131, Roger II, king of Sicily, transferred it from its almost inaccessible position to one at the foot of the rock, where there was a small but excellent harbor, and began construction of the present cathedral. Between the 13th century and 1451 it was under different feudal families, and then it became a possession of the Bishops of Cefalù. The Cathedral, begun in 1131, in a style of Norman architecture which would be more accurately called Sicilian Romanesque. The exterior is well preserved, and is largely decorated with interlacing pointed arches; the windows also are pointed. On each side of the façade is a massive tower of four storeys. The round-headed Norman portal is worthy of note. A semi-circular apse is set into the east end wall. Its strengthening counterforts that work like buttresses, are shaped as paired columns to lighten their aspect. The groined vaulting of the roof is visible in the choir and the right transept, while the rest of the church has a wooden roof. Fine cloisters, coeval with the cathedral, adjoin it.
SICILIAN COOKING CLASS in FARMHOUSE
After a panorama view on the country road outside the modern City of Palermo we arrive on a tipical Sicilian farm house named Parcovecchio, in the zone on Marineo, about 30 km from Palermo. The owners welcome you spending a time to visit the farm factory ( famous ricotta cheese is product here ). Then the interest is moved to the coocking class made by the son of the owner, Ciro. There is no a particular menu in program, just, as the original Mediterranean diet says, cook fresh and local products from Sicilian territory. After pre-dishes made of cheeses, handmade marmalade and local vegetables and local bread, pasta will be served ( pasta is one the the most important meal in Italy ) in the country restaurant of the farm ( Trattoria ). Local red wine & water will be served during the lunch. Second dish made of meet and fresh local fruits gives end to a beautiful excursion on the country heart of Sicily, outside the classical tourist itinerary ! Don’t take distraction, You’ll see all the preparation of the menu !