|A fresh day, and a fresh start. We had a few days free before we were due to meet Vivien in Taormina, so we decided to head to the south coast. The east coast seemed quite touristy and built up, so it was a real treat to drive through the interior of the island down to Agrigento in the south. It’s a beautiful island at this time of year; really lush and green, with the trees just groaning with the weight of all those oranges, lemons and limes. I always pictured Sicily as being very arid and dusty, so it was a pleasant surprise to find it so pretty, rural, and green.
We had targeted Agrigento because of the famous Valley of the Temples. Just outside the modern city, there is a hillside covered with Greek temples, in fact the most Greek temples in one place of anywhere outside Athens. They are in varying states of disrepair but a couple of them, are in staggeringly good order and look amazing standing on the hillside. We spent a really interesting day with our little audio-guides, wandering around the site, learning all about these truly ancient buildings. It was very hot and dry, so we had to soak Doug with water before we started, and we’ve learned to move a lot slower and to take loads of breaks under trees.
The next day we headed into the hills in the centre of the island. It was time for another Fatore Amico adventure (do you remember about the farm stays scheme?). We phoned the number of the place we wanted to stay when we were very close to the farm, and the lovely lady who I spoke to said that she wasn’t at the farm at the moment, but she could be there by half seven that night. We headed there and after negotiating a tremendously bad farm track down a very steep hill, we waited in the farmyard for the lady to turn up.
Carla and her mama could not have been nicer. They had driven all the way from Catania to see us, they opened up the restaurant that they run on the farm and made us coffees, and we chatted for ages about their farm and everything they do there. After a truly lovely night spent in the quiet of the Sicilian countryside, they came back in the morning and made us coffees again before we headed off. It’s very easy to get cynical when travelling, but when somebody just does something lovely, out of the goodness of their heart, it’s amazing. Warms the old cockles so it does. They were lovely.
Us being us, we of course bought some farm products from them anyway, but that’s not the point.
They also gave us some top tips on where to visit, and recommended a village about 20 miles away called Sperlinga, where the ancient inhabitants had built their homes in caves in the cliffs on which the town is built.
We headed off there in the morning, and it was great. Really quiet, with no tourists at all apart from us, and they only charged us a couple of euro to go into the cave system. Most of the people live in normal houses now, but there are still some of the cave houses that are inhabited and it’s really interesting to see them.
Our very brief visit to the interior of the island was special, but now it was time to go and meet up with Vivien for our next adventure.