I’d spent 2 hours in the car from Catania to Agrigento. The road up was smooth a for a moment I caught my beach in astonishment as I was convinced I was in Greece. Valle dei Templi stands at the entrance to Agrigento so before driving up into the city you can stop off there and admire the temple of Valle dei Templi, one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture.
A few miles past Valle dei Templi we climbed higher up the hill and into the city of Agrigento. The air was cool and the town was stunningly pretty with long views down to the blue sea. A compact town tumbling down to the blue sea. I fell in love with Agrigento in an instant. Perhaps it was the time of day, passing the Valle dei Templi on arrival or the weather. It was perfect. At its heart was a small busy street called Via Atenea with a reasonable amount of people eating, laughing and strolling along their way. Leading off the street were stairs and alleyways going either up or down depending on which way you turned to face. These side street were full of neighbours gossiping and children playing. For the rest the town appeared to exists of a bundle of wandering streets and alley ways with winding stairs climbing up and down the city. It was lovely.
I booked a studio apartment in a guesthouse called Il Sole E La Luna. The room was perfect with a balcony where I watch the passers-by radiating contempment. The town was not full, it had a low hum of chatter which would be broken with the locals gossip and laughter.
Marco, the owner of the Il Sole E La Luna had agreed to meet me 3 hours later and show me Scala dei Turchi.
I’d never seen something quite like it. Scala dei Turchi is a rocky cliff on the coast of Realmonte, near Porto Empedocle. I’d seen rocky cliffs in England but nothing like this. The sea was almost crystal clear, the sand on the beach was unusal and the cliffs were inviting, not frightening.
As requested Marco gave me a lift on his motorbike the next day to Scala dei Turchi. The journey down by motorbike was breathtaking as if I hadn’t seen it the day before. I stayed hours under the sun reading and listening to deep house music.
Later that night I ventured out to walk around Agrigento. The city is gorgeous, a tiny little place with narrow houses and long views accross the city to the blue ocean. It reminded me very much of Porto or Lisbon. It was common to see churches at the corner of the street standing magnificent and dignified amoung the shops and bnb’s. I can’t recall a more attractive place for walking. The town consisted of almost entirely of a complex network of stone-walled lanes and passages with stairs and all of which interconnection beautifully so you would find yourself back in the same place you departed from 15minutes after walking. Every few strides you would find an arched alleyway. Every few strides a cross passageway would plunge off down the hillside or a set of steps would climb up to the sky with a set of restaurants and bnb’s leading above.
As a tourist I was sold by the charm of the city. But looking a little closer I noted that many shops were closed down and there were quite a few abandoned, derelict buildings. To me this also added to the charm but Marco’s father explained that they are going through a crisis, it is difficult for the locals in Agrigento and the political system doesn’t function well, a pity because it is by far my favourite town in Italy, I want to move here.