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November 21, 2008

Agrigento to Palermo

Filed under: Italy Rome-Sicily 2008, Travel — anotherheader @ 12:54 am

Shades of the Temple of Concord, Valley of the Temples, Agrigento

Shades of the Temple of Concord, Valley of the Temples, Agrigento

With the crowing of the Fattoria Mose’s rooster, we woke to sounds of a working farm. Soon we were out into the light and air of a day that had the feel of a looming weather change. We strolled around the farm seeing a wide variety of animals in the pens and trees in the orchards.


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Honking geese keeping an eye on us at Fattoria Mose

At breakfast we would determine that there had been more than 15 guests staying at Fattoria Mose last evening. The estate was so large we had no idea that there were so many visitors.

We purchased the farm produced olive oil to take with us on our departure. Unfortunately it wasn’t the fresh crop oil that Becky had more than liberally applied to her salad the night before. Nonetheless, the oil will still provide memories of Fattoria Mose for us. With thanks to Chiara, we were off.

An old olive tree

An old olive tree

Agrigento is the location for another UNESCO World Heritage site, the Valley of the Temples. As you can see in the pictures, the Valley of the Temples is a well preserved collection of Greek shrines. The temples sit on a ridge with a view of the neighboring countryside which makes us wonder where the “Valley” in the name comes from. Our tour of the ruins took about two hours and we were off on the roads under threatening skies heading to Palermo.

We had thoughts of wine tasting on this leg of the trip, but I had not brought along any information that would guide us. Undaunted, we checked the Points of Interest listings on the TomTom until we found a winery, Duca di Salaparuta. The winery was close enough to our route on the outskirts of Palermo so we adjusted the TomTom to take us there. Under threatening skies, we drove north through the hilly terrain not too far from the town of Corleone of Godfather fame. As we got closer to Palermo, the skies opened up with heavy, drenching rain.

Valley of the Temples

Valley of the Temples

The storms slackened slightly as the TomTom took us right to the door of the winery. After searching and driving around for another 30-minutes, we found the entrance to the sales room right where the TomTom said it was. I guess the TomTom didn’t know that we wanted to taste wine as the room’s license did not allow sampling. Nevertheless, we had an entertaining conversation with a French woman attending the room. Despite the language challenges, she managed to communicate how the flag ship Nero d’Avola was produced. Typically French, she complained about Americans only knowing English. The comment was fair enough, though many non-native English speaking travelers rely solely on English to communicate when traveling which led several people to say to us “Why would you bother?” when we expressed interest in learning a bit more Italian. Then again, it could have been our pathetic attempts at Italian that triggered the “Why would you bother?” comment. In any event, we soon left with two bottles of wine in hand and were off to the airport to drop the rental car.

Temple of Concrod

Temple of Concord

We deposited the rental car at the small Palermo airport and headed by taxi into the wet streets and dense traffic of Palermo. Palermo was not quite as I expected. At least in the area that we visited, the city was relatively clean (on Italian standards!) and upscale. I was expecting more of a sketchy, run-down and intense experience.

Our hotel, the Ambasciatori, occupied the upper floors of a building in an upscale shopping area. An older hotel, the shared spaces and rooms were clean and staff was particularly helpful. The real selling point for this hotel is the rooftop deck with its panoramic view of Palermo.

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For dinner, we headed to a local restaurant recommended by the hotels front desk. Another hotel patron, Lisa, was walking in the light rain to the same restaurant for dinner and joined with us for the meal. Lisa was Swedish but lives and works in Northern Italy. It was amazing to watch her switch between English and Italian during the meal, knowing that she could speak additional languages just as fluently.

The dinner at Ristorante Nabucco was good. This was a pick your fish from the platter of fish that were swimming in the local waters this morning type of place. We chose a fish of a kind that we had never seen before. It was good. Too bad we don’t know what it was!

Back in our room, we had a comfortable night. With one day to explore Palermo, we had a lot to look forward to seeing the next day.

Pictures:

http://picasaweb.google.com/wonderdog1/AgrigentoToPalermo#


Our Hotel:

Ambasciatori Hotel

ambasciatorihotelpalermo.com

Dinner:

Ristorante Nabucco near Chiesa San Domenica

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