Italy Day 9 - 2006


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Sicily  Day 9 - July 4th  Palermo - Selinunte - Agrigento

As we left Palermo to our left the suburbs could be seem climbing the surrounding hills. Antonio, our wonderful tour guide, entertained and educated us by giving us a deep insight into the history and current state of the Mafia in Sicily.  The farms became more numerous, with vineyards and olive groves being most abundant. Lots of gum trees along the roadside.  Our first stop was Selinunte to visit the ancient Greek temple complex, and do some shopping.  The ancient Greek temples were magnificent, (the shopping a disappointment because they had run out of Mafioso caps).  They city was largely destroyed by Hannibal and his Carthaginians around 2,500 years ago and piles of rubble are scattered throughout the area. A couple of the temples are partially restored and include one of the largest Greek temples ever constructed.  After our temple tour we took the bus down to a nearby restaurant, the Lido Zabbara, for lunch.  The spread was delicious and the tables were set under open air awnings overlooking the beach.  After lunch we paddled around for a while and inspected the generally comely local inhabitants before climbing back aboard our coach for the trip to Agrigento.  We checked into our hotel and were given a comfortable room overlooking the dog pound.  One of the dogs looked quite ferocious, a cross between an African wild dog and a greyhound, it turned out to be a Cirneco, apparently descended from a Tesem or "Pharaoh Hound" of ancient Egypt.  We relaxed around the hotel pool waiting for the heat of the day  to pass before setting off wih our local guide to the "Valley of The Temples", which straddled a low ridge just south of town.  It's a very impressive complex of ancient Greek buildings, largely destroyed in the 4th century BC, again by Hannibal.  A gnarled 1,200 year old olive tree near the Temple of Concord was still producing olives.  Back at the hotel that evening, after dinner, I led the US contingent in a stirring rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" before we adjourned to the big screen set up in the lounge and cheered the Italians to another win in the World Cup semi-finals.

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