AGRIGENTO. Founded in 582 B.C., Agrigento flourished under the reign of the tyrant Therone (488-473) but was destroyed by the Carthaginians and finally occupied and rebuilt by the Romans in 210 B.C. It was a majestic and large city which comprised all of the hill (the centre of the present town), where probably the Acropolis stood, and the socalled Valley of the Temples, which was enclosed by 7 1/2 miles of walls.
During the Middle Ages, only the hill town existed and it first started spreading downhill in modern times. In the upper town, we will visit the imposing Monastery of S. Spirito (1290), built in Gothic style with elegant decorations and the extremely rich and very important. National Archaeological Museum close at hand.
In the modern town, we pass by the beautiful Gothic church of S. Nicola, in the ancient Greek-Roman quarter, beyond which begins the Valley of the Temples. There were once about 20 temples, the ruins of which are in various states of preservation. We notice immediately the Temple of Hercules, with archaic capitals. On the right side of the road, we now see the colossal Olympieion (Temple of Olympian Jove) and, beyond it, the picturesque corner of the Temple o Castor and Pollux.
Beyond the Temple of Hercules, in a beautiful olive grove, is the so-called Tomb of Theron, Turning left, we come to the gem of, ancient Agrigcnto, the so-called Temple of Concord, which rivals in beauty and perfect preservation the temples of Paestum and even the Theseion at Athens. The magnificent structure is rendered even more majestic by the high steps of the plinth upon which it rests and by the gentle landscape in which it stands. The last of the large temples, the Temple of Juno Lacinia, is standing on a hill surrounded by olive trees.
The next morning we drive west out of Agrigcnto for about 5 miles to Porto Empedocle, from where the road follows the coast of southern Sicily with its numerous beaches and bathing resorts. We come, through Montallegro (where nearby the ruins of the ancient city of Heracleia Minoa have been recently exavated); then through Ribera and 43 miles from Agrigento, through Sciacca, with the church of S. Margherim (portal by Laurana) and the 15° century Palazzo Steripinto with rusticated walls, and Menfi. About 66 miles from Agrigento, we reach a junction where we take the road towards the sea which, after 3 miles, leads us to ruins of SELINUNTE.