Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Igor Mitoraj
TRAVEL PROGRAM

 

 

Those who would like can participate in the Palermo pre-trip.  October 29-November 1.

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea located south of the Italian mainland from which it is separated by the narrow Strait of Messina. Its most prominent landmark is Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe and one of the most active in the world.


friday nov 1
ARRIVALS TO PALERMO And on to sciacca AND THE VERDURA RESORT

 

 

Our rendezvous is at the Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa in central Palermo where the pre-trip will be staying.  The bus will depart at 1:15 pm.

From our pick-up point it will be a 1 ½ hour transfer through beautiful rolling hills to our deluxe Verdura Resort on the southern coast of Sicily overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  

Check-in and chance to unpack.  The spa or pool or gym or golf club are all possibilities.

Verdura Resort
The 5-star deluxe Verdura Resort occupies nearly two kilometers of private Mediterranean coastline. Home to three Kyle Phillips golf courses, a 60-metre infinity pool, six clay tennis courts, a world-class spa, four restaurants and five bars, Verdura Resort is an irresistible destination.  The large rooms seem woven into the Sicilian landscape and each one has an uninterrupted view of the azure water from a private terrace.

This evening we ride the resort’s simple bikes along the lighted trails to La Torre Verdura for a fun dinner at the trattoria/pizzeria Liolà.  Great wines to match our rustic dinner. 

Relaxed and rustic, Liolà Trattoria is a typical Sicilian trattoria. The restaurant has its own wood fired pizza oven and a large outdoor terrace offering stunning clifftop views over the sea. The menu is simple yet enticing. Sicilian Caponata. Arancini and Pannelle. Sicilian Pasta alla Norma. Sicilian pizza with local tomatoes, pecorino cheese, salami and basil. Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily

Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily.    

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saturday nov 2
VERDURA RESORT, SCIACCA


 

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant from 7:00 am.

8:00-10:30 am. Medical meeting in the state-of-the-art Auditorium and just outside the window, shimmering coastline as far as the eye can see and palm trees swaying in the breeze.

For spouses not in the meeting, time for bike fitting if you didn’t do it yesterday.  For those in the meeting, the fitting will take place post-meeting.  Bike and safety talk for everyone following the meeting

For those not in the meeting, some time to enjoy the spa with exercise room, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, steam room, hot seawater whirlpools or perhaps sneak in 9 holes of golf

Golf
Verdura is home to the three world-class links-style golf courses that use the natural, green contours of the landscape and are planted with indigenous trees, shrubs and brilliant flowers. Warmed by the Mediterranean sun and refreshed by the sea breeze, the courses are free from any buildings, offering uninterrupted views of the azure waters from the undulating greens.

Spa
Housed in elegant pavilions around a striking open-air courtyard, Verdura Spa has extensive treatment rooms including double treatment suites, 4 outdoor thalassotherapy pools, 20m indoor swimming pool, double-height steam room, Finnish and infrared saunas, state-of-the-art gym and fitness studio, hair and beauty salon and the Spa Bar with a terrace overlooking the mountains.

Today's Ride:
50 km through the rolling hills around Ribera, Bivona and Cannatello. 

Today's Hike:
9 km hike along sand beaches and seaside cliffs circling the archaeological site of Eraclea Minoa.  

Eraclea Minoa was an ancient Greek city situated on the southern coast of Sicily at the mouth of the River Platani, 25 km west of Agrigento. Its ruins are now found near a modern town of the same name and archaeological finds suggest that it was founded in the middle of the 6th century BC and abandoned around the beginning of the 1st century AD.

Always an option to stay at our beautiful resort for some time by the pool, a treatment in the spa or 18 holes of golf.

Lunch at leisure for both bikers and hikers. 

Biking and hiking continues through the early afternoon.

Return to our hotel in plenty of time to relax, go for a swim and get ready for this evening’s winery excursion.

This evening we transfer to the outskirts of Sciacca to the Cantine De Gregorio winery for drinks under the olive trees and dinner in the cantina. 



Cantine de Gregorio is located in Ragana, a 13th-century village with a watchtower, a 16th-century cellar, a small mill created to cater to the local’s needs and a tiny primary school with a few classes. Maruzza and Ascanio own 30 hectares of vines spread from the temples of Agrigento the salt pans of Trapani and all of it is dedicated to producing top quality wines.  Their best white is a blend of Inzolia and Grillo while their top red comes from the local Nero d’Avola grape. 

Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily.    

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sunday, nov 3
VERDURA RESORT, SCIACCA


 

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant from 7:00 am.

8:00-10:30 am. Medical meeting in the state-of-the-art Auditorium.

For those not in the meeting, some time to enjoy the exercise room, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, steam room, hot seawater whirlpools or perhaps sneak in 9 holes of golf. 

Today's Ride:
One-way 55 km ride to the archaeological site of Selinute.  A chance to visit the entire site on arrival. 

Today's Hike:
This morning we transfer west to the historic site of Selinute.  10 km of hiking within the archaeological site in the company of an expert guide to bring the temples to life.

Selinunte is one of Sicily's great Greek archaeological sites. Situated by the sea in the south-western corner of the island, the isolated ruins here have stood abandoned for most of their history. The lack of later development allows modern visitors to imagine the ancient town of Selinus as it would have been two and a half thousand years ago. The archaeological park at Selinunte is huge, incorporating Greek temples, ancient town walls, the ruins of residential and commercial buildings, countryside paths and zones not yet excavated. This is a very important site to visit and the temples' setting close to the sea is wonderfully picturesque.



Selinunte - Selinus - actually wasn't a huge city. It was a reasonable-sized town, but the scale of its temples indicates Selinunte had ideas high above its station. Founded in the 7th century BC by Greeks from Megara Hyblaea, Selinus was spread over a couple of low hills on the seashore. The town probably reached its peak in the sixth and fifth centuries BC, the era when its grand temples were constructed. In 409 BC Selinus was attacked, defeated and destroyed by the Carthaginians. There were later attempts to re-fortify the citadel, but the town's greatest days were over.



On entering the archaeological park, the first sight you see is the grandest. The large Doric temple known as Temple E was re-erected in the 1950s and stands proudly on a rise. It is an impressive evocation of Sicily's Greek past, and, unusually, visitors can climb into the temple itself to get a real sense of the scale and history of the building.

Lunch at leisure for both bikers and hikers.

Biking and hiking continue through the early afternoon but both groups arrive back to relax a bit before dinner and get ready for the evening’s activities.   

This evening we split into two groups. 

One half of the group takes a transfer to the outskirts of Menfi to the Planeta winery’s Ulmo Estate on Lake Arancio.  Tasting of their wine and olive oil before a gourmet wine-pairing dinner in their private dining room.

Planeta Winery is one of the premier wine estates of Sicily, and a veritable fine wine empire. The company has vineyards and estates all over the island of Sicily including where we are tonight, the Ulmo Contrada.  Other vineyards include Sambuca di Sicilia, the Dispensa base in Menfi (where their high end olive oils are also made), the lovely Dorilli estate in Vittoria, the Buonivini vineyards and underground winery near the Baroque town of Noto, and the newest estate - Sciara Nuova in the fashionable and exciting fine wine region of volcanic Mount Etna.

Planeta was founded in the 1990s by cousins Alessio, and Santi Planeta and their uncle Diego Planeta, who was already famous in Sicily for his trail-blazing role at the well-respected Settesoli wine cooperative, decades before Planeta as we know it burst onto the wine scene. Diego’s daughter Francesca later joined the company and is now a key figure. While relatively new as a commercial winery, the family’s beloved Ulmo Estate dates back centuries. Today it is a treat to visit with its vast vineyards, ancient olive groves and ruins of an Arab castle.

The other half stay put on the property but dinner is for you to choose and reserve.  Simple dinner with drinks at the stunning Granita Bar.  Walk down to the beach for a seafood meal at Amare.  Opt for a trattoria/pizzeria meal at Liolà.  Or reserve a Mediterranean cuisine gastronomic experience at Zagara.

Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily. 

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monday, nov 4
VERDURA RESORT, SCIACCA


 

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant from 7:00 am.

8:00-10:30 am. Medical meeting in the state-of-the-art Auditorium.

For those not in the meeting, some time to enjoy the exercise room, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, steam room, hot seawater whirlpools or perhaps sneak in 9 holes of golf. 

Today’s Ride
53 km from the top of Santo Stefano Quisquina down through Cattolica and back to the sea.

Today’s Hike:
12 km of wooded hiking around the peak of Caltabellotta. 

Always an option to stay at our beautiful resort for some time by the pool, a treatment in the spa or 18 holes of golf.

Lunch at leisure for both bikers and hikers.

Biking and hiking and visiting continues through the early afternoon but both groups arrive back to the hotel in plenty of time to relax a bit before dinner.

This evening we again split into groups and flip the activities from Sunday evening.

One half of the group takes a transfer to the outskirts of Menfi to the Planeta winery’s Ulmo Estate on Lake Arancio.  Tasting of their wine and olive oil before a gourmet wine-pairing dinner in their private dining room.



The other half stay put on the property but dinner is for you to choose and reserve.  Simple dinner with drinks at the stunning Granita Bar.  Walk down to the beach for a seafood meal at Amare.  Opt for a trattoria/pizzeria meal at Liolà.  Or reserve a Mediterranean cuisine gastronomic experience at Zagara.

Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily.  

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tuesday, nov 5
VERDURA RESORT, SCIACCA


 

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant from 7:00 am.

8:00-10:30 am. Medical meeting in the state-of-the-art Auditorium.

For those not in the meeting, some time to enjoy the exercise room, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, steam room, hot seawater whirlpools or perhaps sneak in 9 holes of golf. 

Today's Ride:
The week’s most challenging ride - 60 km high up into the hills to the summit of Caltabellotta at 1,000 metres then down along tiny roads back to the sea.

Today's Hike:
10 km north through the vineyards to Sambuca.

Lunch at leisure for both bikers and hikers.

Biking and hiking and visiting continue through the early afternoon but both groups arrive back to the hotel in plenty of time to relax a bit before dinner and get ready for the evening’s activities.  

This evening we enjoy a very special, after-hours private guided visit of the Valley of the Temples.

The site closed to the public except for  us and all the monuments beautifully lighted. 

Dinner in a small restaurant near the templex complex.  

Valley of the Temples near Agrigento|
The Valle dei Templi is an archaeological site in Agrigento and one of the most outstanding examples of Greater Greece art and architecture in the world.  It is one of the main attractions of Sicily as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The archaeological park and landscape of the Valley of the Temples is the largest archaeological site in the world covering 1,300 hectares.

The term "valley" is a misnomer, the site being located on a ridge outside the town of Agrigento. The Valley includes the remains of seven major temples, all in Doric style:

  • The Temple of Concordia, whose name comes from a Latin inscription found nearby, was built in the 5th century BC. and is now one of the best preserved in the Valley.
  • Temple of Juno, also built in the 5th century BC. It was burnt in 406 BC by the Carthaginians.
  • Temple of Heracles, who was one of the most venerated deities, is the most ancient in the Valley, destroyed by an earthquake. It consists today of only eight columns.
  • Temple of Olympian Zeus, built in 480 BC to celebrate the city-state's victory over Carthage.
  • Temple of Castor and Pollux. Despite its remains including only four columns, it is now the symbol of modern Agrigento.
  • Temple of Vulcan, also dating from the 5th century BC. It is thought to have been one of the most imposing constructions in the valley despite it now being one of the most eroded.
  • Temple of Asclepius, located far from the ancient town's walls, was the goal of pilgrims seeking cures for illness. So very appropriate for our trip!

The Valley is also home to the so-called Tomb of Theron, a large monument of pyramidal shape that scholars suppose was built to commemorate the Romans killed in the Second Punic War.

Following our visit, we transfer back to our hotel where drinks at the bar is always a possibility.  

Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily.    

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wednesday, nov 6
VERDURA RESORT, SCIACCA


 

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant from 7:00 am.

8:00-10:30 am. Medical meeting in the state-of-the-art Auditorium.

For those not in the meeting, some time to enjoy the exercise room, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, steam room, hot seawater whirlpools or perhaps sneak in 9 holes of golf. 

Today's Ride:
53 km beautiful ride to Raffadali and return.    

Today's Hike:
12 km of up and down hiking around La Rocca Nadore. 

Always an option to stay at our beautiful resort for some time by the pool, a treatment in the spa or 18 holes of golf.

Lunch at leisure for both bikers and hikers.

Biking and hiking continue through the early afternoon but both groups arrive back to the hotel in plenty time to relax a bit and perhaps pack in anticipation of tomorrow’s departure.

This evening we walk down to the seaside and start with cocktails and speeches overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. 

Followed by a gastronomic dinner at the waterfront restaurant Amare enjoying freshly caught seafood paired with some of the region’s finest white and red wines from the island of Sicily. 



Located on the beachfront with an open cooking station, Amare serves the finest local fresh fish, seafood and barbequed meats.  The restaurant’s specialty is ‘crudo’ - thinly sliced catch-of-the-day with extra virgin olive oil, citrus fruits and a pinch of rock salt - served the way it has been for generations in Sicilian fishing villages.

Overnight: Verdura Resort, Sciacca, Sicily.   

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thursday, nov 7
departures from sciacca to palermo


 

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant from 7:00 am and something lighter at whatever time necessary for earlier departures.

Three group transfers will take place this morning.

1. Departing the hotel at 4:15 am.  Arriving at the airport at 6:00 am.  In plenty of time to connect with any flight leaving at 7:30 am or later. 
2. Departing the hotel at 7:00 am.  Arriving at the airport at 8:30 am.  In plenty of time to connect with any flight leaving at 10:00 am or later.
3. Departing the hotel at 9:00 am.  Arriving at the airport at 10:30 am.  In plenty of time to connect with any flight leaving at 12:00 noon or later. 

If desired by anyone, the last transfer can carry on to downtown Palermo and drop off at the Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa after the airport stop. 

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