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Ancient Sicily

As a mom of four, I'm a light sleeper so it's an adjustment sharing a room. This morning that meant waking up at 5:30. Unable to get back to sleep, I decided to explore the ship a bit more. I found a lovely observation lounge and outdoor seating that I had all to myself, a perfect spot to reflect on the trip so far. 

Sunrise on Le Bougainville back deck
Sunrise on Le Bougainville back deck (Mary Curry)

Today we stopped in Porto Empedolce to access the Valley of the Temples at the archaeological site of Agrigento. Ironically, this isn't located in a valley at all, but rather along a steep hillside. This UNESCO Heritage Site was built by the Greeks in the 5th century BC. Originally home to 14 temples, there are remains of seven temples still here, all in Doric style. The highlight is the Temple of Concordia, the largest and best preserved Doric temple in Sicily and second only to Athens in the world. It is truly stunning! Built with the Golden Ratio and perched on the hillside, it's an impressive site. In recent years, a bronze statue of Icarus was created by Igor Mitoraj and it's position in front of the Temple of Concodia only adds to the ambiance.

Statue of Icarus, Agrigento Valley of the Temples
Statue of Icarus, Agrigento Valley of the Temples (Mary Curry)

Agrigento Valley of the Temples
Agrigento Valley of the Temples (Mary Curry)

Our guide, Luigi, taught us so much about the history of the area from Bronze Age settlers through Greek and Roman times, up to Byzantine occupations and even recent influences. He is passionate about history and culture and his enthusiasm was definitely contagious! 

The extreme heat combined with the inclines of the site and relative scarcity of shade did make for a very long, exhausting day. By the time we reached the botanical gardens of the site, I could barely summon the energy to climb down and explore. The gardens are located in the area where the ancient Greeks built aqueducts and at least one is still functioning in the gardens today. A local Sicilian preservation group has taken over care of the gardens and they market the organic produce such as lemons, grapefruit, giant zucchini, tomatoes, and eggplant to fund upkeep.

After a long afternoon in the heat of the temples, we visited the Agrigento Museum. The highlight is a three story high stone statue cared around 480 BC that was originally housed in the Temple of Zeus. It was one of several colossal statues that appeared to support the columns of this unfinished (and now completely in ruins) temple at the Valley of the Temples.

Statue from the Temple of Zeus
Statue from the Temple of Zeus (Mary Curry)

Though incredibly impressive, the heat had gotten the best of me and I nearly fell asleep in the museum. It was great to get back to the ship to freshen up for the Captain's Gala Dinner. This was definitely a bigger production than I've seen on other ships. First we met in the theater for photos with the captain and entertainment by one of the onboard singers. We had a cocktail and the standard introductions before heading to the dining room for a four course set menu. After dinner, the Paris C'Show ballet dancers performed a show in the theater.

Blue Eye Lounge
Blue Eye Lounge (Mary Curry)

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