Luigi Pirandello's Birthplace
Local author Pirandello was born not far from Agrigento in Contrada Caos, and you can see where for yourself, something we never had time for but which I am sure we will if we return since I grew up with theatre and Pirandello captures the spirit of Sicily in a particular way.
Temple of Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri)
This temple was built in the 5th century and it was dedicated to Leda and Zeus's twins. Of the 34 columns used to make this temple only four remain standing. It is these four columns that just so happen to be the most photographed of all the temples and it has become the symbol of Agrigento
Città di furbi, città storica
The Italians are fond of frequently reminding visitors that, among the Sicilians, Agrigento is known as a city of "furbi" or sly people. Indeed, it seems that people from Palermo are only too happy to portray their southern neighbours as devious and mischevious. The Agrigentini, perhaps anxious to build up a bit of character for the city, don't often deny this, but it becomes rapidly apparent to any visitor that the people of this town are no less friendly and welcome than they are in any other town of the Mezzogiorno. Agrigento is small and the sites inside the city itself are few, which might lead some to believe that the slyness of the Agrigentini is in luring visitors to their city at all, but that's not true in the least. Modern Agrigento offers tourists a quiet and relaxing place to enjoy Sicilian culture without the hustle and bustle of Palermo or Catania.
Its true, the historical sites are not inside the city of Agrigento, at least not those that draw tourists south from Palermo. The Valle dei Tempi lies outside the city, a 45-50 minute walk from the train station through idyllic orchards of fig and orange trees and cacti heavy with cacchi (cactus fruit). The Valle dei Tempu is an awe-inspiring site that contains the largest number of Greek ruins outside of Greece itself. It's not hard to understand why the Greeks called this part of the world Magna Graecia or why the Romans, who normally Latinized or exterminated conquered tribes, allowed the Greeks to maintain their culture and language in Southern Italy. While you walk along side these massive structures, it's hard to feel anything but amazement for the people who, without electric machinery, managed to build such massive and beautiful structures.
"Away from the maddening crowds"
Although Agrigento may bring in tourists to see the Valle dei Tempi, its relative proximity to the Sicilian capital, Palermo, means that many of those who come don't actually stay in Agrigento. That leaves the visitor who does sleep in the city of the sly a bit more room to investigate the sites and accomplishments of Agrigento's later residents. Tourist sites may be sparse in the modern city, but there are a few pretty churches and interesting buildings to photograph. Better yet, the presence of a world-renown historical site near the city has led to some smart redevelopment of the old city. Streets and buildings have been redone in a style that matches the original plan of the city and now you can wander along freshly paved streets and window shop at luxury boutiques without feeling like you've left the mediaeval town.