Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A pastry adventure among the Valley of the Temples

At first, Xiao and I didn't know how to spend our free Sunday, but we were quickly drawn to Agrigento via Lonely Planets (LP) description and online suggestions.

Agrigento, on the southern coast of Sicily (we have seen A LOT of sicily, but the south we had yet to explore, perfecto!) is known for its amazing Valley of the Temples, one of the most memorable sights of the ancient world. This area used to be called Akragas when established in 6 B.C. and in time it grew to become one of the most prosperous cities in Magna Graecia.

Agrigento was a heavily warred over city by the Romans, Byzantines and more, but the temples were gorgeous and very impressive. You see a whole succession of mamoth ruins, all strung a long a path; I like to imagine what it would have been like to see them when they were just built and what they were used for. There are 4 or 5 major temples and ruins and many many more small ones we did not have a chance to see.

A mix of old and new, you can see the modern city in the background, a haphazard development of apartment buildings that has "seriously dimmed the glory of Agrigento, but much is left to fill us with wonder" - LP

Tempio della Concordia

Xiao jokes that my yellow shirt made me blend in too much with the columns of stone, hehe.

LP, a somewhat good but often times inaccurate guide that has often led us astray, suggested that we pursue a shopping adventure in the main city, to search for a monastery where "nuns bake heavenly pastries". It instructed us to ring the bell on the front of the monastry door (I hesistantly did this, and an adorable old woman's voice answered us in Italian), to request sweets ("Vorrie dolci!"), and then to "see how you go" (seriously, this was all the instruction we got?). Nevertheless, Xiao and I were intrigued and ready for an adventure, so we found our way to the secluded monastery, had the nun ring us in, watched as the monastery front door swung open, only to reveal a very dark lobby, with a single light... illuminating a smiling old nun. She asked if we wanted a kilo or half a kilo of sweets, which didnt come cheap, so we went with a quarter kilo. She then scurries off in the darkness, and 5 minutes later, presents us with a small package tied with ribbon. We thank her, and made our way to the nearest park, eager to see what heavenly goodies we got.

Xiao in front of the monastery, there really wasnt a soul in town or bustling anywhere.
Our dolci! I loved them, they again, reminded me of potent Indian sweets and were made with a lot of almond paste and pistacchios. Buono!

1 comment:

NLee said...

Man those sweets look good. I like the ruins. Amazing how certain pieces manage to stay upright.