Monday, February 7, 2011

Sicily Day Five: La Valle Dei Templi

I had one of the worst nights of sleeping in Agrigento.  It was cold, and the minimal blankets on the bed didn't seem to help.  I had cold sweats and nausea throughout the evening.  I got up to try vomiting a few times, which didn't work, as there was so little in my stomach to start with.  On top of that, I had tried to set the alarm on my watch and had instead reset the time.  I awoke after some two hours of not really sleeping, around 3:30 AM, hoping to catch the last bit of breakfast before the day's travels.  My roommate just came back to the room when I woke up, and I figured he was coming to get changed for the morning.

I showered and felt a bit rejuvenated, went downstairs to the lobby, and finally realized my error in time when I read the clocks behind reception desk.  I was feeling less nauseous and more hungry than anything, so I tried to go for a brief walk to see if anything was open, which of course, in the Middle-of-Nowhere, Italy, where we were, was not the case.  I returned to the hotel, grabbed my laptop from the room, and began to work out some of my journal entries while the night guard slept on the couch.

I finished three or four entries and edited the video I'd shot in Erice before the sun started to come up (below.)  At that point, I went for a twenty-minute walk down the ugly shopping strip.  It was cold, but I didn't where a jacket, letting the slightly fresh air wash over me.  By the end of this walk I felt as good as I had for nearly two days.  Again, I thought I just needed a little bit of food to put in my stomach.

As I mentioned before, I would love to set a horror movie in this tiny town.  The fog, the city gates (people could be locked in), the population of a few hundred (everybody knows everybody else), and distance from anything else (2600 feet up), would make an ideal setting.  Here is all the video I shot in Erice, cut up in a way that I hoped would make it creepier, and backed by Pink Floyd's "Echoes" from Meddle (1971).  I didn't speed up any of the tape.  The clouds were really moving that fast. 

I returned to the hotel just in time for the beginning of breakfast, but I found that food was not exactly what my stomach wanted.  The fresh juice was good, but I only began to feel worse again after eating food.  I finally went back to my room and grabbed about a half-hour's more sleep until returning to the dining room to inform one of the chaperones about my condition.  I had no idea if my illness was at all serious, but I'd gotten tired of coping.  They gave me some imodium, which was supposed to help my stomach, but even an hour later, I didn't feel a whole lot better.

What did help was getting back outside and walking around in the fresh air.  After a terrible bus ride, we arrived at the valley of Ancient Greek temples in Agrigento.  I felt nauseous at first and nearly fainted as we stood around listening to our tour guide talk about the history of the Greeks in Agrigento.  One of the chaperones asked me if I wanted to go back to the bus, but I refused, knowing I would in all likelihood never get a chance to see those monuments again. Once we were given permission to roam around, I began to feel much better.  By the time we got to the second temple, I was feeling pretty good again.

Temple No. 1: Il Tempio Di Hera Lacinia (The Temple Of Juno)

I thought this was interesting that people carved their names and initials into the cacti

Temple No. 2: Il Tempio Della Concordia (The Temple Of Concordia)

Looking out to the Mediterranean on the southern coast of the island from the plateau known as "The Valley Of Temples."

Il Tempio Della Concordia

From left to right: Pizeme, Kevin, and me in front of Il Tempio Della Concordia. (Picture taken by Kelsey Whitelaw)

Temple No. 3: Il Tempio Di Eracole (The Temple Of Heracles)

I thought this was pretty cool.  Clearly they quarried this rock to use in the temples, but they also carved it sculpted it as tracks to cart the rock.

A statue in the modern square next to the temples where all of the souvenirs were sold.

The statue eclipsing the sun.  Il Tempio Di Eracole is in the background.

Temple No. 4: Il Tempio Di Zeus Olimpio (The Temple Of Zeus Olympic)

Il Tempio Di Eracole

A reconstructed "Atlas," which would have at one point held up Il Tempio Di Zeus Olimpio.

After viewing the remains of the temples, we went to the nearby museum, where they stored Ancient Greek artifacts and reassembled pieces of the fallen temple such as a statue of Atlas that stood 7.5 meters high.  This was one of numerous Atlas statues that once lined the perimeter of the gigantic Temple of Zeus, which was larger than the Parthenon in Athens.  They were depicted as if together they held up the temple, and they were constructed in such a way that their legs were small in proportion to their upper body, in order to seem imposing from the perspective of a viewer on the ground.

What I also learned that I found interesting was, all of these Greek temples look quite similar because it took around twenty years or so to build one.  If the life expectancy was somewhere in the forties, master architects cold only expect to build one temple in their lifetime.  That was their life's work, so they didn't have time to play with varied forms.  They used previous Greek temples as a template for building their own and made minor variations and improvements, but nothing drastic.
A conjectural representation of Il Tempio Di Zeus Olimpio, with the Atlas statues surrounding the perimeter. (Wikipedia)

Clouds above the corner of the museum

After the museum, we boarded the bus and headed back towards Palermo, stopping for a quick bite at a rest stop along the way.  I got a really fantastic Sicilian pizza, with bread that was closer to focaccia in texture than our typical pizza.  It was topped with potatoes, basil, and a little Parmesan cheese.  I've never seen potatoes used like that on pizza, and it really worked brilliantly.  I'll have to try that myself at some point when I'm making pizza.

When we arrived back at the hotel in Palermo, I went to my room, where I get a well-deserved two-hour nap.  That night, I went out with friends back to the pizzeria where we'd gone a few days before and had a very good meal.  This time, we split our group of eleven into two tables so we could have a more manageable bill and conversation.  Not willing to push my stomach yet, I just got an order of bruschette and drank water.  This turned out to be just right.  I can't say I was feeling 100%, nor would I until the day we left, but my stomach was again acting more tolerably.

That night I even got five hours of sleep, which is more than I could say for most other nights on the trip.  However, I was, against my own wishes, still one of the first up the next day, finishing my light breakfast before anybody else from our group made it to the dining facilities.
A statue in the courtyard of the Agrigento museum

No comments:

Post a Comment