Agrigento: a tale of two Cheeses

Trip Start Mar 27, 2006
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Trip End Jun 06, 2006


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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Agrigento: City with a view

While getting to Agrigento took some time, the views from the train were incredibly pastoral. Farmland bursting with hills of wild flowers. You might even say, the hill were alive with the sound of music. Ahhahhahhh. On the train we met a nice woman who spoke no English but recommended that we try gelato con panna (gelato with bread) we decide to keep an eye out for this odd combo.
Agrigento is known for the valley of the temples. This archeological site contains seven or more temples in various states of ruin. We hit a snag in Agrigento that will be hampering us for some time. Easter Monday is a federal holiday in Italy, and the weekend after is a long weekend. So, at this time of year many Italians go on holidays. This has made it hard for us to find places to stay. Case in point, our stay at the "Hotel Concordia" will be remembered for the leaking ceiling and itchy beds (note- I don't think the beds were itchy but we thought we felt itchy in them. Shilo swears the sheets on her bed smelled like B.O. and not her's. Gabe also broke a lamp shade. Thankfully, the owner didn't seem to care). This side of the old city is quite beautiful and overlooks the valley of the temples and the sea. At night the temples are lit making this view even more enjoyable.

We had a number of new food experiences in Agrigento:
1. We don't like smoked Buffalo mozzarella. To date this is the only cheese we do not like. We are also surprised by this turn of events.
2. We splurged for some drinks at a local Enoteca (wine bar). The gentleman who owned the establishment found us amusing and served us some tappas even though we has turned them down (not in the budget). Of these treats, the local cheese that had pistachios in it was great. We ate it with Muscat and liqueur di mandorle, which smelled incredible (almond). We did not eat the rind of this cheese and were chastised for this. We soon found out that it was the best part.
3. All through Sicily we have been eating a version of the same pasta. Known on the mainland as "a la Sicilia." It is generally pasta, tomato sauce, eggplant, and mozzarella or ricotta di salata. In Sicily it has many different names, including "pasta a la Norma" or in this case "pasta a la Agrigentina". What was different about pasta a la Agrigentina was the presentation. It was served in a tinfoil pouch, perhaps to help the cheese melt. The first time we were served this the tinfoil pouch was in the form of a Swan, a large Swan. We were concerned we had been served another person's doggy bag, but this was not the case...we hope.

A ruin- The Valley of the Temples

Shilo's thoughts-The ruins are enriched by the beautiful views of the valley and the sea. The wild flowers were everywhere. Stunning. Truly the best time of year, I would think, to see this site. One of the major temples, Tempio della Concordia, was covered in scaffolding, the most complete and the jewel of the grouping, kind of a bummer.

Gabe's thoughts- Great to walk around a site like this. Gives you a "grand tour" sort of feel. The temples were in rougher shape then I had expected though. The Greek did know how to pick a spot. The views of the sea were excellent. Glad we went early as the place filled up with tourist quickly.

In closing, the approach of Easter has made for some nice window shopping. The Italians spend a lot of time staging their window displays. Shop window are exploding with chocolate eggs and marzipan lambs.

"Tutto" (a very useful word that means "everything." We use this word quite liberally and are tuttoing all the time).

Shi and Gabe
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