Agrigento Centrale – Roccapalumba-Alia – Dittaino – Catania Aeroporto Fontanarossa – Siracusa

I’d allowed time this morning to visit the Valley of the Temples. Unfortunately it was so warm that even before 9am I wasn’t comfortable out in the sun. In retrospect I should have gone there last night. It turns out that they light it up after dark, which I would have enjoyed, but had not spotted when I first looked at their (rather confusing) website.

Instead I opted for a lazy light breakfast in a very friendly cafe, and a short wander around the town. I bought a huge bunch of grapes for just over a Euro in a tiny deli, and as I write this a couple of days later I’m still nowhere near the bottom of the (paper) bag. I also took a quick look at the railway station, where work is being done. Hopefully I’ll arrive here by train some time.

The rest of the morning was spent working and making a few phone calls, before my coach arrived, just after midday. By now it was warm enough that I wasn’t the only one sheltering from the sun. A group of passengers had bagged a spot under a nearby tree, though I stayed inside the station building a short distance away.

The journey is just under 2 hours, but passed quickly. This area is very remote and has intermittent phone signal so I couldn’t do any work. Instead I decided to revisit the first few episodes of the wonderful Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series, which I’ve not listened to in years, but was reminded of last week, whist watching the scenery go by. I can’t believe H2G2 will be 50 years old in 2028!

They are building solar farms all over the place down here, and who can blame them. What I did notice was that the majority of them are on north facing slopes, which seemed a bit odd, though they can be angled appropriately. I presume that the south facing slopes are used for crops.

At Roccapalumba-Alia, I had a short wait (in the subway between platforms 1 and 2, as it was 39 degrees at ground level) then boarded the train to Dittiano. The scenery through this section is pretty unspoiled, so I was surprised by looked like an unnecessarily elevated road at one point. Maybe the valley floods, I can’t think of another reason to do this. I also spotted the modern take on an aqueduct crossing a valley. I’m not sure the Romans would have approved!

I then transferred back to another coach as the next section of the line was also being worked on. This was only a short journey, and dropped me off at Catania airport, some 40 minutes later. Leaving here gave me a slightly better rail connection than going into Centrale station. On the way I got a distant glimpse of Etna, gently steaming away.

What rolled into the station at the airport was not what I was expecting at all. A single car service, half of which was first class, the other half second. It was quirky but unfortunately the windows had all been graffitied almost to the top, meaning that I saw nothing of the view all the way to Siracusa. It was a rather fun thing to have done though.

The weather here was still very warm, as we’d arrived just after 18:00. I spent an hour or so at my hotel then went exploring. This is a really lovely place. I was immediately struck by the lovely trees that line the roads in this city.

It divides into two, the most interesting bit is the island of Ortigia, though the area around the bridges, with its bronze sculpture of Archimedes, who hails from this city, is rather lovely.

The island has a mix of large and small streets, with a good range of shops, many catering for distinctly upmarket visitors.

Having reached the southern end of the island, I walked around the coastal drive, which was all rather lovely with the many bars and restaurants lit up. The small boat out on the water and groups picnicking on a rock all added up to a fairly idyllic scene.

Heading back to the central area I spotted a street market. Almost every stall was selling hats of all shapes and sizes. I felt a little guilty for having brought one with me from home.

My ear was then drawn by the sound of live music. It was a trio who had set up in the entrance of a restaurant and had drawn quite a crowd into the street, as well as filling every seat in the place. The music was a mix of rock and blues classics, but many with quite a spin on the original, which is brave for a group of this type. Good on them.

I wrapped up the evening with the Sicilian take on pizza, which has lots of spinach and was rather tasty, before heading back over the bridge to my hotel.