Archives For Sicily

trigona1Whilst exploring Sicily recently, Sharon Preston discovered some magnificent castles. The Palazzo Trigona was her favourite

One of the highlights of my visit to Sicily was visiting the ancient Palazzo Trigona, located in Piazza Armerina, also known as Piazza Duomo, because this is where the town’s cathedral is located. The Trigona family, who built the palace as their home, chose this location, because they were also responsible for building much of the Duomo themselves. In fact, there’s a statue of the member of the Trigona family who built the Duomo in the centre of the square. Aside from the castle you’ll also find an art gallery in the square that boasts some paintings by famous artists including Caravagggio, Carlo Dolic, Faggini and Canaletto. It’s well worth exploring once you’ve finished exploring the castle.

The castle, which was built between the 18th and 19th Centuries, has recently been restored to its former glory and is now used as an hotel. The hotel offers a choice of 13 rooms and two suites and its guests include people from all over the world who come to stay here, to relax and step back in time to a more glamorous, elegant era.

trigona3Palazzo Trigona is located less than a kilometer from the town’s famous archaeological sites, so it’s the ideal base from which to explore. The hotel’s public areas are particularly beautiful, and we explored those at leisure, including a living room with a fireplace and a small library. I think that next time I visit Sicily I’d like to escape the busy tourist sights on the island and stay in this beautiful old palace. It would be the perfect place to get away from it all in old-world surrounds.

The setting is quite magnificent, with lots of lush trees around the building and although we did spend time exploring the grounds, I would love to come and stay there and be able to enjoy many leisurely walks discovering the magic of the surroundings as well as enjoying some horse riding and mountain climbing.

trigona4The main façade of the palazzo is quite spectacular, with a series of large windows and the balcony above them. It’s an excellent example of 18th Century architecture. And if you are lucky and the hotel is not fully booked, you may be able to explore some of the hotel rooms as well as the public areas. That would give you an idea of how much fun it would be to stay at such a stunning hotel.

trigona2And if you do book a room there, perhaps I’ll see you there next summer, when I enjoy the luxury of staying in a famous ancient palace in the heart of Sicily. I can imagine no better way to enjoy la dolca vita.

hellenistic4Sharon Preston finds some ancient Greek history in Italy, the magnificent Hellenistic-Romanto Quarter in Agrigento in Sicily

If one really wants to see beautiful, authentic Greek ruins, the best place to see them, believe it or not, is in Sicily. In Agrigento to be exact. The region’s Hellenistic-Romano Quarter is home to some of the very best examples of Greek structures, the remains of a Roman neighborhood built on top of the original Greek urban plan, as well as the area’s excellent archaeological museum.

Let me give you a little bit of background about Agrigento. It was founded as a Greek colony in the 6th Century BC and became one of the leading cities in the Mediterranean world. Today visitors come to see the remains of magnificent Doric temples that existed here in that ancient town, much of which is still lying intact under fields and orchards.


Certain sites have been excavated and these give us an excellent idea of the town that once existed there as well as the burial practices of the early Christians who lived in the town. To find such an intact, well-preserved ancient city is quite a phenomenom and the Doric temples here are some of the most incredible monuments that still exist of Greek culture.

The original Greek town, called Akragas, was founded by people who used to live in Rhodes and Crete around 580BC. The city had a tumultuous past, and finally fell under Roman rule in 262BC. It became part of the Roman Empire in 210BC and for a long time, Agrigento was the only market town on Sicily’s southern coast. But after this Christianity took over, and the city lost most of its inhabitants.

hellenistic5The area is called the Valley of the Temples and it covers most of the central part of the ancient city and its public monuments. The area between the Acropolis and the temples was created in the 5th Century BC and the sacred area was built in the second half of the 6th Century BC.

hellenistic 3I found the remains of the temples built during the reign of Thero to be most fascinating. These are dedicated to various gods, including Herakles, Zeus and Concord. Very little remains of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which is sad as it was one of the biggest Greek temples. Also located here is the Temple of Concord, an impressive Doric temple that is very well preserved as it was used as a church in the 6th Century. It was built at the same time as the Temple of Concord. The Temple of Hera Lacinia is also here.

hellenistic-romano-columnsThere’s also the Temple of Herakles and a number of other fascinating temples. I also managed to see a some ancient cemeteries including the Tomb of Theron, which was built in early Roman times.