48 Hours in Agrigento: Greek Temples, Nude Beaches and Turkish Pirates
Reaching the 8-month mark on our round the world travels we really wanted to slow down and soak up the culture and lifestyle which is exactly what we did in our month in southeastern Sicily.
In Sicily no one bats an eye if you walk around all day in your shorts and flip-flops. No one cares if you drink red wine with seafood or if you order more than one kind of meat with your meal. And this unpretentious and casual attitude is one of the things we just love about Sicily (but don’t dare order pasta with chicken).
As our last few days on the island approached we made a mad dash to discover some highlights of southern region. So what to nude beaches, Greek temples and Turkish pirates have in common. They can all be found near the city of Agrigento. We decided to split our time here exploring Valley of the Temples and two nearby beaches; the famous white chalky cliffs of Scala dei Turchi, and the deserted, unspoiled beaches of the Torre Salsa Nature Reserve.
Scala dei Turchi
The ‘Turkish Stairs’ gets its name from the stair step appearance of the white sedimentary rock cliffs once by used pillaging Arab pirates (known as Turks) marauding the Sicilian countryside. Nowadays this natural rarity attracts throngs of visitors who flock here to experience peculiarity first hand.
Marl is the word used by geologists to describe this giant chunk of chalk, which leaves a fine, white dust on everything it touches. Watching the late afternoon sun cast shadows of orange and yellow over the pale stone is dreamlike.
Venturing a little further west than the herd of tourists, we enjoyed the stunning vistas by ourselves. As the sun descended we noticed a couple walking down to the beach with a tent, we were so jealous we wouldn’t be joining them for the morning sunrise.
Valley of the Temples
On the ridgeline directly across from Agrigento lies the remains of seven ancient Greek temples, considered the best example of Doric architecture outside of Greece. The archaeological park is fully exposed to the intense sun so we timed our arrival in the late afternoon (6pm) and stayed until 9pm when the security guards asked us to leave (closing time was 8pm).
With the heat we couldn’t imagine being here in the daytime. We were so lucky to be allowed to stay a little after the actual closing time to see the evening light bathe the Greek columns.
The archaeological park is truly magnificent. While lacking in interpretive information it was well worth the 10 Euros entry fee and from what we’ve heard the temples are in better condition than what you can find in Greece.
Torre Salsa Nature Reserve
This WWF managed reserve is a naturalist paradise. With miles of pristine, empty beaches this is the place to get away from it all or to bear it all. Yes, we mean going buck naked. Torre Salsa is a quasi-nudist beach. If you’re looking for a place to get rid of your tan lines look no further.
The miles long beach has the similar white marl rock as Scala dei Turchi and the water is clear and good for swimming and snorkeling around. There’s no shade and no services whatsoever, so come prepared. Definitely one of our top Sicilian beaches.
We stayed in Sicily just over 30 days in June/July 2016. We discovered Sicily is vastly different than the rest of Italy, so much in fact we felt it was the authentic Italy we were searching for.
We combined our visit to Agrigento and the surrounding area with a road trip to the fabulous cities of Ragusa, Siracusa and Taormina, click here to read more about our Sicilian travels to these lovely destinations.