Visit of the "Villa Romana del Casale" in Piazza Armerina (UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE) free time for lunch - In the afternoon visit of the "Valle dei Templi" in Agrigento (UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE).
The Valley of the Temples (Valle dei Templi) is a famous archaeological site in Sicily housing some of the best preserved Ancient Greek ruins in the world, especially outside Greece. Agrigento, in which they are located, had been a Greek colony since the 6th century BC. Really more of a ridge than a valley, the Valley of the Temples is mainly comprised of the beautiful ruins of nine sacred temples. The majority of the sites at the Valley of the Temples were initially constructed in the fifth century BC. However, having been destroyed first by the Carthaginians (circa 406 BC) and then the Christians (in the 6th century AD) they are now partly made up of reconstructions. Nevertheless, of the ten original temples, the remains of nine can now be seen. The oldest of the temples, the Temple of Herakles, was constructed in the sixth century BC and is made up of several Doric columns. The best preserved of the ruins is the fifth century BC Temple of Concorde, saved from destruction when it was incorporated into a Christian church. The other temples are dedicated to Juno, Olympian Zeus, Hephaistos, Hera Lacinia and Castor and Pollux. Beyond the temples, the Valley of the Temples has numerous other archaeological sites, including the 1st century AD Tomb of Theron and several sanctuaries, the oldest of which was built sometime around the sixth century BC. This UNESCO World Heritage site also has an museum on-site.
Piazza Armerina, splendid art city woven into the heart of Sicily, boasts a slew of monuments that tell of its glorious past. Meanwhile, the apple of the citizens’ eyes is the Villa Romana del Casale; originally the property of a powerful Roman family, it dates back to the 4th Century A.D. This majestic Imperial villa, standing tall in the Province of Enna (perhaps the most “Roman” of places on the Island), is a magnificent rural abode, fascinating, above all, for its captivating mosaics, considered the most beautiful and best-preserved of their kind. The fruits of meticulous labor, these precise yet moving images make for a significant adornment to what remains of this extravagant residence – made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The Villa Romana del Casale (trans. Roman Country Villa) in Piazza Armerina is considered to be one of the most important exemplars of an official governmental residence, attributed to the elaboration and exceptional beauty of its architectonic and decorative elements. Dated back to 320-350 A.D., the villa most likely belonged to a member of Rome’s senatorial class, probably a governor of the Eternal City itself (Praefectus Urbi). However, some scholars would maintain that the villa was built and eventually expanded upon the official commission of an Imperial functionary of a rather high order; they have identified this person to be Maximian, a Tetrarch (one of four co-Emperors) of Diocletian.