TRA I FRUTTI - Bed & Breakfast

Surroundings: locations and activities


The Valley of the Temples - at 15 minutes from B&B Tra i Frutti

The Valley of the Temples is still today the most sublime evidence of the Greek civilization in Sicily. In a countryside of blooming almond trees, your eyes enjoy the wonderful ruins of the temples which even after centuries still keep their architectural grandeur intact. The Valley of the Temple rises southernmost, on the traces of the old towan and it includes many temples built in the 5th century BC. They were erected with local tufa in Doric style and oriented towards east: at dawn the statue of the god, placed inside the entrance cell, was fully illuminated. The Valley is now an archaeological park over a large area where there are, almost in a line, some temples named after the Greek gods. Walking along the path we find:

The temple of Olympian Zeus (Jupiter) was built to thank Zeus after the successful war of the Agrigentinians against the Carthaginians in 480 BC. Originally the temple was 113 metres long and 56 metres large, one of the most impressive in ancient times. It had a trabeations supported by 20 metre tall columns alternated by the so-called Telamoni, huge man-like statues. Many of the tufa blocks have peculiar U-shape cuts, which were used to channel the rope when lifting and setting the stones.

The temple of Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri) was built in the 5th century BC and dedicated to Leda and Zeus's twins. The temple, which is also the symbol of Agrigento, has only four columns and some of the trabeation standing. Close to it, two sacrificial altars have been found. One is a square, the other one is a rectangle, probably belonging to an original sanctuary dedicated to the infernal gods.

The temple of Heracles (Hercules) is the oldest and eight tapered columns are still standing (they are slimmer at the top in order to look taller). Looking south there is the Tomb of Terone, a grandiose tufa stone monument. It is pyramid-shaped and was built to commemorate the soldiers died during the Second Punic War.

The temple of Concorde is the only temple still standing in its whole. It was built in 430 BC, and in the 6th century BC it was changed into a sacred building: you can still see the arches included in the central cell walls. Here there are massive tapered columns and the frieze is decorated with triglyphs and metopes. The name Concorde comes from a Latin inscription founded nearby the temple itself.

The temple of Hera Lacinia (Juno) was built around the 5th century BC and set on fire by the Carthaginians in 406 BC. It was attributed to Juno, the goddess of marriage and birth, and it still keeps unchanged the entrance cell colonnade (in part restored in the 20th century). Exiting the temple and going east, there is its altar.

Racalmuto - at 5 minutes from B&B Tra i Frutti

The municipality counts 10.419 inhabitants, its surface measures 6.831 hectares, and its population density is of 153 inhabitants per square kilometre.

It rises on a hilly area, 447 meters above the sea-level.

A big agricultural and mining center, Racalmuto counts a conspicuous agricultural production of the "Italia" variety of grapes, cereals, and almonds.

There are also various archeological sites throughout the land: among all, the most outstanding is Contrada Sacchitello, home of many pre-historical caves.

The name Racalmuto derives from the Arab term Rahal-mut, that means "il casale dei morti" (farmhouse of the dead) because many cemeteries have been discovered in the area.

The first suburb was founded around the fortified castle erected during the XIII by lord Federico Chiaramonte.

Afterwards, the town's domain became of the noble Del Carretto family, who beheld it until the XVIII century. In 1576, lord Girolamo Del Carretto was appointed the title of first Count of Racalmuto.

Among the monuments, outstanding are the XIII century  Castello dei Chiaramonte, the Chiesa Madre, dedicated to the Annunziata, that preserves five marvelous paintings dated 1500, and the Chiesa di S. Giuseppe, dated 1600.

Of remarkable interest is also the ex Monastero di Santa Chiesa restructured in 1872, which today hosts the Palazzo del Municipio (Town Hall building).

 

Agrigento - historical centre - at 20 minutes from B&B Tra i frutti

The municipality counts 55.814 inhabitants,(Agrigentini o Girgentani), its surface measures 24.457 hectares, and its population density is of 228 inhabitants per square kilometre. It rises on a coastal hilly area, 230 meters above the sea-level.Agrigento, land of the "Mandorlo in Fiore" (blossoming almond trees), is one of the most characteristic agricultural country towns of Sicily because of  the mixture of wonderful almond tree cultivations blossoming in spring, and vast areas of cereal cultivations during the summer season. There are also many vast citrus plantations and olive groves, that stand out from the entire local production and are the basis of the island's economy. Throughout the centuries, Agrigento has assumed different denominations: the Greeks called it Akragas meaning the "high land", the Romans called it Agrigentum, the Arabs Kerkent, the Normans Girgenti. In 1927, the town acquired its current name, Agrigento. It was founded approximately during 580 B.C. by a group of Cypriot colonists from Gela. It experienced an initial period of splendor under the ruling  of the tyrant Terone, approximately during 490 B.C.. Devastated by the Carthaginians, the town rose again thanks to king Timoleonte approximately during 340 B.C.. During 827 A.D., it was conquered by the Arabs, who made it richer and and enhanced its beauty by building numerous mosques.In 1087 it became a Norman seat. As of the XIV century, the town belonged to several noble families such as the Chiaramonte and the Montaperto families. Under the Spanish and Bourbon ruling , the city experienced a period of progressive decline, and was ultimately set free in 1860 by the intervention of Garibaldi. Numerous and remarkable are the monuments present all over the city, among which we mention the Cathedral, erected during the XI century by bishop Gerlando, that has a Chapel dedicated to the same bishop, and the Chiesa di San Nicola (Church of Saint Nicholas), XIII century, that is now an Archeological Museum. Also, the Chiesa del Santo Spirito (Church of the Holy Spirit), and its homonymous Monastery, one of the most antique and best preserved monuments in Sicily; the Chiesa del Purgatorio (Purgatory Church), XVII century, that beholds eight allegorical statues representing "Virtue". There is also the Chiesa di S. Maria dei Greci (Church of Saint Mary of the Greeks), XIII century, whose structure rises above a temple of the V century B.C..

"La più bella città dei mortali" (The most beautiful city of mortals): this is how Agrigento was described by Pindaro, Greek poet of the V century B.C.. During ancient times, it was one of the three metropolis along with Athens and Siracusa, and was homeland of remarkable philosophers such as Empedocle and dramatists such as Nobel Prize Luigi Pirandello.

Naro, città del barocco- at 15 minutes from B&B Tra i Frutti

The municipality counts 9.742 inhabitants, its surface measures 20.751 hectares, and its population density is of 47 inhabitants per square kilometre. It rises on a hilly area, 520 meters above the sea-level. Rich of history and monuments, Naro is a big agricultural center, as it boasts a conspicuous production of grapes, wheat, olives, citrus fruits, and almonds, that can be tasted during the annual Fairs held in the months of May, June, and September. The outstanding handicraft is characterized by the art work of wooden objects and the hand made riggings. Cattle breeding is flourishing. The name Naro derives from the Greek term Naron, that means "fiume" (river) and, in fact, the homonymous river runs nearby. The ancient center of the town was built during the XII century, over a preexistent Arab farmhouse. In 1233, King Federico II of Swabia raised the town to royal city, denominating it "fulgentissima" (splendor, brightness) because of its fortunate strategical position that allowed overlooking and dominating a vast territory. Only as of the XIII century the town walls were lifted, inside of which the current urban center was built. During the Middle Ages, the suburb belonged to the noble Chiaramonte family, responsible of the construction of some of the town's most magnificent buildings. In 1398, Naro returned to be State property, and remained so during the following centuries. First among all monuments is the imposing Castello Chiaramonte built in 1330. Relevant are also the Matrice, dated 1300, the XVI century typically baroque Chiesa del SS. Salvatore, and the Santuario di S. Calogero, one of the most ancient sanctuaries of all Sicily, that beholds a crypt containing the statue of the Santo Nero, the town's black patron saint

Sant'Angelo Muxaro - at 50 minutes from B&B Tra i Frutti

The municipality counts 1.978 inhabitants, its surface measures 6.455 hectares, and its population density is of 31 inhabitants per square kilometre. It rises on a hilly area, 467 meters above the sea-level. Situated on a hill overlooking a belvedere, Sant'Angelo Muxaro boasts a conspicuous cultivation of cereals, almonds, olives, and chick-peas, annually exhibited during the Fair held in September. Cattle breeding and sheep farms are prosperous because of the numerous pasture areas throughout the land. Since its origins, the town's name was Sant'Angelo Muxaro, and the appositive Muxaro derives from the Arab term Munsar, that means "gorge, mountain chain"; in fact, the town is surrounded by numerous mountains. The first inhabited center was an ancient Sicilian town. In 1087, it was conquered by the Normans, and as of the XIV century, it belonged to several noble families such as Chiaramonte, Moncada, and Marinis. The modern suburb rose with "licentia populandi" in 1506, by will of the Aragona Pignatelli family, who owned it until the abolition of feudality. Some of the most outstanding monuments are the Chiesa del Carmelo, dated 1600, that beholds an Albanian manufactured wooden statue of the Madonna and the baroque Chiesa di Sant'Angelo Martire. There is an important archeological area surrounding the town, called Monte Castello, where a proto-historical necropolis was discovered, preserving the so called "Tomba del Principe" (Tomb of the Prince) among other findings.

Realmonte,The Turkish Staircase

Realmonte is a small town situated on a plain close to the sea. Between the beach and the gypseous hills lining the coast, there is the Scala dei Turchi (The Turkish Staircase).
The Staircase is a beautiful white marl cliff, a sedimentary rock formed by limestone and clay. Wind and rain have modelled it into a staircase. The view is unique, and the white of the rocks looks brighter because the sun light insinuates itself between the light blue of the sky and the deep blue of the water: it's a paradise.The water is incredibly clear and during the summer there is a big crowd of people sunbathing. According to an old legend, the Saracen corsairs having anchored their boats behind the staircase, climbed the cliff reaching the top. Once there they robbed the local people. Actually is not very probable that the Turks arrived up to there, but the legend prevailed. There is also another story connected to the Scala dei Turchi: 200 metres off the beach there are two rocks, "u zitu" (the boyfriend) and "a zita" (the girlfriend), which refer to the love affair of two young local lovers.

The small volcanoes of Macalube - at 15 minutes from B&B Tra i Frutti

Not very far from Aragona, in a desert spot, you can assist to a magic show. Exiting town and going towards Agrigento, turn right after 1 km. and reach Casa Salomone, which takes you up to contrada Macalube. Here you can assist to pseudo-volcanic phenomena, small-scale eruptions of brackish white mud, continuously erupting gas bubbles. From the Arab maqlub (alluring, upsetting), these small volcanoes can get 2 metre tall and are formed by clayey and friable materials, often levelled by the rain. The erupted gas is cold and is often accompanied by carbon dioxide bubbles. By night the show is great: the gas, being easily inflammable, turns into small fires which give an infernal look to the spot.