While planning my Italy itinerary, I had the good fortune of knowing a friend who had recently visited, and for the first time in my life, I took her advice when she insisted that I skip staying the night. The area is walled off from the rest of the city, which actually looked much prettier than I expected, but she was right in pointing out that the tower and plaza were the main attraction.
The Archaeological Area of Agrigento, also known as the Valley of the Temples (Valle Dei Templi) is one of the best preserved signs of Greek civilization and architecture still standing today. With the earliest building, the temple to Heracles, being built at around 890 BCE, the history of the temples spans almost 3000 years. By comparison, when Angkor Wat was completed, this site was almost two thousand years old! Just the fact that anything remains is a minor miracle. The main structure, the temple of the Concordia is almost completely intact giving one of the most insightful views into ancient Greek architecture.
The archaeological area is divided into two main zones across southern Agrigento. On one side of the road, upon entering the area, is the temple to Zeus and Polloux. Not much remains of these besides a few scattered columns and somelarge atlases, an architectural column in the shape of a man (possibly Zeus himself?) Despite this, it is still quite incredible to see. On the far side of the temples was a hidden garden which cost 5 Euro to enter. While I am going to label this a tourist trap, the jam that the lady in charge sold was definitely worth it (4 Euro). In fact, I am eating it as I type right now, almost a year later (maybe not a good idea).
The other side of the ruins has the more impressive and complete temples of Heracles, Hera, and Concordia.
I have a sneaking suspicion that people don’t really dislike the idea of a planned out trip, they just hate the work that comes with the ‘planning’ part of it. Many hard core travelers rave about how they just ‘go with the flow’ without plans and see where that takes them. Some of them even shun the idea of planning as ‘not real traveling,’ evident in this forum discussion. I like that idea too, but I like to have a back up plan as the pieces don’t always fall into place. I have seen countless of these travelers searching for things to do in the hostel they are staying in during the trip! To me, this is a complete waste of time which could be spent actually enjoying a new place. Trust me, you don’t want to be that guy who spends his day staring at a map and trying to figure it out the day of.
Recently, I was looking at my old pictures and found one of a map of Italy. It was a Google map which I made during the brainstorming part of my summer of 2012 trip to the land of Ancient Rome. When I was about to hit delete, I thought, “this is the kind of thing I wish I could find online to give me an idea of potential travel routes.” Then, it hit me, why not post my Italy itinerary of what I did on that trip, in the hopes that someone will find it useful, or entertaining at the very least.
Here is my Italy itinerary, with a map of my route along with a short run through of what happened.
[Note: Because I was traveling with my mother and brother, the itinerary was a lot more rigid than I prefer. Nonetheless, it went great!]
Three things were not enough, so here are three more things you can do in Venice. Why didn’t I just make a list of 6 things to do in Venice? Well, it is easier for me to handle three at a time, and I think it’s easier for you, the reader, to get bite sized information than an overwhelming list. I digress:
1) Visit Murano or Burano
The islands of Murano and Burano are islets near Venice. They are part of the municipality that governs Venice but maintains a unique, less crowded culture. Murano is known for its production of glass.
I must admit that I was not originally impressed with Murano. It was sold to me as a better version of Venice. In fact, it is like Venice, but smaller, who would want that? Now that I think of it though, maybe some people would (after visiting Venice enough time). Murano is famous for its continuing tradition as a glass producer. There are still plenty of shops who offer tours for 5 Euro and produce some of the finest glass in Italy. While I didn’t personally have time to visit Burano, I have been assured that it is similar, which is why I clumped them into a single entry.
This post is a bit of a cheat since I am going to suggest some things technically included in the Venice UNESCO World Heritage inscription. However, these three things are to fill up your itinerary once you are already in Venice. While some are obvious, others you might not have considered.
1) Stroll Around at Night Time
The first thing you will notice in Italy is The Grand Canal. What is the second thing you ask? The CROWDS! I didn’t try to look very hard, but I didn’t notice much of a “night scene” in Venice besides a few scattered restaurants that were open. Furthermore, from my personal observation, the majority of the crowds came from cruise ships and were much older than me (20’s). Maybe it was a combination of these three things that makes Venice quiet at night, which is a good thing! The canals, and the city in general is as aesthetically pleasing at night as it is in the day.