From my little milk stop in Cassibile, this morning I continued straight up the SS115 highway (the main highway of Sicily's east coast), and by 11am I was in beautiful, famous Syracuse. It was a quick and easy ride: as with yesterday, I continued to be blessed with beautiful weather (something that I don't take for granted these days), and with flat and smooth roads. Although it's one of Sicily's major cities, I actually thought that Syracuse would be much bigger: I was surprised at how quickly I managed to whiz through the moderate sprawl of outer suburbs, and to reach the island of Ortyiga, the historic centre of the city. This gave me plenty of time to cruise around on my bike, and to give myself a leisurely tour of Ortygia.
Along with easy terrain and fabulous weather, today was also a day of only a short time spent on the road. The reason: I was too busy to cycle much, as I had so many of these Sicilian Greek ruins to see :P. From Eraclea Minoa, it was another two hours or so of pleasant coastal riding, before I reached the big city of Agrigento, and its neighbouring site "Valle dei Templi" (lit: "Valley of the Temples") — probably the largest, the most impressive, and the best-known of all the archaeological ruins in Sicily. And it was lucky I got there by lunchtime: because the valley is quite expansive, and I needed several hours to explore it thoroughly, and to really appreciate it and to soak it all up. For any semi-serious visitor to Sicily, the Valle dei Templi is not to be missed: it may be a bit crowded (even in November), but it really does blow you away.
From my field near Sciacca, I continued east along the coast this morning, and passing by some random possible gum trees along the way. It was rather a hurried exit I made this morning, as the neighbours on the field spotted my tent — however, they didn't seem annoyed about it, they even walked past and said "good morning". Nevertheless, I didn't want to hang around and test their hospitality further: so at 7:50am, it was my earliest on-the-road start so far. The morning ride was glorious: as with yesterday, the Sicilian south coast continued to grace me with easy terrain, fine weather, gentle winds, and romantic Mediterranean scenery. My first stop for the day was the seaside Greek ruins of Eraclea Minoa.
Apart from getting stopped by police, I did also enjoy myself this morning in Sicily. From Campobello, I continued east, and stopped by at the ancient Greek ruins of Selinunte. Selinunte is the first of several Greek archaeological sites strung along Sicily's south coast — and like the ruins of Segesta further north, its highlight is a big columned temple. A single temple is the only structure that really remains intact today — but the rubble that makes up the rest of Selinunte shows interesting clues as to the site's former glory; and the scenic views of the surrounding sea and countryside is gorgeous. I can certainly see why they chose this place for honouring the G-ds, back in the day.
To finish off my travels for today, this afternoon I stopped by the Greek ruins of Segesta. Located smack-bang amidst rolling countryside — near the town of the same name — Segesta is a large and impressively well-preserved temple (and ampitheatre), and is believed to be about 2,500 years old. It's also, as far as I'm aware, the first set of ancient Greek ruins that I've ever seen in my life; and it seems to be that it was a very good place to be introduced to it all. I reached the archaeological site rather late in the day (4pm), so I wasn't able to take the shuttle bus up to the hillside ampitheatre. However, I had plenty of time to explore the temple, and to admire both the ancient construction and its pleasant rural surroundings.