When I find Zingaro Nature Reserve closed because of a serious fire, I immediately decide to drive off to Segesta. Even when sudden heavy rain starts to fall, I continue driving, hoping that the rain will pass and I will be rewarded with soft post-rain light. Driving by the entrance, I suddenly realise that I am looking at the upper part of the iconic Doric temple of Segesta. I park at the nearby field, and decide to wait while rain is still hammering the windows of my car. After more than an hour, rain is still coming down; moreover, there is not enough time left for a good visit, so I leave again. The next day, while driving down from Erice, the sun is out against the forecast, and I decide to take a room in nearby Calatafimi (my navigation software takes me to impossibly narrow dead-end alleys) and head straight to the ancient city. The ticket seller strongly advises me to first walk up to the amphitheatre, and leave the temple for last, which sounds like a good advice. So I head up the hill, which takes me directly to the ruins of the acropolis of Segesta. On the way up, I turn around frequently for great views of the Doric temple below.
The acropolis lies in ruins, and I walk past the ruins of the agora to the amphitheatre, on top of the hill. This is a well restored part of the city, and I see how cleverly the builders have located it, with sweeping views of the mountains on the other side of the valley. Even without a play going on, just sitting on the top seats and enjoying the views is a spectacle. A group of Italian tourists arrives, and one of them goes on stage for a song, which drives his audience crazy. I enjoy sitting in the sun, and when I leave, I still have more than an hour and a half before sunset. I walk around the theatre, and walk past the foundations of the mosque that stood here: you can still see where the mihrab was located. While taking a closer look at the ruins of the agora, I suddenly wonder if I really have enough time to see the temple. I almost run down the hill, and see that the sun is sinking behind the mountains in the west.
When I arrive, the temple lies in the shadow of the mountain, and all I can do is walk around it and enjoy it as it is. Yes, the orange clouds in the sky are nice, but I regret having stayed too long at the amphitheatre now. Good thing is, I am one of the very few people around. When the guards are coming to summon me out, I know it is time to go. The next morning, I walk up the mountain at Calatafimi, see the temple from a distance, and decide to go back. To my surprise, I can walk in using the ticket I bought the day before, and I now finally see the temple with early light which actually is probably the best time of day to see the Doric temple. Segesta was founded by the Elymians, who arrived from Troy after its destruction (although the exact origin remains undecided). Repairs are under way at the temple, but its sturdy look makes it look mighty as ever. I decide to climb Monte Barbaro again, have another look at the amphitheatre, and see ruins of what once was a big villa near the agora. I take a small trail down, past the oldest houses of Segesta, have a last look at the top of the temple, and head south.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Segesta (Italy). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Segesta. Read more about this site.