[ blog » 2021 » 07_Tour_Italy ]d02: Segesta ( by Philipp Gesang, location: A balcony with a view on the Segesta temple )

The first day on the bike was also only a half day: a short 82 km ride with 1150 m of climbing, a significant part of which weren't planned. Despite sleep being sabotaged by last night's intense celebrations of the football win I got out of the campsite early at around 7:00 h.

After cruising along the north coast of sicily for a couple hours the climbing started when I took a road leading inland. The country roads turned out to be mostly decent with a few outliers that had stretches of coarse gravel or ankle deep potholes. I've been warned about Sicily's dogs -- strays and farm dogs alike -- but the few canines I encountered today were thoroughly disinterested in taking a bite out my legs. Good boys.

Around noon when the temperature had risen to glaring 45 degrees I arrived at today's main attraction -- one of the highlights of the entire trip in fact! --, the ancient town of Segesta. I decided to visit the acropolis first with its beautifully reconstructed theater. The view from the upper tiers is just stunning, one can see all the way to the beach at Castellamare. The rulers of Segesta were theatre fiends it would appear, as they could watch the scene directly from their castle. The remnants of the agora give a hint of its former grandeur. No doubt there was a rich community dwelling on that hill. One empty pedestal evokes the story as told by Cicero of the theft of a revered statue of Artemis by the Carthaginians and its restoration by P. Scipio after the third Punic War. Sadly the site is in a desolate state today: panels are torn down, made illegible by UV light, or missing entirely. The entire castle is off limits to visitors because the wooden flooring threatens to fall apart any minute. Still spectacular, but certainly not receiving the care it needs.

Separate from the town and its fortifications is the magnificent and well preserved temple. This vast structure is located on a nearby hill, about 500 m in direct line from the acropolis. This is where you are overcome by a sensation that you've been teleported to some Greek island. Which isn't that inappropriate a description of Sicily either.

At the temple I paused for a while, sitting in the shadow just soaking in the beauty of all of it. Thanks to the early start I still had some time to kill so I spontaneously paid the town of Calatafimi a visit. It was one of those moves you instantly regret as merely getting there required a steep climb up to the hilltop the town is located on. Too bad the way down from there that I had chosen ended in a cul-de-sac leaving me with a fierce 17 % rated climb back up to the center where I barely made my way through another labyrinth of one-way roads, one steeper than the next, back to the road I originally came from.

The day ended at an agriturismo where I booked a room for tonight. Getting there involved another steep climb, of course, but this one led off road over a dirt track which proved impossible to climb on my heavyweight setup so I had to dismount and push. It was worth the effort: unknowingly I had booked a room with a view of the Segesta acropolis and the temple! Absolutely spectacular. Now where is that pizza?


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