Sicily

Sacred Segesta

Getting to Segesta, was half of the adventure that day. Me and my little rental, were making moves across the Sicilian terrain and leaving just a trail of dust behind me. I rounded the corners of the streets like I was driving a Ferrari and warming the wheels up for a race. My GPS decided to give me another run for my money, (day two of being in Sicily and the second time I was lost...ish). It had been about 15 minutes since I had last seen a car or a house that someone could have actually been living in.

The roads were atrocious. After several bad pot holes, that looked more like sinkholes, I knew for sure I was not on the road that tour busses were taking and my GPS was seriously messing with me. I had passed a sign for Segesta about 20 minutes ago and it said to go the road that I was on, I had not made a mistake, so I figured there's no turning back now! I had the windows rolled down and I was thankful for the rental car insurance I purchased, because whatever damage that was being done to the vehicle, wasn't going to have to be fixed by me personally.

I'm driving along when I see a tractor and a cute little old man, standing on the side of the road. He turns and sees me coming, so I slow the car, roll down my side window and he approaches the car with a big smile. He greets me and holds his hand out to shake mine and asks how he can help. I tell him in my broken Italian that I'm looking for the Archeological site of Segesta. The old man steps back out of the car and his smile is now a look of disgust. If I hadn't known any better, I think I just cast a spell on him. He says "I'm not interested in what you're doing!" and starts to walk away. I try to explain myself, but he's just shaking his head and looking at me and my car like we just landed from mars and we brought the plague with us. I am still SO curious to find out, what he thought I said! 

I'm still saying loudly, with my hands in the air, "wait, please, come back!" When a blaring noise fills the air and makes me nearly jump from my seat- it's a car honking his horn from behind me. A car. A car! I pull to the side and flag this guy down, who I can tell is half of the older mans age. I try it again, but with slight hesitation, worried I'll be scaring away another person. I'm just finishing saying I'm looking for the Archeologic- and he cuts me off and says back in Italian, "Out here? This isn't the road. Follow me and you will see the sign of Segesta and you will follow that and I will go on where I need." I thank him over and over again and he waves his hand at me, like it's nothing and we're on our way. But we're on our way like someone is in the back seat of the car dying. We're driving so fast my heart is racing and really, I'm barely keeping up with him. I thought I was having some fun earlier driving fast, but this guy is no joke. My car skids and hops over the bumps with his and all of the sudden we're approaching this beautiful old bridge, which I could assume was ridiculously old- all I want to do is stop and take a photo, but I can't lose my new guide, so I keep my foot pressed on the gas and we pass under the bridge and I'm still looking up at it with my rear view window.

There it is, a sign for Segesta. I pull off, following the arrow and leaving the man behind, waving my arm as a gesture of "thank you" and he waves back. I follow the sign, head up the hill and I begin to see tour busses parked on a road and know this must be it, for real this time! I park, walk passed the tables of silly souvenirs- which are mostly about the film The Godfather- man they really play it up for us tourists. I'm at the ticket window and I ask the man behind the counter for a map or any information that he can provide, but he tells me the only thing they have is maps you can buy in the souvenir shop. And this is where I'm reminded of how helpful it is to book a tour or have a guide be with you when you visit these places!

Not many plants in this area, just an occasional little palm like this beaut here.

Not many plants in this area, just an occasional little palm like this beaut here.

After a quick break, halfway up the walkway, I stopped and acted like I was taking photos, but really I was catching my breath. The sun was shining down on my pale skin and I was already becoming a shiny mess of sweat. They say that these ruins are as good as what you will find in Athens, Greece. I wouldn't know, because I haven't made it that way yet, but I'm going to take people's word for it. This temple stopped me in my tracks though, quite literally...because as I stood there staring, I hear a "um, 'scuse me miss", in a British accent behind me, as a couple tries stepping around me. I was shocked to only find about 10 or so people, up at the temple when I got to the top and began to look around. Which made me smile, because I'm so used to waiting for another tourist to move out of the shot I'm trying to take. Winning! Let's take a walk around the temple together, shall we?

From the site, looking out at the snaking freeway that is headed toward the Tyrrhenian Sea in the distance.

From the site, looking out at the snaking freeway that is headed toward the Tyrrhenian Sea in the distance.

It was quiet up there, perched perfectly on the hilltop where you could see the sea in the front and the mountains were behind you. I could see why they picked such a place. All that is left to see while you're there is the temple and across on the neighboring hillside is the Amphitheater. Thought to have been built in the 420's BC (by an Athenian Architect) there was a castle, a small church and mosque, all which were inhabited up until the Middle Ages. Though here's the twist! They assume that the temple was never completed, as there was never a roof added, the pillars were never fluted (carved in grooves for decoration) and you can still find tabs in the blocks of the base (used for lifting the blocks into place, but then they are typically removed). What kept this place from being finished?

After slowly completely circling the temple, I took off down the hill and looked in the distance to where I would be next. I saw people zigzagging back and forth on the paths and on the road to where the amphitheater lies. To walk or to bus, that was... wait, no, I knew I wasn't going to walk! Who am I kidding?! So the bus, it was. You pay 1,50 € to take the bus or walk for free. Those that have time, sure enjoy the walk, it's not that bad! I felt guilty as we passed all of the 70 year olds that were really enjoying that sweaty walk, while we zoomed passed them on a bus. But time was of the essence! Know one thing about this place, it lacks any type of information as I sort of started to tell you about earlier, so researching ahead of time is wise. There's a map on the sign when you get dropped off by the bus and then that's it. The bus comes and goes every 15 minutes. I set my timer for 28 minutes and I hopped off the last step of the bus, taking long strides on each step of the path to get to the site without dilly dallying. 

I was only one of five people on the bus, we passed just a handful of people walking up and down the hill and at the site I only saw the same people that I saw over at the temple. I couldn't believe how lucky we were to basically have this place to ourselves!

Cutest couple award of the year, goes to these two!

Cutest couple award of the year, goes to these two!

Taking photos from every angle possible and then pausing, slowly bringing my camera down from my face, I'd just stand there, taking it all in. The stories that this historical place has, I tried imagining the actors walking across the stage, entertaining it's onlookers from the seats. They may have watched sunsets and sunrises from here and that's when I wondered what the land looked like then. Without the speedway distracting your eyes from the spectacular view. I had slipped back in time for a second. The only thing that woke me from my dream, was this man in the photo on stage that began reading a line from something in German. German? What languages were they speaking here, what languages did their visitors that came by ships speak?

With the amphitheater to my back and this just on the other hill top. 

With the amphitheater to my back and this just on the other hill top. 

Overall review of my few hours that I had here? Fabulous. Do I wish there was more information provided? Absolutely. Something like this deserves to really be showed off and the story to be told! I always recommend getting a guide and this was definitely a reminder for me to: practice what you preach! I'm no historian people, so learning from a true guide who really knows what they are talking about and is able to answer your questions, is so satisfying when seeing sights like these. You'll fall much more in love with the sights that you are visiting and they can definitely point out details that you won't notice on your own. I suggest a trip to Segesta, if you're in the area- don't miss out!