Sleep like the Greek gods with views like this…
Ragusa is one of the most sumptuous and graceful towns of Sicily. It will remain in your memories forever…
Buzzing through the many layers that make Sicily so fascinating…
Wake up with the gods…
The mystical Valley of the Temples in southern Sicily once belonged to the Greek gods. Centuries old Greek temples still stand majestically in profile on a hill calling to the sea on the edge of the island. Not far from this ancient splendor lies a small luxury hotel fit for the goddess Athena.
Room with a view… and what a view!
The Villa Athena is an oasis of comfort right on the archeological park grounds. Obviously the draw is its ease and access to the temples, but its appeal as a hotel is its sumptuous accommodations of airy design with traditional Sicilian accents throughout. Even with upmarket accents of glass and marble you always feel like you are in Sicily.
The hotel Villa Athena
And that view… From the hotel you get the best panorama of the temples. It would be worth it to splurge a little and get the room with the view as it is an incredible vision like no other hotel. Even if your room isn’t privy to the scene, the outdoor terrace is a great place to admire it over a glass of prosecco.
The property has an outdoor pool, restaurant, bar and spa and makes for a wonderful place to kick back and relax, especially if you have been doing a lot of sightseeing along the way. Once you are ready to explore the archeological site, the hotel desk will give you a key pass to access the hotel’s private path to the park. A short walk through groves of olive trees takes you right to the foot of the temples to explore at your leisure.
Lobby at the Villa Athena and private hotel pathway to the archeological park
Back at the hotel the tranquil rooms are comfortable and equipped with luxury bathrooms and in room coffee makers. Airy white linens in a classic but contemporary setting with black and white neoclassical marble bathrooms complete with the hotel spa products make for a crisp richness. It is worth waking up early to watch the sun come up.
The high end restaurant offers a upmarket menu of regional Sicilian dishes with a sophisticated interpretation to pair with a wine list featuring some of the best wines of the island. In good weather cocktails and dinner are outdoors with that magnificent view of the temples. Here you do feel like one of the gods feasting in splendour, drinking wine and watching the mesmerizing colours of the sunset.
This small hotel was such an enjoyable stay I wish I could have stayed longer. One can really relax here and just enjoy the surroundings, very friendly service, and wonderful food and drink. And while one could leave here completely satisfied with just seeing the Valley of the Temples, there are other sights such as the Scali dei Turchi a wonderful natural wonder of pristine white natural “steps” by the sea or the nearby town of Agrigento. The hotel is very helpful in setting up excursions or dispense information on the region. But if all that seems like too much, just lounge by the pool, or sit on the terrace, look at the Temple of Concordia right in front all while sipping a refreshing elixir and just be a Greek god or goddess if only for a day…
Temple of Concordia
Extras: The hotel has a private entrance and path direct to the archeological park of the Valley of the Temples giving personal access to the site. Please note you cannot take any bags or purses with you to the archeological site. Cameras are of course allowed but you must carry the camera in hand.
Please note I paid for my own stay and my review is based on that stay.
Villa Athena Valle dei Templi, Agrigento
The Majestic Temple of Concordia…
Whats on the radar for exciting places in Italy? Here are a few ideas…
As I write this my mood is one driven from emotional and physical exhaustion. I want to travel and itching to get out and go yet somehow I crave a much easier and more laid back kind of destination. Less tourists and fuss, but still charming and visually appealing. Places that have some authenticity in the era of mass travel yet not so off the beaten path that it will take a while to get there. This usually means going to places before they are on the radar and in the mainstream. Let’s face it, by the time a place is being written about in the New York Times as the “new” place to go to before everyone else does that destination is way past its prime. It is about the quiet hum rather than the loud roar so with that in mind here are my choices of travel inspiration…
Bologna Long overlooked by tourists, Italy’s university town is filled with history and most importantly great food. Its not known as the Stomach of Italy for nothing. Rich in culinary history both through its produce and its cuisine, Bologna makes for an alluring destination for that alone but thankfully it has a great deal to enjoy off the plate as well. With vaulted porticoes, medieval streets and bustling cafe life this is everyday living done right. Of course not to be missed are the markets many with their produce tumbling out into the medieval streets and the elaborate food shops showcasing their goods as if in a painting. Less tourists and more local living make it a true Italian experience.
Procida Often ignored because of the popularity of its glamorous neighbour, Capri, Procida possesses local, small town charm. Colourful houses cascade down the island like pastel marshmallows floating on the azure sea. Its fishing port and little boats are exactly how you imagine a small Italian sea village to be.
Catania Sicily’s other big city and far too often neglected by visitors as a great Sicilian destination. Perilously seated between the sea and imposing volcano Mount Etna it has stood defiantly in the wake of constant volcanic activity. While most people go through Catania on their way to more polished local spots such as Taormina, Catania like much of Sicily’s eastern towns offers grand architecture with decorative baroque polish and a traditional old world Sicilian market. Not as big or overwhelming as Palermo yet possessing true Sicilian spirit.
Ponza Along the west coast between Rome and Naples lies a small island offering laid back elegance. A secret summer getaway known by a few Romans and their friends, Ponza offers a quieter alternative to Capri a bit farther down the coast. It does not offer the glamorous lifestyle because it is not trying to. However that does not mean it is lacking of allure. Its refinement is in the low key, stylishly retro, casual with creature comforts of one staying at an Italian friend’s delightful beach house. If you really want to get away and sleep by the sea, this would be a great pick.
Sorrento Unfortunately many vacationers just drive through Sorrento on their way to more popular Amalfi Coast destinations, which is a shame since Sorrento possesses much to stop and look at. It has more of the energy you find on Capri than other of the towns on the Coast. And when Italians go to the Amalfi Coast they come here, much more going on and equally breathtaking views of the sea.
Matera Last chance to get there before the crowds and the mass tourist push that will come when Matera take on the honour of City of Culture in 2019. Matera is a unique part of Italy unlike any other. A town filled with an almost mythical soul with its Biblical feel in its Sassi cave living and honey coloured streets. Matera is really two parts with an elegant old town that looks over the the ancient Sassi town right below. Together but somehow separate, two different worlds in one town. An easy day trip from Puglia, however Matera really is a jewel lit up at night and merits an overnight stay at one of the Sassi hotels where you can live history.