tag archives: greek archaeological sites

when you go on vacation, do you ever book a room with a view?

how about a room with a site?

during our recent vacation, my husband, bob, and i stayed at an extraordinary hotel in southeastern sicily.  a hotel with an archaeological site.  the eremo della giubiliana, which has been an agricultural settlement since the greeks colonized sicily during the 8th-3rd centuries BCE, has an archaeological park.  the site of a greek necropolis (cemetery) from the 5th-2nd century BCE.

 the necropolis | 5th-2nd century BCE | eremo della giubiliana | ragusa, sicily

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 we knew that we were staying somewhere special, when upon our arrival, we were greeted at reception by angelo, the general manager, and a waiter with a silver tray holding two glasses of cold latte di mandorla (almond milk), a traditional sicilian summer beverage.

the entrance, reception and lounge | eremo della giubiliana | ragusa, sicily

photo credits eremo della giubiliana, hotels.com and lisa walsh | innerspace
then marco, the concierge, showed us through the courtyards to our (upgraded) room, the suite della guardia.

 room 14 | the suite della guardia | eremo della giubiliana | ragusa, sicily

the bedroom and the sitting area both have restored stone walls and floors, cathedral ceilings with chestnut beams, and antique sicilian furnishings

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace
during the 12th century, the eremo della giubiliana was part of an ecclesiastical feudal estate.  the oldest existing part of the convent, the square stone watch tower, was built during the 15th century when the building was used as a fortified rural residence.  the knights of the order of saint john (san giovanni) from malta occupied the convent during the first half of the 16th century, when the suite della guardia was used as the guards room.  did you notice the date of 1536 inscribed into the stone plaque above the bed?

  stone plaque dated 1536 | the suite della guardia | eremo della giubiliana | ragusa, sicily

 photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

during the 18th century, a landed aristocratic family purchased the estate.  the nifosi-mancini family has owned the eremo della giubiliana since then.  the present heiress, lady vincenza iolanda nifosi, decided to restore the convent for use as a five star luxury hotel, which opened in 1997.  her son, who is an architect, designed the restoration project.  she resides on the estate.  and, she and her family manage the estate holdings.

‘when my son asked me to open the eremo to guests, he tried to convince me by saying that our family had always welcomed their guests there. i objected that all the people who had been welcomed within the privacy of our eremo were our friends, too. the answer was that, once in the eremo, our guests would become our friends.’

-vincenza iolanda nifosi

28 october 1997

architectural rendering | salvatore a. mancini architect | eremo della giubiliana restoration project | ragusa, sicily

did you notice the flag flying from the 15th century stone watch tower?

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace
outside, there are secluded courtyards…

  stairs and courtyard outside the grand master’s suite | eremo della giubiliana | ragusa, sicily

the grand master’s suite now occupies the top floor of the 15th century stone watch tower

photo credits eremo della giubiliana and lisa walsh | innerspace
a shaded swimming pool…

swimming pool | eremo della giubiliana | ragusa, sicily

photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace
and, herb and kitchen gardens.

herb and kitchen gardens | eremo della giubiliana | ragusa, sicily

part of the kitchen garden was being replanted

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace
the cuisine at the restaurant, don eusebio, which is located in the former 16th century refectory, features seasonal estate grown and local organic produce, fresh seafood, and wild game.  in addition, chef peppe cannistra offers sicilian cooking courses and oversees the don eusebio workshop, which makes tenute eremo della giubiliana estate grown products.

chef peppe cannistra | cooking class | eremo della giubiliana | ragusa, sicily

photo credit facebook.com/eremodellagiubiliana
the breakfast buffet featured house made marmalade, freshly baked brioche, fresh melon and figs, and freshly squeezed fruit juice.  one of the best buffet breakfasts that we’ve ever had at a european hotel!  we would have loved to bring home some of the tenute eremo della giubiliana marmellata di arance amare (bitter orange marmalade).

tenuta eremo della giubiliana estate grown products

fruit and vegetables, marmalade, olive oil and olive oil soap, capers, almonds, dried fava and cicerchia beans, lentils and chickpeas, plus organic wheat flour, couscous, and pasta

   photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

there are so many outstanding restaurants in southeastern sicily, that bob and i decided to dine out.

pietro leemann, the chef at joia, one of our favorite restaurants in milan, highly recommended some sicilian restaurants where some of his former sous chefs are now chefs.  david tamburini at ristorante la gazza ladra in modica.  and, accursio craparo at accursio ristorante in modica.  according to giorgio locatelli, the chef at locanda locatelli in london, pino cuttaia could be considered the best chef in sicily.  so, we also had lunch at ristorante la madia in licate on the way back from the valle di templi in agrigento.  lorenzo, the concierge who booked our restaurant reservations, and angelo (the general manager) were most interested in our restaurant reviews!

it’s a good thing that the eremo della giubiliana is conveniently located near the archaeological sites in agrigento and piazza armerina.  and, the baroque towns of ragusa, modica, and noto.

we cover a lot of territory when we travel.  while we were in sicily, we drove 2000 kilometers (1250 miles)!


photo credit lisa walsh | innerspace

eremo della giubiliana

located off sp 25, between ragusa and marina di ragusa

97100 contrada giubiliana, ragusa, sicily

+39 (0)932 669119

eremodellagiubiliana.com 

did you know that some of the most well preserved examples of ancient greek architecture are located in sicily?  the greeks colonized sicily from around the 8th-3rd centuries BCE.  so, my husband, bob, and i were excited to visit some of the greek archaeological sites during our recent vacation to sicily.

 map of greek archaeological sites in sicily

photo credit best of sicily

in ancient greece, there were two kinds of sacred buildings, theaters and temples.

in the theaters, the ancient greeks held celebrations in honor of dionysus, the god of wine.  greek tragedy developed from these celebrations.  stone theatres were built in a semicircular shape, with tiered ledges for seating (cavea or theatron) surrounding the stage (orchestra), where the altar of dionysus (thymele) was located.  the chorus entered from either side of the stage and surrounded the altar.  the backdrop for scenery (proscenium) and the backstage (skene) were located behind the orchestra.  the natural surroundings also acted as scenery.

teatro greco | 3rd century BCE | parco archeologico della neapolis | siracusa, sicily

the cavea or theatron | teatro greco | 3rd century BCE | parco archeologico della neapolis | siracusa, sicily

the orchestra | teatro greco | 3rd century BCE | parco archeologico della neapolis | siracusa, sicily

photo credits rilievoarcheologico.it and lisa walsh | innerspace
even though we stayed at the san domenico palace in taormina, we decided not to visit the theatro antico di taormina.  one day the theater was partially closed.  and, the streets of taormina were filled with so many tourists that we decided not to
return.

the proscenium | teatro antico di taormina | 3rd century CE | taormina, sicily

the theater could be either greek or roman

part of the proscenium is still standing

the theater is now used as a concert venue

photo credit strettoweb.com

in the temples, the ancient greeks held rites and sacrifices in honor of a god or goddess.  at the heart of the temple, an oblong chamber called the cella housed a statue of the god or goddess.  the pronao (antechamber) was located in front of the cella.  while, the opisthodomo (treasury) was located behind it.  a peristyle (colonnade) surrounded the building, which was constructed on a stepped foundation.  the columns, which supported the architrave (main beam) were erected on the stylobate, the highest step of the foundation.

some of the most extraordinary existing doric temples are located in sicily.

 diagram of the doric order

photo credit jtrullin

the entablature | tempio della concordia | 440-430 BCE | parco valle dei templi | agrigento, sicily

the columns | tempio della concordia | 440-430 BCE | parco valle dei templi | agrigento, sicily

the stylobate | tempio della concordia | 440-430 BCE | parco valle dei templi | agrigento, sicily

tempio della concordia | 440-430 BCE | parco valle dei templi | agrigento, sicily

the temple is well preserved because it was converted into a christian basilica during the 6th century CE

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

 plan | tempio della concordia | 440-430 BCE | parco valle dei templi | agrigento, sicily

the roof was accessed via stairs, located on both sides of the entrance to the cella

photo credit parcodeitempli.net

tempio di giunone (hera lacinia or juno) | 450-440 BCE | parco valle dei templi | agrigento, sicily

the columns were re-erected in the 18th century

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

plan | tempio di giunone (hera lacinia or juno) | 450-440 BCE | parco valle dei templi | agrigento, sicily

photo credit parcodeitempli.net

tempio di giove olimpico (zeus) | 488-472 BCE | parco valle dei templi | agrigento, sicily

described in ancient texts as the largest doric temple in the western greek world

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

plan | tempio di giove olimpico (zeus) | 488-472 BCE | parco valle dei templi | agrigento, sicily

photo credit parcodeitempli.net

tempio di ercole (eracle or hercules) | 6th century BCE | parco valle dei templi | agrigento, sicily

the eight columns on the south side were re-erected in 1921

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace

tempio di ercole (eracle or hercules) | 6th century BCE | parco valle dei templi | agrigento, sicily

photo credit parcodeitempli.net

the valle dei templi contains more monuments, including some temples that remain in ruins, and one temple that was reconstructed during the 19th century from architectural elements of different periods.  and, a garden, originally planted around 500 BCE, that has been restored by the fondo ambiente italiano (fai), the italian national trust.

if you need a break from the tourist filled archaeological park, you can stroll through the five hectare (12 acre) giardino della kolymbetra, which is located on the south side of the valle dei templi.  in the garden, the terraces are planted with mediterranean botanical specimens.  and, a cane lined stream runs through the valley, which is cultivated with fruit and nut orchards, as well as citrus and olive groves.

 view of the tempio dei dioscuri (480-460 BCE) from the giardino della kolymbetra | parco valle dei templi | agrigento, sicily

the temple was reconstructed in 1836, using archaeological elements from different periods

photo credit fai
even the duomo in ortigia, an island connected to siracusa by bridge, is built around a doric temple from the 6th century BCE.
the duomo was rebuilt in the baroque style following the earthquake in 1693, which destroyed much of eastern sicily.  palermo architect, andrea palma, incorporated the doric columns from the greek temple into the baroque building.  so, the columns now frame the some of the duomo’s lateral chapels.

 doric columns from a 6th century BCE greek temple incorporated into the duomo | ortigia, sicily

photo credits lisa walsh | innerspace
we only visited eastern and southern sicily.  so, we didn’t go to selinunte or segesta, which are located in western sicily.

 tempio E | 5th century BCE | parco archeologico di selinunte | castelvetrano, sicily

reconstructed in 1957

photo credit parco archeologico di selinunte

tempio di segesta | 430 BCE | parco archeologico di segesta | calatafimi segesta, sicily

the temple is possibly incomplete

it doesn’t have a cella, the shafts of the columns are un-fluted, and there aren’t any holes for the roof beams in the architrave

photo credit regione.sicilia.it
that gives us one more reason to plan another sicilian holiday!