Things to see in Agrigento

The city of Agrigento rests on the top (about 230m above sea level) of two gentle hills- the hill of Girgenti, to the west, and the Rupe Atenea, to the east- once separated by a depression formed artificially by the philosopher Empedocles to allow healthy air to circulate in the city below afflicted by malaria. The filling work, which began in 1860, created an irregular esplanade surrounded by public and government buildings dating back to the end of the 19th century and early 20th century: the Palace of the Province and the Prefecture, the Questura (police headquarters), the General Post Office, the Gil former palace, the INAIL building, the Genio Civile (Civil Engineering Department), the Carabinieri Station, the Railway Station, the Bank of Italy.

To the west of this esplanade, through Porta di Ponte, you walk into Via Atenea (formerly Via Maestra). Agrigento city’s , long and winding, main street skirts the foot of the old town and ends in Piazza Municipio. Further to the west, the district of Rabato, severely damaged by the landslide of July 1966.

To the east, near the Church of San Calogero, begins a long (1km) boulevard, Viale della Vittoria, commonly called “Passeggiata“. Started in 1848, to provide jobs for the unemployed of the city, it led to urban sprawl, outside the ancient medieval walls, to the east, reaching the Rupe Atenea. It is lined with buildings that, mostly, date back to the period preceding World War II. On the right, the Villa Bonfiglio with the Monumento ai Caduti (War Memorial, 1923), by Mario Rutelli. From here, you can enjoy a magnificent view of the underlying Valley of the Temples and the Mediterranean Sea.

After World War II, the city of Agrigento has experienced a messy urban development on the western slopes of the hill and in the sottogas district, immediately below the old town and the train station, with the construction of anonymous apartment blocks that have largely obscured the view and concealed the old town. The disastrous landslide of 19 July 1966 has marked the recent history of Agrigento damaging the old town and leaving 7,500 people homeless. The need to give a home to those who were left without led to the birth, a few kilometers from the center, of several new districts: Villaseta, Monserrato, Fontanelle, the beach of San Leone, Villaggio Mose in addition to the old neighborhoods of Montaperto, Giardina Gallotti and San Michele.