On the southern coast of Sicily between Trapani and Agrigento, in the largest archeological park of Italy and even of Europe, lie the ruins of Selinunte, whose name, derived from ancient Greek “Sèlinon” means wild Celery, plant that still nowadays grows spontaneously in the area and that was engraved in the ancient coins as a symbol of the city itself. Surrounded by Olive trees and aromatic plants, the park offers to the visitors impressive sights: walking through the driveways it seems to see houses as they were once, with the remains of baths, wells and aqueducts …
The city had a 240 years long golden age, and its flourishing was due to a good political relationship with Carthage: when Selinunte chose to ally with Syracuse then the Carthaginians occupied and destroyed the city. After the destruction Selinunte was no longer inhabited: disastrous earthquakes during the Middle Ages, and centuries of carelessness and pillages made the city turn into a heap of rubble, until a careful restoration work brought to life, albeit in the least, its ancient splendor, until in 2013 the Sicilian Region established the archeological park.
The park is divided into several areas: on the top, the central Acropolis stands out, a Holy place with its temples and sanctuaries protected by walls. For it is not certain what were the divinities the temples were built for, today some of the ruins are distinguished by letters. Around the acropolis there are three smooth hills: the “Manuzza” hill, where the ancient Agorà and houses are located, the western hill with the sanctuary of Demetra Malophoros, dedicated to the Goddess of fertility, and the eastern hill with its other temples among which the temple “F”, the oldest, and the temple “G”, the largest. But actually what catches the eye and the interest of visitors is no doubt the temple “E”, also known as temple of Hera, by far the one which is best preserved. The wind that creeps between its columns is like the breath of centuries passed on those same stones you will carve with your hands today. In the same area of the park are also the necropolis, and 13km away the Cave di Cusa, the limestone quarries from which the material for building the city and temples was extracted. Visiting them it is curious to notice the obvious abrupt interruption of the extraction work of column sections due to the Carthaginian threat on the city just before its destruction. Being the largest archaeological area in Europe, it is better to wear trekking shoes during your visit: for the lazy ones among you there is a shuttle to move around the different areas of the park. Visiting the site requires at least 5 hours, but directions are clear enough to be able to do it even without a guide.
Myths and legends
In the Methops coming from the temples in Selinunte are still visible the myths told in the Homeric poems or later in the greek tragedies, like the enigma of the Sphinx or the myth of Apollo… But peculiar are the legends born around the city of Selinunte: the most tantalizing is surely linked to the Giants, which were said to live in this very area. Along with them lived an old giant woman, “Gigantessa”, the only one able to weave armor and woolen garments for giant children. His secret was the “spindle” she used to spin the wool, over 16 meters tall and with a diameter of 10, built with the unbreakable boulders of the first Titans, Uranus and Gaia. This cylindrical construction, called in the local idiom “Lu Fusu di la vecchia”, still resists today in the ruins of gigantic shattered temples, almost completely intact.
The urban center of the area, as well as the nightlife’s place, is the village of Marinella di Selinunte, part of the municipality of Castelvetrano, where you can have fun until late at night. For those who love to wake up early in the morning, however, every day at 8 am in Piazza Scalo di Bruca takes place the auction of the fresh fish, caught at night in the seas of Selinunte, a tradition of ancient origins still very lively today.
Along this coast of Sicily several and wonderful are the beaches, the most part of them are distinguished by shallow crystal clear waters and large golden and fine sandy shores. The beach of the Asinello reserve is perhaps the most beautiful, even if the beach of the mouth of the river Belice stands out because it is very suggestive. For those looking for an equipped beach with a comfortable restaurant, we recommend the beach of the Pineta, while the closest beach to Marinella’s tourist center is Bruca Scalo.