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davidx Marinella Selinunte - A travel report by David
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Marinella Selinunte,  Italy - flag Italy
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davidx's travel reports

Selinunte - stunning Greek remains.

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Several Greece-lovers have told me that Sicily’s Greek remains are as good as those in Greece. I don’t know Greece so I take their word. Within Sicily I do say that Selinunte ranks equally with better-known Siracusa and Agrigento.

Marinella Selinunte travelogue picture
Marinella Selinunte, this site calls it. Actually the two are separate. At the risk of mortally offending the inhabitants of the little village of Marinella, I shall risk saying that it exists almost solely to provide accommodation and meals for Selinunte’s visitors. Selinunte is the large site of the Greek ruins. There are two entrances and it’s possible to go by car between them – but you only need one ticket. The entrance nearest to Marinella takes you straight in to one of the main areas of temple remains. The other is nearer to the Acropolis. I didn’t make it to the third area of the Necropolis, but I’m told I saw the best. One thing that differentiates it from Siracusa and Agrigento is the blissful peace. I was wandering about for a good two and a half hours and saw twenty people at most. True it was February but even so - -. I shall comment briefly on the history here and leave description for the other sections. The Greek colony was formed in the 7th century BC after considerable struggles between the colonists and the native population. There was no blissful peace at this time as there were also frequent conflicts with another Greek colony, Segesta. However Selinunte thrived to the extent of founding a colony of its own in the 6th century. In the 5th century Selinunte became involved in the Peleponnesian Wars between Athens and Sparta. Sicily was important in these wars and the site of the Athenian downfall. Selinunte was on the other side and hence believed it could sort Segesta, an Athenian ally after this. Instead it was itself defeated and destroyed by the Carthaginians, who rebuilt the area around the acropolis as a Punic town. The Romans obtained control in the 3rd century. The temples have acquired the somewhat uninspiring names of the letters A to G, O and M. It is from C that most of the remains in the Archaeological Museum in Palermo were brought. I’ve not heard an explanation of why so many splendid temples were created so close together.

Favourite spots:
Temple E - probably Dionisus
Temple E - probably Dionisus
The area of the Acropolis was particularly lovely with its profusion of wild flowers. As stated above this area was inhabited far longer than other areas but it was destroyed by the second century BC by an earthquake and never rebuilt. Five of the nine temples were in the area of the Acropolis and there are identifiable remains of streets. However these would seem to owe something to work of reconstruction in the 1920s. The wall protecting the area on the Marinella side remains a considerable height.

What's really great:
Marinella Selinunte travelogue picture
OK, so I like temple E, re-constructed in the 1950s. I gather that the re-construction was, and still is, very controversial. I get the general idea but there are still eight left as ruins if you want it like that and I don’t think there is any claim that the reconstruction was other than tasteful and historically authentic. I see this sort of thing doing a power of good for children and enabling them to envisage far more accurately what the whole site must have been like.

The Acropolis
The Acropolis
I stayed at the Pensione Costa d’Avorio, Via Argonauti 10 – just near the bus stop. An Australian photographer and I agreed to share a room to save a bit on expense. He was keen to get out and see everything in the afternoon light and left before I did. To the best of my knowledge everything was normal when I left. However I returned first to find the proprietors busily clearing a flood from the room ???
Phone: 0924 46 256

Marinella Selinunte travelogue picture
We ate in the Pensione above. If you are feeling a bit ambivalent because of the flood, at least you need have no doubt about the quality of the cooking. I forget now what I ate but it was one of the many delicious meals I had in Sicily.

Other recommendations:
Marinella Selinunte travelogue picture
To reach Marinella Selinunte you will almost certainly have to change buses in Castelvetrano if you are using public transport. The local bus to Marinella has a timetable that can best be described as indicative or imaginative; rather than accurate and there is a limited amount [like nothing] to do whilst waiting. It’s extremely irksome but have no doubt: Selinunte justifies it.

Published on Thursday January 6th, 2005

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Fri, Jan 07 2005 - 06:42 AM rating by britman

I found your report most interesting......I now see Sicily through different eyes! My only trip there was by car – having driven from the UK some 10 years ago! I missed out on the archaeology though – so your article graphically and pictorially illustrated to me what I had missed. My own superficial whirlwind tour concentrated on the gastronomy of this delightful region and indulging in the teachings of Bacchus (was he Ancient Greek or Roman?)

Cheers, Brit

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