Agrigento: Day 12

In the morning, we went to the Filippo Bentivegna museum. Filippo was born in Sicily in 1888. When he was 20 years old, he immigrated to America to look for jobs. In America, he fell in love with a girl, but was beaten by the girl’s brother and came back to Sicily. Later on, he bought a small farm and began to carve stones, which can be easily found in Sicily. Enjoying his life in the small farm and having a close relationship with nature, he finally made more than 3000 sculptures. Among all those sculptures, the only subject of the sculptures is the face of the local population. He often went to the town, watching people’s faces and asked people to call him “King”. Therefore, some of the sculptures have crowns as a self-portrait. All the sculptures are carved in lines as sketches of the faces. Some of the sculptures have more than one head and body, which are 3-dimensional. He also drew paintings on the wall as a reflection of his life. For example, he drew a big fish with a lot of small fish inside to represent Sicilian people going to America for looking for jobs.

After arriving at the biological winery-farm, we first visited the vineyards where we got the basic information of the grapes. It is important for workers to select the best braches and buds so that they will get the best quality of grapes. After the second pruning, workers will tie the branches to the wires so the buds will grow upward and the grapes will grow along on the wires. In this way, workers can harvest the grapes easily. The harvest time is usually in summer but the exact time depends on the type of grapes. Unlike other plants, bugs are not a problem to the grape; instead, birds are the only problem. In order to keep the birds away, the workers would play shooting sounds. Besides, the land is special because it is full of mineral substances and these substances provide the grapes with a salty taste. In these years, according to the owner, they prefer local grapes than international ones because international breeds are easy for foreigners to recognize when the wine is exported. In addition, wine production has three steps: harvest, fermentation, and bottling. During the harvest, the temperature of the grapes is important. The temperature of white grapes is about 6 ˚C and the temperature of red grapes is about 13~18 ˚C. After the fermentation, the wine stays in the tank for a while. There were two kinds of containers in the farm: steel tank and wood barrels. The wood barrels can let the wine breathe and they choose the type of barrel and wood depending on the wine. Among all the types of wood, the oak is the best.
In the afternoon, we arrived in Agrigento to visit the “Valley of Temples”. It is one of the biggest archeological sites of Greek architecture and is also considered the last Greek architectural work in Sicily. The place where the stone was located was originally the bottom of the sea, but because of the movement of tectonic plates, it became a cliff. Later on Greek people built up these temples here. All the temples face the east and contain Roman architectural elements since all the temples have arches. They are supposed to have some sculptures either on the wall or inside of the temples, but no one could find any of the sculptures. Due to the geographical condition of Sicily, there were some earthquakes here, so some of the temples fell apart. When we looked close to the fallen parts of the temple we could see that the material used to build the temple was plaster. Because the temples have lasted for more than a thousand years, the color of the temples are yellowish. Next to the temples we can see the defense wall that was built up next to the cliff, there are some arches in the walls. The walls were built up naturally, people dug into the land and left a wall next to the cliff. Some of the temples were used to protect the status of God. There were marble statues on the roof of one of the temples, but all the statues had been moved later when this temple was used as a church. This temple was also the most important temple in this valley. The last temple that we visited was the second biggest Greek Church in the world called “Temple of Zeus Olimpico”. We could not see the complete temple, just some parts. There were also huge-scaled sculptures of giants in this temple; all of the real sculptures have been restored in the museum.

Written by Amy Guo, Selina Qiu, and Lucy Wu

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Students learn how grapes are grown.


Valley of the Temples, Agrigento.