Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Selinunte: Sicily's celery ruins

There is never much support from my European friends for visiting museums and historical sites around Europe. I guess growing up with thousands of these in every European city does kind of saturate a person. My loyal travel companion, Suzy, however, agreed to accompany me to Selinunte, a large Greek archeological site on the South West coast of Sicily.

The name Selinunte is derived from a type of wild celery that grew in the area and was held in high esteem by the ancients. The Selinuntines also used the celery symbol on their coins. Set on top of a high plain the ruins of this ancient Greek colony tower over long wide beaches and a stretch of that unmistakable Mediterranean ocean blue.

The Carthaginians finally defeated Selinunte in 409BC during the First Punic War and for more than 2000 years these ancient Greek temples and acropolis have been beautifully desolate.

With the acropolis and various different temples and living quarters scattered over a large area, the ruins take some walking to discover and in the Italian mid-summer sun, even dear Suzy had to give up after a while. While she wrote postcards in the museum shop, I spent an hour or two walking the dust roads and clambering over rocks and stones, imagination running wild while taking in the breathtaking views framed by columns and rubble.

I don’t know why I love ruins so much. Perhaps it is because of all the stories hidden under ancient stones or simply the fact that it’s a novelty for a South African with a fairly modern country to connect with these antique civilizations through time.