Italy #2: Selinunte

Tessa ’24, describes an eventful day exploring ancient Greek temples and learning about problem solving abroad. 

Today was quite the adventure! After a quick breakfast at the hotel in Marsala, we hopped on the bus at 8 am and headed to Selinunte to explore some ancient Greek temples. Two acroples, built in the early 7th century BC, sit atop two ridges overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. In the first acropolis, we saw two massive structures—a reconstructed temple to Hera, and an untouched temple to Zeus that lay in rubble. The temple to Zeus is one of the largest in the Greek world! This site was my favorite activity so far because we got to walk inside the temple to Hera, which is very uncommon in ancient structures. We climbed over the rubble of the temple to Zeus, casually sitting on 1,500 year old stones, and felt the breeze. The second acropolis had a partially reconstructed temple, and archeologists are unsure what deity it was built in honor of. With our guide Claire, we talked about the different ways historians can identify the God in a temple: literature, statues, inscriptions, and location.

We went to a restaurant for lunch overlooking the water, and our table was filled with lots of seafood dishes—all delicious! We all tried new foods, including raw octopus, fried whole fish, and mussels. From all the action and the temple-exploring, I decided I was in dire need of a cappuccino. I placed my order with the waiter, and he responded in fierce Italian (including the stereotypical pointed fingers, no joke). Turns out it was 2 pm, and while I knew it’s practically illegal in Italy to order a cappuccino after noon, I forgot to check my watch. It was absolutely humiliating. After some loving pressure and support, I mustered up the courage to order five macchiatos for the table instead. I’ll be sure to check my watch next time.

We hopped on the bus again and drove to Agrigento, and we were unfortunately met with a sticky situation: there was a miscommunication with Paideia and the hotel had not scheduled the reservation. We hung out on the curb for about an hour, until our guides Claire and Raffaella found an alternate hotel (many thanks to them!). Some of us went swimming in the hotel pool before a relaxing dinner. Now I write this blog post in my hotel room, marveling at the extremely eventful day.

Despite the difficulties, today was likely my favorite so far. The temples were absolutely incredible and I almost felt like an ancient Selinunte woman ready to sacrifice some unwieldy cattle.
The cappuccino incident has become a core memory, and I’m looking forward to having one tomorrow morning without any chaos. I’ve loved trying new foods and growing closer with my peers—and we will continue to step outside of our comfort zone tomorrow, too!