Porto Empedocle has long served as the port for Agrigento, the capital of the province of the same name. Located on Sicily's southwest coast, ancient Agrigento was Akragas to the Greeks, who established the first settlement on a ridge between two rivers in 581 B.C. Through massive trade with the Phoenician port of Carthage, the city rose to such wealth and power that Pindar called Agrigento 'the most beautiful city built by mortal men.'
Despite frequent attacks over the centuries, the city survived through the Roman era, the Middle Ages and into the modern age. Structures from all these eras stand side by side in Agrigento today.
Much of the area has drastically changed due to the development of modern Agrigento. However, the historic town center, with its huddle of narrow, winding streets, still offers some sites worth exploring. Among its main points of interest is the cathedral, which stands on the foundation of a temple of Jupiter from the 6th century B.C. Outside the city, the chief attraction is the Valley of the Temples, which is one of the most impressive classical sites in all of Italy. It draws scores of visitors from around the world who come to marvel at the remains of the magnificent structures scattered throughout the archaeological area. Some of the most impressive finds are displayed in the museum at the entrance to the site.
The small town of Empedocle has one main street, along which are a few shops, bars and restaurants. At noontime, the place looks deserted; shopkeepers close their doors and head home for lunch. From Empedocle it is approximately six miles to Agrigento.
Venture ashore, visit the famous Valley of the Temples or explore Agrigento's busy town center with its numerous shops. When the hustle and bustle gets to you, cool off in a shady sidewalk café and sip a campari or enjoy a cappuccino.