Europe

The island of Mozia, the ruins of Selinunte and the Scala dei Turchi

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They say the San Pantaleo Island (Mozia), which is part of the Stagnone Islands, was passed from hand to hand, until at the beginning of the 20th century an Englishman based in Marsala decided to buy it. Mr. Whitaker, who was engaged in the wine business, acquired it after some ceramic remains that had been found there aroused his curiosity. This Englishman was built a villa on the island and little by little he was doing Sunday excavations until he found the most important Phoenician settlement of those that remain today.

We arrived there by the inertia of the previous day. In principle, our idea was to take a boat ride around the island and enjoy the scenery of the salt mines of the Stagione nature reserve, but the inaction caused us to end up disembarking in it. Just to enter, you have to pay € 9 (apart from the cost of the boat), but as the lady at the box office saw us clueless, or maybe because we were going to be the only customers of the day, in the end she charged us the children's ticket ( € 5). The island is privately owned and covered with vineyards in addition to the ruins and the small museum.

We set out to walk around the island to see the Phoenician ruins. At the entrance there is a sign that indicates where everything is, but to which you began to walk there was no signaling, which we just lost. Of pure chiripa, we found some remains, although the state of conservation is a bit deplorable and the explanations of the deposits are practically non-existent. When we were on the other side of the island, we decided to go to the museum, which is at the entrance and as the roads were also unmarked we ended up doing the goat (or the sheep) through the vineyards in search of the right path.

It is worth recommending the Whitaker museum Joseph Whitaker (1850-1936), which houses an exceptional and very well preserved collection. What stands out is the statue of charioteer, who say it was sculpted by Fideas around 440 BC. The rooms of the museum group both pieces found in the excavations of the island and objects bought from merchants by Mr. Whitaker. Everyday objects, such as oil lamps, jewels and various vessels, attract a lot of attention. The ship passed again at an hour and a half and took us back to the coast, and along the way we were not able to catch a glimpse of the ancient Phoenician road that now runs one meter underwater.

An hour and a quarter drive from Mozia are the Selinunte ruins, a Greek colony founded in 628 B.C. Although the Lonely Planet guide says textually: "These ruins are some of the most impressive in the ancient Greek world" and that "wonderful views of the temples on the cliff are contemplated from the beautiful beach," but I affirm the contrary to those words. First of all, they are by no means the most impressive ruins, since their state of conservation is deplorable. In addition, making this statement having a few kilometers the ruins of Agrigento seems like a heresy. And that I have not yet visited the ruins of Greece or those of Turkey. For example, I have heard that those of Ephesus are wonderful. Second: I would like to know what the author of the guide saw from the beach, because at the end of the acropolis (which is what touches the beach) you only see the few columns that archaeologists put up. My only possible conclusion is that the lord of Lonely Planet who wrote about the ruins of Selinunte has not set foot in them. If we add this to the laziness of archaeological heritage managers, it can be said that the ruins of Selinunte are a real bluf.

What bothers me about visiting some archeological ruins is that many do not include a map of the route with the entrance, nor do they even offer the possibility of paying guided tours for groups. In addition, explanatory posters in the areas are almost always non-existent. Of course, «pass and page 6 € to see these old stones thrown on the floor, I will not explain anything about them, that is the books of the bookstore at a reasonable price, but if you do not want to get tired I will put a cart to carry it for € 12 ». This is what I call "the tyranny of organized travel, if you go for free, you endure." And don't tell me that Italy has so much heritage that it cannot keep it when in much poorer countries they offer many services when it comes to visiting its archaeological resources as in Prambanan and Borobudur in Indonesia or in any of the Mayan ruins of Mexico.

A real shame, especially if we consider that Selinunte It became one of the most important cities in the Hellenistic world and also had more than 100,000 inhabitants.

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