Sicily is a triangle, with two long sides coming to a rounded point on its western edge. Palermo, to the north, is a bustling city, but otherwise the places we toured in the west were rather quiet and picturesque.
Segesta is the hilly site of lonely Greek structures - an amphitheater and a partially finished Temple to Jupiter. These structures are way up in the hills several miles from the coast, and there is no town there today. Because they've largely been left alone, they are in remarkably good shape. In this shot of the amphitheater, you can see how high up in the hills it sits. If you squint, you might be able to see a slice of the Mediterrean Sea in the distance.
The unfinished Temple of Jupiter (or whoever -- they don't actually know whose temple it was). It never had a roof or an alter inside, nor were the columns plastered, and none of it was painted. But what was done used first-rate techniques. It's a mystery why it was not finished, and there are many opinions on the subject.
Archaeologists don't actually know that it's dedicated to Jupiter, nor do they know exactly why it was never finished. Some speculate that it was built by a non-Greek culture in order to impress the Greeks as they took over Sicily. And once the Greeks were suitably impressed, the earlier people were like, "Meh, don't spend any more money on that Temple to Whoever, unless the Greeks come back and pay for it!"
We also stopped at the small mountain top town of Erice, which boasts TWO ancient castles sitting side by side. Redundant, if you ask me, having two. The front tan structure is all one castle, and you can see part of the second peeking around to its right. The white structure below is a villa/ pseudo-castle built by some rich person much more recently.
Often shrouded by clouds, Erice mountain was dedicated by the Romans to Venus, then became a Christian center in later centuries. We had the most delicious meal of the trip -- a buffet featuring Sicilian specialties - at a restaurant/ cooking demo center / meeting center called "Maria Grammatico." Maria, who is probably 80, and her family own a famous pastry shop in town, and have recently opened the cooking center as well. Maria herself was on hand to teach our group to make almond cookies.
Sunset over Trapani Bay:
The seaside city of Trapani is spread out at the base of the Erice mountain, and has mostly new buildings because of extensive bombing there during WW2. To its south is a coastal wetland where salt has been harvested for thousands of years. We visited a salt production site, and took a small boat to the fascinating island of Mozia, which was purchased by a wealthy Englishman in the late 19th century. He then spent the rest of his life on the island, organizing digs to unearth Carthaginian ruins and artifacts all over the island. The takeaway from this visit was, "It's good to be rich and own your own island!"