Stepping back in time in Solunto

6 August 2017

This is the last of my Sicily posts (from this trip at least!) and I've completely saved my favourite thing 'til last. A little happygolucky-fact, a childhood love of the Indiana Jones and the Mummy films led me to a Classics degree and dreams of becoming an Egyptologist. Alas that was not to be (student loans had to be paid off somehow!) but I'm still at my happiest wandering around an archaeological site and can find my way to the Egyptian/ancient Greek and Roman rooms in the British Museum blindfolded. 

When I was researching Palermo in the weeks leading up to our holiday, I kept coming back to a tiny section in the guidebook recommending an ancient Roman town, about a 20 minute train ride out of Palermo. Apparently, the fact that it's a steep 30 minute walk uphill puts a lot of people off and you can wander the partially-excavated site undisturbed. That was enough to move it right to the top of my must-do list - how often can you visit an ancient site without jostling through hordes of tourists?! So, was it worth the walk in the July sun? Abso-bloody-lutely.

Located high above the town of Porticello, on the slopes of Mount Catalfano, lie the remains of the Hellenistic Roman town of Solunto. It was founded in the 4th century BC on the site of an earlier Phoenician settlement. If the remains of the town around you aren't impressive enough, the sea views are spectacular too.

You wander along the main street towards the agora, but can also detour up the steep side streets and wander amongst the ruins themselves. There are the remains of the shops and poorer houses along the main street, with the larger villas higher up - some of which even have the remains of staircases leading to now non-existent floors above. 

The most exciting element of it all for me was the fact that could still see traces of the original paint on some of the walls, and mosaic flooring. It was absolutely incredible.

I think what made the whole experience even more magical for me was that we were the only ones there for practically the entirety of our visit and even when some other visitors arrived, there were only a handful. I think the walk does put a lot of people off but it really shouldn't. Granted, Solunto is not on the scale of somewhere like Pompeii but the intimacy of a small site makes you feel like you're stepping back in time, particularly when you can wander through the town so freely. If you're planning a visit to Palermo and fancy visiting somewhere very special, you must add Solunto to your list. Just don't forget your hat and make sure you bring lots of water!

Have you visited Solunto before? What's your favourite place to visit for a good ol' historical wander? It doesn't have to be classical - there are few things that beat a trip to a castle on a bank holiday weekend!


  1. I love visiting places like this! That the original paintwork is still there in places is amazing! Pembroke Castle is one of the best history days out we've had recently, although to be honest I'm happy to go on any historical based day out!

    1. I'm exactly the same, I'll always be happy on a historical based day out! You know, I've never actually been to Wales! I'll pop this on the list for when we finally make a trip there.


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