Welcome back to Ask a Local, a series of posts in which I interview locals all over the world about what to see, where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in in their city or town. The following interview was originally published in my Italy guide.
Today I’m happy to introduce you to Alberto Sardo, basketball player and traveler, here to tell us all about Agrigento – a rich hub of archaeological and Greek history.
First, tell us about you.
Truthfully, I live in a small village about 15 minutes from Agrigento. However, I’m always in Agrigento because I love it and my mother’s side of the family lives there. In my spare time, I love to play basketball, socialize, and travel.
If someone is visiting Agrigento for the first time, what do you recommend they see or do?
Having hosted people from all over the world, I’ve discovered the best things to see are the theaters, churches, and rustic side streets of the city. I would also recommend really living in the culture by eating local food and spending time with someone from here.
What neighborhoods or parts of town are best to stay in?
In my opinion, San Leone is the best because it is situated on the Mediterranean coast and has constant access to vibrant bars and nightlife.
Let’s talk about day trips…what nearby places should everyone make sure to visit?
Naturally, I would recommend my own village, Racalmuto, where you will find two ancient castles, a theater, and a cathedral. Then there is a white mountain, called La Scala dei Turchi, and Castello a Mare, a castle in the sea linked to the land by a simple man-made road. Finally, check out the Maccalube—mini volcanoes on the land, forming a sort of hot lake of clay.
Tell us about the local dishes. What should people try here?
Arancine (fried rice balls), mpignolate (filo pastry pies with onion, meat, and olives), cannoli (pastries with ricotta cream filling), and ricotta cream cheese cake.
What are your top three favorite bars and restaurants?
I’d recommend Agorà (located at Viale Sciascia 27) which has a cheap, exquisite buffet and great pasticceria, Capotavola (located at Via Paolo Paternostro 40) for refined dining in the center, and Il Capriccio (located at Piazza Luigi Storzo), which is a relaxing restaurant opposite the sea.
For bars, I like Mojo (located at Via San Francesco D’Assisi 15, where you can get a cocktail in a historic piazza in the center), Oceanomare and Magaria (for cocktails on the beach, both at Viale Delle Dune), and Folli Follie (a chic wine bar on Viale della Vittoria).
What is the best way to meet locals and make friends?
In my opinion, the best place to make friends and meet locals is in the wide selection of bars in Agrigento, where the local people of all ages congregate to drink their ritual morning and afternoon coffees. There you can chat with and get to know people.
Making friends in Sicily is not a problem. Once you know one person, you know everybody!
Why should people make sure to visit Agrigento?
It genuinely is a hidden gem. Mostly because of it’s ancient Greek, Spanish, Norman, and Arabic history, art and architecture, culture, and a buzzing nightlife.
What is the best place to go take beautiful photos of the city?
There are too many! Like Via Atenea, Teatro Pirandello, the Viale, and the Greek amphitheater. That said, the obvious choice would be the famous valley of the temples where, depending on which side you take the photo from, you either get the amazing backdrop of Agrigento or the wonderful display of the Mediterranean Sea.
Anything else you want us to know?
If you ever visit Agrigento, you can’t limit yourself to the city itself. Instead, venture to the surrounding locations in the region, also full of awesome stuff. Racalmuto, Realmonte, Naro, Canicattì, Sciacca, and many more.