The Ancient Greek Temples Home to Orchards, Vineyards, and Rare Bees

Archaeological ruins are rocks artfully placed and artfully collapsed. Since the Romantics, they have been sites of imagination where we conjure the past. At the Valley of the Temples, which has occupied a ridge outside the city of Agrigento, Italy, for 2,500 years, visitors come to admire the Doric columns and see the stunning Greek structures that have stood through weather and war.

What they see is the skeleton of a long-gone society. Tour guides and didactic panels describe what life was once like, and recreated wood machines sprinkled throughout the site help one imagine how the temples were built. But the structures themselves are lifeless.

If you follow a path from the Temple of Concordia towards the Hellenistic-Roman urban quarter, though, you will find an orchard of almond and pistachio trees bursting white with flowers. This “Living Museum of the Almond Tree,” which stands out among the arid landscape of scrub, contains more than 300 rare Sicilian varieties. If you visit during the summer, you may see local producer Rino Frenda harvesting the nuts to make creams and nougats that he sells under the park’s own label.

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