Villa Athena Agrigento: A luxurious journey in to the Sicilian ancient history
Occasionally in life you experience moments of breathtaking beauty – I had one of those moments at Villa Athena. Sitting on the upper terrace at dusk, overlooking the beautifully manicured garden, with centuries-old trees and the turquoise water of the swimming pool, set against the backdrop of the incredible Temple of Valleys, sipping a martini just as the lights of Temple Concordia came on, highlighting the ancient structure against the growing black of night, like a beacon from our past. Breathtaking.
As you drive down the private road to Villa Athena you start to sense this place is special. An 18thcentury villa converted into a small 5-star hotel, Villa Athena is a luxurious journey back to the times of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. The property is located on the outskirts of Agrigento, in the The Valley of the Temples, an area featuring incredibly well preserved Ancient Greek architecture. Villa Athena consists of two buildings; the main villa with the guest accommodation, lobby and bar, and then the second building featuring the restaurant, gym and spa. Upon arriving, the excellent service starts immediately, with the team carrying your luggage as you check in and are given an introduction to the property and The Valley of the Temples, before being shown to your room.
Room – Space, comfort and a lot of white
An Italian friend recommended Villa Athena and we were lucky to get the last available room, a Junior Suite. Upon walking into the room, the all-white deco and gentle lighting bring about an immediate feeling of comfort and relaxation. The large bathroom included a double sink, very spacious shower and high-quality natural toiletries, as well as Villa Athena dressing gowns and slippers. A walk-in wardrobe was perfect for storing all our luggage, while the desk and lounge area were very much appreciated as we planned a day’s activities or relaxed after hours of walking in The Valley of the Temples. Furthermore, we had our own small terrace area with a table and chair nestled under a beautiful tree. The queen size bed was very comfortable and probably resulted in one of my best nights sleeps of 2020 so far, with waking up made all the more perfect by the wonderful morning light filtering through the white drapes.
Restaurant – Risotto, Canolo & Limoncello!
The restaurant is very spacious and modern with comfortable furniture and a good space between tables to provide some privacy. We had dinner there the first evening, which consisted of some freshly baked bread, a shellfish and champagne risotto and some paccheri past with traditional ragout. The service was excellent, the food was delicious and the Villa Athena limoncello is (according to Steve) “amazing, the best in the world”. The dinner was perhaps a bit on the expensive side, but then you are eating at a 5-star hotel.
The buffet breakfast was excellent, featuring fresh fruit fruit, cereals, pastries and a whole host of local food choices, such as cheese, hams, focaccia and traditional Sicilian cakes. You could also choose warm breakfast items, with the additional option of ordering eggs cooked to your liking – poached for me! Furthermore, the chance to make your own Canolo was a sugary temptation I could not ignore. Additionally, the coffee was excellent, which is not something I would normally mention – that’s how good it was!
Spa – Showers & Steam
Located under the restaurant, the spa circuit features shower of different temperature waters, a jacuzzi and steam room. The maximum capacity is two people, so as a couple we had the area to ourselves. The showers and steam room were wonderful, but the jacuzzi could have perhaps been a bit more powerful. Complimentary tea and fruit juice was also provided.
Tips – Book your room direct on the Villa Athena website to get 45 minutes free access to the spa
· The Spa experiences is limited to 2 people capacity per sessions, so it's best to reserve a time slot ASAP.
The Valley of Temples, Agrigento Museum, Scala de Turchi & Agrigento
Part of the luxury of Villa Athena is that it is part of the Valley of the Temples, with its own entry to the archeological park and the option to buy tickets form the hotel lobby. A two-minute drive away you also have the wonderful archeological museum, well worth at least one hour of your time, if not two. Ten minutes’ drive and you are in the beautiful old town of Agrigento, with its cobbled streets, churches and squares, as well as some excellent shopping and restaurant options – I can recommend Aguglia Persa. Fifteen minute drive and you get to Scala de Turchi, a simply stunning beach, with naturally made white stairs that provide the perfect place to watch sunset - well, almost perfect, the perfect place is on the upper terrace of Villa Athena.
My personal recommendation. Villa Athena, An Absolute Pleasure.
If you are travelling to Sicily and considering Agrigento, I full recommend staying at Villa Athena, especially if you are going in winter, where you can get low season rates. The access to The Valley of the Temples is unparalleled, the service is excellent, the rooms are incredibly comfortable, the food is wonderful and the, bar, spa and beautiful garden all add that little extra something that make staying at Villa Athena an absolute pleasure. Enjoy your stay and thank me later!