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You may opt to spend less time in Termini Imerese and more time in its environs, exploring two of the north coast's most impressive attractions: Himera and Cáccamo.

Himera

This was the site of a 7th-century-B.C. Greek settlement, 15km (9 miles) east along the coast. It's famous for the remains of the Tempio della Vittoria (Temple of Victory), situated on a coastal plain at the mouth of the Imera River off Route SS113. Frankly, these ruins are not as impressive as those of Solunto outside Palermo, but they're worth an hour or so of your time.

In 480 B.C., Himera was the site of one of the major battles of Sicily. The Greeks had settled in the east, the Carthaginians in the west. The Greeks from Agrigento and Syracuse defeated a massive army led by Hamilcar, who was killed in battle. The Tempio della Vittoria was constructed to honor this Greek victory; the labor was supplied by the Carthaginians taken prisoner. The triumph was short-lived, however. In 409 B.C., Hamilcar's nephew, Hannibal, attacked Himera in revenge for his uncle's death. He razed the city, killing most of its inhabitants.

Himera's temple contains little more than its foundation, with no standing columns. Yet the setting and the view make it worth a visit, especially if you have the imagination to bring it alive. If your imagination fails you, you can visit a modern antiquarium that shows diagrams of how the temple looked in its heyday. The remains of two other temples are also found in this archaeological park.

To get to the temple site from Termini Imerese, you can take one of four daily buses run by Nancini (tel. 091-8144497); the round-trip costs 4.50€ ($5.85). Buses depart from the train station at Termini Imerese. The site charges admission of 2€ ($2.60). It's open Monday to Saturday 9am until 1 hour before sunset, Sunday 9am to 2pm.

Cáccamo

The Middle Ages live on at Castello Cáccamo, a huge 12th-century fortress overlooking the San Leonardo River Valley. This is the greatest fortress in Sicily and one of the most majestic in all of southern Italy. Dominating the tranquil village of Cáccamo, the feudal castle was built by the Normans on the site of an older Saracen fortress. The entrance is from Via Termitana on a rocky spur.

With its massive towers and battlements, the gray stone castle looks like something Disney might have created, but it's the real thing. It has some 130 rooms, its most impressive being Sala della Congiura. You can visit the theater hall, the court chapel, the 17th-century residence of various lords, the gatehouse, the knight's house, the keep, and the guard tower as well as the ramp wall. The castle is rather bare-bones inside, but worth seeing is the panoramic view from the tower, Torre Mastra.

Castello Cáccamo, on Corso Umberto (tel. 091-8103248), is 12km (7 1/2 miles) south of Termini Imerese and 52km (32 miles) southeast of Palermo. If you're taking the Palermo-Catania autostrada, the exit for Cáccamo is signposted, 10km (6 miles) to the south. Buses bound for Cáccamo leave throughout the day from Termini Imerese's main train station. The castle is open daily 9am to 1pm and 3 to 7pm. Admission is 2€ ($2.60) for adults, free for children 17 and younger.

Don't get your hopes up if you're hungry: Restaurants at Cáccamo are very limited. The finest dining choice in town is A Castellana, Piazza Caduti 4 (tel. 091-8148667), located in the stables of the castle and serving hearty, affordable Sicilian fare. The pastas are the best, with more than a dozen varieties prepared fresh every day. The chefs also make 55 different pizzas.

After you visit the castle, take an hour to walk around the medieval village. The highlight is the main square, Piazza Duomo, built on two different levels. The higher part contains a spectacular complex of structures, including the 17th-century Palazzo del Monte di Pietà, flanked on the right by Chiesa delle Anime Sante del Purgatorio and on the left by Oratorio del Santissimo Sacramento. The whole square looks like a stage set.

On the western side of the square is the town's most interesting church, Chiesa Madre, open Monday to Saturday 8am to 1pm. Dating from 1090, it was largely rebuilt in the 1400s and given a heavily baroque overlay centuries later. The church contains some treasures, including a painting from 1641 by Mattia Stomer, called the Miracle of Sant'Isidoro Agricola.

For information, contact the Ufficio Turismo del Commune di Cáccamo, Piazza Duomo (tel. 091-8122032). It's open in July and August, Monday and Friday 7:30am to 2pm, Tuesday to Thursday 7:30am to 2pm and 3 to 6pm; and September to June, Wednesday and Friday 8am to 2pm, Tuesday and Thursday 8am to 2pm and 3 to 6pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.