Introduction

Despite a distinguished past as one of Sicily's great ancient cities, modern Gela is a disappointment – a chaotic industrial city with a reputation as a mafia hot spot. Little remains of its heyday as the economic engine room of the great Greek colony that eventually founded Akragas, Eraclea Minoa and Selinunte. The city was sacked by Carthage in 405 BC and then razed by forces from Agrigento in 282 BC. More recently it was the first Italian town to be liberated by the Allies in WWII (in July 1943), but not before it had been bombed to rubble in the build-up to the invasion. Post-war development saw the construction of the vast petrochemical refineries that still blight the city along with swathes of cheap housing blocks. Other than a fascinating archaeology museum and remains of the city's ancient fortifications, there are few reasons to stop by.