Tours

classical-crossroads-Palermo-Cathedral_11567429
classical-crossroads-Palermo-Cathedral_11567429

Sicily & Southern Italy: Classical Crossroads of the Mediterranean

Between them the island of Sicily, just 190 miles north of Africa, and mainland Southern Italy are home to some of the Old World’s grandest, most beautiful and certainly best-preserved Classical archaeological sites. Their wealth of historic monuments, many built on a colossal scale, commemorate the turbulent sequences of discovery, conquest, colonization and decline that successive invaders brought to an area that is today one of the Mediterranean’s most fascinating cultural melting-pots.

 

Mar 10 – 24 2019 (16 days)
Price $7,250 | SS £$1,300
Deposit $500

Oct 13 – 27 2019 (16 days)
Price $7,750 | SS $1,650
Deposit $500

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Tour Description

Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens and Normans each left their mark in turn amid a legacy of columned temples, villas, aqueducts, theatres, castles and cathedrals. To this unique heritage later periods of French, Spanish and Austrian control have each added cultural influences of their own.

Under the guidance of our specialist leader the many world-class sites we will explore on our tour span Agrigento’s Greek temples, the Roman amphitheatre at Syracuse, Casale’s late-Roman mosaics and (on the mainland) Paestum’s Doric temples, the especially compelling ruins of Pompeii – and many more. Our journey adds the enjoyment of travel through sunlit Mediterranean landscapes where vines and olives flourish, and enriched by the many pleasures of today’s Italy, its welcoming lifestyle and irresistible cuisine.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Gain many intriguing insights into some of the Mediterranean’s most imposing Classical archaeological sites as well as others lesser-known but no less memorable
  • Wander the haunting ruins of Pompeii & Herculaneum – destroyed by Mount Vesuvius 2,000 years ago and still eerily intact
  • Relax amid the beautiful waterside settings of medieval Taormina and charming Cefalù

  • Marvel at Reggio Calabria’s Riace Warriors – iconic life-sized Greek bronze statues rescued from the sea
  • Enjoy scenic drives through some of Sicily’s most spectacular hill and massif scenery

WHAT TO EXPECT

LED BY

Mar 2019 – Prof. Caroline Malone
Oct 2019 – Dr Dirk Booms

2019 Itinerary

Sunday, March 10 or October 13: ARRIVE IN PALERMO
Upon arrival in beautiful Palermo, we will be greeted at the airport and transferred on to our hotel. This evening, we can enjoy our first dinner together as a group.
Dinner included.

Monday, March 11 or October 14: PALERMO
After a stop to see a Phoenician necropolis, we continue to picturesque Cefalù to visit its Cathedral and to stroll around its charming town before sitting down to a seaside lunch. The full afternoon is spent in Monreale, where we visit the single most important Norman monument on the island, the Cathedral and its cloisters. We then make our return to Palermo for dinner on our own in one of the city’s fantastic trattorias.
Breakfast & lunch included.

Tuesday, March 12 or October 15: PALERMO
This morning, our visits begin at La Zisa, a Norman-Arab mansion housing the Museum of Islamic Art. We then continue to view Palermo Cathedral before sitting down to eat and rest at a local restaurant. After lunch, we view the magnificent Byzantine mosaics in the Cappella Palatina, one of the oldest Palermitan churches and a wonderful example of Norman-Saracenic art. Lastly, we visit the Archaeological Museum, where the Salone di Selinunte contains a fantastic array of architectural sculpture from the Greek temples of the Archaic period.
Breakfast & lunch included.

Wednesday, March 13 or October 16: PALERMO – MARSALA
A lovely drive through the countryside brings us to Segesta, where a pretty Doric temple and Greek theater are nestled between the mountains. Although unfinished, this temple’s 36 columns, entablature and pediment are all intact. In the afternoon, we visit the island of San Pantaleo to tour the Phoenician site of Motya. The museum houses an outstanding statue in charioteer dress dating to the 5th century BC. The day ends at the Marsala Museum, renowned for its reconstructed Phoenician ship.
All meals included.

Thursday, March 14 or October 17: MARSALA – AGRIGENTO
Our first stop today is the Museo del Satiro in the church of Sant’Egidio. Here we view the bronze statue known as the Dancing Satyr of Mazara del Vallo. Although it is thought to date to the 3rd or 2nd century BC, many attribute it to Praxiteles. Our touring then continues at Cusa, site of stone quarries used in the construction of the temples of Selinunte. We next visit Selinunte, the westernmost of the Hellenic colonies and a bitter rival of Segesta. It was sacked by the Carthaginians and then completely destroyed by earthquakes. Nevertheless, the temples of Selinunte are quite magnificent. After lunch, we complete our touring at the Western Acropolis and drive on to Agrigento (ancient Akragas), founded by colonists from nearby Gela in 581 BC.
All meals included.

Friday, March 15 or October 18: AGRIGENTO
This wonderful day begins at the National Museum, with its reconstruction of the Atlas-like Telamones and outstanding collection of vases. We continue to the Oratory of Phalaris and the Hellenistic and Roman Quarters. Next we visit the temples of Akragas, a designated and deserving UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We begin with Hercules, the oldest and one of the most beautifully preserved temples of Concordia and Hera, which is dramatically set on the edge of the ridge. Crossing into the western zone of the site, we will view the remains of the largest known Doric temple, the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Breakfast & lunch included.

Saturday, March 16 or October 19: AGRIGENTO – SYRACUSE
Our day begins with a lovely drive into Sicily’s hilly interior to the Greek city of Morgantina, which was excavated by Princeton University. After lunch, we drive to the restored Roman Villa Imperiale at Casale, where fine mosaics of the Roman-African school date from the 4th century. This fabulous villa was the summer home of an important person, possibly Maximianus Herculeus, co-emperor with Diocletian. The many rooms of exquisite mosaic floors include a famous hunt scene; a scene of ten maidens in bikinis participating in gymnastics, and an array of mythological scenes. We then continue to Syracuse, settled by Corinthians in 733 BC. It was the island’s most powerful city for two hundred years until defeated by the Romans in 215 BC.
All meals included.

Sunday, March 17 or October 20: SYRACUSE
Touring this morning begins with a visit to the fine collection of Greek marbles at the Regional Museum. Afterwards, we will explore the Neapolis Archaeological Park, with its wealth of remains, including a Roman amphitheater, an enormous altar of the 3rd century BC known as the Altar of Hieron II, the “Ear of Dionysius” quarry, and a Greek theater, which once held around 15,000 people and is carved out of the living rock. Our touring continues with a walking tour in the Old City, visiting the temple of Athena, now incorporated into the Cathedral, and the Fountain of Arethuse, famed in Greek poetry.
Breakfast & lunch included.

Monday, March 18 or October 21: SYRACUSE – TAORMINA
We explore the Euryalus Castle, the largest military construction in the Greek world. One could imagine Archimedes standing here with one of his fabulous devices defending the fort. After our visit, we drive along the coast to the charming medieval town of Taormina, arriving in time for lunch. This afternoon we will visit Taormina’s famous Greek theater. The panoramic views of the coastline and snow-capped Mt. Etna are magnificent from this beautiful 3rd century BC theater.
All meals included.

Tuesday, March 19 or October 22: TAORMINA
Today will be completely at leisure to take an excursion to Mt. Etna, relax at the beach or explore this beautiful resort town.
Breakfast included.

Wednesday, March 20 or October 23: TAORMINA – PAESTUM
We depart early for the Messina ferry to Reggio Calabria. A high point of the tour is our visit to the National Museum to view the spectacular “Riace Warriors,” found in the Ionian Sea and considered the finest bronze statues from the Greek world. We then begin a spectacular drive through the Sila Massif, covered with Italy’s most extensive forest of pine, evergreen, oak and beech, which brings us to our hotel in Paestum.
Breakfast & dinner included.

Thursday, March 21 or October 24: PAESTUM – NAPLES
This morning we drive to ancient Paestum to tour its well-preserved Doric temples and extensive ruins of the ancient city. We will also visit the excellent site museum, which displays an important group of tomb paintings, including the mural paintings from the “Tomb of the Diver.” This afternoon we continue north to visit Herculaneum, sister city to Pompeii, also buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Herculaneum was a small residential town; its villas and shops are better preserved than those at Pompeii. We will then make the short drive to Naples and our well-situated hotel.
Breakfast & lunch included.

Friday, March 22 or October 25: NAPLES
We spend today touring Pompeii, an ancient city destroyed by Vesuvius in AD79. Over two thousand years later, the remarkably preserved villas and wall paintings are the most renowned to have survived from the Roman period. This evening we will gather for our farewell dinner.
Breakfast & dinner included.

Saturday, March 23 or October 26: NAPLES
The tour ends with a visit to the National Museum. This excellent museum is home to the Farnes collection of antiquities including the imperial-era Farnese Bull; the Farnese Hercules from the Baths of Caracalla in Rome; and a collection of remarkably preserved mosaics. We will see the wonderful wall paintings and mosaics from Pompeii and Herculaneum. Although one could spend the whole day here, we have planned for a full afternoon at leisure.
Breakfast included.

Sunday, March 24 or October 27: DEPART NAPLES
We transfer to the airport for our individual flights home or onward travel.
Breakfast included.

Additional Information

Calendar Year

2019

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