Fly to Catania, private coach to our hotel in Ortygia, Syracuse or meet us there. This was once an off-shore island, settled by the first Greek colonists, later joined to the mainland by a causeway which still exists. The whole area has been beautifully restored in recent years, and offers a perfect base for this part of our tour, not only surrounded by wonderful historic sites, but plenty of trattorie for trying out Sicily’s famous Arab/Italian fusion cooking.
Syracuse was one of the most powerful Greek colonies in Sicily, and famously came into conflict with Athens during the Peloponnesian War, finally emerging victorious. Walk from our hotel to the Great Harbour, where the climax of the war took place, and to the Temple of Athena, still dominating the main square as it stands within the core of the later cathedral. We also visit the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum and the Archaeological Park with huge theatre and stone quarries, also used for imprisoning thousands of enemy soldiers.
Free day in Syracuse, where there are many more sites for further exploration, including catacombs, churches and temples - your Guide Lecturer can advise.
Remarkable Greek outer defences of Syracuse at Euryalus, outside the city on a high ridge, with a splendid view. Continue to the Roman Villa of Piazza Armerina, open again after extensive restorations, once a wealthy establishment whose colourful and lively mosaics still lie in situ, and can be viewed from raised walkways. On to Agrigento.
All day exploring the temples and museum at Agrigento. This powerful colony displayed its considerable wealth in the construction of huge temples along a ridge behind the walls - those approaching the city could not fail to be impressed. Some of the architectural plans were so over-ambitious they were never finished.
Impressive ruins at Selinunte, beautifully situated beside the sea, including city defences and many temples. We then continue north to Segesta, which has an unfinished temple - very informative for understanding the temple building process - and a well-preserved theatre high on the hill.
Morning exploring Palermo: the archaeological museum is undergoing extensive renovation at present, and its reopening date is uncertain. If it is still closed in 2013 we will visit instead some of the wonderful Norman churches, including the Cappella Palatina (golden chapel of Roger II) and other monuments. Free afternoon to explore the city further.
Visit the Norman cathedral in Monreale adorned with walls of gleaming gold-in-glass mosaics, depicting biblical scenes. It was built by William II, keen to emulate his grandfather Roger. The cloisters here are also beautiful, and you may climb to the roof of the cathedral for exceptional views. Flight home.
- Flights - Scheduled flights London to Catania, Palermo to London via Rome
- Local Travel - A private coach will coincide with group flights. You could join this or make your own way to the hotel
- Guide Lecturer - Dr Ffiona Gilmore Eaves (Mar 14) for all sites in the programme (also local guides where these are compulsory)
- Meals - Breakfast included, otherwise you are free to find your own meals, except for dinner on Day 4. There are many restaurants to choose from - Sicily has a very particular cuisine, a fusion of Italian and Arabic
- Entries & tips - Entry to all sites in programme. Tips to the driver and local site guides included
- Field Notes
March: 3 nights B&B in a comfortable hotel right next to the Cathedral in the centre of Ortygia (Syracuse);
May: 3 nights in a grand hotel overlooking the harbour near the causeway to Ortygia, Syracuse
2 nights (1 HB, 1 B&B) in a hotel overlooking the temples of Agrigento;
2 nights B&B in an elegantly restored palazzo in the heart of Palermo.
All hotels within easy reach of ristorante and trattorie
|Mon 17th - Mon 24th Mar 2014 with Dr Ffiona Gilmore Eaves
|Mon 27th Oct - Mon 3rd Nov 2014 with TBC