Ciao!
         Ancient Romans took the famous Via Appia when they headed south for the seasonal and sybaritic pleasures of the Bay of Naples and the Amalfi Coast.  We, however, will take the A1 autostrada.

         The Amalfi Coast is a place to relax, enjoy the sunshine and splendid views of the sea, explore the isle of Capri, and take one of the most beautiful but harrowing drives anywhere!  We also visit two of the most important archaeological sites in the Roman world.  Then it’s off to Sicily, home to more Greek temples than Greece.  Well, not really, but Sicily was Magna Graecia before it was Sicily.  Hades abducted Persephone near where we can lie on the beach.  Taormina is one of our favorites and will surely become one of yours too, and Mt. Etna is still an active volcano.  Yikes!  Sicily is magical.

         We’ll then have a half-day in Rome. What to do?  Shopping with Donna?  The Roman Forum with Dan?  St. Peter’s with Mark?  Andiamo!  Let’s go! 

Arrivederci, Dan and Donna Taylor

Italy

October 18th to October 28th, 2018

Registration information can be found here.


Thursday, October 18th - Rome / Sorrento

The Abbey of Montecassino was established by St. Benedict in the year 529. The venerable Benedict was a role model for the ascetic life. His remains are enshrined within the monastery walls. The monastery/abbey gained world renown over the centuries, both in a religious and cultural sense.
 
The Battle of Montecassino generally applied to allied attempts to breach Axis positions along these defensive lines. Over a four month period (17 January - 18 May, 1944), the battle tragically resulted in 55,000 Allied, 20,000 German casualties and the complete destruction of the Abbey (February 15th). Sadly, the order to shell and bomb the abbey was based on faulty intelligence, identifying the hilltop as a German base coordinating artillery against the allied advances.  The restoration of the monastery was undertaken at great expense over a 10-year period after the war.
 
Continue south to the beautiful Sorrento peninsula, where you will enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Your first four nights in Italy will be at the Hotel Corallo in the town of Sant' Agnello. The Corallo is a 4-star clifftop hotel, with panoramic terraces and views of the Gulf of Naples, Vesuvius and the Sorrentine peninsula.  The center of Sorrento and Tasso Square with its characteristic alleys is just 2 km away and can be reached on foot or by public transport.
 

Friday, October 19th - Pompeii & Herculaneum

Today we will drive to Naples, the capital of Campania and visit the National Archaeological Museum. Before leaving we will stop for lunch and eat the typical famous Napoli's pizza!
 
After lunch we will drive and reach another famous archaeological site. You will visit Pompeii, the city destroyed in antiquity by the devastating eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The size of the ruins set amidst an idyllic landscape convey a lovely impression of what the city must have looked like during the period of the Roman empire.
 
During the tour you can admire the forum and the temples of Zeus and Apollo, the antique shops and the brothel, full of erotic paintings. While Pompeii was covered by a thick layer of ash, a mudslide rolled over Herculaneum, which resulted in the near perfect preservation of the buildings and numerous objects. So, get ready for a journey back in time!
 

Saturday, October 20th - Capri / Anacapri

The island of Capri is one of thworld's most famous tourist destinations due to its natural beauty. During the day the light bathes the island in a wide range of colours and enchants its visitors. Boat ride to Marina Grande. Afterwards transfer to the center of Capri and walking tour through the historic district to the famous Gardens of Augustus with a local guide. From here you will enjoy a splendid view over the Faraglioni cliff. Anacapri is above all known for the villa of Swedish doctor Axel Munthe and the church of San Michele, whose majolica floor is considered and art-historical treasure.
 

Sunday, October 21st - Amalfi Coast / Paestum

Today we drive along one of the world's most beautiful coastal roads as it winds along the steep rock faces over Positano to Amalfi.  Admire Amalfi's little alleyways and narrow lanes hosting many shops and the famous "paradise cloister". On they way enjoy a typical lunch with a wine tasting. After the lunch break we look forward to the temple city of Paestum, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Three immense, well-preserved temples stand enclosed within a square of walls. They are probably the most beautiful Doric temple complexes in Europe. Afterwards visit the National Museum.
 

Monday, October 22nd - Palermo / Agrigento

Today you will fly to Sicily, more precisely to Palermo. Meet your coach driver and depart for Segesta. Along the way there will be a stop for lunch. You will visit the Greek temple of Segesta, which numbers among the best-preserved temple complexes in the world. The ampitheatre perched on a hill provides a stunning panoramic view.
 
The next highlight is Erice, located at an altitude of 750 m and surrounded by a mighty, medieval wall. The town is surrounded by many legends and through its panoramic location allows fantastic views of the surrounding landscape.
 
Here you will stroll through the narrow streets of the picturesque historic district with its numerous historic buildings, small squares and landscaped inner courtyards. Don't miss out on a traditional almond pastry from the old bakery. In the evening you will arrive at your hotel in Agrigento.
 
The Baia di Ulisse is the right answer for a charming stay in Agrigento. The hotel is located 4 km from the Valley of the Temples in the most impressive area of Sicily, the sea of San Leone Baia di Ulisse Resort & Spa is a 4-star hotel, totally renovated in 2008, which offers all the facilities for a pleasant and relaxing stay. Your accommodation in this hotel will be for 2 nights, October 22nd - 24th.
 

Tuesday, October 23rd - Palermo / Agrigento

Today, look forward to Agrigento. The sight of immense monuments set against a Mediterranean backdrop along with the unique light are highly impressive. The vast size of the ancient area and the magnificent temple complex shed light even now on the former importance of this ancient city. The Greek poet Pindar called the city 'the most beautiful city of mortals'. The perfectly preserved Temple of Concordia is particularly impressive. The archaeological area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
In the afternoon you will reach Piazza Armerina and have a visit at Villa del Casale where you can admire the almost 3,500 square meters of floor mosaics with mythological motifs, hunting and circus scenes of wealthy Romans as well as the famous 'bikini girls'.
 
This Roman villa, one of Sicily's most precious sites dating back to antiquity, was the residence of a wealth merchant between the 3rd and 4th century AD, who brought back a group of artists specialized in the art of mosaic making after his last trip to Africa. New excavations show evidence that there was not just one villa, but rather a densely populated settlement with a spacious thermal complex.
 

Wednesday, October 24th - Syracuse / Taormina

Travel to Syracuse, one of the most important cities of ancient Greece. Wander through the narrow, winding streets of the Ortigia Peninsula, the historical center of Syracuse. Guided tour of the archaeological excavation site with its beautiful Greek amphitheater and the 'Ear of Dionysius'.
 
 
The Eurostars Monte Tauro is a 4-star hotel that allows you to appreciate, from its terraces that follow the outline and curves of the coast, the immensity of the Ionian Sea and the beauty of the Gulf of Naxos. Its excellent location near Taormina's historic city center on the Sicilian coast allows you to discover the char of classical antiquity that the city conserves in buildings like the Greco-Roman theatre. 
 

Thursday, October 25th - Taormina

Excursion onto Mt. Etna, Europe's highest active volcano. You will walk to the Silvestri craters and the lava streams of 1983 and 2001 at a height of ca. 1,900 m. (The continued journey to an altitude of ca. 3,000 m with all-terrain vehicles depends on the weather and costs extra.) In the afternoon you will visit Taormina, which is surrounded by an overwhelming setting of rocks, gardens and sea. Taormina's most famous structure is the Greek-Roman theatre, from which one has a spectacular view of the sea and Mt. Etna. 
 

Friday, October 26th - Taormina

 
Free day and farewell dinner
 

Saturday, October 27th - Rome

Returning to Rome, you will stay at Hotel Ponte Sisto, a 4-Star hotel in the center of Rome for one night.The hotel is located just off the ancient Via Giulia, and Ponte Sisto bridge on the Tiber River. The Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Palatine Hill, Colosseum, and Vatican are all within walking distance. The hotel is the choice of those who want to experience an unforgettable vacation in the heart of the Eternal City.
 

Sunday, October 28th - Rome

Flight back home