Ancient Sicily

Ancient Sicily

Here is the key to Everything

Archaeological Tours

3rd - 10th October 2021
(8 Days)

Expert Historian : Dr Harry Sidebottom

Tour price: £2,995

click here to book

Ancient Sicily

Here is the key to Everything

Archaeological Tours

Your Holiday Essentials

3rd - 10th October 2021
(8 Days)

Return flights from London, 4 star hotels, buffet breakfast, 3-course dinner with drinks on 6 evenings, all entrance fees and expert historian throughout

Activity Level: 2

Expert Historian: Dr Harry Sidebottom

Tour price: £2,995

Single supplement: £295
Deposit: £300
Price without flights: £2,845

Booking open

click here to book

Interested in this tour but not ready to book? Register your interest using the link below and we will keep you updated on the progress of the tour.

click here to register your interest

Tour Introduction

Nowhere is the classical past more alive than on the beautiful island of Sicily. This wide ranging archaeological tour, in the company of historian and author Harry Sidebottom, will take us through a millennium of history from the early Greek colony of Naxos (734BC) to the late Roman villa of Piazza Armerina (c.320CE), with its world famous mosaics. On the way we will explore the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento, the archaeological park and museum at Syracuse, the Euryalus Fort outside the city, on the heights where the Athenian expedition came to grief, and the theatre at Taormina, with its breath taking views of Mount Etna.

As Plato said “Sicilians build things like they will live forever and eat like they will die tomorrow” which means that much of our tour requires a certain agility as we explore extensive remains often on our feet for a few hours at a time and an appetite to do justice to the local cuisine. But there will be plenty of time for recuperation as we listen to a series of in-situ talks which put each site in to its historical context.

Background

Sicilians call their island the House of the Sun. Throughout history its climate and fertile agriculture, combined with its strategic location, have drawn every major power in the Mediterranean to the island. The Greeks began their colonisation in the eighth century BC. The wealthy and cultured cities they founded fought endlessly against each other, and against the Carthaginians who had settled in the west. The Romans arrived in the third century BC. Having vanquished the Carthaginians in the Punic Wars, Sicily became the first overseas province of the Roman empire. In the second century BC the use of slave labour on great landed estates led to two revolts, each as cataclysmic as the more famous uprising of Spartacus. The riches of the island were a temptation to its Roman governors. Cicero, in his Verrine Orations, castigates the corruption and crimes of the most notorious. Under the rule of the emperors, Sicily settled down to become one of the wealthiest and most peaceful provinces of the Roman empire. Every step of the history of the island has left evocative archaeology for us to explore.

Highlights

  • Spend a full day at Agrigento, exploring the magnificent Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World heritage site
  • Visit the Temple of Victory at Himera
  • The ancient Cave di Cusa
  • Explore the Island of Ortigia
  • Explore Selinunte Archaeological Park
  • Visit the site of Segesta
  • Explore Piazza Armerina, which contains the largest series of Roman mosaics still in situ
  • Visit the Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi
  • Explore the mysterious catacombs of Latomia del Paradiso
  • Spend a morning at the Euryalus Fortress
  • Explore the Archaeological site of Naxos

What's Included

  • Return flights from London
  • 4 Star Hotels Throughout
  • Buffet breakfast each morning
  • A three-course dinner party on 6 evenings hosted by your expert historian and tour manager
  • Two drinks i,e wine or beer with dinner each evening and a welcome drink on first evening
  • Dedicated Tour Manager
  • Entrance fees for all site visits
  • Local travel in modern, comfortable, air-conditioned coach
  • Pre tour information booklet
  • Access to the Cultural Experience app
  • Helpful and friendly travel advice
  • The company of like-minded travelers

Itinerary

Day 1 - Depart

Fly London Gatwick to Catania. En-route to Marsala we visit the Temple of Victory at Himera, which celebrates the Greeks’ victory over the Carthaginians in 480 BC. Check in to our hotel for three nights.

Day 2 - Cave di Cusa and Selinunte

We visit the ancient Cave di Cusa, a stone quarry which played a key part in the construction of Selinus (Selinunte), the most westerly of the Greek colonies. We spend the remainder of the day exploring the temples in Selinunte Archaeological Park, one of the most expansive and incredible archaeological sites in the Mediterranean.

Day 3 - Segesta and Marsala

An early morning departure to the site of Segesta, one of the most important cities of the Elymians, an indigenous group of Sicily. Next, to Trapani, where we make a generous stop for lunch and allow you the option to take a 10-minute cable car journey to explore Erice (ancient Eryx) and enjoy magnificent views over Trapani. We finish the day at Marsala, where we visit the Regional Archaeological Museum Baglio Anselmi with its Punic Warship and archaeological remains which relate the tale of the Carthaginian stronghold of Lilybaeum.

Day 4 - Agrigento

We spend a full day at Agrigento, exploring the magnificent Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World heritage site which is known for its unspoiled Doric temples dedicated to Greek divinities. This site has served as inspiration for many artists, poets and philosophers throughout history. We visit the Temple of Hercules or Heracles, the oldest Doric temple in Agrigento, from which Cicero claims the governor Verres attempted to steal the cult statue of the god.

Day 5 – Piazza Armerina (Villa Romana del Casale) and Morgantina

An early start to the Piazza Armerina, a fourth century CE villa, perhaps a hunting lodge of one of the emperors, which contains the largest series of Roman mosaics still in situ. We explore Morgantina, an ancient Greek city which was occupied from the Bronze Age onwards. Thence to Syracuse, where we check in to our hotel for two nights.

Day 6 - Ortigia

Explore the Island of Ortigia, the historical centre of Syracuse where we find the Greek temples of Apollo and Athena. We enjoy the Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi, one of the principal archaeological museums of Europe and the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis with its Greek theatre, the mysterious catacombs of Latomia del Paradiso and the imposing Orecchio di Dionisios. Dinner is not included this evening and you are free to find your own restaurant. There is also the option to dine with your tour manager and historian at your own expense.

Day 7 - The Euryalus Fortress and Taormina

We spend the morning at the Euryalus Fortress, a key part of the fortifications of Syracuse and constructed by the tyrant Dionysus between 402 and 397 BC. We drive to Taormina to visit the Teatro Antico which dates from the 3rd century BC, the “small theatre” or Roman Odeon and the Naumachia di Taormina, a Roman wall with 18 niches dating from the first century BC.

Day 8 - Giardini Naxos and Return

We explore the Archaeological site of Naxos, the earliest Greek colony on the island, and its museum which houses finds from the ongoing excavations. Continue to Catania Airport for our return flight to London Gatwick.

Recommended Reading List

Dr Harry Sidebottom

Dr Harry Sidebottom

Dr Harry Sidebottom was educated at various schools and universities, including Oxford, where he took his Doctorate in Ancient History at Corpus Christi College. In similar fashion he has taught at various universities including Oxford, where he is now Fellow and Director of Studies in Ancient History at St Benets Hall, and Lecturer in Ancient History at Lincoln College.

Read more

Your Holiday Essentials

3rd - 10th October 2021
(8 Days)

Return flights from London, 4 star hotels, buffet breakfast, 3-course dinner with drinks on 6 evenings, all entrance fees and expert historian throughout

Activity Level: 2

Expert Historian: Dr Harry Sidebottom

Tour price: £2,995

Single supplement: £295
Deposit: £300
Price without flights: £2,845

Booking open

click here to book

Interested in this tour but not ready to book? Register your interest using the link below and we will keep you updated on the progress of the tour.

click here to register your interest

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