Arts Council Plans Tour in Italy, Sicily
Southern Italy and the island of Sicily are unique lands: full of art, archeology, history, folklore, breathtaking scenery, and, of course, great food.
The Arts Council of Moore County, with the help of Earthbound Expeditions, is offering an ARTour to these enchanting areas where Archimedes taught and St. Paul preached.
The trip is scheduled for April 22May 8, and promises to offer participants a unique look at the places that were a Greek colony, a Roman province, an Arab emirate, and a Norman kingdom.
The tour begins in Rome, which is perfectly located to begin the journey to southern Italy. A drive south to Naples will feature a private tour of the National Archeological Museum followed by a late afternoon drive to the Amalfi Coast.
In Amalfi, participants will have the option of catching a ferry to the Isle of Capri or meandering through the alleyways of quaint Positano. The coastal town of Amalfi and mountain village of Ravello will also be explored, including the remarkable cathedral in Amalfi where St. Andrew is buried.
Participants will be taken on a private tour of Pompeii, which was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvias in 79 A.D. Afterward, the group will travel to Matera, located in the desert-like landscape of Basilicata.
Now an important World Heritage site, the collection of Sassi dwellings in Matera were used as the backdrop in the film, "Passion of the Christ."
These troglodyte dwellings were dug out of a ravine and include churches with frescoes dating back to the 13th century B.C.
After driving through endless olive groves and vineyards to the enchanting village of Alberobello, travelers will explore the miniature, dome-like dwellings and learn why the inhabitants of this region built the oddly-shaped forms as their homes.
A drive to the tip of Italy's toe will feature a stop along the Calabrian coastline to view the Riace Warriors.
Discovered off the coast in 1972 by an unsuspecting, young boy, these powerful bronze figures date back to the 5th century B.C. and are exceptionally well preserved.
An early evening ferry through the straits of Messina to Sicily will deposit participants in the historic Greek city of Taormina.
An antique Mediterranean jewel, Taormina is situated below Mt. Etna and overlooks the sea.
It was founded by the Greeks in the 8th century B.C. and in the 19th century, became a popular haunt for the English aristocracy. Men like Oscar Wilde and D. H. Lawrence, who was inspired to write "Lady Chatterly's Lover" from his experiences here, flocked to Taromina in order to escape the doldrums of conservative London. Travelers will also have the chance to explore Mt. Etna which, at nearly 11,000 feet, towers over Sicily.
The hill towns of central Sicily will be explored, including a private tour of Villa Casale, an ancient Roman hunting lodge that claims endless hallways and corridors of extremely well-preserved mosaics.
In medieval Agrigento, participants will explore the tiny stepped streets of the town and the famed Valley of the Temples, erected in the 5th century B.C.
From Agrigento, travelers will drive north to visit Segesta and Selinunte, both bursting with ancient treasures. The drive culminates in Palermo, the capital city of Sicily. This bustling city has long been a rivaled port of the Greeks, Carthaginians, Arabs, Normans, and Romans. It is situated on a wide bay beneath Monte Pellegrino and artfully captures the colorful contrasts of Sicily.
Participants will have a day to see the sites of Palermo, including the markets, a concert, and a visit to both Monreale and the Palatine Chapel.
The travel group will return to Rome for an overnight stay and subsequent departure for the United States.
The cost of the ARTour to Southern Italy and Sicily is $4,790 per person, double occupancy, and $5,275 per person, single occupancy.
The price includes round-trip airfare and other flights within the itinerary, airport transfers, 15 nights accommodations, all breakfasts, 14 lunches or dinners, transportation in an air-conditioned coach, entry fees for all excursions and events listed in the itinerary, tips for local guides and driver, city maps, a reading/video list, and a language guidebook.
For more information about the Southern Italy and Sicily ARTour, call the arts council's ARTour director, Katherine MacRae, at 910-692-4356.
More like this story