Date: 15 April - 22 April, 2013
Lecturer: Alex Koller
Cost: £1770 • Course Code: SCLY-13
Our eight-day tour will study the beguiling array of cultural influences that Sicily has absorbed over the centuries, from the monumental grandeur of Agrigento to Taormina, Goethe’s “patch of paradise”.
Segesta is the setting for one of antiquity’s most perfect temples, whilst the awe-inspiring drummed columns of Selinunte, felled by an earthquake, dramatically reveal the wealth, power and prestige of the Greek cities of Sicily. And not even the most worldly surveyor of the ancient world can fail to be captivated by Agrigento – “Athens with improvements” according to one 18th century visitor – with its string of Doric temples standing sentinel along the ridge of Olympian Zeus.
In Palermo’s Palazzo dei Normanni we will view one of Sicily’s greatest treasures, the Palatine Chapel, erected at Roger II’s command in the 1130s, whilst the Galleria Regionale della Sicilia, housed in the 15th century Palazzo Abbatellis, displays a cornucopia of Sicilian art and artefacts including the gruesome Triumph of Death dating from 1449.
Catania lies in the shadow of Mount Etna – and was all but destroyed by the disastrous earthquake of 1693. Much of the city was subsequently rebuilt in the exuberant Baroque style, as is evidenced by the 18th century palazzi that line
In Palermo we stay at the Centrale Palace Hotel in the historic centre; in Agrigento at the Colleverde Park Hotel overlooking the Valley of Temples; and in Syracuse at the Grand Hotel on the water-front in the old quarter of Ortygia.
Alex Koller, PhD (Cantab), expert in art history and architecture, will lead this tour. Alex has lived and studied in Salzburg, Oxford and Cambridge. In addition to his interest in art history, Alex is a linguist, numbering German, French, Italian and Russian amongst his languages.
Day 1Depart Heathrow 0935 on Alitalia via Milan arriving Palermo 1830. Three nights at Centrale Palace Hotel.
Day 2Palermo: La Martorana (elegant Norman campanile), cathedral (founded in 1179), Baroque San Domenico and Santa Cita, archaeological museum (superb pre-historic and Roman collections). Afternoon: San Giovanni degli Eremiti (Arabo-Norman church), Palazzo dei Normanni (including Palatine Chapel).
Day 3Palermo: Palazzo della Zisa, Galleria Regionale in 15th century Palazzo Abatellis (13th-18th century Sicilian art) followed by Monreale: mediaeval cathedral (superb mosaics) and richly decorated cloister. Free evening.
Day 4Segesta (5th century BC Doric temple, theatre) and Selinunte (Greek city of Selinus) overlooking Mediterranean: temples, acropolis, city walls, ancient quarries at Cusa then continue to Agrigento for overnight at Colleverde Park Hotel.
Day 5Agrigento: archaeological museum (Greek sculpture and painted vases) followed by temple ridge (including temples of Hera, Concord, Herakles and Olympian Zeus) then continue via Roman Villa del Casale at Piazza Armerina (stunning mosaic floors) to Syracuse for three nights at Grand Hotel, Ortygia.
Day 6Syracuse: Castello Eurialo (famous for disastrous 5th century Athenian campaigns), archaeological park (Greek theatre), early Christian catacombs of San Giovanni, archaeological museum. Afternoon: walking tour of Ortygia (cathedral, temple of Apollo). Free evening.
Day 7Whole-day excursion to Taormina (Greco-Roman theatre with superb views of coast and Mt Etna) and Catania with Baroque ensembles of Via Etnea and Via dei Crociferi (San Benedetto, San Giuliano), cathedral (chapel of Sant’Agata).
Day 8Catania: visit to Palazzo Biscari (Rococo ballroom and gallery). Depart Catania 1550 via Milan, arriving Heathrow 2050.
Cost includes: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, breakfast & five dinners, excursions & admissions.
Not included: travel insurance, single room supplement £250, supplement for double room for single use £340.