Archaeological Tours

with Andante Travels

Classical Sicily

The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily arguably has the richest history of any region in Italy. The classically beautiful heart of the Mediterranean has been praised by poets and became the prize of countless cultures - Phoenicians, Greeks & Romans and later the Normans. During the Greek and later the Norman periods, Sicily was the creative centre of philosophy, art and learning. On this sun-soaked island, we find wonderfully preserved Greek temples, Roman villas and Norman cathedrals (many filled with stunning mosaics).

This trip show cases the wonderful monuments from all the cultures which found their homes on Sicily. We explore the Normano-Arabic churches of Palermo, alongside some of the best preserved Greek temples in the world – and the most important late antique villa in Italy.

What's included?

  •  Expert scholar & tour manager
  •  Local transport & private transfer to/from airport and group hotel
  •  Entries & tips
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary

Led by...

Dr Neil Faulkner

Dr Neil Faulkner Expert Scholar

Dr Neil Faulkner is a Research Fellow at Bristol University and a specialist in Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and First World War archaeology. He is involved in fieldwork projects in Norfolk, Jordan, and Slovenia.

Today's Price
$4,220

Deposit: $750 Single supplement: $660

Tour highlights:

  • See truly exceptional mosaics at the Villa Romana, Piazza Armerina
  • Visit Arab-Norman churches with their blend of Byzantine and Arabic art
  • See the cathedral at Monreale which is covered in opulent mosaics
  • Discover the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Have a special access evening visit to the Cappella Palatina

Tour details

Dates March 19 2020 - March 29 2020
Duration 11 days
Cost
Today's Price
$4,220
Deposit: $750 Single supplement: $660 Balance due by December 26 2019
Activity Level
Tour code ASIC200319

Call for availability

March 19 2020: Itinerary

Arrive in beautiful Sicily.

Meals include: Dinner

After breakfast, we drive out to the rolling hills, where we find the ancient Greek city of Segesta, home to an elegant but unfinished 5th century BC Doric temple and the remains of an impressive hilltop theatre. This afternoon we make our way to Monreale, the former hunting ground of the Norman kings of Sicily. Here, we discover an opulent Norman-Byzantine cathedral and abbey, founded by King William II in 1174. The site recently achieved UNESCO World Heritage status thanks to its stunning construction and mosaic work – a brilliant testament to the former opulence of Norman rule.

All meals included

Today is ours to explore the wonders of Palermo. We start at the Archaeological Museum, which houses one of the most significant collections of Punic and Ancient Greek art in all of Italy. Here, we find famous metopes from the Selinus temples, as well as a fascinating array of artefacts discovered underwater. Later, we visit the beautifully decorated church of La Martorana and the neighbouring Chiesa di San Cataldo. After lunch, we go to the Palermo Cathedral, a 12th century construction that replaced a Moorish mosque and which houses the tombs of some of the Norman Kings. This evening, we enjoy a special private visit to the Cappella Palatina, an extravagant chapel, glittering with mosaics and gold leaf.

All meals included

This morning we drive to Marsala, Carthaginian Lilybaeum, and visit the museum with its remains of a Carthaginian warship sunk in the first Punic war, along with fascinating Punic funerary stelai. After lunch, we cross by boat to the island of Motya, a stronghold of the Phoenicians, sacked in 397 BC by the Syracusan tyrant Dionysius the Elder. While on Motya we visit the Archaeological Museum, taking time to admire its world-renowned statue of the charioteer, a striking sculpture from the early 5th century BC.

All meals included

We start the day at the quarries of the Cave di Cusa, used by Selinus for their titanic temples. Their heavy work was abandoned in 409 BC when Carthaginians mercilessly sacked their city, a common refrain in the violent history of Sicily. We can still see the remnants of columns on site, sadly destined to remain both unfinished and in situ. We then travel on to Selinus itself to see the temples of the eastern sanctuary, including the incredible Temple G, one of the largest temples of the Greek world. We finish the day at the Acropolis of Selinus, dramatically positioned on plains overlooking the Mediterranean sea. Here we not only see remains of ancient temples, but of Punic housing inhabited by Carthaginians who took over the site after the sacking.

All meals included

We spend a whole day exploring the magnificent remains of Agrigento today, the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas. We take in the Valley of the Temples, a World Heritage Site of seven Doric sanctuaries, including the remarkably wellpreserved Temple of Concordia, with its elegant walls and columns. We also view the remains of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, another gigantic, Sicilian temple, with an unusual layout characterised by enormous telemons, which once bore the weight of its roof.

All meals included

Our journey takes us through central Sicily, stopping at the magnificent Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina. This late antique villa is noted for its superb collection of mosaics – the largest in the world – which can now be viewed from a newly installed network of raised walkways. Here we find the famous depiction of the “Bikini Girls”, as well as lively images of hunting and ancient games. We proceed to Morgantina, a city founded by the native Sikels under their leader Ducetius. The last of the Sicilian towns to succumb to Roman rule, the city was later captured by slaves in the First Servile War in the Roman period. Morgantina has been the focus of intensive excavations in recent decades, and research here is still ongoing. We find an exciting collection of remains, including a bouleuterion – an ancient Greek political chamber – a theatre, kilns and houses complete with mosaics.

All meals included

Today is all about Syracuse, which Cicero described as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”. We discover traces of Syracuse’s glorious past in the exceptional Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum, where we will explore a staggering array of vases and statues, along with a unique treasury containing a collection of jewels and coins from the area. Later, we make our way to the Neapolis Archaeological Park, home to an incredible theatre where Aeschylus’ tragedies were once performed in the playwright’s presence. In the afternoon we walk around Ortygia, the oldest part of the ancient city, and the site of the remarkable 5th century BC Temple of Athena, which has been converted into the Cathedral of Our Lady’s Nativity.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

We start the day with a visit to the little-known Greek city of Akrai, where we see the remains of a theatre. We proceed to Noto, a baroque fantasy of a city that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, we have lunch before exploring the city with its elaborate balconies and dramatically placed churches. This afternoon we visit the late Roman villa at Tellaro, which contains fine mosaics depicting scenes such as the ransom of Hector’s body, and a hunting scene reminiscent of those seen in Piazza Armerina.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

In the morning of our last full day, we shall visit the catacombs of San Giovanni in Syracuse, underground Greek cisterns transformed into Christian burials in the Paleochristian era. Here, we also visit the Norman basilica of San Giovanni, felled by the 1693 earthquake, along with the crypt that boasts well-preserved frescoes. The afternoon is yours to enjoy. Explore splendid Ortigia for the Caravaggio painting in the church of Santa Lucia, the Byzantine Jewish baths or, perhaps, the ruins of the Temple of Artemis.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Following breakfast we transfer to the airport where we bid farewell to our group and depart on our individual flights home.

Meals include: Breakfast

March 19 2020: Additional Info

March 19 2020: Accommodation

March 19 2020: Enquiries

Enquiry Form

Contact Us


Looking for a different departure date?

May 14 2020

Dr Eireann Marshall

Led by Dr Eireann Marshall

11 day tour, from $4,355

Swap to this date

September 10 2020

Oliver Gilkes

Led by Oliver Gilkes

11 day tour, from $4,355

Swap to this date

September 17 2020

Dr Gillian Shepherd

Led by Dr Gillian Shepherd

11 day tour, from $4,355

Swap to this date

October 1 2020

Doru Bogdan

Led by Doru Bogdan

11 day tour, from $4,290

Swap to this date

October 8 2020

Dr Jamie Sewell

Led by Dr Jamie Sewell

11 day tour, from $4,290

Swap to this date