Rocky coastline of Gozo
Rocky coastline of Gozo

Archaeological Tours

Malta, Sardinia & Corsica: An Odyssey of Islands


15 days From $0

April 4 2019

Though near-neighbors this trio of sunlit central Mediterranean islands off the Italian coast are as chalk to cheese when it comes to their contrasting history, heritage and dramatic landscapes. All three share inter-connections and influences originating with the early peoples of the Aegean – yet today each has developed its own colorful and distinctive culture.

Why and how these contrasts evolved is the rich thread linking this interest-filled odyssey. Its investigative approach will reward you with a knowledge of the ancient civilizations that conquered these islands in turn – a story stretching from the seafaring Sherden and Phoenicians to Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Crusader knights and Turks and to latter-day colonization by the Spanish, Italians, French and British. You will also gain an enhanced understanding of the ways in which the occupiers left their own indelible legacy upon the great landmarks of the islands and their differing modern-day cultures.

Among the tour’s memorable archaeological locations visited will be Malta’s prehistoric megalithic temples at Ggantija (a UNESCO World Heritage site, dating from 3600 BCE); examples of the unique 7,000 tower-fortress nuraghes of Sardinia (mere youngsters from the second millennium BCE); and Corsica’s megalithic sites of Fontanaccia, Stantari and Renaghju, the island’s best-preserved dolmen.

What's included?

  •  Expert Scholar & Tour Manager
  •  Accommodation
  •  Local Transport & private transfer to/from airport and group hotel
  •  Entries & Tips
  •  Ferry
  •  Regional Flights
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Four enlightening evening lectures from your expert scholar
  •  A name badge, luggage strap and bag tag
  •  A study guide, reading list, and other useful tour documentation compiled by your expert scholar and your Archaeological Tours team

Led by...

Prof. Caroline Malone

Prof. Caroline Malone

Caroline Malone is Professor of Prehistory at the Queen’s University Belfast, where she has taught for 12 years. Educated at New Hall Cambridge, she completed her degree in Archaeology and Anthropology.

Call for availability $8,350

Deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,200

Tour highlights:

  • Explore the fascinatingly contrasted archaeology, scenery and eclectic origins of the cultural and political histories of three very different islands
  • Discover the megalithic temples of Malta, the nuraghes of Sardinia and the open-air sanctuaries and cult sites of Corsica
  • Travel through spectacular unspoilt scenery beneath spring skies – and enjoy delicious local cuisine and wines in the heart of the Mediterranean
  • Visit the excellent Sartene Archaeological Museum, in the heart of Corsica’s most megalithic monument-rich region
  • Experience the true delights that Malta has to offer, from the crystal clear waters to the welcoming charm of the locals

Tour details

Dates April 4 2019 - April 18 2019
Duration 15 days
Cost $8,350 Deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,200 Balance due by January 10 2019
Activity Level Moderate
Tour code A19MSC

Call for availability

April 4 2019: Itinerary

We arrive in Valletta, the capital of Malta, and transfer to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free for relaxation after our flight. In the evening, we meet up for our first dinner together as a group.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: The Palace - AX Hotels, Valletta

Founded in 1565 by the Knights of St. John, Valletta began as a refuge for soldiers returning from the Crusades. Today, the timeless architectural skyline of this little Mediterranean capital clustered within fortified walls on a slender steep-sided peninsula still proudly dominates the landscape. There are countless sights to see and places to explore in the old city as it is not only teeming with living history, but it is also a cache of honey-colored baroque architecture amid a wealth of historic churches and palaces. In fact, while naming Valletta a World Heritage Site, UNESCO praised the city as 'one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world'. Our first day of discovery begins at the National Museum of Archaeology where we will find an extensive collection of prehistoric material from the island. A short walking tour in the old city includes a visit to St. John’s Cathedral, a baroque gem that houses Caravaggio’s “The Beheading of St. John the Baptist" among its many notable works. After lunch, we visit the nearby former island capital of Mdina to stroll along the winding streets and plazas of this tiny fortified “silent city”. Its mix of medieval and baroque architecture creates an enchanting atmosphere in which we can immerse ourselves.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: The Palace - AX Hotels, Valletta

This morning, we journey to the south-west coast to visit Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, two megalithic temple complexes that are unique architectural masterpieces. These evocative heritage-listed complexes date from around 3600 BCE and occupy a marvelous site on the sea cliffs, overlooking the islet of Fifla. These are Malta’s best-preserved temples and are captivating due to their beautifully dressed stones and variety of altars. After lunch, we continue to the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, a vast prehistoric rock-cut catacomb for multiple

 

burials, and then to the nearby temple complex of Tarxien, also heritage-listed. Its four massive megalithic structures fashioned by the mysterious creed known as the “Temple Builders” are a testament to the architectural, artistic, and technological abilities of the ancient islanders who constructed them.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: The Palace - AX Hotels, Valletta

We travel to the northern tip of mainland Malta this morning and take a ferry to the island of Gozo. Here, we will visit the UNESCO-listed prehistoric temples of Ggantija. These date back to 3600 – 3200 BCE and are among the world’s oldest free-standing monuments, preceding Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. Well-preserved, these enigmatic structures have massive walls, some rising to a height of 17 feet, and demonstrate an important cultural, artistic, and technological development in a very early period of human life. Afterwards, we pay a visit to the Gozo’s Archaeological Museum and to the medieval walled citadel of the island capital of Victoria (also known locally as Rabat) before returning to Valletta for the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: The Palace - AX Hotels, Valletta

Today we fly from Malta to Cagliari, the capital city of Sardinia, and transfer to our hotel where we later dine together as a group.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: T Hotel, Cagliari

Cagliari is the perfect place in which to start our tour of Sardinia. This Italian island is a fusion of picturesque promenades along the seafront Marina district and rich cultural and architectural heritage, both of which can be observed in the medieval Castello (the hilltop walled quarter with Pisan towers and views over the port and the lagoons). Evidence of its historic past is not hard to find on our first morning as we wander through the old town, visiting interesting landmarks that include the graceful but heavily restructured 13th century cathedral and an impressive Roman amphitheater. After lunch, there’s time for independent exploration, shopping, visiting the archaeological museum (displaying bronze objects, Roman ceramics, and artefacts from the Nuragic age to the Byzantine age), shopping, or for simply relaxing at one of the many cafés.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: T Hotel, Cagliari

Today’s program has a distinctively Phoenicio-Punic theme that takes us to two of southern Sardinia’s major archaeological sites. First, we travel to the beachfront ruins of ancient Nora, just a short coastal drive from Cagliari. The Phoenicians (who first arrived in the 8th century BCE), the Carthaginian Punics (source of a high level of early civilization to Sardinia) and the Romans all occupied this once commercial crossroad. There’s much to see in Nora, such as the remains of Punic temples as well as mosaics, temples, baths, patrician villas, and a theater all from Roman times. Monte Sirai, our second stop of the day, lies approximately an hour’s drive west of Nora. There, we will encounter the fascinating remnants of a Phoenicio-Punic and Roman settlement (inexplicably abandoned over 2,000 years ago) while simultaneously being caught up in the sweeping views from the hilltop plateau. Our itinerary also takes us to both a Phoenician metal-mining town and to several of the area’s many mysterious Nuragic towers left by Sardinia’s early indigenous Nuragic civilization.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: T Hotel, Cagliari

Today, we delve deeper into Sardinian archaeological history with a visit to the pre-Nuragi monumental complex of Pranu Muteddu. An hour north of Cagliari, this vast complex is a megalithic cult center and contains a necropolis with an outstanding concentration of menhirs and tumuli. We then continue inland to UNESCO-listed Su Nuraxi di Barumini. Dating from the Middle to Late Bronze Age, this is Sardinia’s largest Nuragic settlement. Ringed by the remains of a village of mostly circular huts, the site is dominated by a massive central structure of basalt (bastion-like and most probably defensive in purpose) that is a remarkable example of a unique form of prehistoric architecture. Our final stop before returning to Cagliari is Tharros, on the west coast, overlooking the lovely Gulf of Oristano. This striking and scenic site includes an aqueduct, baths, and other remains that reveal evidence of Nuragic, Phoenicio-Punic, and Roman occupation over two millennia – that is, until its inhabitants were eventually driven away by raiding Saracens. 

All meals included

Hotel: Mariano IV Palace Hotel, Oristano

This morning, we head 2 hours north-west towards the city of Alghero. We follow an inland route that allows us to visit three key sites on our way: Losa- a well-preserved Middle Bronze Age Nuragic complex with great trilobed Nuraghe; Santa Cristina- a smaller complex whose underground well temple is in a state of remarkable preservation (considering that it has been here for over 3,000 years); and, finally, Sant’Andrea Priu- an even older pre-Nuragic necropolis dated to between 3500 and 2900 BCE. Our site exploration here includes one of the Mediterranean’s largest underground tombs with no fewer than eighteen rock-cut chambers. The last leg of our day’s travel brings us to the Alghero, our overnight base and one of Sardinia’s most attractive medieval harbor towns – still preserving the unique Catalan heritage that the Aragonese, one-time colonizers of the Island, left behind.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Punta Negra, Alghero

We start our day with a brief visit to Monte d’Accoddi, one of Sardinia’s most enigmatic Neolithic sites. Discovered only in the last century, it features a huge megalithic pyramid altar on a base of over 30 feet. Afterwards, we continue on to an unhurried visit to Sassari, with time to enjoy the vibrant mood of Sardinia’s historic second city, home to a university, a 12th century Romanesque cathedral, spacious piazzas and a characterful historic center. After pausing at the National Museum to admire its prehistoric Punic and Roman collections, we leave on the short drive to the town of Arzachena, our overnight base.

All meals included

Hotel: Club Hotel Baja, Arzachena

Before leaving Sardinia today, we have an essential final island rendezvous with nearby La Prisgiona’s Nuragic ruins, among the most extensive in this corner of the island. The enormous collective graves (the “giants’ tombs”) of Li Loghi and Coddu Vecchiu are of special interest as they dwarf the single tombs of the 4th millennium BCE cemetery of Li Muri. After our last Italian lunch, we embark on a 50-minute ferry ride to Bonifacio, Corsica, whose medieval citadel is perched on white limestone cliffs that dramatically rise from the sea. We stay here overnight, thereby giving us time to wander throughout this beguiling fortress town and its charming, narrow streets for the rest of the day. Be sure to look out for sites of historical interest, such as the address on Rue des Deux-Empereurs where the young Napoleon spent several months. Also, feel free to succumb to the temptations of an array of restaurants and cafés throughout the town.

 

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Hotel Santateresa, Bonifacio

This morning, we enjoy a leisurely stroll around Bonifacio amid ancient houses, towers, and elegant churches, all of which survive from the Pisan and Genoese periods in this, Corsica’s oldest town. Built in 830 CE by the eponymous Tuscan margrave Boniface II as a defense against Saracen attacks, formidable cliff-top fortifications are reminders of an unpredictable and an eventful past. Next, we travel to the fertile Rizzanese Valley where we visit the ancient little hillside town of Sartene. On our walking tour here, the narrow cobblestone streets and lofty terracotta-roofed houses (built from local granite stone and often linked by arches, arcades and alleys) still offer a sense of how life might have been in rural Corsica in days gone by. From here, we continue to Propriano where we will spend the next two nights.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Bartaccia, Propriano

This morning, we travel to the remote Cauria plateau whose megalithic sites of Stantari, Renaghju, and Fontanaccia are the settings of some of Corsica’s best-preserved menhir standing-stones and dolmens. We return to Propriano for an afternoon at leisure. You may want to sample the AOC-labeled local wines, explore, shop, or just absorb the colorful everyday scene.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Hotel Bartaccia, Propriano

Our last full day of touring takes us into the glorious surroundings of Corsica’s Alta Rocca region which is teeming with mountains and hills draped with holm oak forests, chestnut trees, and pines. We enjoy a morning visit to Sainte Lucie de Tallano, a peaceful and quintessentially Corsican mountain village with stone red-roofed houses that is perched above the Rizzanese Valley. It is also especially known for its olive oil. Next, we travel the short distance to the final stop of our tour: the prehistoric Bronze Age fortress of Cucuruzzu and its neighbor, Capula. These rewarding archaeological sites, occupied since the Bronze Age and, later, important medieval settlements, are set amid some of Corsica’s loveliest landscapes. Tonight, we enjoy a farewell dinner together at a restaurant along Ajaccio bay.

All meals included

Hotel: Ajaccio, Hotel Radisson Blu Resort & Spa

Today, we fly from Ajaccio to Nice as a group and connect to our individual flights home or onward travel.

Meals include: Breakfast

April 4 2019: Additional Info

April 4 2019: Accommodation

This property is 6 minutes walk from the beach. Just 550 yards from Sliema's bus terminus and Valletta Ferry, The Palace is a 5-star hotel with a rooftop spa with infinity pool overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Most rooms have a balcony with views of Valletta and the harbor.

The Palace has spacious, air-conditioned rooms with a smart TV with over 70 HD international channels, a minibar, and a tea-and-coffee maker. Free Wi-Fi is available in public areas and in all rooms.

There is a choice of 2 restaurants at The Palace, the top-floor restaurant specializing in Asian cuisine, and the second one in Mediterranean classics.

T Hotel is an ultra-modern hotel set in central Cagliari, opposite the Lyric Theater. It offers contemporary rooms, a stylish bar and the T SPA hydrotherapy wellness area. Free WiFi is throughout.

Rooms are bright and spacious, with wood floors and modern bathrooms. All air-conditioned. They also feature a radio, satellite TV and minibar.

A full English breakfast is served each morning and the bistro is open for snacks and hot dishes at lunch. T Restaurant serves Sardinian and Italian dishes at dinner, while the bar hosts live piano evenings.

T Hotel features a modern gym and Acqua Journey spa with a hydrotherapy pool, steam baths and chromotherapy showers. You can unwind in the relaxation area with a selection of herbal teas.

Mariano IV Palace Hotel is in Oristano center, a 10-minute walk from Oristano railway and bus station. It offers free WiFi, a bar and a restaurant serving Sardinian specialties.

Rooms at Mariano Hotel are air conditioned and feature TV, minibar, and work desk.

The hotel is located in Piazza Mariano, where free parking is available. Beaches are reachable by car in around 10 minutes.

The 4-star Hotel Punta Negra offers amazing views of the Mediterranean Sea from its 2 outdoor pools set on a cliff. Located in Fertilia, it has its own private beach.

The air-conditioned rooms at Punta Negra come with light colours and characteristic artwork. Each one has a TV with satellite and cable channels and views of either the pinewood or the sea and Alghero.

Breakfast is served every morning buffet style and include hot and cold food. The hotel’s restaurant specialises in Sardinian cuisine. During summer, meals can be served on the sea-view terrace.

Punta Negra Hotel is a 5-minute walk from a bus stop, providing links with Alghero in 10 minutes. Alghero Fertilia Airport is a 10-minute drive away. 

This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. Just a few steps from the main square in Baja Sardinia, Club Hotel offers a private beach and panoramic views across the Mediterranean Sea. Each room has a furnished balcony.

Club Hotel Baja Sardinia is set right on the public beach. The private beach with sun loungers and parasols is less than 5 minutes' walk away. Free bike rental is provided and is a great way to explore this part of Sardinia.

Rooms are spacious and air conditioned, with a TV, minibar and private bathroom with hairdryer. Some overlook the bay and Maddalena Archipelago.

The hotel's main restaurant, Bouganville, is open all day from breakfast until dinner. You can enjoy a varied American buffet breakfast here, as well as Mediterranean and Italian cuisine and over 400 wines at dinner.

Miramare is the hotel's à la carte restaurant with a sea-view terrace. Casablanca is its third restaurant set on the ground floor and also offers sea views. 

Located on the cliffs of Bonifacio and featuring a sea view, Santateresa is 4.3 miles from Sperone beach. It offers 24-hour reception, free WiFi and air-conditioned rooms in the south of Corsica. Free private parking is available on site.

The soundproofed guest rooms all have a flat-screen TV. Private bathrooms are equipped with modern fixtures and a hairdryer. Some rooms feature a sea view.

A buffet breakfast is served daily in the stylish breakfast room. It includes local and organic products as well as eggs cooked on request. An express breakfast option is also available upon request. The hotel’s bar offers a covered terrace with panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea.

The hotel is a member of the Rispettu group, which takes action to reduce its impact on the environment.

Facing Valinco Gulf, Hotel Bartaccia is located in a 3-hectare flowered park in Propriano. It features a seasonal spa-bar, restaurant and 2 swimming pools, one of which is heated.

The modern guest rooms offer a private terrace or balcony with views of the garden or sea. Each room has a flat-screen TV with cable channels, mini-fridge and safety deposit box. Each room has a private bathroom that is fitted with a walk-in shower.

Shops and activities can be found in Propriano and Hotel Bartaccia's staff can provide guests with advice on where to go.

The beach of fine sand and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea are situated just 200 yards from the hotel. 

This property is 1 minute walk from the beach. Just 100 yards from Agosta Beach, this hotel features a spa with hammam and hot tub, a terrace and a garden with a heated, outdoor pool with a poolside bar. It proposes air-conditioned rooms and car rental.

Free Wi-Fi is available in each en suite room. All rooms feature extras long beds, a balcony and ironing facilities.

Breakfast is provided in the form of a buffet each morning. For other meals you can try regional food in the restaurant while enjoying views of Ajaccio Bay. Afterwards you can relax in the hotel bar.

April 4 2019: Enquiries

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