Southern Italy - Discovering Magna Graecia in the Boot of Italy

Before the mighty empire of Rome, the Greeks ruled the south of Italy, with bustling cities stretching from Naples down to the tip of Sicily. Some of their most remarkable work was done in these lands, from esteemed temples to the gods to artisan pottery and beyond. Explore this often-missed period of Italy’s history as you delve into the layers of time beneath today’s cities and their many towering monuments. From exploring the mysterious underground in Naples, where ancient walls blend into medieval stones, to walking the surviving streets along the remains of port hubs that have endured for thousands of years, you can’t help but feel the tremors of the past under your feet and the buzz of a million ancient voices in the breezes that brush over the willow trees and through the altars to Hera and Aphrodite. Discover the paradise that humankind has settled time and again, and all the layers of beauty within.

Days 1/2

USA/NAPLES/SPACCANAPOLI

Depart for Naples, where you will be met and escorted to your hotel. Celebrate your arrival with an authentic lunch overlooking the sparkling waters of the Bay of Naples before heading out to the heart of the city on a guided tour of today’s Napoli. Then descend into the underground. The layers of development beneath the city tell the tale of this remarkable place, where Renaissance palaces lean against Roman columns and Roman walls stand on Grecian foundations. Access this mysterious hidden world from the basements of medieval convents and Gothic cathedrals as the stones melt away into Grecian walls or open into an ancient Roman marketplace. HOTEL EXCELSIOR. (Meals Aloft, L,D)

 

Day 3

NAPLES/VESUVIO/CAMPI FLEGREI/NAPLES

Today will be devoted to visiting the mighty Mount Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei. This massive volcano is the only active volcano in mainland Europe, best known for the doom of Pompeii. Hike to the crater and enjoy two incredible views – a chance to peer down into the heart of magma that churns deep in the earth and a 360-degree panorama of the Gulf of Naples. The surrounding volcanic fields are known as Campi Flegrei or the Phlegean Fields, and have long been a source of fascination. HOTEL EXCELSIOR. (B,L,D)

 

Day 4

NAPLES /PAESTUM/VELIA/NAPLES

Explore Paestum and Velia, two major archeological sites rich with the ruins of Magna Graecia. Paestum is known for the quality of its preserved Doric temples to the goddesses Athena and Hera. After lunch, continue to Velia, a city whose history can be found in the works of Strabon and Herodotus, to visit the archeological site at the commune of Ascea, which resides within the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park.  HOTEL EXCELSIOR. (B,L,D)

 

Day 5

NAPLES/ISCHIA/NAPLES

Explore Ischia, known to locals as “the Green Island”, the first historical colony of Magna Graecia. The island is of volcanic origins and appealed to early settlers with its thermal waters and idyllic coastline with remarkably fine sands and is now famous for its vineyards, which produce celebrated red and white wines. Enjoy a panoramic tour with frequent stops at places of interest, local villages, and an artisanal ceramic workshop. HOTEL EXCELSIOR.  (B,L,D)

 

Days 6/7

NAPLES/MELFI/TARANTO

Depart for Melfi, an ancient city built on the northern slopes of Mount Vulture, dominated by the formidable towers of its Norman castle. Explore the many historical treasures of this area, including the Cathedral of the Assumption, several cave churches, and the 12th century bell tower erected by the second king of Sicily, a Norman known as William the Bad. End your day in Taranto, known as the City of the Two Seas. This was an ancient Spartan colony and later became one of the richest cities of Magna Graecia. Today it remains an important hub and is home to a large military port. Visit the ancient town center, which is completely flanked by necropolises, and is connected to the mainland via a bridge constructed in the Augustan Era. Visit the Aragonese Castle which dominates its own island and includes modifications from the Renaissance. HOTEL ARCANGELO.  (B,L,D Daily)

 

Day 8

TARANTO /METAPONTO/POLICORO/CROTONE

Drive to Metaponto, an important pottery hub of ancient Greece. The remains of this once bustling city are still visible, with a residential area, main street, walls, and a theater outlined by the remaining ruins. Situated on a hill is the Tavole Palatine, an enduring temple to Hera that is still open to visitors, and nearby, the Necropolis of Crucinia houses a temple to Apollo. Four more temples stand nearby in the Agora and two ancient potters’ ovens are preserved in the industrial quarter. After lunch, continue to Policoro, known as Heraclea in ancient times, and before that, Siris. This is where the Battle of Pirro raged, where the great hero stopped the Roman army with his legion of elephants. HELIOS HOTEL.  (B,L, D)

 

Day 9

CROTONE

Discover Crotone, which legend has it was discovered on the advice of the Oracle of Delphi. The historical center is home to a massive castle, which stands on the “Hill of the Knight,” and was erected over the ancient acropolis. Explore the Pescheria district, lined with the elegant palaces of the local nobility, and several historical churches. Stop by the Archaeological National Museum, housing treasures too fragile or valuable to leave in their respective sites. Visit the nearby archaeological park of Capo Colonna, home to a temple dating to the 5th century BC. HELIOS HOTEL.  (B,L,D)

 

Day 10

CROTONE/ LOCRI/REGGIO CALABRIA

Plato once called Locri “the flower of Italy.” Discover why today as you explore the archeological remains which include several temples and necropolis complexes that span several eras of Locri’s history. The Sanctuary of Persephone is of particular interest and was once pillaged by Pyrrhus himself. The Locri Epizefiri National Museum nearby houses some of the remarkable finds from these digs and will truly give you perspective into how Locri has evolved through the centuries. Head to Reggio Calabria in the evening for your farewell dinner and overnight.  GRAND HOTEL EXCELSIOR. (B,L,D)

 

Day 11

REGGIO CALABRIA /USA

 

Your remarkable journey has come to an end, as you transfer to the airport for your flight back to the USA.  (B, Meals Aloft)

Post-Extension to Sicily

Spend a day in Reggio Calabria and visit the remarkable archeological museum housing the Riace Bronzes sculptures of ancient athletes. Then continue your journey to the ancient world to the isle of Sicily. Start at the foot of the mighty Mt. Etna in Catania, where many of the ancient ruins are constructed from stones of cooled lava. Next is Taormina, a city defined by its medieval architecture and its Ancient Greek soul. Spend your days taking in the treasure trove of natural beauty in this region, sampling authentic Sicilian food, and exploring the heritage of this beloved place.


 

[SB1]

This originally said “Extension to Gardini Naxos, but they only go there on the last day to sleep and hit the airport, so I changed it.”

Prices starting at $5,895. For further booking, date, and pricing info please contact info@classicescapes.

 

Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.