8 day Excursion to Southern Italy - Greek Speaking Villages - Big Greece - Sicily
Enjoy a marvellous trip to North Italy - Greek Speaking Villages - Big Greece - Sicily arranged by Zafiris Tours.
Gathering and departure for Patra. Ship boarding, departure at 18:00, after a short trip, we travel to Bari (time of arrival 8:30 local time). Overnight stay on ship.
After our arrival we will depart for Reggio with a stop in Taranto. A city in S. Italy, built next to the homonymous bay, in the place of the ancient Greek collony os Sparta. This important city of Apulia has developed in a small island in the local lagoon and the coast around it. It an important part of the province, with a population of 201.349 residents (according to the 2001 census). It's a significant port and the main bas for Italy's naval forces. Continuing west, headed for Matera, which is an Italian city of the Basilicata region in south Italy. It is the capital of the homonymous province Matera. The city is situated close to a small gorge where the river Gravina runs through. Since 1993 the Sassi Di Matera have been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This city is also the site where the film "The Passion of the Christ" was directed by Mel Gibson. Matera gained popularity due to the ancient city "Sassi Di Matera" which translates to "the stones-caves of Matera. The Sassi Di Matera are house-caves in the rocks and their history dates back to the prehistoric era. There is the suspicion that the first people that came to Italy settled here. Next is the city of Reggio (today known a Reggio di Calabria). It's the most important city of Calabria, built on top of the ancient greek collony of the same name. A big centre of the province with a population of 186.134. In Reggio di Calabria we will admire the two Greek warrior statues, delivered to immortality by the sculpting of Pheidias' school. During our visit at the museum, except for Riace's Bronzes, we will have the opportunity to get a taste of the presence of Ancient Greece in the area, and other important artifacts. Overnight stay. (Grand Hotel Excelsior Reggio) or (Ι hotel)
Depature. We will pass through the legendary Scylla and Charybdis, passinf to Sicily, and Messina. It is Sicily's third largest city, capital of the province. It was founded by Greeks under the name of Zancle and later renamed to Messina, in honour of the Peloponnesian Messini. The population is around 250.000 but including the surrounding villages comes up to 500.000. We'll take a look at the city, which holds up by mere stubbornness, Θα ρίξουμε μια ματιά στην πόλη που πεισματικά διατηρείται despite the destructions, and the passing of centuries, the birthplace of Antonello da Messina, and the characteristic astronomical clock in the bell tower of the rebuilt Duomo. Continuing to Palermo and passing through the north side of the island with a stop at Cefalu, a city built under a huge limestone rock. We move forward, to the capital, and most important city of Sicily, Palermi. Settle at hotel. Dinner and overnight stay. (San Paolo Palace Hotel)
We wil take a tour of the medieval but also baroque in a variety of places, Palermo. Palermo (ancient greek Πάνορμος) is the capital and administrative city of the autonomous part of Sicily. It's built in a magical location, in the heart of the big bay, in the northwest coast of Sicily, at the foot of Mt. Pelegrino, in a fetrile valley. An important city, with a university and other higher education institutions, yards, shipyards, with a big silk and textiles industry and a great port with significant commercial traffic. It has great history, it was a Carthage collony while Phoenicians and Greeks used it a station for their travels. Conquered by Romans, Normans, French, Spanish and Arabian. There are beautiful monuments, specimens of its long history throughout the centuries. The Norman palace, the Cathedral and the city of Monreale are some of the now significant buildings. Free time in the afternoon. A stroll in the famous Palermo market, will give you the opportunity to "taste" the city. Settle in hotel, overnight stay. (San Paolo Palace Hotel)
After breakfast we head to Agrigento, the ancient Greek Akragas(Ακράγας) the home of Luigi Pirantello, creator of Modern Italian Theatre. Agrigento is a city in the south coast of Sicily, and capital of the homonymous province. In ancient times it was known as Akragas, one of the most prominent cities of Magna Graecia. The historic city centre belongs among UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. Visit the archaeological site "Valley of Temples" where we will see important Greek temples. We continue on the route which will reveal Sicily's inland. Have the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful view of "Hephaisto's Workshop", the dormant volcano of Etna. Arrive at our hotel in Catania, the second largest city of Sicily with a population of 380.000 residents, built on the foot of Mt. Etna. It was a collony built by Chalcidians from Sicily's Naxos. Overnight stay. (Hotel Mercure Catania Excelsior)
After breakfast we begin, following the beach road, and arrive at the inportant city of Archimides and Corinthian collony, Syracuse. Syracuse (ancient Greek: Συρακούσαι, Latin: Syracusae, Italian: Siracusa) is situated in the east coast of Sicily. Founded by Corinthians and Tegeans colonists in 734 B.C. It was the most important city of Magna Graecia and one of the greatest ancient Greek cities. During the Peloponnesian War (Sicilian Expedition 415-413 B.C.) it withstood and repelled the Athenian attack. It later came to be one of the richest and most powerfull Greek cities in Sicily until the subjugation by the Romans in 212 B.C. Cicero called it a "Beautiful and marvellous city". The impressive ruins of the ancient city centre are a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. We will tour around the city and see the temples of Athena and Apollo, the Fountain of Arethusa, the Altar of Hieron, the Acropolis of Epiploi and the maybe the most important - after the on in Epidavros - ancient Greek theatre. Return to Catania. Overnight stay. (Hotel Mercure Catania Excelsior)
After breakfast we depart for the Ionian coast. Arrival at Lecce. A beautiful city, full of life at all hours, and the spiritual centre in Apulia, it can also be seen by the baroque style buildings of the historic town centre and the reason it was given the name of "Florene of the South". Settling in the hotel, overnight stay. (hotel Delle Palme)
In the morning we visit the Greek-speaking Villages of Salento: Kalimera, Martano, Coriliano where we will have the opportunity to experience the local culture and their different characteristics by meeting representatives of the local community. Shortly after we head for the town of Alberobello, famous for its trulli, whitewashed stone huts with conical roofs. After a short stop we continue, headed for the capital of Apulia, Bari. The trip back, begins. We take the ship from Bari at 19:30 for Patra, programmed arrival at 13:00.
Arrival at Patra and departure for Nafplio. End of excursion.