MSA CULTURAL TOURS

 
OCTOBER 25 - NOVEMBER 4, 2017

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We are pleased to inform you that Anthony Miraglia, artist and UMD Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts, will co-guide the tour. Tony was born in Sicily, traveled the island extensively, and for 12 years taught in the successful UMD Summer Sicily Program. Tony is fluent in Italian and will bring his rich knowledge of Sicilian art and culture to the tour. Tony and Ben Taggie will also team-teach a Rome and Sicily course for the Second Half Lifelong Learning Institute next spring. Professor Kathy Miraglia of the UMD Art Education Department who also taught in the Summer Sicily Program will be with us to share her knowledge of Sicilian culture. Should you wish to contact Tony directly he can be reached at amiraglia@umassd.edu, or 508.646.8228.

DAY 1 FLY BOSTON TO PALERMO

DAY 2 ERICE Arrive at the Hotel Moderno in late afternoon.

 

DAY 3 ERICE

 

 

Overlooking the northern coast of western Sicily, ancient Erice was a prosperous city famous for its temple to a fertility goddess, later identified with Venus and worshipped by the Romans. The Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Moslems and Normans, in turn, conquered the city. There are some ancient Phoenician walls around the northeastern side of the city, and two castles, Pepoli Castle, dating from Saracen times, and Venus Castle, dating from the Norman era built on ruins of the ancient Temple of Venus. Erice, which sits atop Mt. San Giuliano offers charming old stone streets, medieval churches, spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea, and is noted for its many varieties of couscous and pastry. Overnight in Erice.

 

 

 

 

Erice Bell Tower and view of Mediterranean

Erice Cathedral Baroque Interior

Erice Medieval Cathedral

Erice Temple of Venus

View of Mediterranean from Temple of Venus

 

 

DAY 4 ERICE TO CEFALU WITH STOPS IN SEGESTA, PALERMO AND MONREALE

SEGESTA
We will visit the well-preserved 5th Century BC Doric Temple and the Greek Theatre. Segesta ranks as one of the world's best-preserved Greek architectural sites. The temple of Segesta is 190 feet long, 85 feet wide with 36 Doric columns. Apparently, the temple was never completed and appears to never have had a "cella," or roof, and built between 430 and 420 BC. Segesta's other main monument is the amphitheatre on Monte Barbaro, 1300 feet above sea level. The semi-circular seating area measures 210 feet in diameter and was carved out of the solid rock of the mountain.

Rome's granery view from Temple at Segesta  

Segesta Temple

Segesta Theater

 


 
MONREALE
Monreale, (Royal Mountain), is world-renowned for its cathedral, a dazzling mixture of Arab, Byzantine and Norman artistic styles framed by traditional Romanesque architecture, all combined in a perfect blend of the best that both the Christian and Muslim worlds of the 12th century had to offer. Work on the cathedral began in 1174 with the majority of the work being completed by 1189. The dazzling mosaics in the Cathedral are what make the church world-famous. The masterpiece is the majestic Christ Pantocrator (All Powerful) located on the central apse over the main altar. The entire image is 42 feet across and 23 feet high.
The splendid cloister of the Benedictine Abbey next to the cathedral would alone make Monreale famous. It has 228 column , some with mosaic inlay, each with a meticulously stone-carved capital and each uniquely different that enclose the gardens of the cloister.
 

 

 

Christ Pantocreator

Ceiling detail of the Cathedral shown above

 

Exterior of the apse of the Monreale Cathedral

 

Attached to the Cathedral is the magnificient Benedictine Abbey and cloister with 228 columns and 26 arches.

 

PALERMO
Palermo will provide the opportunity to see Moorish, Norman and Hohenstaufen influences on the architecture of this historic city. Among the sites you will visit will be the Cathedral (Duomo) erected in 1185 that contains the sarcophagus of Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II, the Norman Palace and magnificent Palatine Chapel, the Arab Gate and 12th century San Giovanni degli Eremiti. 

Palermo Duomo

Palermo Cathedral Facade

Palermo Tiara of Queen Costanza

 

Palermo Capella Palatina Mosaics

Palermo Capella Palatina Christ Pantacrato

 

Palermo Capella Palatina Altar

 

CEFALU  - DAY 5

 

Christ Pantocreator - Cefalu Cathedral

We will visit and overnight in the beautiful town of CEFALU with a visit to 12th Century Norman Cathedral, begun in 1131 during the reign of Roger II. The floor plan and artistic style, typical of many cathedrals built in Northern Europe during the same period, differ somewhat from the simple Romanesque lines of Monreale's cathedral.

 

 

Cefalu La Rocca (the Rock)

Near the ruins of the fortress at the top of the mountain are the remnants of the so-called Temple of Diana, probably a Sicanian structure. Several medieval buildings still stand in the city itself. These include the lavatoio (lavandai), a medieval wash house fed by freshwater springs, and the Osteria Magna (Great Guesthouse), where King Roger stayed during his visits to Cefalù.

OVERNIGHT AT HOTEL BELVIDERE IN CEFALU. See website.

 

DAY 6   DEPART CEFALU FOR AGRIGENTO

We will visit the Valley of the Temples located on a plateau overlooking Sicily's southern coast. Agrigento was founded as Akragas around 582 BC by a group of Greek colonists from Gela. Akragas was renamed Agrigentum by the Romans and renamed Agrigento in 1927. Agrigento was destroyed several times during the Punic Wars, suffering extensive damage during a siege by Roman forces in 261 BC, but always rebuilt. The Greek poet Pindar (518-438 BC) described Akragas as "the most beautiful city of the mortals." In the Valley of the Temples are ruins of numerous temples but also necropoli, houses, streets and everything else one would expect to find in an ancient city. There is a small amphitheatre, and a fine archeological museum. Unfortunately, most of the temples at Agrigento are in ruins, with pieces strewn about, and several appear to have never been completed. Part of the Temple of Juno, built around 450 BC, is still intact. Its style has been compared to that of the temples at Paestum.

 

The Temple of Concord, built around 440 BC, is in far better condition. Despite its location virtually in the shadow of a modern city, the Valley of the Temples is surrounded by olive groves and almond orchards that render its ambience altogether natural.

 

Altas support sculptured in the form of a man

Temple of Hercules

 

Overnight at the Hotel Sicilia. See website.

 

DAY 7 - MORNING IN ENNA

The city of Enna is located on a mountaintop almost in the exact center of Sicily, affording a panoramic view overlooking the scenic valleys of Sicily's rugged interior. Enna's position makes it a natural strategic defensive position.

Historically unique, being the only important city of ancient Sicily not founded by foreign invaders; it was established by one of Sicily's three indigenous peoples, the Siculi, from whom the name "Sicily" derives. This makes Enna one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities on the island. Although scholars are not certain when Enna was founded, most agree a major settlement existed as early as 1200 BC. Enna was occupied by the Romans in 258 BC during the first Punic War. Enna's main attraction is the Lombard Castle, built by Frederick II in the early 13th century. Many historians agree the castle was erected on the ruins of an earlier fortification, possibly Arab or Byzantine. The "Lombard Castle" originally had 20 towers; only six survive today. Enna's other noted medieval fortification is Frederick's Tower, which stands twenty four meters high on top of a hill in a public park on the other side of town. It is a fine example of medieval defense-tower construction.

 

The Rock of Demeter Greek/Ceres, Roman Goddess of Agriculture

View of Lombard Castle's principle surviving tower from the exterior

Lombard Castle

 

DAY 7 - AFTERNOON - TRANSPORT TO SIRACUSA
LATE AFTERNOON ARRIVAL AND OVERNIGHT SIRACUSA

OVERNIGHT IN SIRACUSA AT HOTEL GUTKOWSKI. See website.

 

DAY 8 SIRACUSA (SYRACUSE)

Ortigia

Duomo of Siracusa

 

The historic city of Siracusa (Syracuse) is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres...

5th Century B.C. Greek theater, largest in ancient world. Seats 15,000.

 

...architecture, and as the birthplace of the famous mathematician and engineer Archimedes.

 

Cathedral Piazza

Located in the southeast corner of Sicily, Syracuse was founded in 734 by Greek settlers from Corinth.The nucleus of the ancient city was the small island of Ortygia. Siracusa played a key role in the Mediterranean when it was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world.

Ortigia

 

...and from that humble origin grew into one of the great cities of the Mediterranean.

Fountain of Diana in the Piazza of Archimede


One of the most important events in the city's history was the Athenian expedition to Sicily from 415 BC to 413 BC, during the Peloponnesian War. Athens suffered a monumental defeat at the hands of Syracuse which lead to their loss of the Peloponnesian War and the Golden Age of Greek Civilization.

Ear of Dionysius



Syracuse later became part of the Roman Republic and Byzantine Empire. Palermo overtook Syracuse in importance and became the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily. Eventually the kingdom would be united with the Kingdom of Naples until the Italian unification of 1860.

 

DAY 9 - DEPART FOR TAORMINA WITH VISIT TO MT. ETNA


Mount Etna on the east coast of Sicily between Messina and Catania, is the tallest active volcano in Europe, 10,922 ft and the highest mountain south of the Alps. In Greek Mythology, the forges of the god, Hephaestus (Vulcan) were located underneath it.

 

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in a constant state of activity.


Mt. Etna, as seen from the International Space Station

The fertile volcanic soils support extensive agriculture, with vineyards and orchards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain.


TAORMINA - OVERNIGHT at VILLA SCHULER - see website

 

 

Taormina, built on a cliff of Mt. Tauro overlooking the Ionian Sea and in the shadow of Mt. Etna has long been Sicily's most famous resort town. It was here that D.H. Lawrence was inspired to write Lady Chatterly's Lover, one of the most passionate and erotic love stories of its era (One can see the home where he lived).


D.H. Lawrence

Taormina has endlessly winding medieval streets and tiny passages, each with its own great restaurants, cafés and gelaterias.

Famous Wunderbar

Taormina is beautiful by day and in the evenings. The beauty of Taormina is enhanced by the distant spectacle of Mount Etna's nocturnal fires spewing its lava flows along the snow-covered slopes of Europe's greatest volcano.

Within its stone walls, Taormina has fascinating archeological monuments and medieval homes.


Porta Cataina

                                                                                           

Corvaja Palace

 

Corvaja Palace Courtyard

 

The most famous is the view overlooking the Greco-Roman amphitheatre, one of Sicily's largest, with Mount Etna and the sea in the background.

Greco-Roman Theater

 

DAY 11 - ARRIVEDERCI SICILY.....FLY BACK HOME TO BOSTON

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