Travel consultant focused on cultural travel in the Middle East & Mediterranean
A small-scale 22-day private tour for four travellers plus myself as tour escort
We start in Rome, where we spend four nights. Then on to Naples, which serves as a base for the Amalfi Coast and the wonderful twin cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Most of our time will be spent in Sicily, starting in the capital city of Palermo with its splendid architecture, and the nearby cathedral of Monreale decorated with Italy’s finest Byzantine mosaics.
The ancient world is beautifully represented by the Doric temples of Selinunte and Agrigento, as well as the Roman mosaics of Villa del Casale at Piazza Armerina.
The south-east corner of Sicily is enriched by the 17th and 18th century Baroque towns of Noto, Modica and Ragusa Ibla, while Siracusa can still remind us why it was a rival to Athens in classical times.
We then move up the west coast to the charming resort town of Taormina in the shadow of Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano. And we finish our Italian experience with a day trip to the mainland, to visit the Magna Grecia (or ‘Greater Greece’) museum in Reggio Calabria.
I am always happy to organise a tour for your group, however big or small
A 17-day tour of the Greek mainland and a Cycladic island
The itinerary will be unhurried (we spend a minimum of two nights in all stops except one), and of course we’ll get to see all the major classical sites. The Acropolis in Athens, the ancient theatre of Epidaurus, the Homeric capital of Mycenae, the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, and the incomparable mountain complex of Delphi.
In addition to the must-see places, we’ll get out into the countryside to some less-visited sites. This includes the mountain town of Metsovo with its enduring craft tradition; the village of Tsepevolo in the spectacular mountain region of Zagoria; and the charming lake-side city of Ioannina.
Greece is justly famous for its classical heritage, but we will also be looking at its wonderful medieval heritage, in the form of some spectacular monasteries – the ancient monastery of Ossias Lukas, and in particular the complex of Meteora. This is a group of medieval buildings perched on giant rocky outcrops, still inhabited by nuns and monks and still going strong.
A visit to Greece is incomplete without the islands, and of course, we’ll be no exception. The magical Cycladic island of Santorini, with its ancient Minoan site of Akrotiri, its spectacular volcanic caldera, and its dazzling light, is generally regarded as the most beautiful of Mediterranean islands; and we’ll have three nights there to make up our own minds.
A feature of this tour will be four visits to wineries – as you may know, Greece’s wine industry has undergone a major revival, and these visits (on the mainland and Santorini) will give us an opportunity to sample some fine wines, as well as giving us a great excuse for lunch in the spring sunshine.
One of the great pleasures of travel is interaction with the locals; and our last trip there showed us that the Greeks’ economic problems have not affected their welcoming attitude to visitors or their obvious pride in their culture.
Group size will be small and accommodation will be of a good standard, with the emphasis on centrally located hotels that feel Greek rather than big bland ‘international’ hotels.
The group will be escorted by me throughout, and we will have the services of a professional English-fluent guide throughout the tour. We will also have a single driver for our coach on the mainland.