Roman Switzerland

Dates: June 30-July 10, 2021

Director: Beverly Berg

The Roman ruins of Switzerland are full of interest and excellently presented. Four major sites offer multiple remains spread over extensive ancient urban areas, giving an informative picture of civilian and military life. Forum Claudii, the principal town of the little province of Alpes Poeninae, sits at the foot of Mount Blanc, while Aventicum was the capital city of the Helvetii. Augusta Raurica was founded near the Rhine for veterans of Caesar’s Gallic wars, and Vindonissa was a legionary fortress and military town. In addition we explore archaeological remains at Kaiseraugst, Nyon, and Vidy-Lausanne. Travel will be by the excellent Swiss train system and distances are short. The Alpine and Rhineland scenery is an added attraction.

Overview: 11 nights, 2 nights Nyon, 3 Martigny, 2 Murten, 4 on the Rhine.

June 29, Tue: (or before) participants depart US.

June 30, Wed: participants arrive in Geneva and take train (some 15 miles) direct from airport to Nyon (ancient Julia Equestris, founded by Caesar) on Lake Geneva to rendezvous with director.  Walking tour of this beautiful little town. First of two overnights in Nyon.

July 1, Thu: visits to the Roman Museum (in the ancient basilica) and the Historical Museum in Nyon.

July 2, Fri: pack up, train to nearby Lausanne (where we check bags), a mere vicus in Roman times but with both an archaeological museum (the gold bust of Marcus Aurelius discovered at Avenches is here) and a second museum at the excavations of Vidy-Lausanne.  We will see the famous gothic cathedral of Lausanne as well, and in late afternoon take the train onward to Martigny. First of three overnights in Martigny.

July 3, Sat:  All day in Martigny beneath the Alps, which began as the Celtic town of Octodurus and then was renamed Forum Claudii, an important stop on the way to the Great Saint Bernard Pass.  There is an excellent archaeological museum, and Roman remains, including an amphitheater and a Mithraeum, are scattered through the town.

July 4, Sun:  day trip to visit the chateau de Chillon on Lake Geneva, one of Europe’s finest castles, and walk the waterfront at Montreux.

July 5, Mon: train to Murten and afternoon walking tour of this most quaint of Swiss towns. First of two nights in Murten.

July 6, Tue: day at Avenches, seven miles from Murten, ancient Aventicum, the capital of the Helvetians, with ruins over an extensive area, including an amphitheater and a theater, and some fine pieces in the archaeological museum.

July 7, Wed: pack up, train to Bern, the Swiss capital, where we check bags, visit the archaeological collection (including the statuette of dea Artio), lunch, see the cathedral, and continue on by train to our hotel near the Rhine.  First of four nights there.  

July 8, Thu:  all day at Augst, ancient Augusta Raurica, a colony founded by Caesar’s deputy Plancus, with manifold ancient remains including an excellent theater and site museum. 

July 9: Fri: morning at Kaiseraugst, Castrum Rauricense, a late Roman fortress on the Rhine, and afternoon in Brugg to visit the Roman museum there.

July 10, Sat: in Brugg we visit the remains of the Roman fortress and town of Vindonissa on the Aare river, the best preserved legionary fortress of Germany Superior. Among the attractions are a substantially preserved amphitheater and clever recreations of soldiers’ barracks.

July 11, Sunday: departure.  Zurich airport is a easy train journey away, or participants may want to continue their travels further, to Strasbourg, for example, with its 22 room archaeological museum.

Those interested should alert the director immediately at bberg (at) To sign up and make a deposit please contact the Vergilian Society Secretary. Switzerland is the most expensive country in Europe due to the power of the Swiss franc.  To keep down your price and ours, the bathroom, in the tradition of the Villa Vergiliana, may occasionally be found down the hall. Gourmets are welcome to indulge, but the director will be pointing out sandwich shops and deli markets.

Cost: $2,495, single supplement $400.  Cost includes hotels, breakfasts, three lunches or dinners, all entry fees, and all ground transportation except transfers between our hotels and airports at beginning or end of trip. Participants should make their deposits quickly to assure their place. Some recent programs have filled rapidly, and hotels sell out quickly in Switzerland.

Electronic Payment Options

A surcharge will be assessed for electronic payment.

Deposit: $750 + $23 surcharge

Total Payment: $2495 + $75 surcharge

Final Payment: $1,745 + $52 surcharge

Single Supplement: $400 + $12 surcharge