Sicily, Crossroads of History


Dec 27, 2014-Jan 4 or 7, 2015

Directed by Beverly Berg (
Sicily is a true crossroads of history, with striking archaeological remains from antiquity and beautiful churches from Medieval and Baroque times. Our program takes a complete circle tour of this magical island. We begin with a visit to beautiful Taormina, then on to Syracuse, where Timoleon and Plato once walked. We contemplate the golden temples of Agrigento, Selinunte, and Segesta, some of the best preserved temples of Classical Greek times. The program ends in Palermo, and there is an optional post-classical continuation to see more of Palermo, once a Punic town, beautified by Norman French rulers in the 12th century and Aragonese rulers thereafter.

8 night program: 1 night Palermo, 2 nights Syracuse, 2 nights Piazza Armerina, 1 night Agrigento, 2 nights Palermo.
11 night program: 3 nights continuation in Palermo.

Weather: Director has visited Sicily thrice in January and experienced excellent weather. There is no sunshine guarantee, but this program is for those who prefer temperatures in the high 50’s over the high 90’s of summer.

Please see notes below on price, deposit deadline, and contacting director.

Fri Dec 26, 2014, Participants depart their homes in the U.S.

Sat Dec 27, Participants arrive in Palermo, afternoon walking tour of the city for those who have arrived in time, welcome dinner for all and overnight in Palermo (included).

Sun Dec 28, Pick up by our coach, drive to visit Taormina with its world famous Greek theater and view of Mount Etna, continue to Syracuse, first overnight in Syracuse.

Mon Dec 29, Walking tour of Ortygia island including the temples of Apollo and Athena. In the afternoon we visit the archaeological park of Syracuse with its theater, amphitheater, and quarries. Overnight again in Syracuse.

Tue Dec 30, Pack up, tour the wonderful Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum of Syracuse, after lunch make a brief visit to Castel Eurialo with its overlook of Syracuse harbor, arrive in Piazza Armerina, overnight in Piazza Armerina.

Wed Dec 31, Morning visit to the striking late Roman mosaic floor mosaics of Villa Romana, afternoon visit to Aidone Museum, then Morgantina, a Hellenistic-Roman city, second overnight in Piazza Armerina.

Thu Jan 1, Drive to Agrigento, see the fine archaeological museum of Agrigento and the dramatic golden temples, some of the best preserved of the ancient world. Overnight in Agrigento.

Fri Jan 2, Drive to Marinella, a pretty coastal town. Visit the nearby temples at Selinunte, a site which offers six major temples in all, some upright, others tumbled, and the sanctuary of Demeter. Continue to Palermo, overnight in Palermo.

Sat Jan 3, Morning visit to the archaeological museum of Palermo. Afternoon drive and visit to Segesta, where Verres stole the statue of Diana, to see the remarkable temple in a beautiful setting and the ancient theater with a view of the sea. Second overnight in Palermo.

Sun Jan 4, Early morning bus to Palermo airport for those on the 8 night program. For those continuing on the post-classical segment, morning visit to the interesting ancient site of Solunto, a town of Punic origin transformed in Greco-Roman times. Our hired bus will drop us off for an afternoon visit to the cathedral of Cefalu with its spectacular mosaic Pantocrator. We return to Palermo via train, overnight there.

Mon Jan 5, Walking tour of Palermo, including a visit to the Martorana church with its 12th century mosaics, and the Norman Palace with its mosaic Capella Palatina. Afternoon visit to the evocative 19th century Palazzo Mirto. Overnight in Palermo.

Tue Jan 6, Visit to the medieval Palazzo Chiaramonte; afternoon visit via public bus to the twelfth century cathedral of Monreale in the hills above Palermo.

Wed Jan 7, Departure. Convenient buses from the station to the airport are available, or taxis (not included).

Price: 8 night version: $1,595 per person, single supplement of $200. 11 night version: $1,995, single supplement $275.
Price will include hotels, breakfasts, dinners except in Syracuse and the extra nights in Palermo, ground transportation, and entry fees. Price will NOT include airfare, dinners in Syracuse and on post-classical extension in Palermo, and transfer from Palermo airport to hotel, or (for those on post-classical extension) from hotel to airport.
Due to the need to procure hotels in the holiday season participants must have signed up and submitted their deposits of $750 by Sept 1. Final payments are due Oct 1. It is recommended that participants submit their deposits as early as possible to hold their place. Deposits are refundable if the Society cancels a program, but not if a participants cancels. Participants should contact the Society secretary to sign up and pay, but should also contact the director ( as soon as they decide to join.