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GREECE / ITALY / MALTA / TUNISIA

Adventures Afloat: Realms of the Mediterranean Aboard Minerva: Italy, Tunisia, Malta and Greece

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Road Scholar
Program #21371RJ
17 Days | 16 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderate
We’re always developing educational adventures that open windows to new places and probe fascinating topics. Check out our latest creations.
See all of our New programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
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Louise Glassman Aug 19, 2014 at 05:12 PM

Are there any other passengers from Georgia? We love the Minerva and the Med so we are very excited to be joining this adventure. We are beginning our trip in Atlanta and would enjoy getting acquainted with anyone else who is also doing so.


Jose Oyola Dec 22, 2013 at 09:30 AM

If you´re considering Adventures Afloat: Italy, Tunisia, Malta and Greece, the following NYTimes article would give you insights on Malta.
December 6, 2013
Beneath Malta’s Beauty, a Tangled History
By ELISABETH EAVES
Nicholas de Piro doesn’t look like a warrior monk. As the bespectacled grandfather padded around his 16th-century palazzo, pointing out curiosities like a gilded sedan chair and silver medical tools, he appeared more likely to offer me a cup of tea than slay anyone in the name of Christ. And yet that is the sort of thing Mr. de Piro’s order, the Knights of Malta (officially the Sovereign Hospitaller Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta), were known for in their heyday. Drawn from the most noble families of Europe, they left their homelands, took vows of chastity and obedience and dedicated themselves to fighting infidels. The order no longer wages war, focusing instead on caring for the sick and poor. Until I arrived at Mr. de Piro’s doorstep on the Mediterranean island-nation of Malta, though, I’d had no idea that the Knights of Malta still existed.

The history of Malta — actually an archipelago that includes three inhabited islands, just 50 miles south of Sicily — is peppered with violence and disorder. Today, though, it is hard to find a corner of the country that doesn’t feel peaceful and safe. Its crystal-clear, intensely blue waters make for some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving in Europe, while its beaches, rocky coves, arid hills and warm weather have long attracted northern neighbors in search of cheap sunshine. And yet not even 2 percent of visitors come from the United States. If you have seen it recently, it was probably in its role as a Hollywood stand-in for places like Athens (“Munich”) and Jerusalem (“World War Z”).

But underneath that tranquil, movie-set-friendly surface lies an astoundingly rich past, even for a region crisscrossed over time by myriad cultures. Settlement on Malta dates back to prehistory; it has been ruled over the centuries by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs, among others. After briefly being conquered by Napoleon around the turn of the 19th century, it spent many decades under British rule before achieving independence in 1964.

But the main draw for me was the pivotal epoch of the Knights. The Hospitaller Knights of St. John, founded during the Crusades, settled in Malta in 1530 and stayed until 1798, during which time they left an indelible mark. “It was the greatest thing that ever happened to us,” Mr. de Piro said of the Knights’ rule, during which the cosmopolitan soldier-aristocrats lured artists and craftsmen to their shores and built castles, cathedrals, and the city of Valletta, still the nation’s bustling capital.

Though it covers less than half a square mile, Unesco calls Valletta “one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.” And despite plenty of visitors, it doesn’t have that over-touristed, museumlike feel that afflicts some historic quarters. During rush hour, Maltese on their way to and from work stream across the 16th-century bridge that leads from the surrounding neighborhoods into the city. At night they spill out of the Italian-Baroque Manoel Theater, which shows opera and classical concerts, to down quick espressos during intermission. On Friday evenings during the warmer months, the Bridge Bar puts out cushions on the 450-year-old stone steps outside its doors, and a throng gathers to listen to live jazz by candlelight.

My interest in the era began at the age of 10, when a Spanish teacher gave me “El Guerrero del Antifaz” (“The Masked Warrior”), a swashbuckling and politically incorrect Christians-versus-Moors-themed comic book. It left me with a lingering interest in the fault lines between Christianity and Islam that, as an adult, would take me on trips across the region, from Spain to Syria. But even amid the endlessly complex, warring and trading history of


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15 nights of accommodations
44 meals: 15 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 15 dinners
6 Expert-led lectures
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