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Phoenicians, Etruscans, Greeks & Romans in the Western Mediterranean

Program Number: 21194RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/12/2013 - 5/23/2013;
Duration: 11 nights
Location: Spain/France
Price starting at: $7,990.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Small Ship Cruising
Meals: 28; 9 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, some of history’s greatest civilizations rose and fell, traded and made war, built fortresses and temples and created beautiful works of art. Learn about the ancient Phoenicians, Etruscans, Greeks and Romans as you discover the evidence these proud peoples left behind on the Italian mainland, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. Find magnificent temples, painted tombs, stunning artifacts and two Roman towns frozen in time by a volcano’s eruption.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day; some uneven and hilly terrain. Small boats are sometimes used for disembarkation and re-embarkation.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Aboard Corinthian, 9 nights.

Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.

Days 2-3: Arrival Barcelona (Spain) / embark Corinthian / At Sea

Day 4: Sant’Antioco (Italy):

On this island located off the southwest corner of Sardinia, find the Phoenician (and later Roman) town of Sulcis and the old church with its catacombs.

Day 5: Cefalù:

Explore picturesque Cefalù on the coast of Sicily. Visit the imposing 12th-century cathedral and examine ancient and medieval artifacts at the Mandralisca Museum.

Day 6: Vibo Valentia:

Sail along the lovely Tyrrhenian Coast then go ashore to discover Vibo Valentia, once a major city of Greater Greece that was famed for the horses bred there.

Day 7: Agropoli:

Journey to Paestum, the “City of Poseidon,” a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its magnificent temples. Enjoy free time to discover the old town of Agropoli, built on a headland above a beautiful bay.

Day 8: Pompeii & Herculaneum:

Explore these two ancient towns frozen in time when they were destroyed by the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.

Day 9: Tarquinia:

Experience the realm of the Etruscans including the beautifully painted tombs of Tarquinia. Visit the National Museum, housed in a splendid Renaissance palazzo.

Days 10: Bastia (France):

Sail to the French island of Corsica and venture to the ruins of Aléria, its ancient Roman capital. Sample local delicacies like oysters and mussels.

Day 11: Nice / disembark / departure


Launched in early 2009 after extensive refurbishment, redecoration, and other improvements, the private yacht-like Corinthian accommodates a maximum of 100 passengers in 50 suites, all offering ocean views. Public facilities include a single-seating restaurant, two lounges, expansive library, gym, spa, Jacuzzi and spacious sundeck.

Meals and Lodgings
   Abba Balmoral Barcelona
  Barcelona, Spain 1 night
  Aboard the Corinthian, At Sea 9 nights
 Abba Balmoral Barcelona
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: 103 Rooms, free Wi-Fi connection in all hotel, meeting rooms up to 180 people, coffee–bar, restaurant, parking, business center, sauna, fitness center and solarium. In Barcelona city center, 5 minutes to Gaudí's famous building “La Pedrera”, next to la Diagonal of Barcelona and close to Passeig de Gràcia and Rambla Catalunya.
  Ship Information: n/a
  Contact info: C/ Vía Augusta, 5
Barcelona,  08006 Spain
phone: +34 ) 93 217 87 00
  Room amenities: All Standard rooms have free Wi-Fi, a bathroom with bath, hair dryer, cosmetic/shaving mirror and all the necessary facilities and comfort for yourstay. All the rooms have a flat-screen television, safe, minibar, air conditioning, laundry service and a desk. They include free access to the gym, sauna and panoramic terrace. Room size: 25-35 m2. Type of bed: Twin (1 x 1,90 m) / Queen (2m x 1,8m).
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBD Contact PD for rates

Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: This private yacht-like cruise ship accommodates only 100 guests in 50 suites.
  Ship Information: Gross Tonnage: 4,077 Overall Length: 290 feet Beam: 50 feet Draft: 12 feet Flag Malta
  Contact info: 132 East 70th Street,
New York ,, NY 10021 USA
phone: 800-257-5767
  Room amenities: All accommodations aboard the Corinthian are suites. And include a bedroom with two twin-sized beds or one queen sized bed, sitting area, mini bar, VCR/DVD/CD player, color TV, Marble appointed bathroom with spacious shower and other amenities.
  Facility amenities: Public facilities include a restaurant tha accomodates guests at a single, unassigned seating, two lounges, expansive library with Internet access, state-of-the-art gym/spa, beauty salon, boutique,Jacuzzi, hospital and ample deck areas for sunbathing and relaxing.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
This program begins late in the afternoon of Day 2 at the program hotel You will be staying at Abba Balmoral Barcelona that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast on board the ship in Nice. You will be staying at Corinthian the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Barcelona
  Transportation to site: Participants who purchase their air travel through Road Scholar will be met at the Barcelona airport (BCN) and transfered to the program hotel. Taxis are readily available at the airport for independent travelers.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Aboard the Corinthian
  Transportation from site: All participants who are departing on May 23rd will be transfered from the port in Nice to the airport.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Overnight Flight from the US
(Sunday, May 12)
 Depart From: Depart the US for international flights to Barcelona, Spain

Day 2: Arrivals
(Monday, May 13)
 Arrive To: Arrive in Barcelona, Spain and transfer to the hotel.
 Dinner: In the evening, join your group leader for a welcome dinner and program orientation at the hotel.
Accommodations: Abba Balmoral Barcelona
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Barcelona / Embark Corinthian
(Tuesday, May 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: A local expert will present an overview of Barcelona's history and art during an orientation drive around the city.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, visit Antoni Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece and one of Barcelona's most recognized landmarks, the Sagrada Familia. Transfer to the Corinthian to board the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
Accommodations: Corinthian
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: At Sea
(Wednesday, May 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Spend a leisurely morning at sea sailing towards Sardinia. Enjoy a presentation by one of the guest lecturers on board.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Continue sailing towards Sardinia
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
Accommodations: Corinthian
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Sant'Antioco Island, Sardinia, Italy
(Thursday, May 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Located off the southwest corner of Sardinia, and connected to it by a causeway, Sant'Antioco was a flourishing Phonenician center, going back to the 9th century B.C. Explore Sulcis, the Phoenician town, later taken over by the Romans. You will also explore the old church of Sant'Antioco, with its catacombs, dating from the 2nd to the 7th centuries, which is linked to the Punic underground chambers.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Continue to explore Sant'Antioco
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
Accommodations: Corinthian
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Cefalu, Sicily
(Friday, May 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Built between an imposing rock and the sea, picturesque Cefalu, with its cobbled streets lined with fine buildings, has retained its lovely medieval character. Founded at the end of the 5th century B.C. by Greeks, Cefalu's many attractions include the stunning Norman cathedral, begun in 1331, with its soaring ancient Roman columns and exquisite mosaics. In addition to visiting the cathedral, we will also tour the Mandralisca Museum, which houses a once-private collection of fine ancient and medieval artifacts.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: You will have free time to enjoy Cefalu on your own before sailing.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
Accommodations: Corinthian
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Vibo Valentia, Calabria
(Saturday, May 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Call at Vibo Valentia Marina, on Calabria's Tyrrhenian Coast, and drive the short distance to Vibo Valentia, originally an ancient Greek settlement, famed for its horses bred on the pastures of the plateau on which the town is set. Explore this unspoiled town, including the imposing Greek walls, the Archaeological Museum, with its fascinating collection of artifacts from the ancient town, and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, with its impressive 18th century decorations.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Vibo Valentia, with its narrow streets, is an ideal town to enjoy on your own and you may do so this afternoon.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
Accommodations: Corinthian
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Agropoli / Paestum / Agropoli, Campania
(Sunday, May 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: The old town of Agropoli is built on a headland above a beautiful bay. A short distance away is Paestum, the ancient Poseidonia (City of Poseidon), founded by Greeks around 600 B.C. and alter taken over by the Romans, famed for its magnificent Doric temples, which are among the best preserved ancient monuments in the Mediterranean. In antiquity Paestum was famous for roses, which flowered twice a year. You will spend the morning exploring the celebrated temples, other ancient remains and the museum.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Return to Agropoli where you will have some time at leisure in town.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
Accommodations: Corinthian
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: The Ancient Sites of the Vesuvian Shore
(Monday, May 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: The small port of Castellamare di Stabia, where Corinthian will dock for the day, makes for a convenient base for our exploration of the ancient sites that were destroyed by the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Included are Pompeii, the fabled Roman town, which has been excavated and brought back to life in the past two centuries; and Herculaneum, the residential town dedicated to its patron deity, Hercules. Alternatively, you may explore the exquisite Villa of Poppaea at Oplontis, whcih was unearthed between 1964 and 1984.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Continue exploring the Vesuvian Shore before the ship sets sail to Tuscany.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
Accommodations: Corinthian
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: The Realm of the Etruscans, Tuscany
(Tuesday, May 21)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: The western part of Central Italy was known as Etruria, the homeland of the Etruscans, who thrived in this area from about 900 B.C. to the 3rd century B.C. when Etruria was absorbed by the expanding Roman Empire. From the port of Civitavecchia, drive to Tarquinia, which was probably the lead city of the Etruscan Confederacy, famous for its painted tombs. 5,735 tombs have been found, the most notable of which are those dating from the 6th century B.C. Visit several of the most prominent tombs and the National Museum, housed in a splendid Renaissance palazzo.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Continue exploring Tuscany before returning to the ship
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
Accommodations: Corinthian
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Bastia / Aleria / Bastia, Corsica, France
(Wednesday, May 22)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: From Bastia, Corsica's main commerical city, drive along the island's fertile and pleasant east coast to Aleria, the ancient Roman capital of Corsica. Aleria was first settled in 564 B.C. by Greeks, who introduced olive trees. Occupied briefly by the Carthaginians in the 3rd century B.C., Aleria was then conquered by the Romans, under whom the city prospered. Explore the remains of the ancient city, built on a gentle slope by a river, and visit the museum, which houses objects from the site.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: This region of Corsica is well known for its oysters and mussels and we will have the opportunity to taste these delicacies.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
Accommodations: Corinthian
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Nice / Disembark
(Thursday, May 23)
 Arrive To: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: After breakfast, disembark the ship and transfer to the airport
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Author: Robert Hughes

Description: A Longitude favorite, this big, thoroughly enjoyable cultural history of the city touches on architecture, art, religion and literature from Roman outpost to the present.

Birds of the Mediterranean, A Photographic Guide

Author: Paul Sterry

Description: A slim, concise and clearly organized guide to 440 species of birds from the Mediterranean. Range maps and descriptions are opposite good, clear color photographs, digitally enhanced to aid in identification.

D.H. Lawrence and Italy

Author: D.H. Lawrence

Description: This omnibus Penguin Classics edition includes Lawrence's three travel tales, each very different in tone and all wonderful: Sea and Sardinia is a nostalgic look at traditional ways of life; Twilight in Italy, an evocation of Lawrence's memorable stay on Lake Garda; and Etruscan Places his musings on ancient sites, including the painted tombs of Tarquinia.

Eyewitness Guide Barcelona & Catalonia

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: Handsome, convenient and up-to-date, this superbly illustrated guide features color photography, dozens of local maps and detailed information on the region's attractions.

Eyewitness Guide Sicily

Author: DK Publishing, Eyewitness Guides

Description: This superb guide to Sicily features color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a synopsis of the island's attractions. Handsome, convenient and up-to-date, this is the guide to carry.

Granite Island

Author: Dorothy Carrington

Description: Carrington's indelible account of the history and people, myths and magic of rugged Corsica.

Italy, A Short History

Author: Harry Hearder

Description: Elegantly written, generous and informative, this compact book takes in the sweep of Italian history from the Roman Republic through the Renaissance, World War II and up to the present.

La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind

Author: Beppe Severgnini

Description: Italians themselves love this guide to the Italian character, which addresses their never-ending passion for beauty, disorder and high emotion. Severgnini opens the book with a snapshot of the hubbub at Malpensa Airport, then moves on to Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Sardinia.

Master and Commander

Author: Patrick O'Brian

Description: The very first of O'Brian's wildly successful seafaring novels about Captain Aubrey and sidekick Maturin sets the duo against a well-researched Napoleonic wars backdrop in the Western Mediterranean.

Mediterranean Cruises Map

Author: Freytag & Berndt

Description: A double-sided, full-color map of the Mediterranean, including the Iberian Peninsula and Black Sea, North Africa and the Levant, at a scale of 1:2,000,000.

Mediterranean by Cruise Ship

Author: Anne Vipond

Description: The best-selling, compact guide, featuring excellent local maps, hundreds of color photographs, concise background information and recommended excursions for ports-of-call throughout the Mediterranean.


Author: Paul Johnson

Description: In just over 200 blistering pages, British historian Johnson not only traces the major events of the emperor's life, from his birth on Corsica to his death on St. Helena, but also exposes Napoleon's ruthless appetite for power and his naked opportunism.

Olive, A Global History

Author: Fabrizia Lanza

Description: Lanza provides an engaging, potted history of the modest fruit. The author explains the olive’s use in cooking and ritual and its appearance in art, from Greek myth to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Also includes a selection of recipes.

On Persephone's Island

Author: Mary Taylor Simeti

Description: Strong on the delights of rural life, Simeti's portrait of Sicily takes the form of a yearlong journal, capturing the spirit of the people, daily life, traditions and the land.

On the Shores of the Mediterranean

Author: Eric Newby

Description: A sparkling observer and famously entertaining, Newby tackles the Mediterranean in this merry classic account of travels to North Africa, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cairo and Jerusalem.

Sicily Map

Author: Touring Club Italiano

Description: A detailed map of Sicily (1:200,000), printed on water and tear-resistant paper.

The Ancient Mediterranean

Author: Michael Grant

Description: Grant explores the realms of archaeology, geography, art and economics to sketch this classic portrait of the ancient world, from prehistory through the Roman Imperium, and the influence on western civilization.

The Leopard

Author: Giuseppe Di Lampedusa

Description: Evoking a lost world of privilege and tradition, Giuseppe Di Lampedusa's memorable tale, set on a rural Sicilian estate during the days of independence, follows the world-weary Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina. A classic, now in a 50th anniversary edition.

The Mediterranean in History

Author: David Abulafia (Editor)

Description: A professor at Cambridge, David Abulafia leads a team of eight historians in this engaging, richly illustrated overview of the civilizations, societies and grand themes in the history of this great sea at the heart of Europe. Published in conjunction with the J. Paul Getty Museum, the book features 150 well-integrated color and 150 black-and-white illustrations.

The Middle Sea

Author: John Julius Norwich

Description: A marvelous writer who has already tackled Byzantium, the Normans in Sicily and Venice, Norwich spins his magic in this story of culture, trade and politics, royalty and rulers, wars and religion in the Mediterranean.

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