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Greece & Magna Graecia: A Journey of Learning through Athens, the Peloponnese and Southern Italy

Departure      October 3 – 15, 2020

Southern Italy was known in antiquity as Magna Graecia (“Greater Greece”), on account of the large number of cities founded by Greeks, starting in the 8th century BC. In all 22 major cities were established, some of which became wealthy and powerful as well as centers of culture and learning.

This journey combines parts of Greece and Italy that share a common history.

Why Travel with Thalassa Journeys

Thalassa Journeys was established by the principals and managers of Travel Dynamics, the company that 50 years ago pioneered the concept of educational travel for America’s educational and cultural institutions. The belief that travel is primarily a learning experience forms the core principle of Thalassa Journeys.

Each Thalassa Journey is constructed around a particular theme. Unlike most tours, each of our journeys are intimate, and led by lecturers who are truly subject-matter experts for each theme. Although many other companies claim to have expert lecturers, few truly have accomplished, renowned experts in their fields, like Thalassa.

Itinerary

Day 1 : Oct 3 Depart THE USA

Depart from the US for Athens, Greece.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 2 : Oct 4 Tour ATHENS, Greece

Arrive in Athens and transfer to the elegant Hotel Grande Bretagne, located on Constitution Square, the center of the city. In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 3 : Oct 5 Tour ATHENS

Athens’s ancient monuments attest to its glorious past. This is the birthplace of democracy and many other ideas and concepts that form the integral part of the Western tradition. In the morning visit the Acropolis and its celebrated monuments, including the incomparable Parthenon and other temples built in the 5th century BC. Visit also the Acropolis Museum, which houses an outstanding collection of sculptures and other artifacts. In the afternoon, explore the Agora, the heart of public life of ancient Athens.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 4 : Oct 6 Tour ATHENS/CORINTH/MYCENAE/NAFPLION

Leaving Athens in the morning for the Peloponnese, driving across the bridge over the steep banks of the Corinth Canal, the narrow water way that separates it from the Greek mainland. Stop at Old Corinth, one of the most prominent and powerful cities of ancient Greece. Visit the 6th-century BC Temple of Apollo and the museum. Continue to Mycenae, the most important center of the Mycenaean civilization that flourished in the second millennium BC, and home of Agamemnon. Walk through the monumental Lion Gate to explore the fabled citadel. End the day in nearby Nafplion and the Hotel Ippoliti

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 5 : Oct 7 Tour NAFPLION/EPIDAURUS

Situated on the shores of a spacious bay and crowned with two fortresses, Nafplion is one of Greece’s most attractive towns. Spend the morning at leisure to discover the town’s narrow streets and graceful squares, lined with neoclassical buildings. In the afternoon drive to nearby Epidaurus, the shrine dedicated to Asclepius, the god of healing, famous for its incredible 4th-century BC theater, known for its perfect acoustics and harmonious proportions.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 6 : Oct 8 Tour NAFPLION/MISTRA/SPARTA

Drive through the heartland of the Peloponnese to Mistra. Built on a conical hill that commands superlative views of the plain of ancient and modern Sparta, Mistra was one of the last flourishing centers of the Byzantine Empire. Today, it is an evocative medieval walled city, with several churches that contain luminous frescoes, palaces and houses from that period. Perhaps no other place in Greece gives travelers such a complete picture of the medieval period as Mistra does, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight at the lovely new Mystras Palace Resort and Spa, located in the countryside near Sparta.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 7 : Oct 9 Tour SPARTA/MANI

Very little remains of ancient Sparta, but the Archaeological Museum, which we will visit in the morning, displays artifacts from excavations in Sparta and nearby sites. Continue to storied Mani which offers some of the most distinctive landscape and architecture in Greece. Visit the Caves of Diros, huge chambers with evidence of occupation in the prehistoric period, fitted with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. After lunch, explore some of Mani's villages with their characteristic tower houses.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 8 : Oct 10 Tour OLYMPIA

Leave the hotel in the morning for Olympic, driving through the pretty country of Laconia and Arcadia. Olympia’s beautiful setting in a river valley covered with evergreen oaks, poplars, planes and pines, coupled with its importance throughout antiquity make it one of the most significant archaeological sites in Greece. A sacred precinct dedicated to Zeus, it was at Olympia that the Panhellenic games were held every four years from 776 BC to 393 AD, giving rise to the modern Olympics. Explore Olympia, seeing its temples, other public buildings and the stadium where the games were held. Also, visit the Archaeological Museum, which exhibits some of the best Classical and Roman sculptures in Greece. Hotel Olympion Asty.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 9 : Oct 11 Tour PATRA/FERRY CROSSING TO ITALY

Spend the morning at leisure in Olympia. After lunch, drive to the port city of Patra to board the ferry for the overnight passage to Bari, in Italy’s Puglia region. Accommodations in outside cabins with private facilities.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 10 : Oct 12 Tour BARI/MONOPOLI, Puglia, Italy

Dock in the morning in Bari, the ancient Barium, settled by Greeks and an important port and commercial center under the Romans. Disembark and drive to the fishing port town of Monopoli, noted for its 12th-century cathedral, rebuilt during the Baroque period (18th century). Following a lunch of seafood and other local specialities, continue to our lovely boutique hotel, Il Melograno. The balance of the day is at leisure with dinner including this evening.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 11 : Oct 13 Tour METAPONTUM & TARANTO

Shortly after 800 BC Greeks began to settle in Italy’s southern shores. The cities they founded, (twenty-two major settlements were established), grew in wealth and stature, becoming important centers of culture and learning. This part of Italy was known as Magna Graecia, “Greater Greece.” Leave the hotel in the morning to explore Metapontum, founded in the 7th century BC by settlers from Pylos in the western Peloponnese. The Doric temple known as the Tavole Palatine is one of the best preserved monuments of Magna Graecia. Continue to Taranto, the ancient Taras. Founded by Spartans in 708 BC, Taras became one of the most powerful cities of Magna Graecia. Today, Taranto is an important commercial port city. Tour the town, including the National Archaeological Museum which houses one of the largest collections of antiquities in Italy.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 12 : Oct 14 Tour ALBEROBELLO/EGNATHIA

Start the day by exploring the town of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features over 1,500 trulli structures. These remarkable, curious whitewashed structures have pyramidal, conical, or domed roofs built of corbelled local limestone without mortar, using a prehistoric building technique that has survived to this day. Lunch is at a traditional farmhouse that produces organic mozzarella and other Apulian cheeses. We will be welcomed by the owner, Mariangela, who will show us how to make homemade mozzarella before we enjoy a meal of local specialties that she will prepare just for us. Continue to Egnathia where we explore the remains of this Greek-Messapian town on the Adriatic Coast. In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner.

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Meals Included

Day 13 : Oct 15 BARI / USA

Transfer in the morning to Bari’s airport for the return flights to your home.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Tour Price

$ 6,990 per person, double occupancy

Single room supplement: $ 1390

Inclusions

Expert Guest Lecturer

Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond is a Pulitzer-prize-winning author of five best-selling books, translated into 38 languages, about human societies and human evolution: Guns, Germs, and Steel, Collapse, Why Is Sex Fun?, The Third Chimpanzee, and The World until Yesterday.  As a professor of geography at UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles), he is known for his breadth of interests, which involves conducting research and teaching in three other fields: the biology of New Guinea birds, digestive physiology, and conservation biology.  His prizes and honors include the U.S. National Medal of Science, the Pulitzer Prize for Non-fiction, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Science, and election to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.  He is a director of World Wildlife Fund/U.S.  As a biological explorer, his most widely publicized finding was his rediscovery, at the top of New Guinea’s remote Foja Mountains, of the long-lost Golden-fronted Bowerbird, previously known only from four specimens found in a Paris feather shop in 1895.