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Pagans and Christians in the Roman World

Departure     April 14 – 24, 2020

When Christianity arrived on the world stage in the first century AD, Rome and the Empire it founded were predominantly “pagan” – filled with a large number of polytheistic religions worshipping the Greek and Roman gods.  On this tour, we will examine how the Christian faith first came to the Italian peninsula, and especially Rome, the city destined to be the epicenter of Christianity.  In particular, we will explore the clash of religions and cultures: between the pagan cults of Rome and the Christian church that was to become the official religion of the empire for centuries to come.

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 : Tue, Apr 14 - Depart the USA

Depart from the United States to Naples, Italy

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 2 : Wed, Apr 15 - Arrive in NAPLES / SORRENTO

Arrive at Naples airport for our group transfer to the Grand Hotel Europa Palace in Sorrento, our home base for the next four nights. This Art Nouveau villa overlooks the Bay of Naples and is surrounded by Mediterranean terrances and gardens, and is just a 5-minute walk from the historic center of Sorrento. This evening join fellow travelers for a welcome dinner.

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Meals Included

Day 3 : Thu, Apr 16 - Tour AMALFI / RAVELLO

Drive on the coastal road that skirts the famed Amalfi coast, one of the most scenic roads in Italy. Stop at the beautiful town of Amalfi, an old-maritime republic that competed with Venice and Genoa for control of the Mediterranean trade routes. Visit the 9th-century cathedral of St. Andrew and its 13th-century cloister, and the Civic Museum. After lunch, continue to Ravello, one of Italy's most attractive hill towns, where we visit the Palazzo Rufolo, dating to the 11th century, and its beautiful gardens.

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Meals Included

Day 4 : Fri, Apr 17 - Tour PAESTUMBERAT

Enjoy a full day excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Paestum. Originally called Poseidonia, in honor of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. The city was founded in the 6th century BC by Greek settlers before falling under Roman control in 273 BC. Now the home to three of the world's best preserved ancient Greek temples, the site also includes a fine museum in which are displayed millennia-old frescoes, ceramics and the iconic Tomba del Tuffatore (Tomb of the Diver) fresco.

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Meals Included

Day 5 : Sat, Apr 18 - Tour HERCULANEUM / POMPEII

Spend the day exploring Herculaneum and Pompeii, the Roman towns that were destroyed by the cataclysmic eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. Situated near the coast and at the foot of Vesuvius, both towns were buried under a dense layer of ash. Systematic excavations begun in the mid-19th century have recovered precious artifacts and revealed the beauty and grandeur of the towns, with their temples, other public spaces and grand villas. Explore both sites and enjoy lunch at a winery at the base of Mount Vesuvius.

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Meals Included

Day 6 : Sun, Apr 19 - Tour NAPLES

In the morning, visit the National Archaeological Museum in Naples, one of the world's richest collections of Greek and Roman art, including superb mosaics and other artifacts retrieved from the excavations in Pompeii, Herculaneum and elsewhere. Enjoy a casual pizza lunch in Naples, the quintessential Neapolitan meal, before continuing via high speed train to Rome. On arrival, check-in to the elegant Hotel Kolbe, located in the heart of the city, only a few steps from the Circus Maximus and the Roman Forum. Enjoy the balance of the day at leisure.

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Meals Included

Day 7 : Mon, Apr 20 - Tour ROME

A morning tour of Rome's historical center visits the Colosseum, a stone amphitheater commissioned around 70-72 AD by Emperor Vespasian as a gift to the Roman people. It opened in 80 AD with 100 days of games and continued to be used for four centuries. Just west of the Colosseum is the Roman Forum, once the center of ancient Rome, with temples, courts, markets and government buildings. You may enjoy a great view of the Eternal City from the Capitoline Hill, one of the Seven Hills of Rome, and home to several important temples. In the afternoon, we will visit the beautiful Basilica of St John Lateran (Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano). Built in the 4th century by Constantine, it was the Pope's principal residence, and the most important church in Christendom until the 14th century when the Pope moved across the city to the Vatican. Continue to the church of Santa Maria del Popolo located near the northern gate of the Aurelian Wall, and the first stop for ancient travelers entering the city. An excellent example of Renaissance architecture, the church contains works by Raphael, Bernini, Caravaggio and others.

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Meals Included

Day 8 : Tue, Apr 21 - Tour ROME

This morning we will visit the Pantheon, one of the best-preserved monuments of ancient Rome, featuring a rotunda with a massive domed ceiling whose construction reflects the genius of Roman architects. Situated on the site of an earlier structure thought to have been a temple for the Roman gods and a Catholic church since 609, it was the first Roman pagan temple to be consecrated as a Christian church. Continue to the opulent baroque San Luigi dei Francesi, church to Rome's French community since 1589, where in the Contarelli Chapel are displayed a series of famous paintings by the Baroque master, Caravaggio, known collectively as the St. Matthew Cycle. We will visit the 15th-century Palazzo Altemps which features an important collection of Greek and Roman sculpture displayed in rooms beautifully decorated with frescoes on the walls and ceilings. This afternoon is at leisure.

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Meals Included

Day 9 : Wed, Apr 22 - Tour OSTIA ANTICA / SAN CALLISTO

Enjoy a full-day excursion to Ostia Antica and the Catacombs of San Callisto. Once the harbor city of ancient Rome, Ostia Antica is now a vast archaeological site. Unlike Pompeii, the town was not destroyed by a volcanic eruption - it simply fell into decay over the centuries. Walk down the town's main arterial street, called Decumanus Maximus, and view the many well-preserved houses, shops, baths and temples, which once thrived here. After lunch, continue to the Catacombs of San Callisto, a network of passageways over 12.5 miles (20km) in length and the burial place of 16 popes and scores of Christian martyrs. Ancient Christians did not agree with the pagan custom of burning the bodies of their dead, so they created these vast underground cemeteries on the outskirts of Rome.

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Meals Included

Day 10 : Thu, Apr 23 - Tour VATICAN CITY

This morning we will explore Vatican City, with a special early morning entrance to the Sistine Chapel to view Michelangelo's Genesis ceiling frescoes and his Last Judgement altar fresco. As we walk through the Vatican Museum we will view the pontifical collection of classical sculptures at Pio Clementino; Gallery of the Tapestries; Gallery of the Geographical Maps; and Raphael's Rooms. Also, visit St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica, with the opportunity to view Michelangelo's Pieta. The afternoon is at leisure prior to our farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

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Meals Included

Day 11 : Fri, Apr 24 - ROME / Departure

In the morning, there is a group transfer to Rome's Fiumicino Airport for your flight home.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Tour Price

$4,990 per person, double occupancy

Single room supplement: $780

Inclusions

Expert Guest Lecturer

Bart D. Ehrman

Bart D. Ehrman

Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he has taught since 1988.  Professor Ehrman has published extensively in the fields of New Testament and Early Christianity, having written or edited thirty-one books, including six New York Times Bestsellers: Misquoting Jesus; God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer our Most Important Question – Why We Suffer; Jesus Interrupted; Forged: Why the Bible’s Authors are Not Who We Think They Are; How Jesus Became God; and The Triumph of Christianity.  His Introduction to the New Testament has been the most widely used textbook in colleges and universities for over twenty years.  He has recorded eight lecture courses for The Great Courses (The Teaching Company).   More than two million copies of his books and courses have been sold, and his books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. Professor Ehrman’s work has been featured in the New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post and other print media.  He has appeared on NBC's Dateline, CNN, The History Channel, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, the BBC, Fresh Air, other major NPR shows, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Colbert Report, and other top media outlets. A widely sought after lecturer, and winner of numerous university awards and grants, Professor Ehrman is the recipient of the 2009 J. W. Pope “Spirit of Inquiry” Teaching Award, the 1993 UNC Undergraduate Student Teaching Award, the 1994 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Award for excellence in teaching.

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Phone : +1 866.633.3611