DATES: March 9-March 17, 2013*
**PROGRAM FULL** Contact Greg Seiler at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information before applying.
PROGRAM FEE: $2800; fee covers roundtrip airfare from JFK in New York to Palermo via Rome, a chartered bus roundtrip from Fairfax up to JFK in NYC, many meals (see details below), guided tours, in-country transportation, and the entire week’s stay in three and four star hotels. Fee is based on double occupancy. Single room supplement available.
ELIGIBILITY: Open to the entire Mason community (students, alumni, faculty, staff) and the general public, so please invite your friends and family!
CONTACT: Gregory Seiler, email@example.com, (703) 993-2641
REGISTER ONLINE and submit the $500 non-refundable deposit at time of application to secure your spot on the program by September 7, 2012. Remaining program balance of $2300 is due by November 16, 2012. First come, first serve. The program has a limited number of slots available. The CGE office can take VISA or Mastercard payments for deposits only.
PROGRAM LEAD: Dr. Lawrence Butler, Associate Professor, History & Art History
CREDIT: We will be able to offer an optional one credit of HIST 398 (for the additional cost of $395.00). This coursework will be overseen by Dr. Lawrence Butler, faculty director for this trip.
Saturday, MARCH 9 - Travel day
In the morning board chartered bus bound for NYC.
Sunday, MARCH 10 - Arrival and transfer to hotel (Dinner included)
Arrive Palermo airport. Welcome to Sicily! Arrive Palermo airport. Welcome to Sicily! Upon arrival, you are met and transferred by private coach to your hotel. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner & overnight in Palermo.
Monday, MARCH 11 - Tour of Palermo, Optional excursion to Cefalù (Breakfast and Dinner included)
Breakfast at hotel. Enjoy the visit of the city of Palermo, the capital of Sicily built along a bay at the foot of Mount Pellegrino. The city prospered under the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabic and later Norman rule. The golden age for Palermo was however during the Arabic domination when it rivaled even Cairo in beauty. The tour includes Palermo's historic centre viewing the Quattro Canti, Fontana Pretoria, the Cathedral, the Norman Palace with the Palatine Chapel and the Theatres.
Throughout Palermo, there are excellent pastry shops and "bars" that serve icecreams, pastries and, during Summer months, granita (flavoured ices). If you want to sample these tempting delights in a leisurely setting, we suggest the charming outdoor cafés on Via Principe di Belmonte, which runs from Via Maqueda to Via Roma near the Politeama Theatre. No extended visit of Palermo is truly complete without a visit to Monreale.
The cathedral and its cloister represent the largest concentration of Norman, Arab and Byzantine art in one place. True, Palermo's cathedral is larger, but Monreale's exists in something far closer to its original twelfth-century state.This wondrous place is much more than "just another church." If your impression of the overused word multicultural is at all negative, the effect of Monreale Abbey will convert you to another way of thinking. We must also pay a visit to the Benedectine Cloister which is very close. There are 228 columns. Carved into the capitals of the columns areall manner of Biblical figures, mythological scenes, quasi-heraldic elements, Arab warriors and Norman knights, as
well as floral motifs and fauna.
Some of the authentic Sicilian cuisine you'll have the opportunity to enjoy includes Caponata, Arancini, Tarocco oranges and Granita and Brioche for breakfast.
Time for lunch on your own, then excursion to Cefalù. On the northern coast, 75 kilometers east of Palermo, from which it is about forty-five minutes by car, Cefalù (with the accent on the last syllable) is a medieval town built on the site of an ancient Sicanian and Greek settlement. Cefalu has a beach, winding, narrow, medieval streets, and delightful restaurants overlooking a rocky coast. Nestled between the Madonie Mountains and the sea, Cefalù's mountain boasts the ruins of a large fortress and an ancient Sicanian-Greek temple. The view from the summit is breathtaking.
Participants who do not wish to visit Cefalù will have free time on your own in Palermo.
Dinner and overnight in Palermo.
Tuesday, MARCH 12 - Palermo/Segesta/Erice/Agrigento (Breakfast and Dinner included)
Breakfast at hotel. You will visit Segesta, with its unfinished Doric temple.The temple was build by the Elymian people, probably around 430-420 BCE, but it was never completely finished. It is build on a hill top just outside the ancient city of Segesta with a commanding view of the surrounding area. It is a doric temple, peripteral with 6×14 columns on a base measuring 21×56m and three steps high. The structure of the temple is intact with entablature and tympanums in place, but it was clearly never finished. The columns are unfluted, the tabs used for lifting the blocks are still present on the base, and there are no traces of a cella or a roof. The temple of Segesta is by construction, style and size a standard product for the late 5th century BCE, but its unifinished state and its remarkable, almost perfect state of conservation makes it one of the most important surviving hellenistic temples in the world. The Greek Theater is about a kilometer away (shuttle bus available) Architect who built the theater had a special taste for beauty: the stage is set in such a way that the spectators look out across the mountains to the sea.
Proceed to Erice: the historical, walled town is situated 700 meters above sea level. It was built by the Elimi and destroyed by the Carthaginians in 260 B.C. It didn’t have many inhabitants under the Romans, but it flourished again under the Normans, when Roger ordered a castle to be built there. Erice has managed to preserve its medieval atmosphere, its narrow, paved streets and its stone houses. Drive to Agrigento and check-in to the hotel.
Dinner and overnight in Agrigento.
Wednesday MARCH 13 - Agrigento, Piazza Armerina, Caltagirone, Catania (Breakfast and Dinner included)
Breakfast at hotel. Today we drive around Agrigento. Located on a plateau overlooking Sicily's southern coast, Agrigento was founded as Akragas around 582 BC (BCE) by a group of colonists from Gela, who themselves were the immediate descendants of Greeks from Rhodes and Crete. "The Committee (of Unesco Heritage Sites) decided to inscribe this site, considering that Agrigento was one of the greatest cities of the ancient Mediterranean world, and it has been preserved in an exceptionally intact condition. Its great row of Doric temples is one of the most outstanding monuments of Greek art and culture.
We reach the famous Villa Romana del Casale di PiazzaArmerina, one of the most important archaeological sites from Roman times. The nearly 3500 square meters of colored mosaics covering the floors of the villa, have survived almost intact, have earned the Roman residence of the inscription to the World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Committee decided to inscribe this property considering that the Villa del Casale at Piazza Armerina is the supreme example of a luxury Roman villa, which graphically illustrates the predominant social and economic structure of its age. The mosaics that decorate it are exceptional for their artistic quality and invention as well as their extent.
Caltagirone is a Unesco Site thanks to its monumental heritage, centuries-old ceramics tradition and picturesque folklore events. The name Caltagirone derives from the Arab term Qalat-Jerun, that means "Castle of the burial grounds" because of the presence of vast necropolises throughout the territory. The first inhabited center rose in the surroundings of a castle during the Greek era. The earthquakes of 1542 and 1693 completely destroyed the town, and the new rebuilt center followed the baroque style thanks to the interventions of several architects.
Transfer to hotel, dinner and overnight in Catania.
Piazza Duomo, Syracuse. Photo Tango7174.
Thursday MARCH 14 - Catania, Siracusa, Noto, Catania (Breakfast and Dinner included)
Breakfast at hotel. We will visit one of the most ancient towns in the world. We will walk in the island of Ortygia, the picturesque and densely built original centre of Syracuse. Here we'll admire the wonderful Piazza Duomo where the Cathedral stands. Inside, traces remain of a Doric temple dedicated to Athena which date from the early decades of the 5th century BC. Directly north of the Cathedral is the Palazzo Vermexio, now Town Hall. Recent excavation beneath the building have uncovered the unfished remains of an Jonic temple to Artemis. Attached to the Cathedral's southern side is the elegant, 17th century Palazzo Arcivescovile. Nearby is the Chiesa di Santa Lucia Alla Badia. The church's baroque façade is decorated with a wrought-iron balustrade. We cannot miss the visit to the magnificent of the Archaeological Park where we will admire the 5th-cent BC Greek Theatre, the ear of Dionisus, the stone quarries, the Roman Amphitheatre and the Paradise Quarry.
Then, transfer to Noto, capital city of the baroque art in Europe. Old Noto was completely destroyed in the extremely violent earthquake that struck Eastern Sicily in 1693, a quake that heavily damaged Catania and Syracuse also. The present site of Noto was rebuilt from scratch, and almost entirely in the Baroque style, the prevailing style of building in Sicily at the time. Unesco World Heritage, it represents a considerable undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, it also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Do not miss the Cathedral: the cathedral's dome (cupola) collapsed due to an earthquake a few years ago and has been rebuilt
exactly as it was before, using the same hand cut stone and a large part of the original material.
Return to Catania: Dinner and overnight.
View of Taormina from Monte Tauro with Mt. Etna in the background. Picture shot by Monika Wilke, panorama built by Patrick Kurmann.
Friday MARCH 15 - Catania, Etna, Taormina, Palermo (Breakfast and Dinner Included)
Breakfast at hotel followed by excursion to Etna, the highest ACTIVE Volcano of Europe. (excursion to Etna depends on weather conditions)
Standard excursion included: Crateri SilvestriI - Up to 1800 metres you can reach this level by bus and then have a 1.5 hour trekking tour at this level.
Optional Excursion 4X4 excursion ($130/per person): Starting from 1800 metres you can climb up to 3000 metres where the landscape seems to be lunar and you can have a unimaginable view above almost half of Sicily. In sunny days you can see also Calabria (continental Italy) and all the view from Siracusa to Messina including Aeolian Islands. The ground is hot and we recommend not to wear tennis shoes. At this level it can be very windy.
After excursion on Etna, proceed to Taormina, the best known resort in Sicily. Its narrow stone paved streets are lined by elegant shops and cafés; to spend some time in Taormina is an unforgettable experience between natural beauties, shores wet by a crystal blue sea and the deep culture of the island. Besides the Greek theatre with its breathtaking view on Mount Etna, you must visit the public gardens (Villa Comunale), the palace of the Duchi di Santo Stefano and the nearby Castelmola, a nice medieval village that you can reach in an hour's walk.
Return to your hotel in Palermo for dinner and overnight.
SATURDAY, MARCH 16 - Free day in Palermo (Breakfast, Dinner)
Free day for participants to explore Palermo, finish up any shopping or sighseeing and relax before departure the next day.
SUNDAY, MARCH 17 - Transfer to Palermo airport (Breakfast included)
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer by private bus to airport and check in on your flight back to New York
Evening arrival to JFK via Rome and charter bus from JFK airport to George Mason University Fairfax campus. Late PM arrival to Fairfax.
Palermo - Hotel Plaza Opera
Rising in downtown Palermo, just around the corner from Piazza Politeama and via Liberta, the Hotel Plaza Opera boasts a unique atmosphere, where an authentically Sicilian character blends with the international mood of the trendiest lifestyle hotels. The hotel sits right in the heart of the shopping and business area, surrounded by art galleries and theatres, but also by the head offices of the main companies and banks.
Agrigento - Hotel Della Valle
A charming four-star hotel, the Hotel della Valle offers its guests all the benefits of being at the center of everything. Surrounded by palm and olive trees on a hill overlooking the Valley of the Temples, from this hotel one can still sense the magical atmosphere of when Sicily was called Magna Graecia, while enjoying complete relaxation, comfort and hospitality.
Catania - Sheraton Catania Hotel
A four star hotel in Catania and located on the breathtaking Cyclops Coast. Stroll across the street to the rocky beach and enjoy the beautiful views. Connect with the city at Museo Bellini and Museo Verga and explore the rich history of Acireale, at the foot of Mount Etna
*CGE reserves the right to modify or cancel a program in light of currency fluctuations, changing security and safety conditions, or other unforeseen circumstances.