Classics School Trips to Sicily, Italy
The Greeks began the colonisation of Sicily around 750 BC and named the island ‘Trinakrias’ meaning ‘triangle’ due to its geographical form. They established a major trading capital on the island at Syracuse, described by Cicero as ‘the greatest Greek city and most beautiful of them all’. With the introduction of Greek culture came their religion and many temples were built; however, with the west of the Island inhabited mainly by Carthaginians, hostility led to the Greek Punic Wars lasting until 242BC when Sicily became the first Roman province outside the Italian peninsula. Classics students will gain a deeper appreciation of the fundamental aspects of Greek and Roman civilisation on this Mediterranean island rich in history and culture.
Did you know?
The term ‘mafia’ originated in Sicily and is home to the infamous and illicit Mafia criminal organisation.
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Sicily Classics Recommended Visits
There are many reasons visitors are drawn to Sicily, from the spectacular scenery to its sandy beaches but it is its vast and diverse history that is perfect for students studying Classics. Here are a few of the reasons to visit Sicily.
Valley of the Temples, Agrigento
The magnificent remains found at the Valley of the Temples are the legacy of the Greek colony that was established here in 581BC and subsequently taken over by the Romans in 201BC. Students will see many fine examples including the eight temples, alters, catacombs and shrines. This is a most impressive site with the major temples dedicated to Zeus, Heracles, Concord and Hera, lined up high on an escarpment with their main facades facing east to catch the rays of the rising sun. A World Heritage Site, this visit demonstrates the importance of religion within Greek culture.
Greek theatre, Taormina
A breathtaking visit, the Greek theatre in Taormina has the dramatic backdrop of Mount Etna and the Sicilian coastline. The theatre was begun by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC and altered by the Romans when they arrived in Taormina in the 1st century AD. Whereas the Greeks used the theatre for drama, the Romans introduced gladiators to the arena and the structural changes that were made reflect this.
Neapolis Archaeological Area, Syracuse
Providing an insight into both Greek and Roman ancient history, the city was once the most powerful Greek city in the world. A major centre for the arts and learning, many of the world’s greatest thinkers such as Plato and Archimedes headed here during its golden era. Athens itself struggled to rival Syracuse, as it gave birth to Greek comic theatre. An optional local guide can take your students through the site, entering into ‘the Ear of Dionysius’, as named by Caravaggio, to showcase its outstanding acoustics.
Sicily Sample Itineraries
All or our tours are bespoke, therefore the itinerary below is simply an example; the duration, educational visits, leisure excursions and accommodation centre used will be selected to match the requirements of your group. Please contact us to discuss your bespoke itinerary.
Dates: 9th – 13th April
Departure airport: London Gatwick
Accommodation: Hotel Viola Palace/Hotel Villa Augustus/Hotel Atlantis Palace
Board Basis: Half Board/Full Board
Overview of visits: Vulcano, Gran Cratere, natural mud pool, Lipari, Stromboli, Panarea, Stromboli, Sciara del Fuoco, Mount Etna, Rifugio Sapienza, Museum of Lava, Alcantara River Gorge, Taormina, Taormina’s Greek Theatre.
The group began their trip with an afternoon flight from London Gatwick to Catania airport in Italy, arriving in the evening and therefore giving them time to travel to the hotel for a late evening meal. This was had at their first hotel, the modern Hotel Viola Palace where they would stay for just one night.View the full day-by-day itinerary
After an Italian style continental breakfast the group were ready for their first day in Sicily. Their first stop was the beautiful Milazzo Harbour where they would take the impressive hydrofoil boat to the largest of the Aeolian Islands, Lipari. The welcoming Hotel Villa Augustus was to be their next hotel, they checked in here before taking a catamaran to Vulcano Harbour. Guides are prepared for Educational Trips and this trip was no exception. Being met by their guide at the harbor, the group took a trek to Gran Cretere. This crater was once considered the entrance to Hell by many and the students can gage a sense of the incredible scale that they would not get from learning about this in a classroom. From here the group took some incredible photos both of the smoke holes of the crater and the panoramic views of the Aeolian Islands and Sicily. Following their exercise that day, the group headed to the natural mud pool, a large warm puddle of around 32c, proving to be extremely relaxing and therapeutic and a favourite for the teachers! After making sure they were fully recuperated the group enjoyed the rest of their lunch in Vulcano centre and buying souvenirs, before departing on the Catamaran back to Lipari harbour. After the evening meal at the hotel and some games played the group headed to bed, preparing themselves for the next day’s adventures.
Having a leisurely morning, the group wandered around Lipari, learning of the islands creation by volcanic movements and the striving industry of pumice mining that exists. After lunch at a local café the group head to the harbour for a boat trip to Stromboli, another of the Aeolian Islands, housing a volcano that is constantly active with minor eruptions that are visible from the surrounding areas, this has given the island the nickname “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean.” On route to this island the group has some time to spend on Panarea, this time an inactive volcano, with the most recent eruption being 10,000 years ago. After a short stop off in a picturesque bay with a swim in the sea to cool off, the group had an evening meal at one of the pizzerias on the island. Having spent the day sailing around the island, the group boarded the boat and headed to Sciara del Fuoco, giving them a chance to see the spectacular eruption of the volcano from the sea. After this amazing sight, which would prove to be an excellent photo-taking opportunity, the group headed back to Lipari and spent the rest of the evening at their own leisure.
Luckily for the group they got another chance to ride on the Hydrofoil today after an early breakfast as they headed to Mount Etna! The group viewed the highest and most active volcano in Europe from a cable-car journey followed by a ride in 4×4 jeeps up to the ‘Belvedere’ lookout and a visit to the new craters. The group headed back down until they reached the inactive Monti Silvestri craters that were formed during Mount Etna’s eruption in 1892. This was to be their final view of Mount Etna as they headed to the Hotel Atlantis Palace for their final night in Sicily.
After a short stay at the hotel, the group packed themselves up, collected a packed lunch and boarded the coach for the Alcantara River Gorge where they could see the effects of the eruption of Monte Moio around the year 2400 BC. Due to the more recent effects of Mount Etna, impressive gorges have been formed. The group’s final destination was Taormina, overlooking two vast and magnificent bays offering breathtaking views giving the group good lasting memories of their trip to Sicily. They also took a visit to Taormina’s Greek Theatre. It was the second most important classical theatre in Italy that was enlarged during the Roman period when it would have been used for performances of gladiators. Late afternoon the group departs for the airport and arrives in the UK late evening armed with many impressive photos and stories to tell their family and friends.
There are a number of hotels across this region that can cater for school groups, this is our favourite.
This charming hotel, built on an unspoilt stretch of coast, is in an excellent location enjoying views over the castle of St Alessio. The hotel has 28 comfortable rooms spread over 3 floors which all have air conditioning, satellite television, telephone and private bathroom facilities. Students are accommodated in double, triple or family rooms from which they can take advantage of the warm Mediterranean Sea on the hotels private beach.
“As a returning school, the hotel were very welcoming and accommodating.”
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