The Minoans are best known for their huge labyrinthine palaces, the most famous at Knossos, where Theseus slew the Minotaur. Knossos and all of the Minoan sites we visit have their own unique and characteristic charm and elegance, demonstrated in a lively and free artistic expression, and an obvious delight in realistic decoration. We start the tour on the beautiful, tiny island of Santorini, ‘Pompeii of the Aegean’, buried suddenly during the cataclysmic eruption of Thera – which signalled the ‘beginning of the end’ of Minoan civilization. In Crete we continue to trace the story of the Minoans, whose writing, organization and ambition had a profound influence on the development of ancient Greece, and thus the western world.
Central Italy 20 – 28 May 2017
Draft Itinerary (To be confirmed)
DAY 1 ARRIVAL AT PISA AIRPORT
Arrival at Pisa Airport and Transfer to Hotel in Florence .
Day 2 FLORENCE
In the morning visit Basilica di San Lorenzo with its Medici Chapel. Afterwards visit of San Marco. San Marco is the name of a religious complex in Florence, Italy. It comprises a church and a convent. The convent, which is now a museum, has three claims to fame. During the 15th century it was home to two famous Dominicans, the painter Fra Angelico and the preacher Girolamo Savonarola. Also housed at the convent is a famous collection of manuscripts in a library built by Michelozzo then on to the visit of the Galleria dell’ Accademia, famous for the Michelangelo’s Sculptures. A must is also the visit of the Duomo and the Baptistery! Walk to the Santa Maria Novella church. During the day lunch in a local Restaurant. Free dinner. Overnight stay.
Day 3 FLORENCE
Morning Walking tour in Florence. Visit of the Bargello museum. The Bargello, also known as the Bargello Palace, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, or Palazzo del Popolo (Palace of the People) is a former barracks and prison, now an art museum Then walk to Santa Croce. This monument is truly unique, not only for the purity of the Gothic style, but also for the famous works of art it contains ans its historical importance. The most famous funeral monuments: the tomb of Michelangelo, Galileo, Macchiavelli. In the afternoon visit of Palazzo Vecchio and guided tour of the Uffizi. Lunch in a local Restaurant. Afternoon at leisure for the last Italian Shopping ! Free Dinner. Overnight stay
DAY 4 CHIANTI AREA – OVERNIGHT SIENA
After breakfast departure to Chianti Area, one of the most beautiful and famous area of Tuscany. The rolling hills of Chianti are designed by miles and miles of vineyards, each season color in a unique landscape. Green, purple, red and yellow are the colors that shine on these hills. Today you will visit Greve in Chianti famous for the wine cellars. Greve itself has some great wine bars. You can also add a visit to the Wine Museum. Another location easily accessible and indisputable charm is Panzano, one of the most populous of Chianti. This small town, as well as for its wine, is famous for its Florentine steak. Here indeed is the butcher Cecchini, where he praises the Divine Comedy while you cut the meat. During the day, wine tasting and brunch in a wine cellar. Continuation to Siena. Free dinner and Overnight stay
DAY 5 FULL DAY SIENA
Breakfast in hotel. Siena a magnificent city, that has the aspect of a medieval city. With its yellowish-brown building (from which the color “Siena” is named) and encircled by massive ramparts the city extends over three converging clay hills at the very heart of the high Tuscan plateau. Visit of the exciting maze of narrow streets, lined with tall palaces and patrician mansions, which come together on the Piazza del campo, one of the most vast medieval squares of Europe, heart of the city, and is the venue twice annually for the popular festival Palio. We will also be visiting the dome with its splendid mosaic pavements. Lunch in a local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight stay in Siena
DAY 6 EXCURSION PERUGIA
Breakfast in hotel. Departure to Perugia a well-known cultural and artistic centre of Italy. The famouspainter Pietro Vannucci, nicknamed Perugino, was a native of Città della Pieve near Perugia. He decorated the local Sala del Cambio with a beautiful series frescos; eight of his pictures can also be admired in the National Gallery of Umbria.. Perugino was the teacher of Raphael, the great Renaissance artist who produced five paintings in Perugia (today no longer in the city) and one fresco. Another famous painter, Pinturicchio, lived in Perugia. Galeazzo Alessi is the most famous architect from Perugia. The city symbol is the griffin, which can be seen in the form of plaques and statues on buildings around the city. Guided visit of Perugia. Lunch in a local Restaurant. Return to the hotel in Siena. Overnight stay
DAY 7 VOLTERRA & SAN GIMINIAMO – OVERNIGHT PISA
Breakfast in hotel and departure by coach to Volterra, known to the ancient Etruscans as Velathri, to the Romans as Volaterrae, is a town and comune in theTuscany region of Italy.. Guarnacci Etruscan Museum, with thousands of funeral urns dating back to the Hellenistic and Archaic periods. Main attractions are the bronze statuette “Shadow of the Night” and the sculpted effigy of an Etruscan couple in terra cotta. The Etruscan walls, including the well-preserved Porta dell’Arco (3rd-2nd centuries BC) and Porta Diana gates. Continuation to San Giminiano,, a medieval city surrounded by gently-rolling countryside dotted with wines and olives. Its 14 grey stone towers set on a hilltop are enclosed within an outer wall including five gates. Lunch in a local Restaurant and visit. Continuation to Pisa Free dinner and overnight stay in Siena
DAY 8 VISIT THE ‘SQUARE OF MIRACLES’ IN PISA & LUCCA
Breakfast at the hotel. We will take the road towards Pisa. Discovery of the main monuments of this city which, in the Middle Age has dominated the Western Mediterranean due their powerful fleet: the cathedral, the baptistery and the leaning tower of Pisa…one of Italy’s symbols. Continuation to of Lucca, ancient and medieval city. Lunch in a local Restaurant. Visit the rectangular grid of its historical center preserves the Roman street plan, and the Piazza San
Michele occupies the site of the ancient forum. Traces of the amphitheater can still be seen in the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro. Lucca was the site of a conference in 56 BC which reaffirmed the superiority of the Roman First Triumvirate. Return to the hotel in Pisa. Free Dinner and Overnight stay.
DAY 9 DEPARTURE
Breakfast in hotel . Free time until departure transfer to airport Pisa.
ARIVA II GULET
The “Ariva II” gulet is a great 25 meter long, wooden sailing boat, built with the most modern techniques and boasting a traditional design.Built by the most prestigious Turkish shipyard in Bodrum, Ariva II is a classic Turkish square stern gulet: it is a very robust and seaworthy boat, with teak bridge and ketch sail plan (two masts) with gaffs, jib and fore sail.
The onboard spaces available to guests are superior than the usual sailing boats. The stern deck is used as a covered veranda with an awning, a table and a sofa with cushions for eating or relaxing outside. At the center of the boat, there is a large indoor room with dining table and bar, lounge area with TV, VCR, Hi-Fi stereo and a variety of games. This room gives access to the cabins below deck, all equipped with double bed (two with double bed and one with single bed), private bathroom with shower and hot water, and air conditioning. The kitchen is located on the upper deck with access from the indoor room. The bow offers a comfortable sun deck, a sofa with pillows which is very much appreciated by those who love sunbathing and the “sweet doing nothing”.
During the Ottoman Empire, these boats were used for transporting both goods and persons, sailing the Aegean Sea, from the Bosphorus to the Black Sea, from the Turkish coast to Greece and the Adriatic Sea, the Ionian Sea, all Sicilian islands, the Aeolian and Egadi Islands, along the Tyrrhenian Sea to Sardinia, the Pontine Islands, the Tremiti and Corsica.
Late afternoon pastel colours of Rovinj harbour
3 – 12 September 2019
Click to download itinerary (pdf format)
Although less known, the Istrian peninsula has a rich cultural heritage and is a scenically beautiful region with a growing reputation as a gastronomic delight. Small and self-contained, it can claim three of Croatia’s most attractive coastal towns in Rovinj, Porec and Pula, with their ancient ports, cobbled streets lined with medieval buildings and one of the world’s best surviving Roman amphitheatres. The gems of the fertile interior are the hilltop villages, such as Motovun and Groznjan, home to the world famous truffles found in the scenic fertile valleys below. We also spend time in Slovenia’s beautiful Lake Bled region and visit both capitals; Ljubljana and Zagreb to see their highlights of architecture and heritage
Pretty whitewashed town of Ostuni
The south east corner of Italy, known as the ‘heel’, was part of Magna Graecia before the arrival of the Romans and later the Normans, and so has a rich and varied cultural heritage. This comprehensive and perfectly paced tour allows for a complete exploration of the two regions of Puglia and Basilicata. In addition to historic ports, Norman castles and Baroque splendour, the region is famous for its whitewashed conical ‘Trulli’ dwellings that dominate the landscape and UNESCO listed ‘Sassi’ cave houses. The highlight for many is Lecce, known as the ‘Florence of the South’, where we spend three nights at a fabulous resort located in the historic centre of the city
Day 1 Fly to Bari
Departure from London Gatwick direct to Bari with Easy Jet. On arrival at Bari airport we transfer to the central 4star Hotel Excelsior, close to the old town of Bari
Day 2 Visit Trani and Castel del Monte
We explore Trani this morning, rich in tradition and history, visiting the cathedral on a promontory close to the port. Later we visit Castel del Monte, famous for its 13th century castle built by Emperor Frederick.
Day 3 Visit Altamura and Matera
Leaving the province of Bari we reach Altamura, famous for its delicious traditional bread and the charming UNESCO listed town of Matera. Here we visit the famous ‘Sassi’ , cave settlements used as houses until the 1950’s and more recently as the location for the film The Passion. We visit a cellar and enjoy wine tasting and a light dinner at a countryside Azienda. Overnight at the 4-star Casino Ridola Hotel, Matera
Day 4 Visit Sassi Barisano and Taranto
Today we have a visit to Sassi Barisano, the larger district of cave dwellings in Matera where many have been restored and converted into cosy houses, shops and restaurants. In the afternoon we stop in Taranto to visit the National museum with its excellent collection illustrating the history of Magna Graecia. We continue to Lecce and stay three nights at the 4 star Dimora Storica Torre Del Parco 1419 Hotel in the historic centre
Day 5 Visit Lecce, the ‘Florence of the South’
We have a full day visit to Lecce, known as Florence of the South as its famous for its 17th century baroque churches and buildings carved from the beautiful honey coloured local stone. We also have a visit to the Palazzo Tamborino, one of the most beautiful mansions of the city, with an exquisite museum.
Day 6 Visit Otranto and Gallipoli
Otranto is a picturesque town located on the east coast of the Salento peninsula where on a clear day one can see the Albanian coast only 80 km away. We visit the cathedral which houses beautiful 12th century mosaics that relate many stories about Otranto including King Arthur seeking the Holy Grail! We also pause at Gallipoli to visit its 17th century bridge connecting the historic centre with the modern town
Day 7 Visit Ostuni
We start the day with a visit to the ‘white city of Ostuni’, due to the perfect setting of whitewashed houses with lime which fit into the landscaped hills of the town. Ostuni has a special charm and we will be able to enjoy a lunch at a Masseria; a fortified country house, to protect against attacks by Turks or pirates, and dates from the 16th century. In the afternoon we will have a walking tour through the town and visit the charming cathedral. We pause at Cisternino to visit the Oil Mill and taste some of the locally produced olive oil before arriving at Martina Franca. One night at the Villa Rosa hotel
Day 8 Visit Martina Franca and Alberobello. Evening flight to UK
The site of Martina Franca has been settled since ancient times as testified by archaeological finds dating since the 7th century BC. It is now an elegant Baroque town with a pretty historic centre dominated by many grand civic buildings. Alberobello is known for its whitewashed conical ‘Trulli’ houses and has UNESCO heritage listing and is a pleasure to wander and explore on one’s own.
In the late afternoon we transfer to Bari airport for our evening return flight direct to London Gatwick with Easy jet
Bulgaria represents a fascinating destination that offers a perfect combination of history, architecture and tradition. Homeland of Orpheus and, in the 4th-3rd centuries BC, of the horsemen of Thrace, whose rich tombs still survive, and mountains where medieval Christians built remote monasteries with stunning frescoes. An impressive eight UNESCO sites, beautiful scenery, and with a rich folk tradition which still survives in many areas, plus with a direct flight with British Airways of only three hours, Bulgaria is very much open to visitors
6 – 16 September 2022
Day 1 Fly to Sofia. PM Walking tour
We fly from London Heathrow to Sofia direct with British Airways. Lunchtime arrival and transfer to the Central Park hotel. We have an introductory walking tour to the capital this afternoon, one of the most ancient cities in Europe founded 7 000 years ago. We include some of the historical and cultural landmarks of the city; the Roman Serdica Fortifications (Sofia’s oldest preserved building) and 4th century AD St. George’s Rotunda, famous for its original structure and unique frescoes.. Welcome dinner at the hotel (D)
Day 2 In Sofia. Visit National Museum and Boyona Church
This morning we visit the Alexander Nevski Memorial Cathedral with the Crypt housing a unique collection of icons before stopping at Parliament Square, the National Theatre and the Church of St Sophia. In the afternoon we visit the National Museum of History, where the magnificent Thracian treasures of ancient gold are on display. We’ll also visit the Boyana church, world-famous for its wall paintings, which date back to 1259. The most remarkable achievement of Bulgarian mediaeval painting, they are also a precious contribution to European art. The Boyana Church is also one of the best preserved and interesting buildings from mediaeval times in Bulgaria. It is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.Dinner at a local restaurant (D)
Day 3 Drive to Veliko Tarnovo
We drive north east towards Pravets and visit the house and museum of Todor Jivkov ; the longest serving communist leader in the Eastern bloc from 1954 until1989. We continue east and view some beautiful stalactite formations at Saeva Dupka cave and an open-air ethnographic complex showing the everyday life of local people centuries ago at Etara. Our final destination is Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria’s medieval capital. Two nights at the Bolyarski hotel with dinner (B,D)
Day 4 In Veliko Tarnovo
Sightseeing tour of Bulgaria’s medieval capital, picturesquely located on four hills above the Yantra River. We vinclude the Museum of the National Revival, where the First Bulgarian Constitution was adopted in 1879, and the medieval fortress on Tsarevets Hill. In the afternoon, we drive to the nearby museum village of Arbanassi for a visit to the unique 16th century Church of the Nativity and the Konstantsaliev House, the oldest house in the village and famous for its traditional architecture (B,D)
Day 5 Visit Preslav and Madara
We drive to Preslav and visit the ruins and museum of the capital of the 1st Bulgarian kingdom before heading south to the town of Shumen. Here the monument known as “1300 year Bulgaria” dedicated to the 1300th anniversary of Bulgarian state stands proud and also the 18th C built Tombul mosque. we continue east to visit the Madara Horseman; a mysterious bas relief carved into the rocks at a height of 25 meters and listed under UNESCO. We stay for two nights in Varna with dinner (B,D)
Day 6 Visit Varna
Sightseeing tour of Varna; one of the most attractive cities in Bulgaria founded as a trade colony by Miletian Greeks in 570 BC in a basement of a Thracian settlement. We include the Archeological Museum and the Assumption Cathedral (B,D)
Day 7 Visit Kazanlak. Drive to Plovdiv
We drive to the town of Kazanlak and visit to the Museum of History, and the famous 4th-century BC Thracian tomb which is included in UNESCO’S World Heritage List. We continue to Plovdiv. Founded about 8 000 years ago, Plovdiv was the capital of Ancient Thrace and was a big trade centre in the Middle Ages. Dinner and two night stay in Plovdiv at the perfectly located Trimontium Ramada hotel (B,D)
Day 8 In Plovdiv
The city’s historic quarter boasts beautifully decorated period houses, ancient fortress walls, a Roman forum and stadium, magnificent churches. We visit the Roman theatre, the Ethnographic Museum, and the Church of SS Constantine and Helena. In the afternoon, we drive to Bachkovo Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in Bulgaria scenically located on the banks of the Asenitsa River. The monastery is known for its unique architecture and amazing wall paintings and icons (B,D)
Day 9 Visit Dobarsko. Drive to Bansko
We head south today pausing at Velingrad, famous for its mineral springs. We take a narrow gauge train to Avramovo enjoying the scenery of the Rhodope mountains. At Dobarsko we see the delightful small church of St Teodor Triton, noted for its abundance of original frescoes and icons, some of which are interpreted as portraying Jesus in a rocket! We have a late lunch at a Bulgarian house to taste some traditional home made cooking. We finish the day with a walk through the cobbled streets of Bansko and visit to Holy Trinity Church; the largest and most interesting in the Pirin area. Dinner and overnight in Bansko at the Lucky hotel (B,L,D)
Day 10 Visit Rila Monastery. Drive to Sofia
Drive to Rila Monastery, the biggest and most important symbol of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Founded in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 13th and 14th centuries, this monastery is one of the oldest in Europe. It was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1983. Behind its 20-metre-high walls lie impressive monastic buildings, a church and a chapel with remarkable wall paintings. One night at the Central Park hotel. A farewell dinner in a typical Bulgaria restaurant with folk show has been arranged this evening (B,D)
Day 11 In Sofia. Fly London
A leisurely morning to enjoy some last minute shopping perhaps or visit to one of the many cultural museums in the city. Lunchtime transfer to the airport for our BA flight return to London Heathrow (B)
Lion hunt mosaic, Pella
This mountainous peninsula of mainland Greece, with its rugged and dramatic landscapes, was once home to two of the greatest rulers of the ancient world; Philip II and Alexander the Great. This groundbreaking tour is mainly based in historic Thessaloniki, capital of Northern Greece; a World Heritage centre full of beautiful churches and Roman palaces. Nearby we discover Alexander the Great’s birthplace and capital, the ancient Greek city of Pella and explore the ancient sacred city of Dion, the religious centre of the Kingdom of Macedonia. We also visit the spectacular Royal Tombs at Vergina, resting place of the murdered Phillip II of Macedon
20 – 28 April 2017
Poland Tour (SC) Dossier 2017 Click to download itinerary (pdf format)
We discover Poland’s historic highlights on this comprehensive tour that concentrates on its wonderful historical and cultural attractions as well as beautiful countryside, dotted with medieval towns, castles and villages. This tour includes three nights in Krakow’s beautiful old town, as well as exploring the magnificently rich architectural well-preserved gems of Poznan and Wroclaw. Poignant visits to the former Auschwitz concentration camp and the Oskar Schindler factory in Krakow are also included in the tour