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The Blue Southern Seas

Pompei, Salerno, Paestum, Cosenza, The Sila, Reggio Calabria, Catanzaro    

We begin in Naples, bound for Ercolano and Pompei,         the two towns destroyed by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD. It is an unforgettable experience to visit these excavations that take us back nearly 2000 years. PompeiAt Herculaneum we will see the houses (particularly those called "Sannitica", "Bicentenario", and "Cervi") and the urban and suburban Baths and Gymnasium. The most intersting things to see at Pompei are the Roman Forum, the large and small Theatres, Via dell'Abbondanza  , the Amphitheatre, the Stabian Baths, the Houses of Menandro, the Vettii brothers, the Fauno, and the Villa of Diomedes and the Mysteries ("Misteri") which is famed in particular for the very beautiful frescoes which are still in an excellent condition. Our next stop is

Salerno,              which used to have a famous Medical School in the Middle Ages. Its superb monuments include the 11th c. Cathedral. We will then visit the Museo del Duomo and the Museo Provinciale, before leaving for

 

Paestum,             one of the most important and impressive aSalerno-Lungomare Triesteechaeological sites in Italy. Its Doric temples stand in isolation, solemny lookink out to sea. The museum is full of fascinating exibits: sculptures, material from the former Greek town of Poseidonia, a 6th c. statue of Zeus, vases and paintings, of which the most beautiful are the five painted stone tablets from the tomb of the "Tuffatore" (the diver). Driving south, we come to the delightful coastal town and hamlets of Agropoli, Santa Maria di Catellabate, Acciaroli, and Ascea Marina. But before we do, let's stop by the nearby excavation of Velia (founded in 535 BC, and famous for its philosophy school), and see the fragments of the town walls, the baths, the acropolis, temples and the superb 4th c. Porta Rosa gate. Paestum- Via SacraAlong this coast are endless unspoiled beaches : Palinuro, with its beautiful caves, Marina di Camerota, Sapri, and Maratea in one of the most charming parts of Gulf of Policastro. The Calabrian coast begins at Praia a Mare, facing the nearby island of Dino, and we drive down through delightful coastal villages and towns, such as Scalea, Diamante, Marina di Belvedere, Marina di Cetaro and Paola. We then leave the coast for an interesting drive inland towards Cosenza and the   Sila mountain range. At

Cosenza - View

 

Cosenza              we can see the Gothic Cathedral, and the Church of San Domenico, San Francesco d'Assisi and San Francesco di Paola, the municipal museum and the Arab-Norman Castle .

 

 


The Sila             is a huge forested mountain range where the visitor can spend hours on the shores of Lakes Ampollino, Arvo and Cecita, and stay in the well-equipped towns of Camigliatello, Villaggio Mancuso, Lorica and San Giovanni in Fiore (with the 12th c. Florense Abbey). Driving through Aprigliano, Rogliano and Falerna Marina (with a visit to Vibo Valentia), Briatico, La Sila Mountains - LandscapeTropea , Capo Vaticano, Rosarno Gioia Tauro nesting amid olive groves, vineyards, olive and lemon orchards, we coma to Palmi in a splendid setting overlooking the "Violet Coast". From the nearby Mt Sant'Elia we can enjoy the view right across the Palmi plain and the Calabrian and Sicilian coast from Mt. Etna to the Aeolian Islands. Further south lie Bagnara, Scilla, with its Castle standing high on a mythical steeply sloping hill and one of the most famous sword fishing centres, and

 

 

 


I Bronzi di RiaceReggio Calabria,             where we will take a pleasant stroll along the seafront before visiting the rich Museo Nazionale with the famous Greek statues "Bronzi di Riace". We will drive up to Gambarie d'Aspromonte, where we can combine the joys of the mountain and the sea. We now continue along the picturesque, uns[poliled Ionian coast via Bova Marina, Capo Spartivento, Bovalino, Locri (with the excavations of Locri Epizephyirii, one of the most prosperous cities of Magna Graecia), and Gerace, with its Romanesque Cathedral, fine churches and Castle, Siderno, Marina di Gioiosa and Roccella Ionica, and Monasterace Marina. We shall make a detour inland at this point  to see the typical 10th c. Byzantine "Cattolica" at Stilo, and then drive back down via Marina di Badolato, Soverato, Copanello, the "Roccelletta"  of Squillace (ruins of an interesting 10th c. church) , and Catanzaro Marina. In

 

 

 


Catanzaro              we can visit the Church of the Rosario and the Provincial Museum . Heading north up the coast we drive through a number of very attractive sites: the "Castella" (remains of an Aragonese castle overlooking the sea), Isola di Capo Rizzuto, Capo Colonna where the ancient shrine of Hera Lacinia used to stand, Crotone , ( Cathedtral, 16th c. castle, archaeological museum). Driving through Ciro' Marina, famed for its wines, we reach Rossano, which was very important in the Byzantine period ( Cathedral , Church of San Marco, Diocesan Crotone - Le CastellaMuseum whose greatest treasure is the "purple codex", an incredible 6th c. Byzantine illuminated manuscript). We suggest a detour to the Church of Santa Maria del Patire (12th c.), from where we can view the magnificient panorama across the Sibari plain, before going to Sibari itself to see the excavations and museum. Tis was the first Greek colony on the Gulf of Taranto, known as Sybaris, and subsequently became powerful and prosperous. Inland is Castrovillari, with its picturesque ancient city (Aragonese castle, 15th c.). Castrovillari and Morano Calabro are excellent base for excurtions to Mt. Pollino wich majestically lords it over both Calabria and Basilicata. If we have time, we can take two other trips : to Lungro, the spiritual centre of the Albanians who settled in this area in the 15th c. , and Altomonte, to see the interesting Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione with its French Gothic features and superb sculptures and painting inside. We the drive down to Mormanno, where we rejoin the motorway to return to Neaples. If possible, we must try to leave the road before Sala Consilina to visit the interesting Carthusian Monastery of S. Lorenzo in Padula , built between 1300 and 1800, and the adjacent, one of the most interesting museums in Southern Italy, Museo Archeologico della Lucania Occidentale, Archaeological Museum of Western Lucania.

 

 

 

For more information:      

Campania Region 

Basilicata Region 

Calabria Region 

 
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