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Come to southern Italy, a sun-kissed land of legends and saints, where timeless traditions survive amid the olive groves and fishing villages, where medieval churches are grafted onto ancient temples, where mozzarella farms rise alongside 2,500-year-old ruins, and where people live in cave cities hours’ away from Positano's chic hotels.
Travel writer Reid Bramblett evokes the region’s history, cuisine, culture, and sights.
9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Campania’s Eternal Appeal
Once the vacation destination for Roman emperors, the area has lost none of its appeal. Explore the glorious chaos of Naples, upscale “fishing villages” along the Amalfi Coast, the islands Capri and Ischia, and ancient Pompeii and Herculaneum, ghost towns in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius.
11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria
In Italy’s least-explored, but perhaps most rewarding regions the roots are deep and ancient as myths. Here are the conical trulli houses that dot the lovely Valle d’Itria, ancient ruins along the coasts, and gnarled grape vines that yield Italy’s earthiest red wines.
12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Lunch
Participants provide their own lunch.
1:15 to 2:30 p.m. Sicily, Crossroads of the Mediterranean
On this island, you can attend a modern performance at an ancient Greek theater, tour Roman ruins, visit Arab palaces, view glittering Norman mosaics, and dine on platters of couscous with the descendents of Tunisian fishermen.
2:45 to 4 p.m. Sardegna: Preserving Ancient Traditions
On the island of Sardegna, people who are preserving an ancient language and traditions are able to view both elaborate seaside villas and ruins of mysterious nuraghe stone forts twice as old as the Roman Empire.
Learn more about this beautiful area as you sail the Mediterranean to the glorious shores of southern Italy, Sicily, and Malta on the Voyage of Ancient Empires.
Visit the Smithsonian Journeys page to see more
trips to Europe.
Learn more about Italian culture, listen to clips from Smithsonian Folkways recordings>>
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Metro: Smithsonian Mall Exit (Blue/Orange)