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Lasting three weeks in February/March, the spring tour offers an extended traveling experience for Salzburg program participants during the second semester. Visits in Greece, Italy, and Vatican City will focus on classical civilizations and the development of early Christianity. The majority of the tour travel is via bus, with ferry trips between Italy and Greece.
Destinations in Greece
- Athens: Host of the 2004 Olympic games, Athens’ most well-known sites include the breathtaking Acropolis and its famous Parthenon, the Agora, the Temple of Olympic Zeus, and Hadrian’s Arch. Students usually have a guided walking tour through the ancient sites, focusing on the Acropolis and the Agora, with an additional visit to the National Archeological Museum.
- Olympia: The site of the original Olympic games includes the famous arena, the huge ruins of the Temple of Zeus, the smaller Temple of Hera, and the gymnasium where ancient athletes once trained. Students are usually accompanied by a tour guide who will relate the details of the ancient Olympic rituals and rules.
- Delphi: Home of the ancient oracle, Delphi was once considered by Greeks to be the “navel of the world.” Notable excavations include the temple, theatre, and even a stadium. Additionally, there is a museum onsite that features excellent ancient statues and artifacts. Down the road, students can find the ruins of a gymnasium and a small temple to Athena.
- Meteora: These bizarre rock formations are capped with 24 Byzantine monasteries. Originally, the perilous heights allowed monks and nuns alike to live truly removed from the rest of the world, receiving their food and supplies by crates that could be lowered and raised. Now tourists can visit and enjoy the spectacular views, as well as the quiet beauty of the monasteries themselves.
- Mycenae: Excavations have revealed the ruins of the ancient city that was famously led by Agamemnon during the Trojan War. Students will recognize the Lion Gate (~1250 BC) and Agamemnon’s beehive-shaped tomb from Fine Arts classes.
- Epidaurus: Once a small city in Ancient Greece, this site is currently known for the well-preserved ruins of an acoustically remarkable Greek theater and the ruins of a healing sanctuary once dedicated to Asclepius.
Other cities that may serve as brief afternoon visits or overnight rests include Igoumenitsa, Ioannina, Kalambaka, Itea, Avorahva, and Patras.
Destinations in Italy
- Rome: Visits within Rome tend to be divided into two themes: the ancient Roman sites and the early Christian sites. The former usually consists of the Forum, which includes the Senate House (Curia), the Arches of Septimius Severus and Titus, and several temples. Students also typically see the Colosseum and the nearby Arch of Constantine. The early Christian tour allows students to see some of Rome’s most important churches and take a guided tour through one of the city’s catacombs.
- Vatican City: An independent territory inside Rome, Vatican City is the seat of the Catholic Church. Students usually visit St. Peter’s for an audience with the Pope and have time afterward to enjoy the beautiful art treasures within the basilica, including Michelangelo’s “Pietà” and Bernini’s altarpiece. The Vatican Museum holds still more works that students will recognize from their art history class, including the famous Sistine Chapel.
- Florence: Students become acquainted with the city through a guided walking tour, visiting the Duomo (cathedral) and its Battistero (baptistery), the Piazza della Signoria, and the Ponte Vecchio. Typical museum visits include the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia (home of Michelangelo’s David).
- Pompeii: Buried by ash from a volcanic eruption in AD 79, Pompeii offers a well-preserved look at Roman daily life. Students usually take a guided tour through the site to view the Forum, the House of the Faun, the amphitheater, the bath houses, and the enigmatic Villa of the Mysteries.
- Padua: Students are generally given a free day to explore this small but culturally rich city. It claims to be the oldest city in northern Italy and the setting of Shakespeare's The Taming of The Shrew.
- Assisi: The group visits this small Italian town to view the remarkable works of the pre-Renaissance artists Giotto, Martini, and Lorenzetti as preserved in the several beautiful churches. Significant as the birthplace of St. Francis and other saints, the city itself is quaint and traditional.
- Ravenna: The 6th century Basilica di San Vitale was built in Ravenna during its brief period as part of the Byzantine Empire. This extraordinary early Christian church features vibrant mosaics of various biblical stories and portraits of Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora themselves. Located nearby, the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia offers more beautiful mosaics. The tomb of Dante Alighieri is also located within this city.
Other cities that may serve as brief afternoon visits or overnight rests include Bari, Sorrento, and Assisi.