Let your Italian dream be a reality! ‘TREASURES OF THE APPIAN WAY’ Tour (8 days)
The extraordinary beauty of the Lazio and Campania regions awaits you on this special journey. A world away from the bustling tourists of Rome, travelling south on the Appian Way promises to reveal many of its treasures through art, history, ancient ruins and extraordinary cuisine.
Luciana has teamed up with hosts Marisa and Pasquale along with Gianmatteo, who is an archeologist and guide to offer you the most authentic experience possible. Together they promise the usual attention to detail, personalised service that only true passion can bring.
Read on to find out more about our ‘Treasures of the Appian Way’ tour.
ABOUT THE TOUR
Our “Treasures of the Appian Way’ tour will delight you with all the senses. Discover the stunning beauty of southern Lazio and northern Campania regions as we travel between Rome and Naples. Over the 8 days travel on the path less travelled as we retrace the ancient Appian Way – explore ancient Roman sites, visit medieval villages and meet true locals who are passionate about their land and their culture. This section of the Appian Way stretches from Itri to Capua which then goes across to Brindisi in Puglia. We combine Slow travel and Slow Food beautifully on this small group journey following the ‘Grand Tour’ of the 18th and 19th century English writers and artists.
WHY LAZIO AND CAMPANIAL?
Lazio and Campania have so much to offer for the discerning traveller and for those looking to understand and experience an authentic Italy. Throughout history its strategic position was important for the Roman Empire from beautiful villas of Roman Emperors, fascinating temples to the gods and building of roads out of Rome. Discover beautiful hidden churches from the early Christian period of the 4th century to medieval churches displaying magnificent medieval frescoes. Walk through equally important though lesser known Roman sites – amphitheatres and massive underground cisterns… See stunning scenery of the Mediterranean coastline you never thought existed. You will be delighted with sensational produce from buffalo mozzarella, local wines from Lazio, exquisite extravirgin olive oils, freshest seafood and the delicious ricotta filled pastries from Campania.
Your hosts Marisa and Pasquale will welcome you to their Italy with open arms.
This is a fully escorted, all inclusive small group tour (no more than 12 guests) led by Pasquale and Gianmatteo.
DAY 1: ROME TERMINI STATION - LAZIO REGION: SERMONETA - BASSIANO - ITRI
You will be met this morning (8.30am) at Rome Termini station by your tour escort, Pasquale. From here you will board the train (1st Class) for a half hour train ride to Latina where you will be met by your guide Gianmatteo and a driver in an airconditioned private minibus/vehicle. Your journey commences with a morning coffee break and short visit at the hilltop village of Sermoneta with its majestic castle. It is one of the most completely intact medieval towns in Italy and has a population of nearly 9000. Much of its history relates to the feudal lords, the Caetani family who ruled this area. Onto Bassiano where you can admire the ancient castle and the nine medieval towers and gates into town. Lunch today is one of these ancient towers. The specialty of this village is the famous Prosciutto of Bassiano known throughout Italy.
We head on the Appian Way to Itri where you will be welcomed by Marisa, your lovely host at the restored country farmhouse set in a tranquil organic olive grove. Relax with welcome drinks by the pool.
Later this afternoon, you will have a chance to explore Itri on foot and admire the medieval castle, the 11th century church of San Michele and the Jewish Quarter. Dinner this evening is with Marisa at the farmhouse.
DAY 2: SPERLONGA – GAETA - ITRI - PRIVATE OLIVE OIL TASTING
This morning you will head off to the seaside village of Sperlonga, which is situated halfway between Rome and Naples. Visit the famous Villa of Emperor Tiberius and a huge grotto was found with a spectacular group of sculptures now in the museum. There is time to stroll the tranquil alleyways past the whitewashed houses, shop in the little boutiques or sit and watch the world go by with a caffe’ in the piazza.
Continuing on the via Appia is Gaeta sitting majestically on a promontory overlooking the Mediterranean. Visit the heart of the old town and stroll past the many food stalls set up by the local farmers displaying their traditional foods and products. A lovely seafood lunch awaits in Gaeta.
Later explore the fascinating Montagna Spaccata and the Turkish Grotto, which are large natural fissures in the rocks. Descending the 35 steps will lead you to this spectacular site. Legend has it that these rocks split upon Christ’s death and is even today a pilgramige site for the faithful Christians. Returning to Itri to your accommodation for a short break before a stroll through the kitchen garden with Valerio and a private extravirgin olive oil tasting of their estate olive oil.
DAY 3: FONDI – TERRACINA- ITRI - PRIVATE COOKING CLASS
Today explore the town of Fondi which has been settled by the pre Roman tribes from 1000 BC. It was an important trading town on the old Appian Way as it was and still is situtated on a fertile plain. Explore the old centre of town with its castle and monastery, before pausing for caffe’ in town. Nearby is Terracina which has a spectacular Temple of Jupiter on the mountain above. Stroll along the port and see the many fishing boats come in and unloading their day’s catch. After a special degustation lunch in town, there is time to visit the old section of town and meet Agnesina’s pastry shop who has been baking in her wood fired ovens for nearly 40 years. If you are here in Terracina in season, you can sit in on the daily fish market auction as well.
Return to your accommodation in the late afternoon where Marisa invites you to join her for a private cooking session – making pasta or making traditional pastries. Enjoy a wonderful dinner on the terrace this evening.
DAY 4: FORMIA – ABBEY of MONTECASSINO - ITRI
This morning travel along the ancient via Appia and you will pass and admire the Tomb of Cicero. This famous Roman orator lived here in his villa at the entrance to Formia and was assassinated in 43 BC. Formia has been a tourist destination even in Roman times as evidenced by the many villas found there. Admire the medieval octagonal castle and visit the huge ancient Roman cistern beneath. Proceeding onto a nearby archeological site with remains of a Roman amphitheatre and dwellings, brought to life with much colour by Gianmatteo.
Lunch will be at a traditional restaurant in nearby town This afternoon, you will visit Montecassino, the famous Benedictine Abbey which was heavily bombed by the Allies in WW2 (1944) and amazingly rebuilt within a few years. Learnt all about the Gustav Line which extended from here across Italy to Ortona in Abruzzo. There is time to visit the wonderful library, museum and the pharmacy run by the monks.
Returning to Itri to your accommodation by late afternoon, before a wonderful dinner prepared by Marisa using her fresh farm produce.
DAY 5: CAMPANIA REGION: CAMPLI FLEGREI - BAIA - BACOLI
After leaving Itri, we make our way south to the northern part of Campania region. The area you will explore today is
stunning with views to the Amalfi coastline. This area, northwest of Naples is known as the Campi Flegrei (Buring Fields) or Phlegrean Fields. Geologically it is a 13km caldera under Naples and under the Gulf of Pozzuoli which has been the centre of violent eruptions 30-40,000 years ago. In antiquity the 3 lakes in this area were shrouded in mythology and written about by the Greek poet Homer and the Roman poet Virgil as representing the entrance to the underworld presided by the god Hades.
Heading onto nearby Baia with its imposing Castello Aragonese which now houses a superb collection of archeological finds from the area. Spectacular views from here take in the islands of Procida, Ischia and Capri.
The other village is Bacoli where we will explore one of the largest underground freshwater cisterns built by the Romans to supply for the Roman fleet at its port. At 15m deep and 25m wide the site is cavernous supported by vaulted ceilings and 48 pillars. Onto a secret spot for lunch with views that take your breath away. Onto your next accommodation which is a beautifully restored villa in the countryside. Meet your hosts with al fresco welcome drinks.
DAY 6: CAMPANIA REGION: REGGIA DI CASERTA - SAN LEUCIO
Today you will be transported to the beautiful Baroque period and visit the royal residence of the Bourbon kings of Naples. The Reggia di Caserta was built in the 18th century, ordered by King Charles III of Naples and inspired by Versailles palace. It is actually the largest royal palace in the world spanning over 47,000 square metres and is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We are guided through the palace and there is time to stroll through the magnificent Italianate gardens. A short distance away is San Leucio, part of the ruling king’s dominion was important for an aqueduct built to transport water to the palace as well as an important centre of silk production from the 18th century. King Charles and his son Ferdinand created a unique social experiment to promote the production of fine silk with social benefits for the workers including housing, schooling and health. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and silk production is still important today, supplying exquisite silks to the White House, Buckingham Palace and the Italian Parliament. Visit the museum with it’s ancient looms as well as current silk producers. Relax back at your accommodation followed by dinner.
DAY 7: ROMAN AMPHITHEATRE - CARINOLA - ARTISAN CERAMICIST
We visit the second largest amphitheatre in the ancient Roman world, built between the 1st and 2nd century AD on a previous site older than the Colosseum. This hidden gem is a must to see and explore – Gianmatteo will highlight its importance as the base for the School of Gladiators (ludus), as well as the very place where the famed gladiator and slave Spartacus escaped in 73BC to lead an uprising against Rome. The gladiator museum is an interesting highlight.
We take you to see another hidden gem – a Romanesque church from the 11th century tucked away in the tranquil countryside of Campania near Carinola. This Benedictine church built on an earlier Roman temple has the most exquisite collection of frescoes to behold. Lunch is in the village of Carinola in an old palazzo prepared by local ladies. Returning to our accommodation for a rest we then head off to the nearby village to meet a ceramic artist working with traditional designs, followed by a passeggiata where there are ancient Roman ruins and a theatre, then aperitivo in town before dinner.
DAY 8: NAPLES - END OF TOUR -NAPLES CENTRAL STATION
What a great way to end a fabulous week in this part of Italy! A visit to Naples, escorted and guided by 2 Neapolitans, Pasquale and Gianmatteo is the way to go. Expect a lot of fun and laughter as they share with you their favourite corners of this 3rd largest Italian city. Starting with a visit to the Basilica of Santa Chiara – the masterpiece here is the famed cloisters covered in maiolica ware ceramic tiles from the 18th century – a true riot of colour with lemons, oranges, figs and grapevines. Also in the historic centre of Naples see the world famous marble sculpture “Veiled Christ” (Cristo Velato) was created by a young Neapolitan artist, Giuseppe Sanmartino in 1753 and much admired by the famous Venetian sculptor Canova. A sight of rare beauty not to be missed, equally with the Caravaggio artwork. Lunch today is the quintessential food of Italy – pizza! Naples is the home to the best pizzas and Pasquale will take you to his very favourite haunt… Explore hidden Naples, going 40 m under the streets and travel back 2400 years to see the origins and pulsing heart of ancient Neapolis.
Transfer to Central station in Naples by 3.30/4pm. END OF TOUR Buon Viaggio!
$5560 per person, twin share (AUD $900 single supplement)
$4400 per person, twin share (USD $750 single supplement)