Campania Felix: an Archaeological Journey - GARCH
Campania Felix – An Archaeologists’ Paradise
A full immersion in Campania’s history & archaeology, from prehistoric to Greek, Roman and medieval times. With selected walks through some of Italy’s most amazing scenery.
10-day walking & discovery tour with 3 different bases in beautiful hotels
The region of Campania marks the real beginnings of southern Italy, a sought-after place since Roman times when it was tagged the Campania Felix or ‘happy land’. There is the great city of Naples, and amazing Roman sites, but also beautiful countryside, wonderful islands, like the world famous Capri, and of course, stretches of spectacular coastal scenery. The Amalfi Coast is definitely one of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe, with a long tradition as one of the premier tourist destinations in Italy.
Also the history of the region is fascinating. Well known for its archaeological and cultural heritage, amongst which several world heritage sites such as Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum, and many less well known places of large cultural value and natural beauty, Campania is a real paradise for those interested in the history of art and archaeology !
Our tour will show you not only the main archaeological highlights, but also aims at discovering less known and often overlooked sites, offering a panorama of the whole of Campania’s archaeology, from prehistoric to recent times. To do this we will visit, with a specialist guide, several larger and smaller archaeological site, as well as take walks in parts of the region that occupy a special place in the history of the region.
First we visit the intriguing city of Naples, definitely one of the world’s most interesting cities and more than worth a visit, notwithstanding all prejudices. A city with thousands of years of history, officially founded by the Greeks, which also boasts the world’s finest museum on Greek and Roman archaeology and some amazing Baroque architecture. Here we walk along the main remains of Greek and Roman Neapolis and will discover the many treasures of the archaeological museum which houses one of the world’s finest collections.
From Naples we then visit the Campi Flegrei, Baia and Cuma, but also Capri and its Villa Iovis. We do an extensive visit of Pompeii, the world’s most famous ruins, which give a real life impression of how a Roman city looked like. Also we visit Mount Vesuvius, the volcano which caused the destruction of Pompeii.
The next part of our tour takes us to the Amalfi Coast where we discover the natural and cultural beauty of Amalfi and the industrial archaeology in the Valley of the Mills, location of Europe’s first paper mills, almost a 1000 years old, fascinating Ravello with its amazing villas & gardens and several other charming medieval villages such as Scala, the oldest small town of the Amalfi Coast, Minuta and Pontone.
To end our tour we visit the Greek temples of Paestum, and the Lucanian and Greek sites of Moio della Civitella and Velia, hometown of the Greek philosophers Parmenides and Zeno, in the amazingly beautiful Cilento National Park.
On this tour, we take you beyond the crowds to experience the hidden treasures and authentic culture of this Italian paradise. You will discover the hidden charm of Naples, and many amazing ‘minor’ sites. And that with reason Capri & the Amalfi Coast have become world famous, but as well that it takes only a little effort to get ‘off the beaten track’. Often only a few metres away from the crowds you will find yourself on the most intriguing locations, surrounded by nature. The real Italian paradise !
Please note: this is a moderately easy tour which is suitable for those who have some experience with walking and a good general physical condition. On most of the days we make some walks, mainly on good paths, but sometimes through uneven terrain. Average walking times: approx from 2 to 4 hours each day
Day 1 Arrival – Naples
Today you arrive in the bustling city of Naples. After settling in our centrally located hotel, in the heart of the historical centre of Naples you can already go for a short stroll through the colourful streets, soaking up its atmosphere, or visit a museum. In the afternoon we will meet with our tour guide and the rest of the group. Together we have an ‘aperitivo’, during which we’ll attend a short introductory briefing on the tour. In the evening we go out for dinner in a nice restaurant close to our hotel.
Hotel in Naples – Meals included: 1 dinner
Day 2 Naples city stroll and visit to the archaeological museum
On our first day we leave the hotel after breakfast to start a guided round walk through the old town centre. We will thread our way through the maze of alleys that are the heart of the city, touching several interesting ‘highlights’ such as the beautiful ‘Galleria’, the ‘Duomo’ and the royal theatre, but also through unknown lively (but safe!) neighbourhoods, with their unbelievable history, where you can find in a few square metres Greek, Roman and medieval buildings. We will stop off at the religious complexes of San Lorenzo Maggiore and of Santa Chiara, where we will visit the archaeological sites preserved underneath them, including a Roman crypto-portico and parts of a bath building. Then we have a nice lunch in a typical Neapolitan trattoria. After lunch we visit the world famous archaeological museum where all the artefacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum are exposed. Highlights of our visit to the museum, founded in 1777 by the Bourbon king Fernando IV, certainly are the Pompeian and Herculanian wall paintings, the mosaics originating from different archaeological sites around the Vesuvius, the Greek and Roman sculpture collections, and the materials originating from the excavations of the Greek town of Cuma and the Roman Villa of the ‘Papyrus’ at Herculaneum. After our visit to the museum we can freely enjoy some more of Naples lively street ‘theatre’ before heading back to the hotel to freshen up and prepare for dinner. Tonight we go for a short stroll to the best pizzeria in town (and already the pizzas in Naples are considered to be the best in the world!).
Hotel in Naples – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinne
Day 3 Visit to the Campi Flegrei : Pozzuoli, Baia, Cuma
This morning we head by local train to the ‘Campi Flegrei’ (Phlegraean Fields), a large 13 kilometres wide caldera, comprising 24 craters and volcanic edifices, that has been declared a regional park in 2003. The area is also of enormous archaeological importance as it contains the Greek colony of Cuma and several Roman towns and luxurious villas at Baia and Pozzuoli. After arriving at Pozzuoli we admire the Flavian amphitheatre, the ‘Macellum’ market building and the recently opened archaeological area of Rione Terra. We then transfer by private bus to Baia for a visit to its archaeological area preserving the remains of a Roman seaside resort. Baia also was an integral part of the ‘Portus Julius’, home port of the western Imperial Fleet of ancient Rome. We have lunch in front of the Bourbon villa, built by Luigi Vanvitelli in the Lucrino Lake. After lunch we then continue to Cuma, site of the first (8th century BC) Greek colony on the mainland of Italy. It was from Cuma that in the 5th century BC Naples itself was founded. The ancient town is especially known for the sanctuary of the Cumaean Sibyl, the priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle at Cuma. After having experienced the ancient atmosphere of Cuma we return to Pozzuoli where before heading back to Naples we will have a look at the volcanic ‘Solfatara’ crater with its active fumaroles. Dinner will be on your own tonight, as you are free to explore Naples’ amazing choice of fine restaurants and trattorie.
Hotel in Naples – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch
Day 4 By boat to Capri and discovery walk of the island
Today we travel by boat across the Bay of Naples, to the rightly famous island of Capri, the island where already the roman emperors liked to come as tourists, and that since then never lost its fame. We arrive in Marina Grande, the main harbour from where we walk up through lemon groves and gardens, to the central square of the little town of Capri, the famous ’Piazzetta’, the centre of mundane life. Then we make a beautiful round walk around the eastern part of the island, which shows us most of the ‘highlights’ of the island. These are both cultural and natural wonders, always accompanied with beautiful views in an unrivalled Mediterranean landscape. The walk brings us along the ruins of the Imperial ‘Villa Iovis’, one of the villas of the Roman Emperor Tiberius, the ‘Arco Naturale’, and of the ‘Faraglioni’, three rocks off the South coast, maybe the most famous and most painted rocks in the world. We have a great picnic lunch in an amazing spot, after which we have the time for a coffee or an ice cream. Walking back to the centre we have the opportunity to visit the Certosa and the Gardens of August, from where we can also opt to walk down to Marina Piccola, along the spectacular Via Krupp. This walk can be extended or shortened in many ways. In the afternoon we enjoy some free time and possibly do some shopping before taking the boat back to Naples. Dinner will be had all together in a nice restaurant in the historical heart of Naples.
Hotel in Naples – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Day 5 Vesuvius National Park and Pompeii
This morning we travel south under the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that with the fatal eruption of 79 AD completely destroyed the bustling city of Pompeii, creating the world’s most fascinating ruins. We drive up the Vesuvius as far as we can, and then start an amazing round walk, completely different from the standard visit to the Vesuvius (and normally closed to the public), which makes you feel in a completely different world! The walk takes us along the impressive volcanic phenomena to be seen around the crater: lava flows, pumice fields and grotto’s and the amazing ‘Valley of the Giant’, culminating in a walk to the top. The literal high light is a spectacular detour, led by a specialist volcano guide, which will take us right around the crater rim and up to the highest point at 1281 metres (4000 feet), from where we have the very best view of the Bay of Naples, one of the panoramic wonders of the world. We then descend to have a relaxed lunch on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius, before travelling on to Pompeii. The perfectly preserved remains give us an amazing insight into the life of a Roman city, especially when walking along its chariot-marked back streets. You will be captivated by the exceptional frescoes to be found throughout the city or by the opulence of the villas, with their atriums and charming peristyles, owned by the rich and influential of the day. We will visit the amphitheatre as well as the Villa of Mysteries with its masterpiece frescoes depicting the secret Dionysus rites, the Roman Forum and basilica, temples, public baths, and the tiny Odeon created for music recitals. At the end of the afternoon we continue by private bus to the beautiful medieval town of Amalfi on the peninsula, our next base during our tour. In the evening we eat all together in a nice restaurant in the medieval town centre, close to our hotel.
Hotel in Amalfi – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Day 6 The historical heart of the Amalfi Coast: Amalfi, Atrani & Ravello
From Amalfi we take a bus up to the splendid medieval town of Ravello, one of the main highlights of the Amalfi Coast, where we have plenty of time to visit. Ravello not only has a very interesting history, and many medieval monuments, but also offers beautiful views over the Amalfi Coast, and boasts great villa’s with stupendous gardens. After admiring the local ‘Duomo’, we pay an extensive visit to the dramatically located Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone, with their amazing gardens and some of the coast’s most famous viewpoints. After lunch we start our walk to the small town of Scala, reputed to be the most ancient centre of the peninsula. From Scala we continue to miniscule Minuta and then back down the very scenic endless old stairs through the vineyards and lemon groves until we reach Pontone, situated on a tall rock cliff dominating Amalfi and Atrani. Another weathered stone staircase sees us arriving in narrow white little streets of the beautiful little town of Atrani, one of the best preserved villages of the coast. After perhaps a glass on the square we can walk back to Amalfi passing along the coast. We can enjoy some more free time at Amalfi, visiting the wonderful ‘Duomo’ with the Paradise cloister, or just return to our hotel for some relaxation. In the evening we then all join for a great evening meal. We are picked up by private boat and brought to a nice restaurant located in a beautiful little bay nearby. After dinner we travel back to our hotel, gliding by boat over the glorious Mediterranean.
Hotel in Amalfi – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 7 Amalfi and the Valle dei Mulini
Today we walk up from Amalfi to the charming little village of Pontone, gateway to the ridge of the ‘Torre dello Zirro’, from where we enjoy spectacular views on Amalfi and Atrani. First we have a great lunch with local specialties in Pontone, in the shade of the lemon trees. Then we walk slowly down into the ‘Valle dei Mulini’, the valley of the watermills, with its ruins of Europe’s most ancient paper fabrics, dating back to the 11th century. The path takes us deep into the valley, to the entrance of the nature reserve, with its lush vegetation and waterfalls. From here it’s about an hour’s walk back down to Amalfi, passing through the charming little back streets of the town centre. Once arrived at Amalfi we first visit the Paper Mill Museum, housed in a disused but fully operational 13th century paper mill. A short walk then brings us to the workshop of a local liquor stoker where we learn how the famous Amalfitan lemon liquor ‘limoncello’ is made – tasting included! Dinner will be on your own tonight, as you are free to explore Amalfi’s amazing choice of fine restaurants and trattorie.
Hotel in Amalfi – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch
Day 8 The Greek temples of Paestum
After breakfast we head south to Paestum, world famous for the impressive ruins of its three Doric temples and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. After our trip along the Amalfitan Coast to Salerno and then past the Sele river plain, we first head to ‘Hera Argiva’, the first Greek settlement of the area, with an interesting interactive museum. A short drive then takes us to a local buffalo farm where after a short visit we lunch on its premises, tasting delicious genuine fresh buffalo mozzarella. After lunch we visit the archaeological site and its local museum where we admire the exemplary collection of prehistoric utensils, Greek vases and architecture and Roman sculpture. Not to miss the so-called ‘Tomba del Tuffatore’ (Diver’s Tomb), rare example of Greek funeral painting. During our visit to the archaeological site we admire not only the famous temples, but also other monuments including the amphitheatre, the ‘Heroon’ tomb, several Greek and Roman houses and one of the towns’ impressive gates. While the evening light colours the temples golden we finish our visit and head for our hotel, immediately near the site. Dinner is on the premises of our hotel tonight. After dinner we can opt to make another short stroll along the temples and perhaps grab a gelato.
Hotel in Paestum – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Day 9 In the heart of the Cilento National Park : Velia and Moio della Civitella
Our last full day takes us into the largely untamed Cilento National Park to the coastal village of Ascea Marina, where we visit the remains of the ancient town of Velia. The Cilento National Park as well as the archaeological site are included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. The Greek town of Velia was home to the Greek philosophers Zeno and Parmenides, and cradle of one of Europe’s most ancient schools of medicine. Amongst its remains one finds the celebrated ‘Porta Rosa’ (Pink Gate), one of the first examples of the use of the vault in Greek architecture. Other monuments worth exploring are the port, the Greek and Roman baths and the agora. The city’s acropolis in medieval times has been reused as a local stronghold and preserves a magnificent medieval bastion. After lunch we head inland in direction of the foot hills of Mount Gelbison, where we visit at Moio della Civitella the fortified site of Lucanian, i.e. pre-Greek, origin. A short walk takes us through the remains to a small church on top of the hill from where we enjoy a wonderful view of the Cilento area. We then head back to our hotel in Paestum. You then have the time to relax a bit in its great garden, or have a swim in the pool. In the evening we dine on the premises of our hotel.
Hotel in Paestum – Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Day 10 End of the tour
The tour ends in Paestum after breakfast today. A private transfer can take us back to Naples or Salerno. A taxi transfer to other destinations can be arranged on request.
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
All nights are spent in beautiful, characteristic hotels or agriturismo’s, mostly historical buildings (generally 3/4-star). All rooms have en-suite facilities.
Accommodation is on B&B basis, in all accommodations. Most evening meals are however included, we have selected the best available restaurants. On 2 nights you are free to choose from the wide choice of restaurants in the area. Your guide can give you good tips.
Most (picnic) lunches are also included in the tour price. On some days you can buy your picnic supplies in the villages where you pass, but then you also have the option to have your lunch in a nice restaurant.
Nights 1 – 4 : The first nights are spent in Naples. Our accommodation is a 4-star hotel in an amazing palace, in the heart of the historical centre.
Nights 5 – 7 : These nights are spent at Amalfi, the ancient capital of the Amalfi Coast. Our recently renovated 4-star hotel is located in a central position, right in the historical heart of the city at only a few metres from the sea shore.
Nights 8 & 9 : The last two nights we stay in a nice hotel at Paestum, at walking distance from the temples. It is family-run and the friendly staff will make you feel at home.
For this tour we have specialist archaeology guides.
Tours can be organised as well with ‘visiting professors’ assisted by one of our experienced local walking guides.
On our GUIDED TOURS we include almost everything :
• Private English speaking tour leader for 8 days
• Accommodation: 4 nights Naples, 3 nights Amalfi, 2 nights Paestum in good ***/**** hotels and agriturismo’s
• Meals: 9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners (in great restaurants!)
• All private & public transfers as indicated throughout the entire itinerary
• Entrance fees of all sites along the itinerary
• Special activities as outlined in the day by day itinerary
• Guest experts for special places
• 24/24 h local assistance
• Luggage transport
• All gratuities for baggage, porters & hotel service
• Departure taxes
• Travel Insurance
• Drink & meals not mentioned in the itinerary
• Optional additional tours or activities
• Items of a personal nature
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
Moderately easy (2): Mostly easy walks, but with nonetheless some walking uphill, sometimes on paths with rough surfaces. On the Amalfi Coast there are many steps! On most days shortcuts are possible (as well as occasional extensions).
Fitness: High standard of fitness is not necessary but you should be able to walk for up to 4 hours a day in hot sun on dusty or stony tracks.
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE
Arrival: The tour starts in NAPLES, a city with an international airport , and connected with Rome and all other major Italian cities by a frequent (high speed) train service. A taxi pick-up service can be arranged either from Naples airport or train station.
Departure: The tour ends after breakfast on day 10 at PAESTUM. A taxi service (included) brings you to the train station, from where a frequent train service can bring you to either Salerno, Naples or other destination (e.g. Rome can easily be reached by train). Several taxi services are available to bring you directly to your next destination.
AVAILABILITY & CONDITIONS
There are no scheduled departures for this tour, but on request a tour can be planned at any date for private groups. Just contact us!
We can then also personalise the tour with respect to duration and lodging. Shorter tours which ‘only’ cover the Bay of Naples, or only the Cilento National Park are bookable.
We can offer you a large selection of accomodations ranging fro m small authentic ‘agriturismo’s’ to luxurious ‘Premiere Inns’, the region’s best hotels, and some among the world’s best, as acclaimed from Condé Nast Traveler, Travel+Leisure and many others.
Genius Loci Travel, as the leading adventure travel company in Italy, can book your room in any hotel you could dream of!
N.B. For this tour tailor-made private departures (for groups of minimum 4 persons) can be planned on any date. Availability & prices on request. Prices start from 990 euro p.p., depending on the season, accomodation and number of persons in your private group.
|Places available. You can book this tour with a minimum of 1 person.
|Guaranteed Departure. Still some places available.
|There are a very limited number of available places on these dates. Immediate booking is recommended.
|Availability and prices on request.
|Fully booked. Departure closed.
- Prices are per person and based on 2 people sharing double or twin accommodation.
- Single rooms (mostly double rooms - single use) are available on all trips. The supplements listed apply.
- Prices are expressed in Euro's. There will never be a currency surcharge.
- Actual exchange rates: GB £ - US $ - CAN $ - CHF - DKK - SEK - NOK - Other currencies.
- A 5 % early booking discount applies for several trips.
It is possible to personalise this tour according to the interests of your group. Shorter tours which ‘only’ cover the Bay of Naples, or only Naples & the Campi Flegrei (for those who have seen Pompeii and Herculaneum already) are available.
A very interesting tour, completely ‘off-the-beaten-track’, covers the whole Cilento National Park, rich in ‘minor archaeological sites’ ranging from pre-historical sites to Greek & Roman cities. The amazing temples of Paestum as well as the Porta Rosa in Velia is something you must see! Details & prices on request.
It is possible to include extra nights at the beginning or the end of the tour. The tour can easily be extended with a few days in Naples, or on the Amalfi Coast . Also in SALERNO, or ROME several good accommodations are available. The tour can also be extended with a few days on a beautiful agriturismo in the Cilento, for some relax in the countryside. Several superb accommodations are available. Details & prices on request.
It is possible to book an upgrade in some of the places en route. Details and prices on request.