JOIN/RENEW

Northern Sicily: At the Crossroads of the Mediterranean

STUDY TRIP ABROAD

March 16–24, 2023 & March 28–April 5, 2023

 

OPTIONAL EXTENSION

MALTA: FROM THE PHOENICIANS TO THE KNIGHTS OF ST. JOHN

March 24–28, 2023

Off the toe of the Italian peninsula sits a captivating island that traces back over 3,000 years of history and boasts a unique cultural character shaped by Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, and Spanish influences. Following a much-loved 2015 Study Trip Abroad to southern Sicily, we return to explore a rich variety of architecture and art in the north, beginning in charming Taormina, then continuing along the breathtaking coast to Cefalù and Palermo. Art historian Christopher Newall, a specialist in Sicilian history and culture, provides insightful commentary for both tours. The palaces, cathedrals, museums, and gardens—as well as the food, wine, and convivial company—are sure to make this trip one you will not soon forget.

There is still space on Tour 1 and Tour 2, but the Optional Extension is sold out. Please call 610.627.4970 or email ccarlisle@decorativeartstrust.org to be added to the waitlist for the Optional Extension. 

ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

March 16 and 28 

Our Sicilian adventure begins in the sublime city of Taormina on the Ionian sea. We gather at the superb Hotel San Domenico, situated in a 14th-century convent with original frescoes, before setting off on a walking tour. Taormina’s Cathedral, an ecclesia munita (church-fortress), was originally built in the 13th century. The Palazzo dei Duchi di Santo Stefano is a masterpiece of Sicilian Romanesque and Gothic design, fitted with Arabic-Norman elements. We also enjoy the beautiful gardens of the Villa Comunale, populated by palm trees, cacti, and a variety of lush flowers. The evening includes welcome drinks and dinner at the hotel. 

Included: R, D 
Overnight: Taormina 

March 17 and 29 

A morning excursion to Catania permits the opportunity to explore the state apartments of the Palazzo Biscari, the largest private palazzo built in Sicily in the 18th century. We enjoy a lunchtime reception in the family’s private quarters where an incredible painted Bird Gallery awaits. En route back to the hotel, we visit the 3rd-century BC amphitheater, one of Taormina’s most famous sites, with a splendid view eastward toward the Calabrian coast and westward to the spectacular cone of Mount Etna. 

Included: B, L 
Overnight: Taormina 

March 18 and 30 

The day takes us to Messina, a stunning harbor city separated from mainland Italy by an eponymous strait. We cross by ferry to Reggio Calabria to see the Riace Bronzes, a pair of ancient, life-size Greek statues. After a seaside lunch upon our return to Sicily, participants have the option to head to Naxos to see the Museo Archaeologico’s excellent holdings of Classical-period objects, visit a vineyard overlooking Mount Etna, or simply partake in some free time. 

Included: B, L 
Overnight: Taormina 

March 19 and 31 

We bid “arrivederci” to Taormina and journey to Cefalù on the northern coast. We investigate the 12th-century Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its mosaics, and the Museo Mandralisca, which houses a noted collection of portraits, antiquities, and decorative arts. Following lunch, we continue to the Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, an opulent coastal resort in Palermo, where we see the Art Nouveau salone designed by Ernesto Basile and enjoy a festive dinner. 

Included: B, L, D 
Overnight: Palermo 

March 20 and April 1 

The morning begins with a tour of Palermo’s important churches, including the Norman-Baroque La Martorana, Arab-Norman San Cataldo, and Sicilian Baroque Santa Caterina. Our visit to the Oratorio del Rosario di Santa Cita introduces the amazing three-dimensional plasterwork of Giacomo Serpotta, unique to Palermo’s Baroque traditions. We enjoy refreshments at the Palazzo Abatellis’s picture gallery, notable for its modern adaptation by Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa. The afternoon includes a study of the private Arts & Crafts collection at Palazzo Butera with the curator. We return to the hotel to enjoy drinks and canapés on the terrace. 

Included: B, L, R 
Overnight: Palermo 

March 21 and April 2 

Our day opens with a private viewing of the 12th-century Cappella Palatina, considered a jewel of Arab-Norman art, a theme expanded upon in Monreale, where we admire the extraordinary Duomo, renowned for its magnificent golden mosaics, bronze doors, and beautiful cloister with 228 carved white marble columns. We return to the center of Palermo to tour the Villa Malfitano, built in the 1860s for the Whitaker family. The day concludes with a lovely dinner at Villa Chiaramonte Bordonaro with the pleasure of viewing the owners’ wonderful collection of paintings, books, and lustreware. 

Included: B, L, D 
Overnight: Palermo 

March 22 and April 3 

An outing to the countryside introduces us to Segesta where we study a beautifully preserved Doric temple. We continue to the Medieval mountaintop town of Erice for lunch, followed by a visit to the Castello di Venere, the striking ruins of a 12th-century Norman fortress built over an ancient Roman temple. The 17th-century Chiesa San Francesco di Paola contains a beautiful interior in low-relief stucco decoration and fine woodwork. 

Included: B, L 
Overnight: Palermo 

March 23 and April 4 

Palermo’s impressive Cathedral evolved from a Norman basilica to an Arab mosque to a Spanish Gothic church and contains the Royal Tombs and the Treasury, which feature the 12th-century crown of Constance of Aragon. We marvel at Ernesto Basile’s interiors for the privately owned Palazzo Francavilla where we enjoy lunch. Reaching the Parco della Favorita at the foot of Monte Pellegrino, we visit the exquisite Chinoiserie-style Palazzina Cinese. Venturing out for a celebratory final evening, we end our memorable trip in style with drinks while exploring the collection of a private family archive and dinner at Palazzo Alliata, a beautifully restored mansion. 

Included: B, L, R, D 
Overnight: Palermo 

March 24 and April 5 

Members depart from Palermo airport for stateside departures or continue to Malta for the extension (Tour 1 only). 

Included: B 

OPTIONAL EXTENSION   Malta: From the Phoenicians to the Knights of St. John

The island of Malta has a long and fascinating history both intertwined with and separate from nearby Sicily. From the beautifully preserved Classical temples, to the influence of Renaissance development under the Knights of St. John, to the lasting impact of English colonialism, this four-night excursion introduces a highly significant yet lesser-known destination that is sure to impress. The program centers on the magical Valletta, little altered from the plan introduced by the Knights in the 16th century, and extends out to the charming countryside. 

ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)  

March 24 

We gather in Malta’s vibrant capital of Valletta at the breathtaking Phoenicia Hotel, set in gardens just outside the city’s 16th-century bastions. An early evening orientation walk includes the Upper Barrakka Gardens with views of the Grand Harbor and the fortifications built by the Knights of Malta. We return to the hotel for drinks and dinner. 

Included: R, D 
Overnight: Valletta 

March 25 

Our day kicks off with additional exploration of Valletta, including the Parliament House, the New City Gate, and the converted site of the Royal Opera House, all designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. We experience Caravaggio’s masterpieces at the 16th-century St. John’s Co-Cathedral, then continue to the Palace of the Grand Master, seat of the Government of Malta, to visit the State Apartments and the Armory. After a relaxing lunch, we tour the newly refurbished museum MUZA, which houses an excellent collection of Maltese art, sculpture, and furniture. We conclude at the ancient site of Hagar Qim, a megalithic temple complex dating from 3600–3200 BC. 

Included: B, L 
Overnight: Valletta 

March 26 

We spend the morning on the harbor, taking a traditional Maltese “Dghajsa” boat excursion. Disembarking at Vittoriosa, we stroll through the city and enjoy lunch on the waterfront. Departing for Mdina, capital of Malta until 1571, we share a walking tour including private visits to St. Paul’s Cathedral, famed for its elegantly restrained Baroque design, and the Palazzo Falson, with an excellent collection of paintings, furniture, and silver. The Xara Palace serves as a splendid destination for dinner.

Included: B, L, D 
Overnight: Valletta 

March 27 

A trip inland to the charming Attard starts our day, with a walk down St. Anthony Street to admire the Renaissance architecture. We savor the gardens of San Anton Palace, the official residence of the President of Malta. Continuing to the city of Naxxar, we take in the 18th-century Palazzo Parisio, with lunch in the garden. The extension concludes with drinks at the Casa Rocca Piccola, a 16th-century palace with an impressive collection, followed by dinner at the highly regarded Restaurant Adesso

Included: B, L, R, D 
Overnight: Valletta 

March 28 

Participants depart for Malta airport for return flights or continue to Sicily (Tour 2 only). 

Included: B 

TERMS & CONDITIONS 

Land Arrangement Cost: For the main tour, $9,275 per person, based on double occupancy for 8 nights. For the Optional Extension $3,325 per person, based on double occupancy for 4 nights.

Included in Trip Cost: For the main tour, hotel accommodations in 4-and 5-star hotels, 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 3 receptions, and 4 dinners. For the extension, accommodations in a 5-star hotel, 4 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 receptions, and 3 dinners. For both, private coach transportation, local guides, admission in museums, historic houses, and gardens, gratuities for professional guides and coach drivers, and porterage.

Not Included in the Trip Cost: Airfare, airport transfers other than specified above, alcoholic beverages other than when provided, personal expenses, and trip insurance are not included. Transatlantic airfare is not included. Please do not make your airline reservations until you have received written confirmation of your registration from the Trust.

Reservations: A deposit of $1,500 per person is required by September 30, 2022. Reservations and deposits are taken on an as-received basis. You will receive written confirmation from the Decorative Arts Trust when we receive your registration.

Single Supplement: The single supplement is $1,550 for the main tour and $510 for the extension, to be paid with the final balance.

Final Payment: Will be due by December 31, 2022.

Membership: Membership at the Sponsor level is required for participation in Study Trips Abroad. Your membership contribution is tax-deductible. If an increase in your membership level is necessary, the Trust will invoice you for the appropriate level upgrade with your final payment.

Contribution: A donation to the Decorative Arts Trust of $500 per person is required for Study Trips Abroad. This gift is fully tax deductible and helps support the Trust’s mission and programs.

Itinerary: The schedule outlined in this itinerary is contracted at this time but subject to change as necessary. The itinerary is strenuous and requires a significant amount of standing and walking.

Participation: The trip is limited to a maximum of 25 members and requires a minimum of 15. The trip will be canceled if under-subscribed, and deposits will be refunded. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required. Participants should be prepared to test and wear masks when requested.

Cancellation and Refunds: If you must cancel your reservation, you are urged to do so as soon as possible in writing to the Decorative Arts Trust. All cancellations are subject to a $500 administrative fee per person. Deposits are non-refundable after September 30, 2022. Cancellations arriving by December 31, 2022, will receive a 50% refund. Cancellations arriving by January 31, 2023, will receive a 25% refund. There will be no refunds for cancellations received after January 31, 2023. THE TRUST STRONGLY ENCOURAGES ALL PARTICIPANTS TO PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE TO PROTECT AGAINST CANCELLATIONS DUE TO ILLNESS, INJURY, AND DISRUPTIONS CAUSED BY THE PANDEMIC. 

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