2015 Italy Tour Itinerary

Sirens, Sibyls and Seers: A Traveling Symposium in Southern Italy

Sorrento, Capri, Pompeii, Positano, Amalfi Coast, Paestum, Naples, Cuma, Lake Avernus

with Demetra George M.A.

October 24 – November 3, 2015

Day One: Arrival in Sorrento

SorrentoPerched on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean and set amidst lush vineyards, citrus and olive groves, Sorrento, whose ancient name Surrentum means ‘song of the sirens,’ will be our base for the first part of the tour. We’ll take day trips to the area’s rich archaeological and cultural sites and return each afternoon to relax in our sea-view hotel rooms and partake of culinary delights in this charming and lively old town which attracted many19th century Romantic writers and musicians.

Welcome Reception, Introductions, and Dinner at a restaurant on Sorrento’s seafront. (D and overnight in Sorrento: www.minervasorrento.com)

Day Two: Fondo Galatea

Fondo GaleateaAfter breakfast, we will gather for a double seminar. Beginning with an introduction to Mythic Archetypal Astrology, you will receive a natal birth chart that contains the names of the asteroid deities and sites that we will visit and discover which themes are most important in your karmic pattern. This will be followed with a richly illustrated presentation on the Sirens and Lekane, exploring how contemporary images in Sorrento and Naples transformed the winged siren into a mermaid. We will discuss the power of chant, song, word, and incantation as a means to access intuition and foresight.

An afternoon excursion takes us to the nearby agriturismo Fondo Galatea for a cooking lesson and Sunday afternoon farm fresh home-made organic dinner featuring local specialties and wine-tasting. (http://www.agriturismogalatea.com/en/) (B, L, overnight Sorrento)

Day Three: Baia di Ieranto

Baia di IerantoWe begin the morning with a small hike through the scenic Natural Marine Reserve of the Baia di Ieranto, site of a Temple to Athena and the legendary location of the Cave and Temple of the Sirens where Homer’s Odysseus and his sailors came upon their intoxicating lullabies. The mystical spirit of the place still lingers here with its stunning belvederes, spectacular views of azure blue seas crashing upon the rocks, and dolphin visitations. In this sacred landscape we will circle for a meditation and recitation of poetry and literary passages invoking the sirens and mermaids. After lunch, we’ll take a walking tour of Sorrento exploring the grid of the ancient city and orientating ourselves to the main piazzas, cultural monuments, and tourist amenities. The day concludes back at our hotel with a late afternoon seminar on the Roman Emperors and Their Court Astrologer, preparing us for our visit to Capri. (B, overnight in Sorrento)

Day Four: Capri

CapriWe embark upon an all day excursion by ferry to the shimmering island paradise of Capri. The highlight is a visit to the Villa Jovis, Tiberius’ palace in exile where he spent the last decade of his life studying and consulting with his astrologer, the renowned Alexandrian scholar Thrasyllus. We will offer Thrasyllus a recitation of passages from his famous astrological text, the Pinax and explore the archetype of the seer as diviner. The afternoon is free for a leisurely lunch in the cafes, browsing in exclusive high fashion boutiques, and relaxing in the Gardens of Augustus with a view of the Faraglioni rocks whose spires rise above the sea below. You can also choose an optional boat excursion to the luminescent Blue Grotto. (B, overnight in Sorrento)

Day Five: Pompeii

PompeiiThe morning begins with a seminar on the Cult of Bacchus at the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii and a discussion of intoxication and ecstatic states to facilitate a communion with divine energies. Then we take an adventure riding the circumvesuviana train along the inner rim of the Bay of Naples to visit the ongoing excavations in the sprawling Roman city of Pompeii. Long buried beneath the ash of the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius in CE 79 whose cratered peak still looms in the background. We will walk along the streets of Pompeii, stopping at the Forum, House of the Faun, the Brothel, the Baths, Temples of Isis, Apollo and Venus. Our visit will focus upon the Villa of the Mysteries where vivid red-hued fresco paintings depict an ancient Orphic mystery rite. (B and overnight in Sorrento)

Day Six: Free

Our final day in Sorrento is free for you to shape according to your needs and wishes. You can relax, swim, shop, arrange for massage, reading, or other healing treatments; revisit your favorite sites; or explore local excursions such as a hike up Mt. Vesuvius or the hills on the Sorrento peninsula, the Herculaneum or Oplontis archaeological sites, and other attractions. Our hotel staff and local tourist agency can help you arrange transportation if you want. (B, overnight in Sorrento)

Day Seven: Positano and the Amalfi Coast

PositanoWe leave Sorrento, traveling by motor coach along the scenic Amalfi Coast, one of the most spectacular panoramic coastal routes in the world. We will stop to view the tiny islands of Li Galli, said to be haunts of petrified Sirens and overnight in Positano, founded by Poseidon for a nymph Pasitea. Pastel houses on narrow streets cling to the rocky slopes and steep stone steps tumble down onto the beautiful beaches studded with grottos and natural caves. Gathering upon our sea view balcony, we will have a late afternoon seminar on the goddess Hera, the patroness of this area, before enjoying the shops and nightlife in this famous resort town. (B, overnight in Positano http://www.marincanto.it/en/hotel.html)

Day Eight: Paestum

PaestumWe continue our drive along the Amalfi Coast, stopping to descend to the Grotta di Smeraldo, a sea cavern sacred to the Sirens that glows with emerald green light. Then we head to Paestum (ancient Poseidonia) which contains some of the most well-preserved Greek temples in the world, including the oldest temple to Hera. Hundreds of votive offerings depicting a woman with a crown sitting on a throne and holding a pomegranate were excavated from the nearby Heraion and are display in the elegant archaeological museum that contains many other beautifully crafted artifacts from prehistoric to Roman times. The Virgin of the 8th century CE church built near this site is known as the Madonna of the Pomegranate. On this All-Hollows Eve day we will feast on pomegranates that are now ripe and share a home-cooked farm lunch featuring the local specialty water buffalo mozzarella cheese. (B, L and overnight in Naples)

Day 9: Naples

NaplesThe origin of Naples is connected to the Siren Parthenope who was carried by ocean currents to wash ashore; her body was placed in a magnificent tomb and honored as the protectress of the city with sacrifices and torchlight processions to the sea. Our exploration of this teeming vibrant locale will include a visit to one of Europe’s top archaeological museums displaying the artistic treasures of Pompeii and the impressive statue of Atlas holding the globe of the heavenly constellations upon his shoulder. For lunch, we take you to sample the world famous Neapolitan pizza. In the afternoon we track the ancient Greek foundations by visiting the fascinating layered excavations under San Lorenzo Maggiore and wandering around the historic center near San Gregorio Armeno where the agora of Parthenope was originally located. (B, L and overnight in Naples http://www.royalgroup.it/royalcontinental/accommodation-en.html)

Day 10: Lake Avernus and Cuma

Aneas and the Sibyl, Lake Avernus by William Turner, 1798A visit to Phlegraean (‘flaming’) Fields, a volcanic coastal area west of Naples filled with gentle hills and lakes will lead us past Vergil’s tomb on our way to Lake Avernus, an ancient oracle of the dead.  There we will read Vergil’s tale about Aeneas’ visit to the underworld, on this national holiday the Day of the Dead, when people tend the graves of their ancestors. We will stop for a home-cooked lunch at the Villa Vergiliana and enjoy their richly appointed library room for a seminar on the prophetic Sibyl of Cumae and discussion about ‘channeling the furor’ as a divinatory tradition. Our tour will culminate at the Sibyl’s cave temple at Cuma and a meditation on the acropolis at the Temple of Diana which was orientated to receive the light of the Full Moon. We celebrate with a farewell dinner near the Castel dell’Ovo where Parthenope’s body washed ashore marking the symbolic foundation of the city. (B, L, D and overnight in Naples)

Day 11: Depart for Home or Continue Traveling on your Own

Rome is a two-hour train ride from Naples. Sicily can be reached by ferry.

*Itinerary may be subject to change