The Valley of the Temples found here – a cluster of five Doric structures built around 5th century BC, and a UNESCO World Heritage site – is one of the greatest collections of Greek architecture in the world. Hire a qualified guide to explain the history and architecture to be even more impressed by its splendor.
Mosaics of Ravenna
The eight mosaic monuments in this quasi-port city on the Adriatic still glitter after 16 centuries. The Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna (their official title) are a UNESCO World Heritage site – a unique collection of mosaics and monuments from the 5th and 6th centuries that draw lovers of antiquity, art, and religion. Note: Not all eight monuments are within walking distance of each other.
Pompeii and Herculaneum
Preserved for centuries under volcanic ash, Pompeii is still being excavated by archeologists. What’s already been unearthed, however, is impressive enough: an entire Roman-era city complete with villas, basilicas, “fast-food” joints, and a brothel! Herculaneum, also buried under the lava of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., is a smaller site, but better preserved than Pompeii.
Taormina’s Greek Theater
This Greek amphitheater is the second largest in Italy but has the most spectacular setting, surrounded by the natural wonders of sea, sky, and Mt. Etna. As in ancient times, it is the site of concerts and special events during the summer season, but will take your breath away any time of year.
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If you have an early flight, choose a hotel close to the airport the night before. Starting a trip on too little sleep is never fun.
Karen Dion Freelance Editor
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