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    SEPTEMBER 21 – OCTOBER 6, 2018


  • Overview

    Sardinia and Corsica each have a unique history, stretching back 5,000 years. In spite of centuries of invasion and occupation both islands have maintained a distinctive culture, reflecting both their current status as part of Italy and France, and millennia of diverse Mediterranean influences. This carefully constructed itinerary aims to showcase the very best of each island, mixing historical and cultural sites with the superb landscapes for which the islands are famous and an exploration of local traditions, food and wine.

    On Sardinia we focus on the island’s remarkable archaeology, with perhaps the greatest range of Palaeolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age sites to be found anywhere. A picture of these ancient cultures is built up progressively, visiting a range of small sites and museums. We also explore the influence of Phoenician, Roman, Pisan, Genoese and Spanish occupiers over the centuries. The itinerary begins in southern Sardinia, moving progressively north.

    In Corsica, the focus is first and foremost on the magnificent natural scenery of the island, which combines pristine coastline with a mountainous interior that is the equal of the European Alps. However, there are also notable historic sites to be enjoyed, including the Bastion cities built by the Genoese and of course the story of Napoleon, Corsica’s most famous son.

    The itinerary includes several days of scenic coach touring and two boat excursions. There are some long days of coach journeys on winding roads and all up we stay in six different towns. A reasonable level of fitness and stamina is required to enjoy this tour.

    Your tour leader

    Robert Veel has been leading tours to Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean since 1990. He is a director of Academy Travel and holds a BA, Med and Dip Ed from the University of Sydney. For many years Robert taught at the University of Sydney, including several years as Assistant Director of its Centre for Continuing Education. Robert’s knowledge of Italy stretches from the time of the Greek colonies to the 20th century, though

    his teaching focus has been on Medieval and Renaissance Italy. Robert also has a keen interest and good knowledge of the visual arts and western classical music.

    Robert researched this tour to Sardinia and Corsica in October 2017. The itinerary aims to provide a broad range of experiences including archaeology, ancient history, maritime empires of the Mediterranean, geology and natural scenery, food and wine.

    ‘Robert Veel was every traveller’s dream leader. Ever-present to be of assistance, energetic, enthusiastic and entertaining in his talks – a true professional.’ Feedback from Academy Travel’s New York: Music, Theatre, Art & Food tour, April 2016

    Tour dates: September 21 – October 6, 2018

    Tour leader: Robert Veel

    Tour Price: $8,450 per person, twin share

    Single Supplement: $1,850 for sole use of double room

    Booking deposit: $500 per person

    Recommended airline: Emirates

    Maximum places: 20

    Itinerary: Pula (3 nights), Santa Caterina (2 nights), Alghero (3 nights), Bonifacio (2 nights), Ajaccio (3 nights), Bastia (2 nights)

    Date published: November 27, 2017

    Enquiries and


    For further information and to secure a place on this tour please contact Kathy Wardrop at Academy Travel on 9235 0023 or 1800 639 699 (outside Sydney) or email [email protected]

  • Tour Highlights

    Dotted around the island are hundreds of prehistoric sites, ranging from 5,000-year-old necropoli to Bronze Age ‘Nuraghe’: fortresses, villages, sacred wells and other structures, dating from 2,000-1,200BC. Sardinia offers perhaps the world’s best glimpse into human pre-history. On the tour we visit a varied range of sites and key archaeological museums to gain an understanding of Sardinia’s ancient peoples.

    A mix of Spanish and Italian influences, Sardinia’s western maritime city of Alghero is full of charm. The fortified old city dates from the time of Aragon rule in the 13th-16th centuries. As well as historic sites, the area offers fine scenery, with plunging limestone cliffs and attractive harbours. North of Alghero is one of Sardinia’s leading wine-producing areas, with the white vermentino variety predominant.

    Corsica’s southernmost town is dramatically situated high on the limestone cliffs of the straits that separate Sardinia and Corsica. At Bonifacio’s heart is a magnificent fortress, built by the Genoese in the middle ages to guard this strategic point. Fought over for centuries, Bonifacio’s history is as striking as its scenery. Numerous groups tried to conquer the citadel, including Saracen pirates and Pisa, Genoa’s chief rival.

    Corsica’s capital Ajaccio was the birthplace of its most famous son, Napoleon, who rose up from relatively humble origins to command an empire. Corsicans are immensely proud of this heritage, celebrated in an excellent house-museum and the art collection of the Emperor’s uncle, Cardinal Fesch, one of the most important connoisseurs of the 18th century. The Palais Fesch also houses an imperial chapel for the Bonaparte family.

    The crossing from south to north Corsica is as dramatic as the Swiss Alps. A river valley gradually gives way to pristine oak forests and finally craggy granite peaks, rising nearly 3,000 metres above sea level. The inland town of Corte is the spiritual home of Corsican identity, and the centre of Corsican independence movements. All this is explored in the well-regarded Musèe de la Corse, within the 15th-century citadel.

  • In spite of their proximity to continental Italy and France, of which they are semi-independent regions, the islands of Sardinia and Corsica are not well known to most travellers. So what do they have to offer?

    The landscape of each island is distinctive. Sardinia is mainly limestone, with chalky cliffs and rolling hills. White cliffs punctuated with sandy beaches characterise the coastline, whereas the interior is rolling hills. Most local architecture is built from the limestone. Corsica, on the other hand, was formed mainly by dramatic volcanic uplift, with craggy granite peaks thrusting over 2,500 metres and a ruggedly beautiful coastline.

    The history of both islands begins in the Neolithic period, the late stone age. Visitors can visit impressive underground burial vaults (hypogea) that are over 5,000 years old. Sardinia is famous for its Bronze Age (1800-800BC) sites. Over 6,500 Bronze Age structures have been identified, the most characteristic being the cylindrical watch towers, called ‘nuraghe’ in Sardinia. There are also castle-like buildings, sacred springs and monumental ‘giants’ tombs. In the seventh century BC, the Carthaginians established trading settlements on both islands. These were later occupied by the Romans, who held the islands right through to sixth century AD. The period 600-1100 was one of invasion and depopulation. Successive waves of Vandals, Goths and Saracens moved through the islands. Things settled down in the 11th century when the Pisans established strongholds on both islands, part of their vast maritime empire. Striped ‘Pisan Romanesque’ churches pop up on both islands. The Genoese defeated the Pisans in a decisive sea battle in 1284 and their presence on Corsica lasted right through until the 18th century. The 18th century saw Sardinia and Corsica being swapped among the Bourbons, Hapsburgs and Savoy rulers of Europe, until Napoleon swept away the ancient regime. Remote and underdeveloped Sardinia and Corsica became backwaters in the 19th and 20th century, but this very remoteness and lack of development are drawcards for the modern traveller.

    Seafood dominates the local cuisine. Specialities include lobster around Bonifacio and ‘bottarga’, a delicious fish roe. Lamb is also abundant on both islands, and sheep’s cheese is a staple. In Corsica you can also find cinghiale, wild boar sausage. Overlaid with these regional specialities are classic Italian and French dishes – fresh pasta and excellent croissants. Both islands produce excellent red and white wines, which are only now being recognised. Vermentino is Corsica’s leading white wine, whereas Bordeaux-style reds come from Corsica’s Cap Corse region.

    Introducing Sardinia and Corsica

  • Detailed itinerary

    Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.

    Friday September 21

    Rome to Sardinia

    The tour begins at Rome’s Fiumicino airport at 1.30pm today. Please arrange your travel so that you are at the airport by this time. After meeting your tour leader Robert Veel, we take our group flight to Cagliari. On arrival at Cagliari a coach takes us to Pula, a resort town on the south coast about one hour away. Tonight there is a simple dinner in our hotel. Overnight Pula (B, D)

    Saturday September 22

    A snapshot of ancient Sardinia

    After an introductory lecture we visit the Punic-Roman archaeological site of Nora, just a few minutes from our hotel. The site is beautifully situated on a narrow headland. Next to the site is an 11th century church built in honour of the martyr saint, Efisio. We then enjoy a welcome lunch in Pula before heading out to the Bronze Age nuraghe of Sa Domu and S’Orcu. These humble structures give us our first glimpse of Sardinia’s impressive pre-history. In the late afternoon there is the possibility of a swim at the beach at Nora. Overnight Pula (B, L)

    Sunday September 23


    Sardinia’s capital is spread out around the base of a fortress, built by Pisans in the 13th century and strengthened by the Spanish in the 16th. After a morning lecture, we travel to Cagliari and visit the excellent archaeological museum, containing the very best artefacts from the Nuragic period, as well as Phoenician and Roman pieces. Next door is the small picture gallery, containing numerous altarpieces from the Spanish period. A walking tour takes us through the old city to the cathedral and down to the vibrant Castello district, where there are many restaurants in the narrow laneways. We return to Nora in the afternoon. Overnight Pula (B)

    Monday September 24

    Su Nuraxi

    We depart Pula this morning and head north. Our first stop is the well-preserved Romanesque sanctuary church of Santa Maria, just north of Cagliari. The church is built in the Pisan

    Begin the tour relaxed

    In order to get the most from the tour we suggest you plan to arrive in Rome a few days early to recover from the flight. As well as flights we are able to arrange pre-tour accommodation in Rome. Please contact us to discuss the best options.

    Images left: Phoenician/Roman ruins at Tharros; a lookout tower from the Bronze Age Nuragic period; and the murales of San Sperate

  • style, and gives us our first evidence of the presence of the maritime empire of Pisa in Sardinia. Nearby is the town of San Sperate, attractively decorated with murals, a Sardinian tradition. We then visit Su Nuraxi, Sardinia’s largest Bronze Age fortified village and a UNESCO World-Heritage site. After a simple lunch, we continue to the small coastal town of Santa Caterina in Pittinuri. There is the possibility of a swim in the ocean or the hotel pool on arrival. Dinner is in the hotel. Overnight Santa Caterina (B, L, D)

    Tuesday September 25

    Tharros and Cabras

    After a lecture, we visit Tharros, Sardinia’s most impressive Punic-Roman site, dating from the 8th century BC. Located on a headland jutting into the sea, there are well preserved Roman remains and evidence of a Tophet, a Punic burial ground, perhaps used for child sacrifice. In the nearby town of Cabras we visit the excellent archaeological museum before returning to Santa Caterina. Overnight Santa Caterina (B)

    Wednesday September 26

    Bosa and the western coast

    We depart Santa Caterina and visit two varied archaeological sites. The first is a superbly preserved sacred well at Santa Cristina from the Nuragic period, evidence of the advanced nature of this period of prehistory. Next is a Roman bath complex of Fordongianus, built around a hot spring in the first century AD. We then drive along a charming country road to Bosa, perhaps Sardinia’s prettiest town. Situated on a river, it is dominated by a medieval Spanish castle. This afternoon there is a stunning drive up the isolated western coast to Alghero, with views rivalling Italy’s famed Amalfi Coast. Dinner is in a local restaurant. Overnight Alghero (B, D)

    Thursday September 27


    Alghero displays a clear Spanish influence and a form of Catalan dialect is still spoken. After a morning lecture, we tour the fortified old city, before taking a boat trip to the ‘Grotte di Nettuno’ a fine network of limestone caves in a national park just to the north of Alghero. The later afternoon is at leisure. Overnight Alghero (B)

    Friday September 28

    Wine and ruins

    This morning we visit two remarkable sites. Sant’Andrea Priu, on a remote inland hill is a large Neolithic burial chamber, perhaps 5,000 years old, and in continuous use right through to the Byzantine period in the 8th century AD. Nearby Santu Antime is a large and complex Nuragic fortress. Returning back to Alghero, we visit Anghelu Ruju, another burial chamber and then enjoy a tour and late afternoon wine tasting at Sella and Mosca, Sardinia’s best regarded winemakers. Overnight Alghero (B, wine tasting)

    Images left: the spectacular coastal road towards Alghero; the charming riverside town of Bosa; Bronze age ‘giant’s tombs’ in northern Sardinia

  • Saturday September 29

    The costa smerelda and Corsica

    We depart Alghero, bound for Corsica. En route we pass by the Costa Smeralda, an exclusive holiday destination on Sardinia’s east coast, developed by the Aga Khan. We then visit the Nuragic sites near Arzhachena. This includes the ‘giant’s tomb’ of Coddu Veccju, a monumental grave with a circle of impressive monoliths. We arrive at Santa Teresa in Gallura in time to check in for our 5pm ferry to Bonifacio. The approach to Bonifacio by water is spectacular. Dinner is in our hotel. Overnight Bonifacio (B, D)

    Sunday September 30


    This morning after a lecture a local guide shows us the highlights of Bonifacio. The town is named after its Tuscan founder, Count Boniface, who came here in 828. The Genoese, in their early phases of their maritime empire established a presence here in 1187, the first of their Corsican holdings. For centuries the town has faced attack from Saracens, Pirates and fighting Pisan, Genoese and Spanish forces, all wanting to control this strategic place. After our tour the afternoon and evening are free. There are several walks near the town and you might like to take a short cruise of the harbour and nearby islands. Overnight Bonifacio (B)

    Monday October 1

    Sartene and Filitosa

    The day is spent traversing the rugged south-west corner of Corsica. The long drive takes us to the medieval town of Sartene and then to Filitosa, Corsica’s most important prehistoric site. Here we view the 4,000-year-old anthropomorphic menhirs – stone warriors – which were discovered by Charles-Antoine Cesari as recently as 1946. We arrive in Ajaccio in the late afternoon and there is dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Ajaccio (B, D)

    Tuesday October 2

    Scandola National Park

    A coach and boat excursion takes us along the famously beautiful western coast of Corsica. A highlight of our day is a boat excursion through the Scandola Nature Reserve, whose sheer red granite cliffs, transparent waters and abundant flora, birdlife and marine fauna have earned in a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Overnight Ajaccio (B, L)

    Wednesday October 3

    Napoleon and Ajaccio

    Napoleon Bonaparte is Ajaccio’s most famous son, and the city makes the most of the connection. After a lecture, this morning we visit the Maison Bonaparte, Napoleon’s childhood home, now a museum dedicated to the Emperor and his family. We also visit the nearby Palais Fesch, and fine arts museum which was once home to Napoleon’s uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch. The cardinal was a major art collector, and many of his paintings

    Images right: Napoleon, Ajaccio’s favourite son; Scandola National Park

  • are now to be found in the National Gallery, London and The Louvre. The collection in Ajaccio has works by important Italian primitives, as well as big names such as Titian and Botticelli. Within the palace is the Chapelle Imperiale, containing the tombs of several members of the Bonaparte family. Overnight Ajaccio (B)

    Thursday October 4

    Corte and the central mountains

    A spectacular drive takes us over Corsica’s central mountain range. We stop to enjoy the fine scenery of massive granite cliffs, oak forests and river valleys. Corte lies at the geographic centre of Corsica and is intimately connected to the island’s struggle for independence in the 18th century and, more recently, with Corsica’s cultural identity. We visit the Musèe de la Corse which explores Corsica’s history and traditions. We then proceed to a lunch of traditional Corsican specialities before continuing to Bastia. Overnight Bastia (B, L)

    Friday October 5

    Bastia and Cap Corse

    On our final day we explore the old city of Bastia. Named after its Genoese bastion, there is also a lovely old port and elegant city squares to explore. Napoleon’s island of exile, Elba, can be clearly seen from the bastion. This afternoon we visit the small Roman archaeological site and Pisan church at Mariana, named after its founder, the Roman consul Marius, an important player in Rome’s civil war in the 1st century BC. We then head to the hills to visit the magnificent Pisan Romanesque church of San Michele. This evening there is a farewell meal in a local restaurant. Overnight Bastia (B, D)

    Saturday October 6


    There is a transfer to Bastia airport timed to coincide with the afternoon flight to Paris, from where connecting intercontinental flights can be taken. It is also possible to travel by ferry from Bastia to Livorno, Genoa or Nice. (B)


    All hotels are four-star, have been inspected or used on previous Academy Travel tours. Several hotels may be classified as ‘boutique’, having just 15-25 rooms.

    ➢ Pula, The Nora Club Hotel (3 nights)

    ➢ Santa Caterina, La Baja (2 nights)

    ➢ Alghero, Hotel Catalunya (3 nights)

    ➢ Bonifacio, Hotel Genovese (2 nights)

    ➢ Ajaccio, Palazzu U Domu (3 nights)

    ➢ Bastia, Hotel des Gouvenuers (2 nights)

    Above: the citadel at Corte; and the citadel at Bastia, with Elba in the distance Below: the church of San Michele, Bastia

  • Tour Price

    The tour price is $8,450 per person, twin share (land content only). The supplement for a single room is $1,850 per person. A non-refundable deposit of $500 per person is required to secure a place on the tour.

    Tour Inclusions

    ➢ Economy class airfares Rome-Cagliari with Alitalia, with 23kg luggage maximum

    ➢ All accommodation and breakfasts in selected four-star hotels

    ➢ Ten lunches or dinners, with drinks, as listed ➢ All ground transport by private coach ➢ Entry fees to all sites ➢ All ferry and boat excursion costs ➢ Services of tour leader and local guides ➢ Series of background lectures on tour ➢ Extensive tour notes ➢ All tipping to guides, drivers and restaurants

    ➢ International air fares, taxes and surcharges (see below) ➢ Travel insurance ➢ Meals not mentioned in itinerary ➢ Expenses of a personal nature

    Air travel OPTIONS

    The tour begins in Rome and ends in Bastia. From Bastia you can fly to Paris or Nice. We suggest Emirates, which serve all these cities. Please contact us for the best possible prices on economy, business or first class fares. Transfers between airport and hotel are included for all passengers booking their flights through Academy Travel.

    Enquiries & bookings

    For further information and to secure a place on this tour please contact Kathy Wardrop at Academy Travel on 9235 0023 or 1800 639 699 (outside Sydney) or email [email protected]

    Weather on Tour

    Expect warm weather throughout, perhaps punctuated by a late summer storm and a few rainy days. Daytime maxima average around 20-25 degrees in late September, dropping to 18 or so in the evenings.


    There are ample opportunities to enjoy a swim on this tour. Hotels in Pula, Santa Caterina, Bonifacio and Bastia have pools. Ocean swimming in the Mediterranean is possible at all our stops, except Bastia.

    Fitness Requirements

    of THIS tour

    It is important both for you and for your fellow travellers that you are fit enough to be able to enjoy all the activities on this tour. To give you an indication of the level of physical fitness required to participate on our tours, we have given them a star grading. Academy Travel’s tours tend to feature extended walking tours and site visits, which require greater fitness than coach touring. We ask you to carefully consider your ability to meet the physical demands of the tour.

    This Grade Three tour is among our most physically demanding. To participate on this tour, you should be able to comfortably undertake up to seven hours per day, over several days. Activities may include travelling long distances, walking on difficult terrain, climbing stairs, embarking and disembarking trains and/or boats, exposure to high altitudes and long days of touring. These tours may include one night stops and early starts.

    You should be able to:

    ➢ keep up with the group at all times

    ➢ walk for 5-7 kilometres at a moderate pace with only short breaks

    ➢ stand for a reasonable length of time in galleries and museums

    ➢ wheel your luggage on and off the Sardinia-Corsica ferry

    ➢ climb steep staircases to enter Nuragic fortresses and Neolithic hypogea, negotiate steep rocky paths at other sites

    ➢ tolerate a diet that can be significantly different from a typical Australian diet, and where some dietary requirements cannot be met

    ➢ get on and off a large coach with steep steps and boats unassisted, possibly with luggage

    ➢ move your luggage a short distance if required

    We regret that we are not able to accept bookings on a Grade Three tour from people more than 80 years old.

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