Sicily: Cultural Crossroads

of the Mediterranean

Interim 2001

Professors Schmunk and Davis

Last update 20 February 2001

Created and Updated by G.R. Davis

"For walk where we will, we tread upon some story." Cicero


Project Description Contacts
Justification Maps
Daily Itinerary State Department Info
Accommodations Travel Security
International Flights

Travel Health

Expenses & Insurance Passport Information
Reference Materials What to Pack?
Expectations Know Before You Go!
The Instructors Links
Roster & Roommates Reflections after the trip.

Project Description

The largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and situated at its very center, Sicily's strategic location has made it a geographic link between Europe and Africa as well as East and West, a crossroads of trading activity, and a meeting place of diverse cultures. It was colonized by the city-states of ancient Greece, fought over by Phoenicians and Romans, dominated by Muslim Arabs in the early Middle Ages, later invaded by the Normans who established the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, liberated from Spanish control in the 19th century by Garibaldi and united with the Kingdom of Italy and, most recently, granted semi-autonomy within the Italian state. Participants in this project will explore the history, culture, and natural phenomena of Sicily, whose mild climate and great natural beauty make it an ideal mid-winter travel destination. Following a week on campus devoted to reading, discussion, and language study, participants will spend eighteen days traveling from Naples through the south of Italy and around the perimeter of Sicily. An ambitious and varied itinerary will include visits to Pompeii and the Amalfi coast, Greek temples and theaters, Byzantine churches, Norman castles, the remains of an imperial Roman villa, an excursion to the Aeolian Islands, and a partial ascent of Mt. Etna, a periodically active volcano rising 11,000 feet above the Mediterranean Sea.

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Justification for this travel-study project.

Allowing for the combination of field study and classroom work, interim provides an ideal opportunity for the study of cultural history. This project will integrate first-hand experience of cultural monuments with reading, discussion, and basic language study in the classroom. The travel component of this project will provide a measure of immediacy and authenticity not possible in a regular semester course. The project's narrow focus will allow for an in-depth encounter with the cultural history of Sicily, including several historical epochs and a variety of materials (art, music, history, religion, and politics) normally studied in separate academic areas.

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Daily Itinerary

Jan 8-11 Readings, lectures and discussions on the following topics: Orientation to Italy and Sicily, Historical Overview, Basic Italian for Tourists, Introduction to Architecture, Natural History and Geology of Sicily.
Jan 12 Departure for Naples.
Jan 13 Arrive in Naples; general orientation bus tour of the city. Arrive in Sorrento with dinner provided.
Jan 14 Visit Castel Nuovo, a brick castle on the harbor, and the National Archeological Museum which houses one of the world's best collections of paintings from antiquity. Dinner provided in Naples or Ravello.
Jan 15 Tour of Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius on the horizon.
Jan 16 Depart Amalfi coast for Sicily; stopover at Paestum to see archaic period Greek temples; Cross Straits of Messina by boat for overnight in Messina. Dinner provided.

Jan 17 Boat excursion to Aeolian Islands with visits to Vulcano and Lipari Islands. These volcanic islands with spectacular views are vacation destinations for many Italians. Overnight in Lipari with dinner provided.
Jan 18 Return to Sicily by boat and travel by bus westward along the rocky northern coastline to Cefalu. Dinner provided.


Jan 19 Visit Cefalu Cathedral built by Norman King Roger II in the 13th century, the Norman church of San Giovanni, and the medieval washhouse. In the afternoon we climb the Rocca di Cefalu, a challenging one hour hike up a steep promontory that rewards the traveler with a fantastic view of Cefalu below and the Aeolian Island to the north.
Jan 20 Inland excursion through the mountainous forests of Madonie with stops at Nicosia, Sperlinga, Le Petralie, and Polizzi Generosa. These villages, nestled in the mountains, have resisted the influence of outsiders and are centered around their churches. Also in the region are cave dwellings. Upon arrival in Palermo, dinner is provided.
Jan 21 General orientation tour of Palermo, the bustling capital city situated on the northern coast, with visits to the Palazzo dei Normani, the Capella Palatina, and San Giovanni degli Eremiti.
Jan 22 Walking tour of the medieval Capo Quarter, the Piazza Pretoria, and La Martorana, all in Palermo. In the afternoon, a short bus trip will take us to Monreale to see the cathedral, abbey, royals palace, and more. Over 40 Bible stories are depicted in mosaics against a gold background. Dinner provided.
Jan 23 Free Day: From our hotel near the shore, choose to revisit some of the sites in Palermo or seek new venues. There is much to see and explore.


Jan 24 Departure from Palermo, with stop at Segesta to see the Greek theater and temple en route to Agrigento on the southern coast. Overnight in Agrigento with dinner provided.
Jan 25 Tour the Valley of the Temples in the morning, followed by travel to Caltagirone, famous for ceramics. Dinner provided.

Jan 26 Excursion to Piazza Armerina to visit the Villa Romana del Casale, a sprawling Roman villa dating from the 4th century with superbly preserved mosaic floors depicting hunts and banquets.


Jan 27 Travel from Caltagirone to Taormina on the east coast at the base of Mt. Etna. Tour Taormina, a city on a rocky plateau 200 meters above the sea. Visit the Greek theater dating from the 2nd century. Dinner provided.
Jan 28 Excursion onto upper slopes of Mt. Etna to see active caldera. The summit at 3350 meters (10,990 feet) will be snowcapped and inaccessible during January, but those wishing to undertake this adventure will ascend as far as nature and safety allow.
Jan 29 Travel to Naples via the scenic Amalfi Coast. Farewell dinner.
Jan 30 Return to U.S.

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Our hotels have been selected to place us within easy walking distance of historic sites, markets, and restaurants. The following list is subject to change if it becomes possible to substitute other hotels to improve our already excellent proximity to points of interest.

Dates Location Hotel Name Telephone Fax
Jan 13-15 Sorrento Flora


Jan 16 Messina Jolly 39-090-363860 39-090-5902526
Jan 17 Lipari Filadelfia 39-090-9812795 39-090-9812486
Jan 18-19 Cefalu Baia del Capitano 39-0921-420003 39-0921-420163
Jan 20-23 Palermo Ponte 39-091-583744 39-091-581845
Jan 24 Agrigento Grand dei Templi 39-0922-606144 39-0922-606685
Jan 25-26 Caltagirone Villa San Mauro 39-0933-26500 39-0933-31661
Jan 27-28 Taormina Antares le Terrazze 39-0942-36477 39-0942-652052
Jan 29 Naples Cavour 39-081-283122 39-081-287488

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International Flight Information

All Flights on British Airways

Flight Date From To Depart Arrive Duration
BA 2006 12 Jan Charlotte Douglas London Gatwick 05:40 pm

06:10 am

BA 2606 13 Jan London Gatwick Naples 10:15 am 02:10 pm 2:55
BA 2605 30 Jan Naples London Gatwick 07:15 am 09:20 am 3:05
BA 2007 30 Jan London Gatwick Charlotte Douglas 11:40 am 03:45 pm 9:05

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Expenses and Insurance

The course fee of $2500 covers round trip bus transportation to departure airport, round-trip international airfare, all lodging, all breakfasts and 11 dinners, ground transportation, entrance fees, local guide in Sicily and minimal tips for guides.

The course fee does not cover insurance (see below) lunches, 6 dinners, souvenirs, costs of excursions taken during free time and any other incidentals. Depending on one's appetite and penchant for shopping, as little as $300-$400 pocket money should suffice.

Wofford College requires students to buy travel insurance for any Interim Project that includes travel. Highly recommended is the International Student Identity Card which costs $20 plus $3 for postage and handling. Purchasing this card automically includes basic accident and sickess insurance for travel outside the US, including hospital stays, accidental medical expense, emergeny evacuation, passport protection, baggage delay, and more. For complete details, consult Several nearby campuses issue the cards (Furman, Clemson, USC). Cards ordered by mail, phone (1-800-2COUNCIL), or on line may take up to 6 weeks for delivery so make arrangements early. If you choose not to get this ID card, you must supply evidence of travel insurance to the instructors in 4 weeks prior to departure.

Note that trip cancellation insurance is not included in the course fee and is optional. Trip cancellation insurance provides some financial protection should it become necessary to miss the trip or return to the US prior to our scheduled flights because of sickness or death of a close relative. Trip cancellation insurance will not pay if you simply decide not to make the trip. Our agents (Franz and Alda) at Universal Travel can assist with various types of optional travel insurance (576-6616 or toll free 1-800-849-0167; email:

Make checks payable to Wofford College and indicate the student's name on the memo line.

Due Date
September 28
$750 deposit
October 23
November 20


Paying the balance or any portion in advance will greatly assist our travel agent in securing reservations. Making any payments earlier than each of the deadlines will be much appreciated.

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1) Attendance and participation is required at all meetings prior to departure. Selected readings will be distributed and assigned prior to Christmas break. Students are expected to complete the readings during the holidays.

2) Each student is to keep a daily journal during the trip in which notes and impressions are recorded. These journals will be checked periodically by the professors during the travel portion of the interim.

3) Each student will write a summary paper in which examines in some depth the events, individuals, and influences that contribute to the uniqueness of one or two sites we visit. In this paper, the student is expected to integrate information from a variety of sources as well as include personal observations which indicate thoughtful reflection.

4) Students are expected to participate cheerfully in all activities, to be attentive to guides, and to consult the Michelin Travel Guide during each excursion to more fully appreciate the significance of the sites we visit.

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Reference Materials

1. The Michelin Travel Guide to Sicily. Much more than a list of destinations, this guidebook will serve as the primary text for this project. The Michelin Guide includes excellent information on history and architecture. Each location is described in detail, including its historical relevance and major influences. You must have one of these guidebooks, available in bookstores or e-bookstores for about $18.00. The Practical Information section includes a glossary of essential Italian words and phrases, weblinks, travel advice, and recommended literature and films.

2. Guido, Margaret (1967) Sicily: An Archeological Guide. Faber & Faber, Ltd., London.

3. Blanchard, Paul (1998) Sicily and the Aeolian Islands. Passport Books, Chicago.

4. Miller, Helen Hill (1965) Sicily and the Western Colonies of Greece. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.

5. Berlitz (1993) The Berlitz Traveller's Guide to Southern Italy and Rome. Berlitz Publishing, New York.

6. Touring Club of Italy (1999) The Heritage Guide to Sicily. Touring Club of Italy, Milano.

7. Lefevre, Franco (1993) Italy from the Air. Vendome Press, New York.

Other references will be added from time to time.

Also see the Links to Websites.

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Peter L. Schmunk has taught art history at Wofford College for thirteen years and is coordinator of the art history major program. He regularly teaches course on medieval and baroque art and on the history of architecture. As a result, he has a keen interest in the firsthand experience of monuments of visual art and is able to offer students the expert guidance of a specialist. Over the past decade, Professor Schmunk has organized seven interim trips to European countries, including France, Germany, Greece, and especially Italy. Because mild, sunny weather prevails and the number of tourists drops dramatically during the month of January, Italy is an ideal mid-winter travel destination. While Rome remains his favorite city in the world (see student write-up on Interim 2000 travel to Rome), Professor Schmunk is always seeking to include new sites in a travel itinerary, this year Sicily.

G.R. Davis joined the Biology Department in 1993 where he regularly teaches human physiology, neurobiology, and other courses particularly relevent to students intending to pursue health professions. He has traveled with student groups to Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela (2000) and twice to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands (1996 and 1999). He has also traveled in Canada, Mexico, and Jamaica. In addition to his interests in all things "biological," he is fascinated by other cultures and is very excited at the prospect of visiting Italy. Dr. Davis has taught Photography as an Interim course and enjoys assisting student photographers. The itinerary promises excellent opportunities for photography, especially of architecture, landscapes and seascapes, and people.

Questions concerning this Travel Interim project can e-mailed to Dr. Schmunk or Dr. Davis .

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Roster & Roommates

(modified 28 Nov 2000)

Students should complete the release forms required by the college for travel interim participation. Those forms are available from Dr. Annemarie Wiseman or from the Wofford College Interim webpage. The forms are to be turned in to Dr. Davis (Milliken 204) no later than December 1, 2000. In addition, please provide Dr. Davis with a photocopy of your passport or make arrangements to get a passport within the next few weeks. Keep updated by checking this website periodically. We would prefer to keep you updated electronically (by email and the web.)

Student Major Standing Roommate
Kenzie Brunson Art History Junior Sarratt
Callie Crenshaw Undecided Sophomore Hembree
Nancy Curtis Undecided Sophomore Link
Spencer Cutting Art History Junior Frick
Justin Daubert Business Economics Senior Drake
Miles Drake History & Government Senior Daubert
Jean Cecil Frick Undecided Freshman Cutting
Karen Hembree Chemistry Sophomore Crenshaw
Willis High Finance Senior Reid
Amy Imfeld French & Finance Junior Jeni
Kylie Keesley Government


Jeni Imfeld French & Finance Junior Amy
Eric Lanford Chemistry Senior Moschella
Jamie Link Undecided Sophomore Curtis
Mary Frances Morgan English Sophomore Stork
Phillip Moschella Biology, Psychology, History Senior Lanford
Darby Plexico Business Economics Senior Ross
Nathan Reid Business Economics Senior High
Helen Roper Art History & Government Senior Keesley
Ben Ross Psychology Junior Plexico
Samantha Sarratt Undecided Sophomore Brunson
Elizabeth Stork Government Junior Morgan



For the duration of our travels in Sicily, we will be accompanied by a full-time experienced tour manager who can expedite our travel around the island of Sicily and deal with any circumstances that might arise. Our tour manager will have broad knowledge of Sicily. Dr. Schmunk, assisted by local guides, will provide specific information at each location.

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Travel Agent

Franz Kop of Universal Travel has organized approximately 28 Interim travel courses for Wofford College since 1993 and has vast experience, especially in arranging travel to Europe.

Spartanburg telephone 576-6616 or toll free 1-800-849-0167


Universal Travel can assist with various types of optional travel insurance. Contact Franz or Alda Kop for more information.

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Dr. Peter Schmunk, Associate Professor of Art History

Dr. G.R. Davis, Associate Professor of Biology

Franz Kop, Universal Travel

Annemarie Wiseman, Director of Programs Abroad and Assistant Dean

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A road map of Sicily

Localities in Sicily

US State Department International Travel Information

An excellent source of reliable travel information is provided by the US State Department "Background Notes." These notes concisely summarize the geography, people, population, government, economy, foreign relations, history, and political conditions for every nation. Have a look at the site for Italy.

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Travel Security Issues

Consular Information Sheets published by the State Department provide information on entry requirements, medical facilities, crime, traffic safety & road conditions, aviation, and embassy locations. Check these Information Sheets for Italy.

Is is safe to travel in Southern Italy and Sicily? Italy and Sicily are generally considered safe places for US citizens to travel. There are no State Department warnings for Italy other that the usual petty thievery alerts typical of large cities. We will be traveling as a group accompanied by a local guide on charter buses. Lodging will be in urban settings in "three star" or better hotels. During free time, travelers are expected to employ ordinary personal safety measures such as traveling in small groups and avoiding certain locations known to be suspect.

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Travel Health Issues

No immunizations are required for travel to Italy but several are recommended by the Center for Disease Control. The recommended immunizations are listed together with tips for staying healthy. You'll discover that only typical immunzations are suggested: Hepatitis A and B, and tetanus. Should you decide to receive any or all of these injections, they can be obtained from the Spartanburg County Health Department by appointment (596-3337) on Wednesdays or from your family doctor.

A minor concern for those traveling to regions where water quality is not always reliable is Traveler's Diarrhea. Information on Food and Water Precautions and Travelers' Diarrhea is available from The Center for Disease Control.

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Passport Information

Passports are required for travel to and from Italy. Visas are not necessary. The instuctors will a photocopy of each passport.

If you already have a passport:

Check the expiration date to make sure that the passport will be valid throughout the duration of our travel. Please bring your passport to Dr. Davis' office in Milliken Science Hall 204 so that a photocopy can be made and the passport number and expiration date can be recorded.

If you need a passport:

Getting a passport is not complicated, but does require 4-6 weeks for processing. Passport applications can be obtained from the Passport Office in the Main Post Office at the intersection of Church Street and Henry Street in downtown Spartanburg. The Passport Office is open 8am-4pm Monday through Friday, and 8am-1pm Saturday. To complete and submit the application, you will need

Passport Photos can be made at

A Warning: Some people have experienced delays in getting their passports because their birth certificate did not meet specifications. It may be necessary to order a notarized copy of the birth certificate before the application can be processed. This situation commonly adds several weeks to the processing time, so the bottom line is to apply for your passport as soon as possible. You will not be allowed to travel without a valid passport.

As soon as you receive your passport, notify Dr. Davis so that he can record your passport number and the expiration date.

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What to Pack?



Personal items:

Practical suggestions:

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What you must know before departure!

Prior to departure, one should possess at least some basic knowledge of a destination. Of course one should be familiar with exchange rates for currency, the language, time differences, local customs and courtesies, the "lay of the land," and the significance of each point of interest. A list of questions will be posted here to assist students as they prepare for departure. Here are some questions to get you started:

Additional questions based on the bound photocopies and the first 75 pages of the Michelin Guide to Sicily.


Class meetings Monday through Thursday in Daniel 101 beginning at 9am. Topics for class meetings are listed elsewhere. On Tuesday afternoon, we will watch Cinema Paradiso, a movie about life in a small Sicilian town. On Wednesday afternoon, students will schedule appointments to meet with the instructors to discuss the topics of their intended papers. On Thursday afternoon, an exam is scheduled based on the assigned readings and class material. Friday morning is free to prepare for a noontime departure from campus.


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Links to Relevant Websites

The Best of Sicily is a great comprehensive site with detailed information: "If you want to learn about the history and culture of Western civilization by visiting a single place, Sicily is a perfect choice. Sicily's diversity is reflected in its architecture. You'll discover Greek temples and amphitheaters, Roman settlements, unique Norman-Arab churches and palaces (whose style is somewhat similar to Moorish but with Byzantine Greek elements), Byzantine (Orthodox) churches, Early Gothic churches, fortified medieval castles, Catalonian Gothic palaces, Baroque churches and palaces, and even a Chinese Revival villa built in the first years of the nineteenth century. The foundations of Phoenician buildings have been discovered beneath some of the Roman structures of Old Palermo, the temple at Cefalý is thought to be Sicanian, and the museum at Termini Imerese houses the stone Arabic inscriptions of ninth-century Saracen palaces." There are pages that deal with castles, towers, various churches, temples, amphitheateres, and more.

Lonely Planet's website dealing with Italy has some concise information on the country.

Concise source of information on the government, politics, religion, economics, art, etc. of Sicily. This information, provided by the US State Department, provides quick overview of the country.

CIA Fact Book on Italy (look specifically for Sicily.)

What time is it in Rome right now?

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