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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

Study tours

Treasures of the Ionian and Adriatic Seas: A Voyage from Athens to Venice

August 5-15, 2018

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Long coveted by the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine emperors, Venetian doges, and Ottoman caliphs, the sun-dappled coastline of the Ionian and Adriatic Seas is rich in the culture and art of the ancient, medieval, and Renaissance worlds. On this specially crafted voyage, Le Lyrial will take CAU guests to the region's idyllic islands, well-preserved medieval coastal towns, and revered monuments.

Entering the Ionian Sea from the Corinth Canal, we'll call first at the beautiful island of (the other) Ithaca, Odysseus' home. From there we'll travel to Parga and then on to the site of the most ancient oracle in Greece at Dodoni. Moving into the Adriatic, we'll explore the medieval towns of the Dalmatian Coast—Kotor and Dubrovnik, both UNESCO World Heritage sites where the archaeological ruins and twelfth-century buildings will speak to us of the cultures of the past. We'll also spend two days enjoying the vineyards and olive groves of Mljet and Korcula and the Venetian architecture of Hvar before ending our sojourn in Venice.

Our faculty leader for this irresistible journey is Michael Fontaine, Cornell professor of classics, who will entertain and enlighten guests through his lectures on Magna Graecia, Homer's Odyssey, and the history of Venice. Traveling aboard the elegant, 244-guest Le Lyrial, we'll enjoy state-of-the-art amenities, elegantly appointed cabins, a fitness center and spa, and two onboard restaurants serving French-inspired gourmet cuisine. There is simply no more luxurious way to cruise.

Michael Fontaine

Michael Fontaine is a professor in Cornell's Department of Classics and acting dean of the University Faculty. His scholarly specialization is Latin and Greek philology and the literature of the late Roman Republic. He regularly offers lively courses on Greek... > more

Program notes

  • The one cabin type available—a Prestige Stateroom on Deck 5—is offered at a reduced rate of $6,590 per person, double occupancy.
  • Download the program brochure!
  • See What's included?
  • See Travel links and resources.
  • Activity level: Slightly strenuous. May require extended walking over uneven ground as well as the ability to climb stairs and to stand for considerable periods of time.

Preliminary itinerary

August 5: Fly from the U.S.

August 6: Athens, Greece

Arrive in Athens and transfer to the luxury Hotel Grande Bretagne. Join fellow travelers this evening for a welcome reception.


August 7: Athens | Piraeus | Embark

Explore the architectural marvel of the Parthenon, built in the fifth century BC as a temple to the goddess Athena. Tour the Acropolis Museum, an award-winning collection of artifacts from excavations of the Acropolis, housed in a state-of-the-art building specially designed for the purpose. In the afternoon, transfer to Piraeus to embark.

(B, D)

August 8: Hydra | Corinth Canal

Our excursion focuses first on the architecture of Hydra as we tour the Lazaros Koundouriotis Mansion, a superb example of an eighteenth-century Hydriot house, where we'll explore its opulent interior and heirlooms. Devote time to the Ecclesiastical and Byzantine Museum located next to Hydra's Cathedral. In the evening, transit the Corinth Canal.

(B, L, D)

August 9: Ithaca

Ithaca, the legendary home of Odysseus, is a stunning island of pristine beaches and verdant forest. Visit the bay of Dexia, believed to be Homer's harbor of Phorkys. Admire the Cyclopean Walls, a ruined site known locally as Odysseus's Castle, and stand atop the Plateau of Marathia, where Odysseus's loyal servant Eumaeus kept his swine.

(B, L, D)

August 10: Parga | Dodoni | Parga

Arrive this morning in Parga, our gateway to the ancient town of Dodoni. This remarkable site features a beautifully preserved theater and a sanctuary, once home to the oldest and most sacred Greek oracle known to us. Alternatively, you may relax and enjoy one of the region's famous beaches.

(B, L, D)

August 11: Kotor, Montenegro

Sail the deep, fjord-like Bay of Kotor to reach the port town of the same name, located at the head of the bay beneath towering mountains. One of the most striking and best-preserved towns along the Adriatic coast, Kotor is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. A tour of this delightful town reveals its magnificent walls, palaces, and churches, including the twelfth-century St. Tryphon Cathedral and Lapidarium.

(B, L, D)

August 12: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Set on a rocky peninsula jutting into the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is one of Europe's best-preserved medieval cities and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. The city contains within its ramparts the Rector's Palace and the baroque Assumption Cathedral, with works by Renaissance painters Titian and Andrea del Sarto. Le Lyrial remains in port until midnight, so there will be ample time at leisure.

(B, L, D)

August 13: Mljet Island | Korcula Island

Local legend identifies Mljet Island with Calypso and Odysseus's seven-year dalliance. Explore Mljet National Park and visit the Islet of St. Mary with its Benedictine Monastery from the twelfth century. Over lunch sail to Korcula Island to see the landmarks of the medieval city, including St. Mark's Cathedral and its treasury, the Bishop's Palace, the Church of All Saints, the Icon Museum, and Marco Polo's home. Continue to the village of Lumbarda to visit the Milina-Bire Winery for a tasting of local specialties and wine.

(B, L, D)

August 14: Hvar

Discover Hvar, a fertile island surrounded by rosemary, lavender, and laurel. The architecture is unmistakably Venetian. Our exploration of the principal town includes the seventeenth-century Municipal Theater, the Franciscan Monastery and its small gallery, the city's Loggia, and St. Stephen's Square.

(B, L, D)

August 15: Venice, Italy | Disembark | Fly to the U.S.