The islands of Corsica and Sardinia each have a unique history stretching back millennia. They have distinct languages, culture and identity. This tour offers an exploration of these two Mediterranean islands which, despite centuries of invasion, plunder and settlement, retain a proud independent spirit. In their beautiful setting, we discover the diverse histories of each island, from their ancient sites through to their rich contemporary cultures. Extended stays on each island combine site and museum visits with time for independent sightseeing.
Two Mediterranean islands whose diverse landscapes, cultures and history belie their proximity
Fascinating evidence of past settlements dating back millennia
World Heritage-listed sites and museums and spectacular coastal and mountain scenery
Vibrant contemporary cultures which have remained defiantly independent, despite centuries of invasion and occupation
A culinary heritage which blends history and tradition with the best of local produce
The pre-historic site of Filitosa with its collection of extraordinary stone warriors
Bonifacio, perched on the precipitous limestone cliffs of southern Corsica, and Ajaccio, birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte
Boat excursion along the stunning west coast of Corsica, including the Scandola Nature Reserve
Distinctive nuraghe, the prehistoric conical stone towers for which Sardinia is famous, and ancient port cities at Nora and Tharros
The Castello district in Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital, dating back to the 13th century
The fascinating medieval melting pot of Alghero, with its Catalan-Gothic monuments
Days 1–4: There is a group flight from Nice to Ajaccio to commence the tour. Explore Ajaccio, the birthplace of Napoleon, and take a boat trip to the Scandola Nature Reserve.
Days 5–6: Visit the megalithic site at Filitosa en route to the harbour-side citadel of Bonifacio.
Days 7–9: Ferry across to Sardinia, admire the Costa Smeralda on the way to Alghero.
Days 10–12: Travel to Cagliari via Nora, Tharros and Anghelu Ruju. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Su Nuraxi at Barumini.
Day 13: There is a group flight to Rome.
A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed above if you wish to make a booking.
Emirates flies into Nice and out of Rome at times that coincide with the tour. Contact us for competitive quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Saturday May 5 – Arrival
The tour begins at Nice airport at 9.30am today. Please arrange your travel so that you are at the airport by this time. We take our group flight to Ajaccio, where we meet Dr Estelle Lazer upon arrival. Travel together by coach to the hotel, about 30-minute drive from the airport. After time to check-in and freshen up, time permitting, we’ll head out for an orientation walk of the old city. This evening, after a light dinner in a local restaurant, we have an early night. Overnight Ajaccio (D)
Sunday May 6 – The Bonaparte Family
Napoleon Bonaparte is Ajaccio’s most famous son and the city makes the most of the connection, however ironic that may be in historical retrospect. 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 Chapelle Imperiale, holding the Bonaparte family tombs. In the afternoon visit the adjacent Palais Fesch – Musée des Beaux-Arts, once home to Napoleon’s uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch. The palace now houses part of the Cardinal’s extensive art collection, assembled while he was in Rome serving as French ambassador. The Cardinal’s Italian paintings, including works by Titian and Botticelli, are said to constitute one of the most important collections of Italian art in France, outside of the Louvre. The later afternoon is at leisure to explore Ajaccio before we meet for our welcome dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Ajaccio (B, D)
Monday May 7 – Scandola Nature Reserve
We make an early start today to meet our boat to travel along the famously beautiful western coast of Corsica. We make our way up past Porto and Piana to the fishing hamlet of Girolata where we have a break for lunch. From here we head to the Scandola Nature Reserve whose sheer red granite cliffs, transparent waters and abundant flora, bird life and underwater fauna have earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Returning to Ajaccio the evening is at leisure. Overnight Ajaccio (B)
Tuesday May 8 – Corte and the Interior
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 returning to Ajaccio by train. Overnight Ajaccio (B, L)
Wednesday May 9 – Sartène and Filitosa
Departing Ajaccio today we make our way south to Bonifacio. En route we stop at Filitosa, Corsica’s most important prehistoric site. We explore the famous site where 4,000-year-old anthropomorphic menhirs – extraordinary stone warriors – were discovered by local land owner Charles-Antoine Cesari in 1946. The site is still maintained by the Cesari family. We continue to Sartène, whose architecture of grey granite walls, tall town houses and narrow alleyways is the result of centuries spent staving off attacks from Barbary pirates and internal vendettas between the town’s leading families. Happily, neither is rife these days and Sartène is instead becoming well known for its gastronomy and wine. After our visit, we continue on to Bonifacio where we have dinner together at a local restaurant. Overnight Bonifacio (B, D)
Thursday May 10 – Bonifacio Harbour and Citadel
This morning after a talk, 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)
Friday May 11 – To Sardinia
We depart Bonifacio this morning by ferry, a short journey across the strait to the port at Santa Teresa Gallura. When we arrive in Sardinia, we explore the Nuragic sites near Arzachena. This includes the ‘giant’s tomb’ of Coddu Veccju, a monumental grave with a circle of impressive monoliths stunning coastline. After a brief stop on Sardinia’s famed Costa Smeralda we continue to Alghero on Sardinia’s west coast. This evening we stroll from our hotel to one of the harbourside restaurants for a relaxed dinner. Overnight Alghero (B, D)
Saturday May 12 – Alghero
This morning we explore Alghero, with a guided walking tour of this striking medieval city. Founded by the Catalans when they took control of the island in the 14th century, the old city remains the most Spanish city in Sardinia with many examples of Catalan-Gothic architecture and streets signs printed in both Italian and Catalan. After our tour, the afternoon and evening are at leisure for independent sightseeing, shopping or relaxing. It is possible to take a boat tour to the ‘Grotte di Nettuno’ caves. Overnight Alghero (B)
Sunday May 13 – 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 Antine is a large and complex Nuragic fortress. Returning back to Alghero, we visit the basilica of Santissima Trinità di Saccargia, built in 1116 and the finest example of Pisan Romanesque architecture on the island. Enjoy a tour and late afternoon wine tasting at Sella and Mosca, Sardinia’s best regarded winemakers. Overnight Alghero (B)
Monday May 14 – Tharros
We depart Alghero this morning and head south to Cagliari, first stopping at a sacred well at the nuraghic site of Santa Cristina. We continue on to Tharros, an ancient port city in a stunning coastal location. Founded by the Phoenicians in the eighth century BC, the fortunes of Tharros waxed and waned in much the same way as those of Nora. The town was abandoned in the 11th century, and its structures pillaged for stone for surrounding villages, and the site is now an open air museum where we see remains from periods of Phoenician, Punic and Roman occupation, including a tophet – an open air sacred site common to a number of Phoenician settlements around the Mediterranean, the Cardo Maximus – the main street with its excellent drainage systems still evident, a bath complex and the Torre di San Giovanni, a coastal watchtower built on the site of the acropolis with stone from the city. Finds from the site can be found in the archaeological museum in Cagliari (and in the British Museum). Re-joining our coach, we head to Cagliari. Dinner tonight is in our hotel. Overnight Cagliari (B, D)
Tuesday May 15 – Cagliari
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. Our exploration begins at the fine 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 and Marina districts, where there are many restaurants in the narrow laneways. This evening there will be a coach transfer to and from the Marina district, so you can explore these restaurants. (B)
Wednesday May 16 – Nora
This morning, we travel south to the site of the ancient city of Nora. Founded by the Phoenicians in the ninth century BC, the settlement continued to enjoy prominence under Roman rule and, thanks to its strategic position and sheltered harbour, grew to become the island’s most important city. We see the Temple of Tanit, dating from the Carthaginian era, Roman bathhouses with mosaic floors and a small theatre. We then share a farewell lunch in the resort town of Pula before returning to Cagliari in the late afternoon. Overnight Cagliari (B, L)
Thursday May 17 – Departure
This morning we check out of the hotel and head to the airport. We arrive at the airport in time for the 12.05pm flight to Rome, connecting to a range of onward flights. (B)
Dr Estelle Lazer
An archaeologist who has worked on site at Pompeii for seven seasons and has an international reputation for her research on the city's skeletal remains.
Dr Estelle Lazer is an archaeologist with an international reputation for her work on the human victims of Pompeii, with more field seasons in the Bay of Naples than she cares to remember! Her PhD studied the site’s human skeletons, and her current project is to CT scan and X-ray the unique casts of these victims. Estelle’s book, Resurrecting Pompeii, was published by Routledge and her work forms a core part of the Ancient History syllabus for the NSW Higher School Certificate.
Estelle is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Sydney. In October 2017, the University of Sydney and the Pompeii Archaeological Park signed an historic Memorandum of Agreement to partner in an important new scanning project led by Estelle. Her research has received considerable media attention in print, radio and television, with two documentaries (one for the BBC and Smithsonian, and another in production for Britain’s Channel 5) ensuring a wide audience for her fascinating findings.
Her other main field of research is historical archaeology in Antarctica and the Sub-Antarctic. Estelle spent four summers working on Mawson’s Huts, and has spent another summer studying evidence of the sealing industry as well as Australia’s first post-war Antarctic base at Heard Island. She has also worked on archaeological sites in Bahrain, south-eastern Italy, Cyprus, the UK and Australia.
In addition to her teaching work at the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and University of Technology, Sydney, Estelle gives frequent public lectures at the invitation of universities, schools and museums, such as the Australian National University, Oxford University, the British Museum, University of Trondheim, Norway and the British School at Rome.
Estelle has led tours to Italy and the Mediterranean for Academy Travel since the company’s inception in 2004, and also works extensively with our Academy Schools program for teachers and students. In addition to her obvious archaeological expertise, she particularly enjoys explaining the place of mythology in the landscape – especially in Sicily and southern Italy.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.