Join alumnae and friends of the College on a Meredith Travels tour in 2018! Options are Serene Majesty: Mountains—More Mountains—and Lakes: Switzerland and Northern Italy Tour, June 15-26, 2018, and Sicily: Most Treasured Daughter of the Mediterranean, September 25-October 7, 2018
Switzerland/Northern Italy and Sicily, are vivid memories for both of us because of the unexpected discoveries found in each. Their beauty is not a total surprise—after all, we have seen National Geographic specials, too—but aspects of their fascinating histories can be. They are even more interesting when considered together, because of their contrasts.
Switzerland, landlocked, with breath-taking, dignified, snow-capped mountain ranges, heavily forested slopes and narrow, verdant valleys, has maintained political autonomy and neutrality for centuries. Yet, within that self-imposed isolation is a country that has three official languages, German, French and Italian. Internationally, the Swiss banking phenomenon has no boundaries.
Sicily, Italy’s most southern island, has mountains, too, but they are of a more turbulent nature—fierce, unpredictable, volcanic—which mirrors a political past of conquest by rulers from antiquity forward who were drawn by its strategic trade location and natural bounty. Those agricultural riches are evident today in the broad fields that stretch far into the distance. Just as visible are the archeological remnants that mark the Greek, Roman, Arab, Byzantine, Norman, Germans, Spanish and French presence.
Both tours will include UNESCO World Heritage sites, but these, too, may not be what you expect. Would you predict the ancient vineyards cultivated, improbably, amid Switzerland’s Alps? Or, for that matter that 12th and 13th century Sicily was an island of religious and cultural inclusion and tolerance? Yet the Palatine Chapel in Palermo, Sicily, stands today as the most perfect medieval building in the world, its architecture and ornamentation testimony to the Arab, Christian, Byzantine and Jewish artisans who built it together.
So whether it’s the Matterhorn or Mt. Etna, or both, that intrigue you, plan to join Meredith Travel in 2018 and experience these captivating cultural contrasts and more firsthand.