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Magica Italia T


here are so many things that fascinate me about Italy, so


many unique experiences that you can only enjoy in one specifi c place, writes Dr. Michael Met- calfe, archaeologist and ancient historian. All over Italy, that magic can happen in so many diff erent places and settings. What makes them so unique is not one thing: it’s the combination of the landscape, the history, the culture, the very thing the Romans called “genius loci”, the spirit of the place, and your inter- action with it. When it all comes together, it can feel magical. In Sicily, in an ancient country


estate that has been farmed for millennia, enjoying a home-made breakfast of local produce and waiting to discover the island’s extraordi- nary cultural heritage: its superb ancient temples at Segesta, Selinunte or Agrigento; its ornate Baroque churches and so much more. On the Amalfi Coast, sitting on the deck of a lovingly hand-crafted


28 The American


wooden boat softly rocking on the blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, admiring the morning scenery so rich in beauty and historical wealth, looking forward to visiting a world- famous destination like Naples or Capri later in the day. In a small village trattoria, having


lunch surrounded by friendly locals and sampling the fi nest treats of one of the world’s most celebrated cuisines, be it pasta, prosciutto or maybe some authentic Italian pizza. In Pompeii, strolling down


ancient lanes, gazing at the elabo- rate decor of 2000-year-old villas and breathing in the atmosphere of a long-lost civilization. In the sea-girt old town of


Siracusa, ancient Syracuse, walking the streets of a city that is serene and dynamic at the same time, admiring one of Europe’s most beautiful town-squares, passing the ornate cathedral that conceals the 2.500-year-old Temple of Athena, all bathed in the golden afternoon sun. In Rome, one of the world’s fore-


most repositories of art and history, sipping an aperitif at the stylish bar of a hotel housed in an ancient pal- ace or monastery, engulfed in the city’s modern vibrant life, contem- plating a day spent exploring the city’s archaeological treasures, such as the Forum or the Colosseum... Even after years of travel, I still feel the freshness of this daily magic, wherever I go in Italy.


Dr. Metcalfe worked and lived in Italy for many years, and was Assistant Professor at the Arcadia University Mediterranean Center for Arts and Sciences in Sicily (an off shoot of Maryland University). He is a special- ist in deciphering ancient inscriptions, is the editor of the Blue Guide to Sic- ily and co-editor of the Blue Guide to the Aegean Islands. He works for Peter Sommer Travels organizing and leading many of their archaeologi- cal and cultural tours in Italy, Greece and Turkey. For more information see www.petersommer.com or call 01600 888 220.


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