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New archaeological tours spotlight Sicily

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Memo to history fans: A new 13-day tour of Sicily will soon let you explore the archaeological legacies of the Italian island's Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, Byzantine and Aragonese invaders. But hurry, the tour is limited to just 16 adventurers, and there are no plans to repeat it (at least this year).

Aptly called Exploring Sicily, the tour is set for April 6-18 by Peter Sommer Travels, which specializes in excursions to the region. Among highlights of the trip, you'll mosey around the temple-crowned cities of Selinunte and Agrigento, the ancient island-city of Motya and the modern-day metropolis of Palermo. Besides stops at baroque towns and centuries-old ruins, you'll walk the vine-clad slopes of Mt. Etna and ascend to the heights of Erice, home of Venus the goddess of love.

The tour will be led by archaeologist Dr. Michael Metcalfe, editor of the Blue Guide to Sicily.

Accommodations will range from atmospheric hotels to grand rural estates, all complemented by meals in restaurants, wineries and local trattorias offering some of Sicily’s richest gastronomic traditions. Cost of the tour is approximately US$5,399 per person, double occupancy. The tab includes meals, lodging and ground transfers, but not airfares to and from Sicily.

“Our Sicily tour has been several years in the making,” Sommer noted. Other new Peter Sommer Travels tours will take visitors to Crete (April 24-May 6), Macedonia (June 14-28), the Dodecanese Islands (Sept. 20-Oct. 4), Athens (June 1-8) and Cappodicia and the Land of the Hittites (Oct. 5-14).

Getting there: Sicily's three main airports (at Palermo, Catania and Trapani) are served by well over a dozen airlines, mostly from international hub terminals across Europe and other Mediterranean points.

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