An Adriatic Journey: from Trieste to Dubrovnik

1 May – 17 May 2017

  • Region:
    • Croatia
    • Europe
    • Italy
  • Status: closed
  • Code: 21709
Overview

Tour Highlights

  • Dr Christopher Gribbin shows how Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Croat, Venetian, Austro-Hungarian and Turkish culture and trade travelled the sparkling Adriatic as you journey along Croatia’s magnificent panoramic coastline.
  • Chart the Roman Empire’s Balkan history through grand monuments like Pula’s huge amphitheatre and Diocletian’s monumental palace at Split, later transformed into a medieval fortified town.
  • Visit a masterpiece of the Byzantine world in the Euphrasian Basilica in Porec, with mosaics to rival Ravenna.
  • Journey through the Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of Europe’s scenic wonders.
  • View some of Europe’s greatest Romanesque monuments in Zadar and the tiny island city of Trogir, with its superb cathedral portal sculptures.
  • Appreciate masterpieces of Venetian architecture like the Cathedral of St James in Šibenik and Dubrovnik’s churches and palaces.
  • Skirt Montenegro’s deep fjord, fringed by awesome mountain ranges, to the medieval town of Kotor.
  • Walk the well-preserved walls of Dubrovnik, and learn how this city-state avoided dominion by Venice and the Ottomans.
  • Enjoy cosmopolitan Trieste and the picturesque Miramare Palace.
  • Journey to the rejuvenated, historical Bosnian city of Mostar and see the beautiful 16th-century Ottoman Old Bridge, one of the country’s most recognisable landmarks.
  • Spend two leisurely nights on the island of Hvar, famous for its crystal blue seas, mild climate, lavender fields and the medieval Venetian port.

Testimonial

The Adriatic Journey was really remarkable – the scenery was stunning, the ancient towns so clean and interesting and the museums proved far more fascinating than I imagined possible. The lectures and informal discussions were excellent! The other tour participants were pleasant and interesting. This was a beautifully organised and stimulating experience with many wonderful highlights.  Judith, WA.

17-day Cultural Tour of Italy, Croatia, Bosnia & Montenegro

Overnight Trieste (2 nights) • Porec (2 nights) • Plitvice Lakes (1 night) • Zadar (2 nights) • Split (2 nights) • Hvar (2 nights) • Mostar (1 night) • Dubrovnik (4 nights)

Overview

The sparkling azure waters of the Adriatic Sea served both as frontier between Europe and the Balkans, and trade corridor between Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. We travel from the Italian port city of Trieste down the stunning Dalmatian coast to Dubrovnik, ‘pearl of the Adriatic’. In territories once dominated by Venice and beautified by her colonial art and architecture, we encounter the legacies of many cultures: Trieste and Pula proudly display their Roman past, with theatres and temples embedded into the heart of their later urban fabric, while the vast palace of the Emperor Diocletian metamorphosed into the medieval town of Split. We explore the famous Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in Porec and the Cathedral of St James in Sibenik, reflecting the commingling of eastern (Byzantine) and western (Latin) worlds; Porec rivals Ravenna as the most complete Byzantine ensemble in the world. We amble through the island town of Trogir, Greek colony of the 4th-3rd centuries BC – a remarkable example of urban continuity – and explore the semi-independent trading city of Ragusa (Dubrovnik), rival of mighty Venice. Her magnificent monuments reflect past prosperity built on Balkan land trade and Mediterranean seafaring. In a deep natural bay beneath the jagged mountains of Montenegro, we visit the port city of Kotor, once an important trading entrepôt. Driving inland to the karst landscapes of Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park, boardwalks lead us past beautiful lakes, mysterious caves and sparkling waterfalls. We spend two days on the sleepy island of Hvar enjoying her crystal blue waters, mild climate, grand panoramas of lavender fields, peaceful villages and pine-covered hills. Medieval Hvar town has beautifully ornamented buildings with fine stone carving developed under Venetian rule. A wonderful contrast is the bustle of the Ottoman and Habsburg city of Mostar in Bosnia, site of a savage siege during the 1990s’ Yugoslav wars. Its famous stone bridge of 1566, the ‘Stari Most’, was built for Suleiman the Magnificent by his favourite architect, the sublime Sinan.

Itinerary

The following itinerary lists a range of site visits which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but some require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight schedules and confirmation of private visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals, indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal.

Trieste - 2 nights

Day 1: Monday 1 May, Arrive Venice – Trieste
  • Welcome Meeting & Orientation Walk

Participants arriving on the ASA ‘designated’ flight into Venice will be transferred by private coach to the charming Grand Hotel Duchi d’Aosta located on Piazza Unità d’Italia, the monumental main square of Trieste. After checking into our hotel, there will be time at leisure followed by a short orientation walk within the vicinity of our hotel. (Overnight Trieste) 

Day 2: Tuesday 2 May, Trieste
  • Trieste walking tour, incl. Colle di San Giusto, Ancient Theatre, Basilica di San Giusto, Borgo Teresiano
  • Castello Miramare
  • Welcome Dinner at Harry’s Grill Restaurant

Trieste is a thriving port situated on the Gulf of Trieste in Northeast Adriatic. Today it is a border city, with a population of Italians, Slovenians and Croats that reflects its geographical location and chequered history. Excavation of a Roman theatre in the 20th century showed that it prospered in antiquity until eclipsed by Aquileia. It then declined somewhat, becoming a Byzantine military outpost and then a Frankish city, a free commune which warred with Venice, and then a dependent of the Habsburg Empire. It revived during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, of which it became a major port. With the collapse of the Austrian Empire at the end of World War I, Trieste came to be annexed by Italy.

The core of the old city is the Colle San Giusto that overlooks the port. Here are clustered the main civic, defensive and religious buildings of Trieste. One of the main monuments on the hill, which constitutes an important symbol of the city, is its castle. Construction commenced in 1470 on the site of a Venetian fort, but the citadel was not finished until 1630. The cathedral of San Giusto, which also occupies Colle San Giusto, gained its present plan in 1300 when two pre-existing basilicas were merged to form its wide central nave. The cathedral has a beautiful sandstone façade and a bell tower that was built in 1337. Inside are important Byzantine mosaics and a 13th-century chapel behind a rich Baroque rail. The right nave is the chapel dedicated to San Giusto.

We shall visit the cathedral and Trieste’s Roman theatre as well as Borgo Teresiano, the 19th-century precinct comprising beautiful Neoclassical and Art Nouveau (Secession) buildings constructed when Trieste was an important Austrian port and resort.

Our day finishes with a visit to the Castello Miramare, which occupies an extraordinary site perched atop a spur above the sea. It was the home to the younger brother of Franz Joseph I of Austria, Maximilian, until he left to become the Emperor of Mexico. The next resident, Duke Amedeo of Savoy, made it the headquarters for various military commands. In 1955, it was transformed into a museum. The castle still has original furniture commissioned by Maximilian. There is a chapel, the Japanese and Chinese rooms, rich in oriental ornament, and the apartments where the Duke of Savoy lived. Miramare is set in an extraordinary park, which extends over twenty-two hectares. This evening we shall enjoy a welcome dinner at Harry’s Grill. (Overnight Trieste) BD

Porec - 2 nights

Day 3: Wednesday 3 May, Trieste – Porec
  • Sixth-century Basilica Complex (Cathedral, Baptistery, Bishop’s Palace), Porec
  • Romanesque House, Porec (exterior)
  • Temple of Neptune (ruins), Porec
  • House of the Two Saints, Porec (exterior)

Today we cross the Croatian border and drive south along the Adriatic coast to the magnificent port-town of Porec. Located on a narrow peninsula jutting out into the Adriatic Sea, Porec was an important centre of early Christianity and today boasts one of the finest, and most complete, early medieval religious complexes in Europe. We will visit the Basilica of Euphrasius (a Byzantine masterpiece with magnificent gold apse mosaics of the quality of Ravenna), the Sacristy and Votive chapel, the Baptistery and the Bishop’s Palace. The Basilica is entered through an arcaded atrium, typical of early Christian churches. Flanking this is the fine octagonal 6th-century Baptistery and a 16th-century bell tower. The rare, triple-aisled Bishops’ Residence and the Sacristy, also from the 6th century, make the complex one of the most cohesive, wonderfully preserved early medieval ensembles – well deserving of its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Porec also features some very important medieval domestic buildings. We will visit the ‘Romanesque House'; a 13th-century building with an interesting wooden balcony that stands at a point where the ancient Roman road, the Decumanus, meets the Marafor Square (once the site of the forum). Nearby we will see the so-called ‘House of the Two Saints’, which is all that remains of the 12th-century abbey of St Cassius. This small, one-storey residence built in the 14th to 15th century in a Romanesque style, derives its name from the stone relief figures of two saints flanking a window on the top floor. We will also explore the remains of the pre-Roman ‘Temple of Neptune’. (Overnight Porec) BD

Day 4: Thursday 4 May, Porec – Pula – Rovinj – Porec
  • Amphitheatre, Pula
  • Gate of Hercules, Pula
  • Temple of Romae and Augustus, Pula
  • Arch of the Sergii, Pula
  • Rovinj

We leave Porec this morning to visit nearby Pula – the ancient colony of ‘Pieta Julia’. Now a large regional centre and university town with a busy harbour, Pula is noted for its many fine Roman monuments. ‘Pieta Julia’ became an episcopal see in 425 AD and fragments of 5th-century religious buildings still remain. Most of its churches, however, were reconstructed in later periods (especially during the 17th century). Pula’s Roman monuments, on the other hand, are in a fine state of preservation. One such site is the imposing Pula Amphitheatre, built by Claudius and enlarged by Vespasian (79 AD) to house 23,000 spectators of gladiator fights and other Roman extravaganzas. A highlight of today’s program, the amphitheatre, is one of the most complete in existence with its 30-metre-high outer wall almost fully intact. The first and second floors feature 72 arches whilst the third has 64 broad openings designed to illuminate the internal corridors.

Other Roman monuments we will visit include the 1st-century ‘Temple of Romae and Augustus’ with its well-preserved 1st-century façade. This treasure of Roman architecture was built on simple, elegant lines and features six plain columns with intricate carved capitals. The oldest and most intact monument we will see is the single-arched 1st-century ‘Gate of Hercules’ which has a carving of Hercules at the head of the arch. The fine ‘Arch of the Sergii’, built in the 1st century BC to honour three brothers who held important posts in Rome’s government, will be another ancient site to admire. In the late afternoon we visit the small fishing village of Rovinj, one of the most charming and relaxing places on the Istrian peninsula. (Overnight Porec) B

Plitvice Lakes National Park - 1 night

Day 5: Friday 5 May, Porec – Beram – Opatija – Plitvice Lakes NP
  • Church of St Mary of the Rocks, Beram
  • Nineteenth-century resort town, Opatija

We farewell Porec this morning and travel to the little church of St Mary of the Rocks, just outside of  Beram. This 15th-century church, tucked away in the woods, is seldom visited by tourists but contains some of the finest Byzantine frescoes in Croatia. The frescoes date to 1474 and are the work of Vincent of Kastav and his workshop. Many of the frescoes depict scenes from the lives of Mary and Jesus; others show a procession of figures led by a skeleton playing a bagpipe, in the ‘Dance of Death’. This version of the danse macabre is the only example of this iconographic motif in Croatia. In an eighteenth-century expansion and renovation of the church, many of the frescoes were damaged and painted over, but they were subsequently rediscovered and restored in the early 20th century.

We continue our drive across the beautiful Istrian peninsula to the resort town of Opatija. In 1845, a Rijeka nobleman built the grand Villa Angioline, which, a few years later, was visited by the Austrian Empress, Maria Anna. This royal visit sparked a tourist boom and Opatija became the most fashionable resort-town of the Austro-Hungarian Empire up until World War I. The coast came to be lined with elegant Viennese villas with pretty parks and gardens, and today, Opatija still retains much of the ambience of a nineteenth-century Central European spa town. Next we turn inland to the Plitvice Lakes National Park, where we spend the night. (Overnight Plitvice Lakes National Park) BD

Zadar - 2 nights

Day 6: Saturday 6 May, Plitvice Lakes – Zadar
  • Plitvice Lakes National Park

Situated in the mountainous heartland of Croatia, this intricate network of sixteen lakes, placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979, is set against mountains whose slopes are covered with dense fir, pine and beech forests. There are wonderful walks through the park where you can see some of its 160 bird species. There are no settlements in this region, only hotels. We shall spend the morning in the park with our Croatian National Guide, who will explain its bounteous fauna and flora. In the afternoon we return to the coast and continue our journey south to the beautiful town of Zadar. (Overnight Zadar) BD

Day 7: Sunday 7 May, Zadar
  • Museum of Gold & Silver (Museum of Sacred Art, St Mary’s Convent)
  • Romanesque Cathedral of St Anastasia
  • Church of St Chrysogonus (exterior)
  • Pre-Romanesque Church of St Donat
  • Bishop’s Palace (exterior)
  • 16th-century fortifications
  • Time at leisure

Today we will explore some of the Roman ruins, medieval churches and interesting museums to be found in the marble, traffic-free streets of the old town of Zadar. Illyrians once inhabited the narrow peninsula upon which a Roman port – trading timber and wine – was built. During the Middle Ages, Zadar became the main Adriatic base of the Byzantine fleet. The Hungarians and Venetians contested control of Zadar until Ladislaus of Hungary sold the city to Venice (1409).

We shall spend the morning exploring the Museum of Gold & Silver (Museum of Sacred Art, St Mary’s Convent). It holds a fine gold collection and painting gallery that includes an important polyptych by the Venetian Vittore Carpaccio (1487). We will also see the beautiful Cathedral of St Anastasia, located on the site of the ancient forum. Founded in the 9th century by the Byzantines and rebuilt in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it features a particularly fine Romanesque façade. Equally fascinating are the 9th century pre-Romanesque church of St Donat; a circular building with three apses and a women’s gallery (now solely used as a concert hall), and the church of St Chrysogonus with its external apsidal gallery. Another interesting site we will see in Zadar is the massive ‘Land Wall'; the 16th-century fortification featuring the Land Gate (by the great Veronese architect, Sanmicheli), upon which sits a relief of St Chrysogonus on horseback and the lion of St Mark, symbol of Venetian rule. The rest of the day is at leisure to further explore this charming city. (Overnight Zadar) B

Split - 2 nights

Day 8: Monday 8 May, Zadar – Sibenik – Trogir – Split
  • Cathedral of St James, Sibenik
  • Cathedral of Saint Lawrence, Trogir
  • Loggia and Clock Tower, Trogir
  • Sea Gate and Fish Market, Trogir
  • Kamerlongo Castle and St Mark’s Tower, Trogir (exterior)
  • Church of St Nikola, Trogir

Today we drive south along the Dalmatian coast to visit the Cathedral of St James, Sibenik, recently restored after suffering damage during shelling in 1991. The Cathedral of St James is a fine Venetian Gothic and Renaissance building constructed between 1432 and 1555. The Venetian, Antonio dalle Masegne, built the lower Gothic levels and the great Dalmatian architect, Juraj Dalmatinac, the upper Renaissance sections. The Cathedral is particularly noted for its fine stonework, especially its magnificent stone vaults and dome.

We will spend the rest of the day in Trogir, the lovely UNESCO World Heritage-listed island town. Trogir was settled by the Greeks in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC and, in the 1st century AD, became the Roman municipium ‘Tragurium Civium Romanorum’. With the fall of the Roman Empire, Trogir became an independent town. In the 6th century, the Croats settled in the area and began creating monumental works of art. Masons built churches and decorated them with interlaced ornamentation. In their struggle against the Venetians for dominion in the western Balkans, the kings of Hungary guaranteed Trogir independence in return for an alliance. Communal institutions prospered and citizens elected city leaders. Despite Venetian raids, the fortified island’s population grew throughout the 11th century. Trogir had its own Bishop and, at the beginning of the 13th century, Rector Ilija from the Kacic family built a new cathedral. Forty years later, Radovan carved its main portal, arguably the most important medieval sculpture in Croatia. From 1420 to 1797, the Venetians occupied the town. After initially devastating the town, the Venetians built many new palaces, houses, towers and fortresses. A brief Napoleonic interlude followed, then the town became subject to the Austro-Hungarian empire (1814-1914). We will visit the Cathedral of St Lawrence, concentrating on its magnificent medieval sculpted portal, 13th-century octagonal stone pulpit and fine Renaissance Chapel of St John Orsini. We will also view a number of civic and military buildings and visit the Church of St Nikola. Finally, we continue the short distance to the ancient city of Split, where we will spend the next two nights. (Overnight Split) B

Day 9: Tuesday 9 May, Split – Salona – Split
  • Split Archaeological Museum
  • Archaeological Site of Salona
  • Palace of Diocletian
  • Cathedral of St Domnius (Mausoleum of Diocletian)
  • Temple of Jupiter
  • Chapel of St Martin

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Split grew from the palace built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian on the bay of Aspalathos in AD293. After abdicating in 305, Diocletian spent the last years of his life here. The bay is located on the south side of a short peninsula running out from the Dalmatian coast into the Adriatic, four miles from the site of Salona (once the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia). The terrain on which the palace was built slopes gently seaward. The palace complex became the kernel of a city when, in the 7th century AD, the inhabitants of Greek and Roman Salonae (present-day Solin) took refuge from the Avars within its walls. In the Middle Ages, Split was an autonomous commune. After two centuries of subsequent Byzantine rule and the establishment of Croat communities, Split fell to Venice in 1409.

This morning we visit Split’s archaeological museum, where we view a number of intriguing finds dating from prehistoric and Roman times. We then drive a short distance to the archaeological site at Salona. Neglected by many visitors to Croatia, this is a very interesting Roman site. Once the administrative capital of the Dalmatian coast, Salona was sacked by the Slavs and Avars in the 7th century, and the town was never rebuilt. Salona has the ruins of a fine amphitheatre, aqueduct, public baths and early Christian churches.

In the afternoon we visit the magnificent Palace of Diocletian, the largest Roman building along the Adriatic. The ground plan of the Palace is trapezoid, with towers projecting from its western, northern and eastern façades. Fortunately, later housing built within it did not destroy the coherence of its plan or much of its decoration. Thus, it stands today as – arguably – the most complete example of a Roman palace anywhere. It alone gives a clear idea of the spatial, architectonic and decorative make up of a vast imperial residence and demonstrates the court ritual and grand status of a late-Roman emperor. The Palace of Diocletian combined the qualities of a luxurious villa graced by loggias, with those of a Syrian military camp (castrum). Only the southern facade, which rose directly from (or very near to) the sea, was unfortified. The elaborate architectural composition of the arcaded gallery on the upper floor of this seaward façade differed from the more severe treatment of the three shore façades. A monumental gate in the middle of each of these walls led to an enclosed courtyard. The southern Sea Gate was simpler in shape than the other three – possibly originally intended as the emperor’s private access to boats, or as a service entrance for supplies.

As well as exploring in detail the Palace of Diocletian and its substructures, we shall visit the Temple of Jupiter and the Cathedral of St Domnius (originally Diocletian’s Mausoleum), and view a number of Renaissance palaces. (Overnight Split) B

Hvar - 2 nights

Day 10: Wednesday 10 May, Split – Hvar
  • Old town of Hvar

Early this morning we make our way to the Split ferry terminal, where we board a ferry to the island of Hvar – a jewel of the Adriatic famed for its gentle weather, the perfume of its lavender fields and its cultural treasures. Two days will be spent exploring the island and, in particular, Hvar Town and Stari Grad. Of these two towns, Stari Grad is the oldest. Greeks from Paros in Asia Minor established the city of Pharos here. It became a Roman and then Byzantine town, and then in the eighth century, was populated by Slavs. Hvar Town, on the other hand, began as a haven for pirates but was transformed in 1240 when the Venetians drove the marauders out and moved the population here from Stari Grad. Like many places in Croatia, Hvar then became a self-governing commune that swore nominal loyalty at different times to the Venetians, or the Hungarian and Bosnian monarchies, until 1420, when it passed under the control of Venice. Popular revolts by the maritime population against the landed aristocracy marked the city’s later history.

Today Hvar is considered one of the most beautiful and fashionable of all Dalmatian towns after Dubrovnik and its narrow streets are dotted with a number of lovely palaces. In the lower storey of Hvar’s Venetian arsenal are arched areas where galleys could be shipped for repairs. Above this is one of Europe’s oldest theatres (1612) built, some believe, to relieve tensions between the seafaring population and the aristocracy by creating a space for communal entertainment. The island of Hvar is long and narrow, and a high, spinal ridge dominates its less populated western portion.

Our tour will include visits to the cathedral, Franciscan monastery and the convent of the Benedictine nuns where they make the famous agava lace. (Overnight Hvar) BD

Day 11: Thursday 11 May, Hvar
  • Island tour with visits to several small villages and Starigrad
  • Lunch and wine tasting at a family restaurant in one of Hvar’s charming villages
  • Time at leisure in late afternoon

This morning we will further enjoy the beautiful island of Hvar, taking a short drive to the Fortica, Hvar’s fortress, to enjoy glorious views over the town and neighbouring islands. Our island tour will then continue with visits to some of the charming villages scattered along our route. Lunch will be at a small family restaurant where we’ll enjoy delicious local produce and taste Hvar’s local wines. We will return to Hvar town in the mid-afternoon and the rest of the day will be at leisure to relax. (Overnight Hvar) BL

Mostar - 1 night

Day 12: Friday 12 May, Hvar – Narona – Mostar
  • Narona Archaeological Site
  • Mostar Old Town and Ottoman Old Bridge
  • Roman Villa of Mogorjelo (time permitting)

Today we return to the mainland and drive along some of Croatia’s most beautiful coastline before heading inland to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the way we will pay a visit to Narona, a newly opened archaeological museum. Here the latest excavation and conservation techniques have been used to preserve the ancient monument and all unearthed artefacts within the one museum, proudly described as the first ‘in situ’ museum in Croatia. Strategically situated on the Neretva River, the area was already established as a trading centre by the 4th century BC. The town’s strong Roman links began as early as the first Illyrian War in 229BC, when Narona was a Roman military stronghold, and the town was raised to the rank of Roman colony by either Julius Caesar or Augustus. During the late Empire Narona was the seat of a diocese, but the area rapidly declined with the barbarian invasions into the region in the 7th century, and the town was abandoned. Visitors to the museum see the remains of the forum and its accompanying buildings, particularly the Temple of Augustus, as well as the monumental sculpture, mosaic pavements and smaller artefacts found during the 20th century excavations.

Time permitting, we shall make a visit to the Roman villa of Mogorjelo en route to Mostar.

Mostar has undergone extensive restoration since it was badly damaged during the Balkan War in the 1990s. It is now one of the most charming towns in Bosnia and displays a variety of architecture that illustrates the town’s different layers of occupation, with mosques and churches and the famous Ottoman Old Bridge. When we arrive in Mostar we will take a walking tour around the town before enjoying a group dinner. (Overnight Mostar) BLD

Dubrovnik - 4 nights

Day 13: Saturday 13 May, Mostar – Dubrovnik
  • City Walls, Gates and Forts, Dubrovnik

Today we continue our exploration of Mostar before returning to the coast and crossing the border back into Croatia. We then follow the beautiful scenic road that runs alongside the Adriatic to Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik is famed as the most picturesque city on the Dalmatian coast. Prior to the 1991 war, it was a hugely popular tourist destination and now with peace restored, the beautiful monuments and unique, welcoming atmosphere are yours to enjoy. Dubrovnik is situated on a promontory projecting into the sea under the bare limestone mass of Mount Srdj. Giant sea fortifications rise directly from the water’s edge and a massive round tower defends the city on the landward side. Outside Dubrovnik’s double line of city walls are many villas surrounded by gardens. Dubrovnik retains its historic city plan (1292), when the port was rebuilt following a fire. The main street (Stradun) is flanked by beautiful late-Renaissance houses. It runs along a valley that, before 1272, was a marshy channel dividing the Latin island of Ragusa from the Slavic forest settlement of Dubrovnik (dubrava in Serbo-Croatian means ‘grove’). A picturesque maze of steep, winding, narrow streets, leads from the Stradun. Fourteenth-century Franciscan and Dominican convents stand at the western and eastern gates of the city. The Rector’s Palace is one of the masterpieces of Dalmatian architecture. Lokrum, an offshore island, is famous for its gardens and orange groves.

Ragusa, or Ragusium, was founded in the 7th century by Roman refugees fleeing the Slav and Avar sack of Epidaurus (Cavtat) to the southeast. These Roman émigrés were joined by a colony of Slavs and thus became a meeting place of two ancient cultures. Dubrovnik came under the tutelage of Byzantium, which nevertheless allowed it a high degree of independence. Ties to Byzantium, meanwhile, encouraged the city’s economic growth. From the 9th to the 12th century, Dubrovnik was able to avoid direct rule by foreign powers. Although the city was forced to acknowledge Venetian sovereignty between 1205 and 1358, in reality it maintained a high degree of independence. By means of treaty and tribute, the city-republic enlarged its territory along the Dalmatian coast. It became a great mercantile power as the Adriatic entrepot for overland trade routes to Byzantium and the Danube region, and its merchants traded successfully throughout the Balkans.

Despite the Hungarians’ sale of Dalmatia to Venice in 1420, Dubrovnik remained a free city in all but name by skillfully manoeuvring between the East and Western Europe. A strategic treaty with Turkey protected Dubrovnik’s liberty in return for an annual tribute. This allowed the city to mediate trade between the Ottoman Empire and Europe. In the 16th century, it even traded with India and the Americas. Between the 15th and 17th centuries, art and literature prospered in the city – playing a vital role in the evolution of southern-Slav literature. In 1667 an earthquake destroyed parts of Dubrovnik, killing approximately 20 per cent of the population and leading to an economic downturn. Only during the Napoleonic Wars did the republic revive economically. From 1800 to 1805, as the sole neutral Mediterranean state, it secured a large share of the carrying trade. Napoleon I subjugated Dubrovnik in 1808. The Congress of Vienna (1815) gave Dubrovnik to Austria and in 1918 it was incorporated into Yugoslavia.

In order to best gauge the layout of city, we will walk along its city walls – arguably the most complete and untouched in Europe. They are punctured by fine gates and defended by powerful towers and forts. We will see the Pile Gate (1537); Minceta Tower by Michelozzo (architect of the Medici Palace, Florence); Asimov Tower; Ploce Gate (1300s); Revelin Fort (1580); Fort St John and Bokar Fort, also by Michelozzo. (Overnight Dubrovnik) BL

Day 14: Sunday 14 May, Dubrovnik
  • Cathedral and Treasury
  • Church of St Blaise
  • Fountain of Onofrio
  • Franciscan Monastery
  • Afternoon at leisure

This morning we return to Dubrovnik to continue our exploration of this splendid city. We begin with a visit to the cathedral, which was built after an earlier church was devastated by an earthquake in 1667. It, like the church of St Blaise, is an excellent example of Venetian Baroque. Its nave is dominated by a late Titian, an Assumption. The cathedral treasury displays a large number of reliquaries, including an important 13th-century Arm of St Blaise.

Other interesting detours will be to the Church of St Blaise and to the lovely Square of the Loggia. This square – the political and economic heart of Dubrovnik – is located at the east end of its spinal main street, the Stradun. The square features loggias, a clock tower and guard-house; buildings which span a period from the 15th to 18th centuries. There is a delightful fountain, the Small Fountain of Onofrio (1438), which is the counterpart of the Large Fountain of Onofrio located on the other side of the city. We will visit this great mid 15th century fountain, one of Dubrovnik’s best-known monuments and historically the heart of the city’s water supply. This afternoon is at leisure. (Overnight Dubrovnik) B

Day 15: Monday 15 May, Dubrovnik – Kotor – Dubrovnik
  • Montenegro: Old Town of Kotor

Today we journey along the dramatic and spectacular mountain coastline into Montenegro. Skirting the winding Bay of Kotor, a deep inlet in the shadow of cliffs, we arrive at our next destination, the walled city of Kotor. Ruled consecutively by Illyrians, Romans, Hungarians, Medieval Serbia, Venetians, the French and the Austrians, Kotor is a small and extremely beautiful city, which during its rich history was an important maritime centre.

This afternoon we take a tour of the old town, a UNESCO World heritage site. Our tour will include a visit to St Tryphon Cathedral, a fine Romanesque church built in 1166 using Roman columns. Nearby is the Drago Palace, one of the largest palaces in Kotor, built from the 15th to the 17th century. It belonged to the large and prominent Drago clan whose coat-of-arms, a dragon on a golden field, can be seen all over the façade. Many sumptuously decorated windows also puncture the palace façade. We then return to Dubrovnik for an evening at leisure. (Overnight Dubrovnik) B

Day 16: Tuesday 16 May, Dubrovnik
  • Renaissance Rector’s Palace and Museum of the City of Dubrovnik
  • Dominican Monastery
  • Time at Leisure
  • Farewell Dinner

Today we will return to the old town of Dubrovnik where we will visit the remaining sites on our program. We start with a visit to the Rector’s Palace, a beautiful 15th century building which held the administrative seat of the city for centuries. It features a fine portico by Michelozzo and an atmospheric internal courtyard that plays host to concerts during the acclaimed Dubrovnik Music Festival.

We will also pay a visit to the Museum of the City of Dubrovnik that documents the city’s history with a Venetian/Dalmatian painting collection, precious objects, furniture, costumes and coins. This museum gives a vivid idea of the prosperity bestowed on Dubrovnik through its strategic location at the intersection of Balkan land and Mediterranean maritime trade.

Our final visit for the day will be to the Dominican Monastery. The various rooms of the monastery are arranged around a Gothic cloister which now houses a fine museum with some extraordinary Venetian and Croatian Renaissance paintings.

After some time at leisure, we gather in the late afternoon for a talk by a local academic. We then share a farewell meal together. (Overnight Dubrovnik) BD

Day 17: Wednesday 17 May, Depart Dubrovnik
  • Airport transfer for those taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight

Today our tour ends in in Dubrovnik. Those taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight will be transferred to the airport. B

Accommodation

17-day Cultural Tour of Italy, Croatia, Bosnia & Montenegro

All hotels are rated 4-star locally (3-star at Plitvice Lakes) and are comfortable and conveniently situated. All rooms have en suite bathroom. Double/twin rooms for single occupancy may be requested – and are subject to availability and payment of the Double (as Single) Supplement. Further information on hotels will be provided in the ‘Tour Hotel list’ given to tour members prior to their departure.

  • Trieste (2 nights): 4-star Grand Hotel Duchi d’Aosta – a charming hotel located on Piazza Unità d’Italia, the monumental main square (open at one side to the sea) of Trieste. www.duchi.eu
  • Porec (2 nights): 4-star Hotel Valamar Riviera – a boutique hotel located on Porec’s seaside promenade a short walk to the historic centre. www.valamar.com
  • Plitvice Lakes (1 night): 3-star Hotel Jezero – a modern hotel located in the heart of the Plitvice Lakes NP, 300m from the largest lake, Kozjak. www.np-plitvicka-jereza.hr
  • Zadar (2 nights): 4-star Hotel Bastion – a boutique hotel located in the historic centre, and built on the remains of the medieval fortress Kaštela from the 13th century. www.hotel-bastion.hr
  • Split (2 nights): 4-star Marmont Heritage Hotel – a charming hotel named after Napoleon´s commander, Marshal Auguste Frédéric de Marmont, who first began building roads in Dalmatia in the early 19th century. The hotel is located in the heart of the city inside the walls of Diocletian’s Palace. www.marmonthotel.com
  • Hvar (2 nights): 4-star Hotel Amfora – a beach resort hotel located on a pebble beach 10 minutes walking distance from the town bay. www.suncanihvar.com/amfora
  • Mostar (1 night): 4-star Hotel Bristol – comfortable business hotel in easy walking distance to the historic city centre. www.bristol.ba
  • Dubrovnik (4 nights): 4-star Grand Villa Argentina – built as a gilded private residence at the beginning of the 20th century, and, along with three other private villas, converted into a hotel complex in the 1950s. The sea views are spectacular. www.gva.hr

Notehotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

Double (as Single) Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour, except in Dubrovnik, where a Single Superior room (with sea view) will be provided. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

How to book

Make a Reservation

ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION FORM

Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $500.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Double (as Single) Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour, except in Dubrovnik, where a Single Superior room (with sea view) will be provided. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Gallery Tour Map
Physical Endurance & Practical Information
Physical Rating

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 17-day Cultural Tour of Italy, Croatia, Bosnia & Montenegro involves:

  • Visiting some sites and towns (eg Trogir and Kotor) that require walking up steps or uphill on uneven/cobbled streets. Cobbled streets can be very slippery during rain showers!
  • Walking on uneven surfaces during the visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park.
  • A moderate amount of walking and standing during museum and other site visits.
  • Extensive coach travel, involving winding coastal and mountain roads.
  • Ferry crossing to and from the Island of Hvar.
  • The use of audio headsets which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.
  • 4-star hotels (3-star at Plitvice Lakes) with seven hotel changes.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $8740.00 Land Content Only – Early-Bird Special: Book before 30 June 2016

AUD $8940.00 Land Content Only

AUD $1640.00 Double (as Single) Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 4-star hotels (3-star in Plitvice Lakes)
  • Breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals indicated in the tour itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=evening meal.
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Transportation as outlined in the tour itinerary by air-conditioned coach
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports)
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Services of a Croatian National guide and local guides
  • Tour Notes
  • Entrance fees
  • Use of audio headsets during site excursions
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Venice, Dubrovnik-Australia
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Terms & Conditions
Deposits

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply. We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

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.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA. ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies. ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider. ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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