Part one of my trip is through the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, and is worth four units of credit. There is required reading for the trip, as well as some lecture and discussion sessions taking place this Monday through Wednesday. The subject of the trip is "Dante and his classical roots," and this theme is reflected both in the academic and travel portions. We were assigned to read five books by Dante prior to our departure: the Divine Comedy (consisting of the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso), Vita Nuova, and Monarchia. Upon our return, we will need to choose from a list of secondary sources (such as C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, etc.) an equivalent of 500 pages of text about Dante and his works to finish by the end of the summer. Some professors will be both giving lectures and joining us on the trip, including three Torrey Honors professors and Dr. J.P. Moreland.
Besides the obvious academic quality of the trip and the days leading up to it, we will be visiting some incredible sites closely connected with Dante and his classical roots. On Thursday, we will fly out of Los Angeles and arrive the next day in Athens. We will spend a couple of days touring around the city that was so foundational to Western thought, as well as a site of Paul's early ministry to the Gentiles as recorded in Acts 17. We will then go down to the Piraeus (as did Socrates in the opening to Plato's Republic) and board a cruise ship that will take us on a 4-day cruise of the Greek Isles with a stop in Ephesus, Turkey. These places hold so much significance historically, literarily, philosophically, and religiously. I have never been to Greece before, so I am particularly excited about seeing this wonderfully cultural and beautiful country.
Our cruise will end back in Athens, from which we will then take an overnight ferry to Italy. This part is a new addition to the itinerary, so I am not completely clear on it, but my understanding is that we will land in the vicinity of Naples and take a day-trip to Pompeii. I visited that region with my family a few years ago and I am absolutely thrilled to be going again. Pompeii is one of the most magnificent sites one can see; the ash of Mount Vesuvius has preserved the city as it was millennia ago such that you can see the grooves in the streets from chariot wheels and the frescoes on the walls of people's homes. We will take a bus from there to Florence, a beautiful city, rich with history and art and intrigue. Dante's home prior to his exile, for which he had very mixed feelings, will be our final destination for the Torrey trip on June 11th.
My family will meet me in the Venice area on the 14th of June, where we will be until the 4th of July when we will depart for Los Angeles. This 3-week period will be relatively flexible. We are staying in a hotel that is connected to a restaurant with which we have some connection through a friend/ business associate of my dad's. All I know as of now is that we will be working with him at the restaurant and that my mom, sister and I will be playing music there some nights. Besides that, we will likely take some small trips around the area and just hang out and enjoy immersion in the culture. We have been to this area 3 or 4 times and it is not a major tourist destination, so the familiarity and normality of this Venetian suburb, along with our being there to work, will perhaps allow for a good experience of "La Bella Vita" as Italians.