The Cities of Vesuvius: Ancient Greeks & Romans on the Bay of Naples


Offered by the Classics Department in collaboration with the College of Advancing and Professional Studies.


  • Unique access to the Roman cities and villas buried by Mt. Vesuvius
  • Educational excursions to the islands of Capri and Ischia. Visit ancient villas and see firsthand where Greek colonists first established a base in Italy.
  • Walk the ancient roads of many towns in the shadow of Vesuvius, in the footsteps of ancient Greek adventurers.

Program Overview

This program will take you on a guided journey through the famous sites of mythology and history of the Bay of Naples.

The Bay of Naples was always one of the most important centers of Classical culture and part of the European Grand Tour of the 18th & 19th centuries. It entered Western Literature as the site of Odysseus’ encounter with the Sirens in Homer’s Odyssey and later was the place where Aeneas consulted the Sibyl of Cumae and descended to the Underworld in Vergil’s Aeneid. This was the historic foothold of the colonizing Greeks when they established their cities at Pithecussai (Ischia) and Cumae; the Greek alphabet that they brought with them became the basis of the Latin, and later the English, alphabet. Here was a series of decisive moments in the Punic, Social, and Slave Wars of the Roman Republic: both Hannibal and Spartacus fought battles here.

The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD made this the graveyard of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and hundreds of lavish Roman villas. Celebrated here were the famous estates of the Roman elite, the aqueduct of Augustus, the real extravagances of Nero, and the fictional eccentricities of Petronius. Greeks, Etruscans, Samnites, Lucanians, and Romans lived here. We will visit the archaeological sites and the several museums which preserve the artifacts from two millennia of Greco-Roman culture.

Sites will include Sperlonga, Cumae, Lake Avernus, Lake Fucinus, La Solfatara, Pompeii, Naples, Paestum, Pozzuoli, Herculaneum, Oplontis, Stabiae, Capri, Ischia, Baiae, Bacoli, Misenum,Terracina, Capua, Benevento, and Mt. Vesuvius..

Academic Credit

3 credits, satisfies a World Cultures distribution.

  • CLSICS 278: Cities of Vesuvius

There is also a non-credit option for this course, for those who wish to partake in this wonderful experience but do not need academic credit. For details please contact Jennifer Goode-Sollis.

The Faculty

Professor Colaizzi excavated at Nemea, Greece, with the University of California, Berkeley program. He has taken student and tourist groups to the Bay of Naples for the last 15 years.

He regularly teaches Classics 278: The Cities of Vesuvius as an online and classroom course at UMass Boston, along with Classics/History 306L (Roman Archaeology), and other classical civilization and Latin courses.

Who Can Apply?

This course is open to all University of Massachusetts Boston students. Individuals from other colleges and universities are also welcome to apply.


Please be advised that international programs are subject to change, slight or major, at any time due to circumstances beyond our control; this includes any and all fees, dates, itinerary, and program activities. We will do our best to inform all applicants of any changes in as timely a manner as possible.