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Open AccessArticle

A Usable and People-Friendly Cultural Heritage: MAGNA Project, on the Route from Greece to Magna Graecia

Department of Biology, Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Calabria, 87036 Arcavacata di Rende, Italy
Department of Mechanical, Energy and Management Engineering, University of Calabria, 87036 Arcavacata di Rende, Italy
Underwater Archaeological Operations Unit, ISCR, Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro, 00153 Rome, Italy
MAZI Travel (MAZI), 54623 Thessaloniki, Greece
Atlantis Consulting SA, 57001 Thessaloniki, Greece
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Heritage 2019, 2(2), 1350-1368;
Received: 26 March 2019 / Revised: 2 May 2019 / Accepted: 3 May 2019 / Published: 7 May 2019


The Western civilization is deeply rooted in the Ancient Greece culture; political, scientific, technological and philosophic knowledge were born in this epoch. Their diffusion was improved upon by the Greek expansionist policy in colonies of Magna Graecia in Mediterranean Basin, leaving important archaeological traces for the community. In this context, the European project “MAGNA, on the route from Greece to Magna Graecia” seeks to develop a transnational thematic touristic route between Greece and the Ionian coast of Calabria (Southern Italy), an ancient Magna Graecia colony, on the basis of cultural and historical connections between these two Mediterranean areas. The project aims to promote the touristic development of the Greek and Calabrian archaeological sites through dissemination activities. These will concern scientific subjects regarding the conservation of cultural heritage, both in sub-aerial and underwater environments; and study of the sea floor, and pollution of seawater by microplastics. This touristic product consists of cruises on a ship equipped with scientific instruments that offer unique cultural experiences, accompanied by multimedia supports. Experts drive people in the proposed activities, creating more awareness of sustainable and responsible tourism.
Keywords: ancient pottery; dissemination; ecotourism; Greece; Ionian sea; Mediterranean area; microplastics; ROV; Southern Italy ancient pottery; dissemination; ecotourism; Greece; Ionian sea; Mediterranean area; microplastics; ROV; Southern Italy

1. Introduction

Trails and routes have been indispensable to travel and tourism over the centuries, helping to form the basis of the mobility patterns of the past and the present. In some geographic settings, certain defined trails and routes are well-trodden and utilized by many subsequent generations, providing a foundation on which a distinct tourism product would emerge. Many of these original pathways have become foundations for the multitudes of modern recreation and tourist trails of today; for example, the ancient Greek and Roman trade routes, the Silk Road, and the trails relative at Christian medieval pilgrimages [1].
Today trails and routes are increasingly commonplace tourism products that have remained under-theorised within the academic literature. MacLeod [2] suggested that trails possess characteristics that may lead to the further theming and museumisation of tourist spaces, creating static places of consumption aimed outwardly at the visitor economy. However, through the use of recent examples to illustrate the performance turn in tourism studies, MacLeod [2] proposes that trails can be utilised to increase visitors’ and local communities’ appreciation and active engagement with places. In particular, the flexibility of trails to incorporate both tangible and more experiential place-based features in their storytelling is highlighted, suggesting that these popular attractions can contribute to a much more nuanced and rewarding experience of the place. Trails are multi-faceted constructs that would benefit from more scholarly attention to their socio-cultural significance for tourism and wider society [2].
A very popular type of route, which was first established by the Council of Europe, is the cultural route. The cultural routes of the Council of Europe are in line with the key trends of cultural tourism development in Europe. They have achieved a considerable progress over the last two decades, and have shown to have an immense potential for SME (small and medium enterprises) generation, clustering, networking, and promoting the image of the Council of Europe and Europe. The cultural corridors encourage the local community to partake in cultural activities, raising awareness of the importance of cultural heritage. These corridors largely contribute to small business creation, as well as to the development of cultural tourism products and services. Scientific literature indicates that there is no unique model that provides the assessment of tourist potential of cultural routes, as complex tourism products not only consist of cultural assets and other attractions but also encompass a wide array of facilities, infrastructure, accommodation, etc. [3]. For example, Božić et al. 3] constructs the Cultural Route Evaluation Model (CREM) for the purpose of the assessment of cultural routes as complex tourism products, going further than just simply assessing cultural assets on the route as separate tourism products.
This complex evaluation model was based on several already existing models for heritage assessment. Some of the sub-indicators of these models were adapted and used for this new methodology. However, as a main contribution, the authors also introduced some new sub-indicators related specifically to cultural routes as well as their economic significance. The model consists of different aspects of the cultural route assessment, including scientific, ‘route-specific’ values, economic, protection and conservation values (main values) as well as functional and additional values of the tourism product (tourism-specific values).
The MAGNA project is located in this context of great attention to cultural routes. The project idea, and consequently this paper, is founded not on traditional research purposes (i.e., with methods, data as results, discussion), but on the promotion and dissemination of the ancient nautical routes relative to the Magna Graecia period and consequently on the cultural revolution produced by the Greek people in the Mediterranean populations. In the 8th century BC, Greeks began to leave their poleis (city-states) and sail west, gradually colonizing the islands and coasts of South Italy and Sicily. The most vivid reflection of this widespread, complex cultural and economic phenomenon is undoubtedly expressed in the Odyssey, where Homer “transfigured in order to glorify real experiences”, as the historian Thucydides wrote in the 5th century BC [4].
The Greek migration brought with itself the great vase-making tradition of their homeland, based on centuries-old artisan and technical experience [4]. Red- and black-figured potteries are among the highest artistic and technological achievements of ancient Greek handicrafts. They were decorated with a background application of a fine-grained clay slurry of appropriate composition, which could vitrify in a shorter time and at a lower temperature than the clay used for the ceramic body [5].
“Magna Graecia” is the Latin translation of the original Greek name “Megale Hellas”, which initially referred to South Italy (Campania, Lucania, Apulia, Calabria and Sicily Regions). The Western Greeks themselves initiated the use of the term to describe their lands. This terminology probably developed in intellectual circles at the beginning of the 5th century BC [4]. Southern Italy became a place of great colonial activity for both ancient Greek and Italian civilization, mostly during the 6th and 5th century BC. Modern Southern Italian people preserved many elements of ancient Greek tradition and language.
The Greek colonists’ goal was dominance in nautical trade routes rather than in territorial ones, privileging national, religious and financial relations. The main intention of Greek people was to establish their culture in the colonies. They built temples in order to exercise their religion and imported food habits and productive activities, such as farming olives and growing vineyards.
The MAGNA project follows the general objective of the EASME (Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises of the European Union) action, to support the development of transnational thematic tourism products and their promotion through the creation of transnational touristic thematic routes in coastal regions in the areas of nautical tourism and water sports tourism at sea”.
The project is for two years—from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2019; it is divided into four work packages and relative activities. The project’s scope is to design experiential sailing cruises between Italy and Greece, precisely between Greek and Calabrian archaeological sites in the Ionian sea dated back to Magna Graecia. The trips will be coupled with complementary activity-rich tourism offerings, providing an attractive family product along the lines of transnational-nautical-thematic routes.
The sailing cruises will offer cultural and scientific experiences such as exploration of the sea bed, knowledge of conservation methods to protect and restore the underwater cultural heritage, discovery of the Magna Graecia archaeological and geological history, and the study of the trade routes in Ionian Sea throughout the pottery distribution. The cruises also consist of recreational activities such as kite-surfing, diving, fishing, snorkeling, guided tours, excursions along the coastal-line regions, and familiarization with Magna Graecia food.
The MAGNA project’s specific objectives are:
  • Assessment of pilot sites in Italy and Greece, in order to define, design and develop the, “ancient nautical route from Greece to Magna Graecia” as a new tourism family product.
  • Design and development of value-added services to be offered to the target groups, such as kite-surfing, guided tours, excursions, gourmet tours, etc.
  • Development of marketing and sustainability strategies with the aim to reinforce market uptake and product visibility.
  • Raise awareness to stakeholders (i.e., economic actors, local societies, etc.) with respect to the social value, competitive advantage, and particularities of ancient nautical cultural heritage.
  • Development of a roadmap for uptaking of project results by other EU sites (conditions, barriers, best practices, best practices, sustainability issues, product variation issues, generic marketing and promotion strategies, etc.) aimed to design and implement additional nautical routes with new themes.
  • To support and promote the networking of stakeholders and synergy-building, and foster the transfer of best practices and cross-fertilization of knowledge.

2. Business Analysis of MAGNA Project

The PESTLE Analysis [6], which is used in this study, provides a framework for investigating and analyzing the external environment of a product. The framework identifies six key areas that should be considered when attempting to identify the sources of change: Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, Technological, Legal areas.
Politics and tourism are co-dependent in Italy. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, tourism saw a return to popularity, with cities such as Milan becoming popular destinations. However, in Greece, government actions, ideologies and political events trigger a range of crises and political instability. It is well known that apart from the economic crisis, Greece is also undergoing serious political turmoil. As political decisions affect economic factors, there exists a co-dependency. The hospitality and tourism sector is also experiencing numerous challenges as a result of the global economic crisis. The recession caused serious problems, especially for luxury hotels. However, many hotels in certain global markets, especially those catering to leisure travelers, were less affected. The popularity and growth of the luxury hotel segment in recent years suggests that a strong rebound may not be unrealistic.
The similarities in geography and climate of Italy and Greece influence the region’s culture and the way in which people communicate. The culture in both countries is family-oriented; people enjoy leisure activities and have strong regard for traditions. Businesses tend to have a traditional and hierarchical structure and personal networks open doors and foster connections with the right people. Additionally, in both countries, social media has a major role and people actively use them to communicate. On the contrary, small and medium businesses are yet to become fully aware of its potential. However, efforts have been made to make social media a bigger part of their future communication strategy. Technologically, Italy and Greece have been trying to provide updated services (such as system development). Wi-Fi points for public use are sparse around the country, and mostly available in cities. Italy recently teamed up with the US to create a new type of sensor to increase the quality of public services that the government is providing. One key issue when considering the legal element of the PESTLE analysis is to recognize laws that have an impact upon the organization, even though they originate from countries other than that in which the organization is based. For the MAGNA project, it is quite important to examine the legal restrictions the diving industry face. In Greece, over the last few years, several efforts have been made in favor of the diving industry. Since 2005, dives were allowed in the whole of the Greek territory, except for declared archaeological sites. Moreover, the same law predicted the creation of recreational diving. In contrary, in Italy, visitors are able to dive in the wrecks with an archaeologist.
The need to examine environmental factors arises from concerns about the natural environment; in other words, the ‘green’ issues include increasing concerns about packaging and the increase of pollution. In Italy and Greece, government policies have emphasized the rational use of natural resources, balanced regional development, protection of the environment, and increased public participation in environmental matters. The marine environment offers a great number of opportunities that can be explored, including alternative types of tourism like sailing, diving, etc. Sailing tourism, in particular, is a developing and fast-growing sector. Thus, an increasing number of tourists worldwide focus on exploring the sea in different ways. Activities like visiting private beaches, exclusive vacation packages, and exploring of non-mainstream locations and destinations are preferred, creating an increasing demand for fully-packaged vacations that focus on privacy, and exclusive and innovative offers. Although sailing tourism is more expensive, the sector is mature enough to be introduced to the general public. The tourism market is constantly being developed, with different packages being offered all over the world. Most tourists do not have the chance to experience sailing because buying a vessel is very expensive and renting is not easily available. Additionally, massive actions supported by EU aid, as well as other global organizations, have introduced sailing as a leading type of tourism, promoting sustainable tourism and making significant and positive impact on the environment, society, and economy. The MAGNA product is primarily designed to address the growing interest in alternative types of tourism by providing a comprehensive and fully packaged sailing tourism experience, with notable cultural-oriented added features. The overall accessible market targeted by the product under development is sailing, cruise and cultural tourism. Although the product addresses a huge market, a detailed and focused analysis follows up in order to identify the specific targets and appropriate focus groups needed to build a beachhead market before proceeding to commercialization. The main customer segmentation investigated are sailing enthusiasts, cultural tourists, Chinese tourists and families.

2.1. The Potential Customers

First, a fundamental group can be considered as one that involves people who are devoted to sailing and prefer it above all other types of tourism. This group tends to aim at a vessel of their preference but do not use it exclusively for all purposes. For example, tourists from Asia or the US will have to rent a vessel for their convenience. They are either skilled in operating a yacht or hire an experienced crew. MAGNA directly targets these end-users, since it fully addresses their needs with optimal satisfaction. Top priority for them is privacy and ease during sailing activities. They are characterized as wealthy with above-the-average income, middle aged (40–55), and highly educated.
Cultural tourists make up 40% of the EU tourism industry. MAGNA is enriched with a great number of cultural destinations. Magna Graecia routes contain a rich historical background offering multiple archaeological sites and museums, attracting a significant portion of the cultural tourism industry. More specifically, according to the studies mentioned in the previous deliverables, Italy and Greece welcome the highest number of cultural tourists due to their strong historical background. In addition, MAGNA is an innovative and creative product, offering a complete package for tourists to visit and experience a specific era in history. The Chinese market is identified as the top revenue source in the long term. It is strongly believed that MAGNA is perfectly adaptable to Chinese tourists’ needs and desires because of its fully packaged and exclusive services, including intensive elements of culture and history. According to the latest reports [7], Chinese tourists are categorized as young and old travelers. The former consist of people aged 25 to 44, who prefer to rely on partially-organized and fully independent travel. They are more compatible with the outside world and desire cultural sightseeing first hand. Additionally, they are adventurous travelers who are looking for individual, in-depth experiences. The latter consists of people aged 45 and over, whose main goal is to experience as much as possible during their travels. More precisely, they tend to focus on prestige and the highest value for money spent on their vacations.
A unique attribute of Chinese tourists is their strong love for social media—they are constantly looking to digitally share activities and experiences with friends. This category of tourists is hyper-connected on social media and their vacations are highly dependent on their ability to share special moments. The MAGNA product is offered in a controlled environment with an appropriate crew that accompanies families of amateur sailing tourists. It contains several on-board activities, both for adults and children of all ages, as well as educational material regarding the historical background of Magna Graecia. Under these circumstances, MAGNA can successfully address family-oriented tourists, by adding a significant value to their vacation.

2.2. Variations of the Product and Proposed Business Models

The development of the product follows three different plans:
First, we directly target boat owners or small sailing agents in order to rent boats. In the first year of product release, we plan to rent three boats 12 m to 15 m in size. Our customers are initially going to mainly be sailing enthusiasts and sea lovers. This means that they are probably sailors. Everything will be arranged by the project partners without third party involvement (customer hunting, technical maintenance, skipper, etc.). The availability of each boat can be found through online international platforms and booked on further research and discussion.
The most important part of this plan is trust, as the sailing market is quite a closed one. Potential customers/sailors tend to trust the same sailing agent that offered them the product in the first place.The MAGNA product will be categorized as luxury tourism: the Ionian Sea is a number one destination for yachting, sailing, nautical tourism. An international product will be offered, enriched with cultural, archaeological, historical added-value services, but also full of activities that combine different types of tourism (e.g., enogastronomic experience).
Second, the project members will need to convince boat owners and sailing agents to offer a different, attractive package. The cultural elements make the final product more attractive, innovative, and competitive. The revenue streams are going to be different for this plan, as the partners will negotiate the percentage of the profits with the boat owners/sailing agents according to the sales achieved.
Technically, the partners sell the product to sail agents and they promote it to the end-user. The partners’ role is to promote the product through websites and social media, and monitor delivery to assure high quality offering. This could be achieved by providing skippers, tour guides, and archaeologists, among others.
Third, product development will include a website/platform and raise awareness of the upcoming product through social media. Then, an open call for sailing agents and boat owners is made, followed by a presentation of the product to the “community” that will already have been built. After negotiation with several agents, the project partners will follow the first or second plan of product development.

2.3. Revenue Streams

The product that the MAGNA project intends to design and develop could generate revenue from these possible users and clients. The revenue after implementation of the project may come from different sources: market launch of the product, advertising and hosting fees for services and products offered at route locations, sponsorships and donations, and local and regional development grants. The product offers four special packages: a 7-day visit to Greece or Italy; a 14-day trip to both countries, a 14-day visit to Greece or Italy, and a 4-day trip to Italian sites (variation of the first package).

2.4. Costs

In order to ensure a qualitative experience for potential customers, experienced personnel to handle infrastructure and equipment, and manage costs are necessary. Marketing expenditure is an important part of dynamic promotion of the product.
The main costs include:
  • An experienced skipper, who is able to correctly deliver the product. The skipper is usually also the tour guide;
  • A tour guide for the full-inclusive package;
  • Entrance fees at museums;
  • Special tour guides for archaeological sites (officially licensed by specific authorities);
  • Food and beverages, wine, boat supplies;
  • Marina expenses;
  • Marketing expenditure (participation in events, promotion through social media, brochures, flyers, articles in specialized magazines, google AdWords campaigns, etc.);
  • Finance and administrative costs (transactions from other countries);
  • Insurance costs;
  • Other expenses and taxes.

2.5. Profit and Loss (P and L) Analysis

Due to the fact that the MAGNA product can be offered by many providers, it is not easy or accurate to develop a Profit and Loss (P and L) statement. However, supposing that the product is offered by a company that is a tourist agent as well as tourism services provider, a P&L statement could be developed. Some assumptions have been taken under consideration in order to prepare a forecasting P&L statement:
  • The product is offered from March until October;
  • The product is offered as four main packages, as mentioned above;
  • Each package is offered for one boat, for up to six persons. The price will be the same for every trip, regardless of how many people are on board;
  • The price of each package is determined taking into consideration the number of days of the trip, and the costs of each route;
  • Tax rate is determined as 27%, which is an average between Italian and Greek tax rates.

3. The Touristic Product and Its Promotion

The formulation of the product requests firstly the definition of a suitable name and logo in order to transmit clearly and easily the idea of a MAGNA cruise. The name we selected is “Sail in History”; the logo represents a sailboat furrowing the sea, whose shape of the waves recalls an ancient Greek capital (Figure 1). The touristic offer is suitable for heterogeneous stakeholders, i.e., families, students, researchers, simple tourists, etc. There will be scheduled cultural and playful activities at every site, divided as board, sea and land types—based on the sea protection and culture of Magna Graecia colonies.
Short movies will introduce the activities and areas that will be visited on the cruise. A team composed of a cameraman, a blogger and a film director will make underwater videos concerning shipwrecks, archaeological findings, experiments in sea etc., which will be internationally broadcasted using YouTube to attract visitors and advertise for local hotels and entrepreneurs.
The tourists will be accompanied during the trip by “MAGNAdvisors”, experts such as researchers or simply guides, who know the area well and will make the cruise a unique experience. An archaeologist and conservation scientist will show findings of the nautical route and illustrate the historical background of the Greek colonization of southern Italy using scientific studies on ceramics and other ancient materials such as coins. Underwater archaeological sites will be explored by diving or a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) exploration.
The promotion of MAGNA and its product, “Sail in History”, plays a key role in development of the project; thus, dissemination and communication activities are strongly recommended. Participation in international conferences, touristic exhibitions, and meetings with schools and family associations represent some of the events where the MAGNA project was and will be presented.
It is also crucial to share the progress and experiences of MAGNA and “Sail in History” on social networks and webpages, in order to reach a large number of people (and possible customers). In addition, an online presence helps spread the message of sustainable and responsible tourism, thus highlighting environmental issues.
For these reasons, Sail in History has a web page [8] (Figure 2), and accounts on Facebook [9], Instagram [10], and Twitter [11]; there is also a YouTube channel [12] dedicated to uploading videos on the MAGNA project contents and related cruises. The Sail in History experience will be constantly shared by a blogger accompanying the travelers on the trip.

4. The Pilot Sites

Calabrian and Greek pilot sites were selected in the Ionian area to be included in the touristic tours on the basis of their suitability to the aims of the project: promotion and valorization of new touristic destinations with a different proposal of activities and experiences based on Magna Graecia.
In Calabria, the sites are located in Reggio Calabria and Crotone provinces: Reggio Calabria and the National Museum of Magna Græcia; the ancient cities of Locri Epizephyrii, Kaulon (Reggio Calabria), the underwater archaeological area of Punta Scifo (Crotone), the Aragonese Castle of Le Castella (Isola Capo Rizzuto, Crotone), and the archaeological park of Capo Colonna (Crotone) (Figure 3a).
In Greece, the sites consist of Corfu, Lefkada, Corinth, Ancient Oiniades, Delphi, and Ancient Olympia (Figure 3b). Each boat will be different and suitable to the context of the area: the boat in Calabria will be a yacht with a green motor, whereas a flottiglia cruise is proposed for Greece.

4.1. The Italian Pilot Sites

4.1.1. Reggio Calabria

The city hosts the National Archaeological Museum of Magna Graecia. The museum showcases various objects from excavation campaigns in the ancient city-states of Calabria, Basilicata and Sicily, including the Riace Bronzes, one of the symbols of Magna Graecia. The exhibited findings date back also to the prehistoric and protohistoric periods and the following ancient Roman and Byzantine eras [13] (Figure 4a). The city offers a lot of attractive locations (Table 2).

4.1.2. Locri Epizephyrii

The archaeological park of Locri Epizephyrii is located a few kilometers from the current municipality of Locri. The polis was founded between VIII and VII century B.C. [14,15] and ruled by a typical Greek model, which is still visible today. The vast park (about 3 km2) contains elements belonging not only to the Greek period, but also to the Romans (Table 1). One of the most famous attractions is the Greek theater (Figure 4b).

4.1.3. Kaulon

The archaeological area of the ancient Greek city of Kaulon (or rather Kaulonia) is made up of a nice little museum and the Archaeological Underwater Area in the sea section in front of the park [13] (Table 1). There has been a profound change in the coastline over the centuries, due to a progressive phenomenon of coastal erosion and bradyseism. The underwater site is currently in a range of 7.5 m to 5 m deep and is characterized by the presence of many complete and semi-finished architectural elements. The surface area is composed of different structures, such as the House of the Dragon with homonymous and precious mosaic now exposed in the museum (Figure 4c).

4.1.4. The Underwater Archaeological Area of Punta Scifo D

A shipwreck, discovered in 1986, lies in the bay of Punta Scifo, just south of the promontory of Capo Colonna (ancient Lacinium promontoriu, site of the sanctuary dedicated to Hera). It is located on the seabed at a depth of 6.5 m (Figure 4d) (Table 1). The archaeological deposit “Punta Scifo D” comprises over 50 marble blocks (Figure 4d) belonging to the cargo ship and a series of pottery and amphorae dated back to the third century A.D. These latter ones come from the Aegean-Microasiatic and Pontine areas [16].

4.1.5. The Aragonese Castle of Le Castella

The Le Castella town of Isola Capo Rizzuto represents what remains of a large ancient area (Table 1). The fortress is surrounded by the amazing Capo Rizzuto Marine Reserve, one of the richest sources of biodiversity. The Isola Capo Rizzuto castle (Figure 4e), also called Aragonese Castle (Crotone, Italy), was built in 204 BC by Hannibal. Over the centuries, the castle was subjected to many phases of destruction and reconstruction [17].
According to Omero, the goddess Calipso lived here and detained Ulisse on the island. The Romans called the place “Castra”, which is Le Castella today [18], whereas other authors retain the name “Le Castella”, relating to the presence of other ancient castles now destroyed [19].

4.1.6. The Archaeological Park of Capo Colonna

The promontory of Capo Colonna hosts the homonymous Archaeological Park, where the great Heraion Lakinion was anciently located. The Park extends along 50 hectares of land. The Heraion Lakinion was one of the most famous sacred areas of the entire Mediterranean basin related to the majestic sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Hera Lacinia [20]. The temple was realized in Doric style with a rectangular plan of 6 × 19 columns and dates back to the fifth century BC. Unfortunately, only a column with stilobate remains of the temple today: Doric style, 8.5 m high with 20 flat grooves, and a powerful base composed of 10 levels of squared blocks (Figure 4f) (Table 1).

4.2. The Greek Pilot Sites

4.2.1. Corfu

Corfu is the second-largest island in the Ionian Islands (Figure 5a) and is rich with several attractions (Table 2). According to Strabo, Corcyra was the Homeric island of Scheria and its earliest inhabitants were the Phaeacians, although conclusive and irrefutable evidence for this theory or for Ithaca’s location have not been found [21]. Corfu was peopled by settlers from Corinth, probably since 730 BC, but it appears to have previously received a stream of emigrants from Eretria [22,23]. The ancient city of Corfu (Paleopoli) evolved in the archaic years between two natural harbors in Chalkiopoulos lake. The largest western hall along with other artifacts from ancient temples of Palaiopolis is the pediment of the Temple of Artemis from 580 B.C. with gigantic dimensions—17 m wide and 3 m high. Its central theme is the mythical monstor, Gorgon [24].

4.2.2. Lefkada

The island of Lefkas or Lefkada or Lefkadia, at the time of Omiros was known as the Niricos, as its capital was called. The island probably owes its name to the steep white cliffs on its southernmost cape (Figure 5b). According to a legend, the poetess Sappho took her own life here because her love for Phaon was thwarted. The first traces of life on the island date to 8000 years BC, the Palaeolithic age. The German archaeologist Wilhelm Doerpfeld, an assistant to Heinrich Schliemann who discovered Troy and Mycenae, was the one who supported the theory that Lefkada is Homer’s Ithaca [25]. The main attractions of the islands are reported in Table 2.

4.2.3. Corinth

Corinth was an important city in Greek, Hellenistic and Roman times. Corinth’s first settlement dates back to 5000 B.C. In 734 BC, Corinthians founded the city of Syracuse, the most powerful Greek colony of the Mediterranean, which is located on the southeast corner of the island of Sicily (Italy). The influence of the Corinthians is seen even today, since the city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, and architecture [26]. Under Julius Caesar, it was elevated to capital of the Achaia province [27].
Corinth is rich in monuments, museums, and historical sites (Table 2). Corinth Isthmus represents one of the most suggested attractions of the area, with about 15,000 ships passing through every year (Figure 5c). Crossing the Isthmus, the Six-Mile wall (“Examilio Tichos”) known also as the Justinian Wall, stretches from the Saronic Gulf to the Corinthian Gulf to protect the zone against attacks from the North.

4.2.4. Ancient Oiniades

Ancient Oiniades was one of the most important towns of ancient Akarnania. According to some historians, the city was founded before the 5th century BC by the Corinthians [28,29]. It flourished until the Hellenistic years. It was situated near the estuary of Acheloos and therefore in a position suitable for harbor construction (Figure 5d) and commercial activity.
The ancient theatre, which dated back to the fourth century, is one of the most important attractions (Table 2), with 23 series of seats and capacity that touched 5,500 viewers [30].

4.2.5. Delphi

Delphi is in upper central Greece, on multiple plateaux along the slope of Mount Parnassus [31]. It is famous for an ancient sanctuary (Table 2) that grew rich as the seat of Pythia, the oracle who was consulted for important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. Moreover, the Greeks considered Delphi the navel (or centre) of the world, as represented by the stone monument known as the Omphalos of Delphi. Delphi is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The Archaeological Museum of Delphi is one of the most important museums in the world. Some of the relevant structures it houses are the Apollo temple (Figure 5e) and the renowned tholos of Delphi, a 4th century BC masterpiece of ancient Greek architecture [32,33].

4.2.6. Ancient Olympia

Olympia is known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times (Figure 5f). The most celebrated sanctuary of ancient Greece lies in the beautiful valley of the Alpheios river and is constituted of several buildings (Table 2). Dedicated to Zeus, the father of the gods, it sprawls over the southwest foot of Mount Kronios, at the confluence of the Alpheios and the Kladeos rivers, in a lush, green landscape. Olympia was the most important religious and athletic centre in Greece.
The first Olympic festival was organized on the site by the authorities of Elis in the 8th century BC—with tradition dating the first games at 776 BC [34].

5. The Tourism Potential Assessment

The literature reports different models to assess the tourism potential of cultural assets, such [35] as that partly considered in the MAGNA Project.
McKercher and Ho [35] suggested the analysis of cultural, physical, product and experiential values as cultural tourism assessment indicators and an ordinal scale marking system based on five categories of ‘Low’, ‘Low/Moderate’, ‘Moderate’, ‘Moderate/High’, and ‘High’. Ordinal scales enable data to be ordered according to relative size or quality.
In the MAGNA project, the assessment of the sites is carried out considering three criteria: appropriateness, attractiveness, feasibility. On the basis of the investigation and collection of information for every site, a score from 1 (minimum) to 7 (maximum) has been assigned for every criterion (Table 3).
Archaeological appropriateness considers there is a sufficient number of visited sites.
Sailing tourism appropriateness verifies if there are appropriate infrastructure supporting sailing tourism and accessibility in terms of an adequate number of airports, marinas and ports (with touristic facilities) located nearby.
Archaeological attractiveness is relative to the quality of the content and the story being told in the background (interesting—worth the time and the money visiting the site).
Tourism sailing attractiveness evaluates quality of the destinations and the visited sites (quality of the sea, possibilities of swimming and diving, presence of appropriate winds in both sailing and sea activities, etc.); quality of the marina’s and port’s facilities and the services provided; alternative destinations (local culture, events, customs, etc.) and additional activities (apart from the program).
Feasibility includes sustainability in terms of financial (financial and strategic planning, income-generating capability, etc.) and environmental sustainability by avoiding mass tourism in the targeted sites and promoting good practices for recycling and environmental respect; identification of unique sailing points suitable and competitive for the thematic tourism market. Feasibility also considers the possibility to extend the touristic period in Greece and Italy (larger plethora of sites equals a longer touristic period); promote new destinations as international and cultural products targeting Chinese tourists; add the product to the targeted destinations, contribute significantly to tourism development (avoiding mass tourism, fully-booked destinations, etc.).

6. Sailing in History Activities

The tourists will spend time on different Magna Graecia experience-based activities on board, on sea, and on land. The activities have been formulated to be an ‘edutainment’ experience [35], where educational aims are mixed with the entertainment. The cruises and activities of the project will be advertised on social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the following website: A YouTube channel to enrich and share experiences of the journey with current and prospective travellers is also available.

6.1. On Board Activities

Introductive videos will explain to the tourists the sites to visit and the activities to take during the cruise. There will be interviews with scientists and experts to strengthen the quality of the information, as per the philosophy of responsible tourism. The videos will last a few minutes each (3–5 min).
The activities on board include: “Pottery Lab”, “Clean the Sea: laboratory on microplastics”, “Happy hour in Magna Graecia”.

6.1.1. Pottery Lab

Ancient Greece and Magna Graecia are famous for the rich production of pottery, especially the red and black figures models. During the cruise, the tourists, especially children, will be protagonists of the pottery history—from its production, until its discovery and analysis. As true ancient Greek artisans, they will produce a ceramic handcraft using similar materials (clay, water, very fine sand) and work it with a lathe. People will be able to paint the famous red and black figures on the pottery. They can choose to draw free hand or use moulds. In addition, the guests will have the opportunity to carry out excavations in a sandbox reproducing a common archaeological site. The findings, consisting of remnants of clay amphorae, red or black-figure vessels and replicas of coins from the colonies of Magna Graecia, will be taken away and organized in a report with descriptions and colourful drawings.
At the end of the laboratory, the tourists will observe under microscopes thin sections of the pottery (Figure 6) in order to see at the microscale its components (i.e., minerals, fossils, varnish, etc.). The tourists, as true diagnosticians, will describes the sections using Whitbread’s classification [36].

6.1.2. Clean the Sea: Laboratory on Microplastics

Environmental sustainability is an important topic in the development of the MAGNA project and Sailing in History product. An intention of the project is to make customers aware of environmental issues relative to the sea, such as the emergencies linked to microplastic pollution.
Microplastics (fragments < 5 mm) are mainly composed of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), nylons and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which are more likely to sink, and polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS), which are more likely to float. Other polymers include polyvinyl alcohol (PA), and polyamide (PA) [37,38]. These plastics persist in the environment due to resistance to degradation by microorganisms [39] (Yoshida et al., 2016). The presence of these small plastic particles has been observed on the surface of oceans, water columns, and in deep sea sediments worldwide [40,41]. Microplastics have recently been identified as an important global problem affecting marine organisms and humans [42,43,44,45].
The tourists, following a standard procedure, will sample sea water with a specific “manta–net” [46]. They will then take some samples of sea water, often apparently clear, and sieve it. After preparation on a Petri dish, as indicated in the protocol, the tourists will be able to observe under microscopes the microplastics invisible to the naked eye, and discover the many kinds of microlitter present in seawater.

6.1.3. Happy Hour in Magna Graecia

The Calabrian and Ionian Greek coasts have a long and rich enogastronomic tradition with dishes dating back to the Ancient Greece epoch. During the cruise, the tourists will live interesting experiences on board and on land at the proposed sites.
On board, the skipper will propose an appetizer menu based on typical meats, cheese and vegetables from Calabria and Greece. The Italian proposal includes, for example, ‘nduja di Spilinga, Pecorino Crotonese, Onion of Tropea, sea salad, pasta, and fresh fish. In addition, they can taste wines such as “Greco di Bianco” or Cirò, anciently offered as prize to the winners of the Athenian Olympic Games. Moreover, dishes with figs, honey and products based on olives typical of the diet during the Magna Graecia period will be offered.
The Greek menu includes typical dishes such as red pepper dip with feta cheese and Greek yogurt, juicy roasted Greek meatballs (keftethakia); Greek veggie patties (favokeftedes); Greek style roasted olives; feta and Greek yogurt pita appetizer; tzatziki-Greek garlic and yogurt dip; low salt crispy mini Greek cheese pies-tyropita; Greek carrot & parsley breadsticks; Greek spicy feta cheese dip (tirokafteri); and Greek salad (Figure 6). Finally, a selection of typical Greek beverages will be served such as Retsina, Ouzo, Raki, Agiorgitiko, Assyrtiko, Athiri, Malagousia, Moscofilero, Roditis, Xinomavro.

6.2. On-Land Activities

6.2.1. MAGNA Sightseeing

The tourists will be accompanied by an archaeologist on board (the MAGNAdvisor) during sightseeing of museums and archaeological sites. Where possible, the tourists will enjoy guided tours at museums and archaeological sites with experts working in the same areas. During these tours, the tourists, especially children, will get to live an immersive experience addressing ancient Greek customs and participating at ancient religious rituals or daily activities, typical of colony life, such as playing traditional instruments, or ancient games.
The areas around the archaeological sites offer many different attractions that MAGNAdvisors will suggest to cruisers: nature reserves where it is possible to go rafting, bird watching or north walking; ancient villages to visit; wellness and spa centers to relax. Moreover, the tourists will have the possibility to participate in local traditional events or meet artisans working on traditional crafts; for example, the working of fabrics, wood, ceramics, and cheese.
The activities on the Greek coast forecast the visit to the isles and old towns. In Corfù, the tourists will be accompanied to visit the old town (Figure 5), the archaeological museums of Corfu and Paleopolis, the Temple of Artemis, Mon Repos & Menecrates Monument.
In the Ioannina area, they will visit the Dodona Sanctuary, the archaeological museum of Ioannina; there will also be sightseeing of the town and visit to the picturesque isle in the lake.
In the Parga–Acheron area, a visit to Nekromanteion of Aheronta is scheduled with the possibility of rafting, hiking, kayaking, riding, etc. in the Acheron river. Sightseeing and tour of the towns are forecast for Antipaxoi, Paxoi, Benitses, Sami, Ithaca, Nafpaktos, and Galaxidi.
An archaeologist on the cruise will accompany the tourists to the archaeological sites of Lefkada, Ancient Oiniades, Delphi, Diolkos, Ancient Corinth, and Olympia. Here, it will be possible to participate to the ritual of the Olympic torch lighting.

6.2.2. Enogastronomic Experience: Dinner in Magna Graecia

The Calabrian and Ionian Greek coasts have a long and rich enogastronomic tradition with dishes dating back to Ancient Greece epoch. During the scheduled stops on the Magna Graecia route, typical thematic restaurants and taverns (farmhouses, pizzeria, taverns) will be selected; here, the participants will have the chance to taste authentic local cuisine and ancient Magna Graecia food.
Moreover, the tourists will live interesting experiences tasting the “Dinner in Magna Graecia”. The chef will prepare a special dinner on the traces of ancient Greek food. The MAGNAdvisor and guests will help the chef to prepare the dishes in a traditional way. The MAGNAdvisor will also introduce the different dishes, linking them with ancient Greek myths: for example, the wine served in the cup of Mercury, grains and cheese a gift of Demeter, the Goddess of agriculture. According to historical sources, the ancient Greeks used to eat eggs from quail and hens, fish, legumes, olives, cheeses, bread, figs, and any vegetables they could grow, which might include arugula, asparagus, cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers. They drank kykeon (κυκεών), a combination of barley gruel, water (or wine), herbs, and goat cheese in an almost shake-like consistency.
The chef will prepare a typical Greek dessert called “pasteli”, a mix of honey and sesame seeds or dried nuts.

6.3. On Sea Activities

The project proposes two kinds of activities on sea: seabed exploration by an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) and the possibility to spend time in water sports such as diving, surfing, and kite surfing, in partnership with local agencies offering these services.
During the ROV activity, the tourists will explore the seabed, observe natural beauties, underwater shipwrecks and findings dating back to the Ancient Greek age, such as the marble cargo lost in Punta Scifo (Italy) site by an ancient Roman ship and the shipwreck Bengala, a steamboat of the early twentieth century sunk five miles from Le Castella Port in 1970. The ROV activity will be carried out in Greece, exploring the amazing seabed of Corfu coasts.

7. Conclusions

The MAGNA project aims to showcase coastal areas with significant cultural heritage, and tap into good tourist potential. The impact of the project on the territory and on the community will be considerable. Tourists will participate in an original cruise with the possibility of studying places and history of Magna Graecia, accompanied by experts.
“Sail in History” is a tourism product based on the principles of responsible and sustainable tourism, far from mass tourism. The tourists will be sensitized to the problems concerning pollution of the sea, and thanks to the planned routes will live in local realities as guests and not as “hit-and-run” tourists.
The proposed territories and stakeholders will be able to generate good revenue from this tourism product, unique in both countries, thanks to the variety and validity of the offer. The advantages and benefits lie in the communication, dissemination activities and promotion made at conferences, tourism fairs, contacts with tourist agencies, and presence on social media.

Author Contributions

N.R. conducted the writing and editing of the paper. M.F.L.R. supervised the writing of the paper. M.F.L.R., F.B., B.D., T.M., P.R. were responsible for the funding acquisition and project governance. All the authors contributed to design of all aspects of the project.


The project MAGNA, on the route from Greece to Magna Graecia is funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) of Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) by European Commission. Call ID. EASME/EMFF/2016/–Nautical Routes for Europe.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results.


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Figure 1. The “Sail in History” logo: A touristic product of the MAGNA project.
Figure 1. The “Sail in History” logo: A touristic product of the MAGNA project.
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Figure 2. The web site homepage of Sail in History [8].
Figure 2. The web site homepage of Sail in History [8].
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Figure 3. Distribution of the pilot sites in (a) Calabria region and (b) Greece.
Figure 3. Distribution of the pilot sites in (a) Calabria region and (b) Greece.
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Figure 4. The main attractions of Italian pilot sites: (a) the National Museum of Magna Graecia in Reggio Calabria city; (b) theater in Locri Epizephyrii; (c) precious mosaic from the House of the Dragon in Kaulon; (d) Punta Scifo landscape and marble blocks in the underwater shipwreck; (e) Aragonese Castle of Le Castella; (f) the only column remaining of the Hera Lacinia temple at Capo Colonna.
Figure 4. The main attractions of Italian pilot sites: (a) the National Museum of Magna Graecia in Reggio Calabria city; (b) theater in Locri Epizephyrii; (c) precious mosaic from the House of the Dragon in Kaulon; (d) Punta Scifo landscape and marble blocks in the underwater shipwreck; (e) Aragonese Castle of Le Castella; (f) the only column remaining of the Hera Lacinia temple at Capo Colonna.
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Figure 5. The main attractions of Greek pilot sites: (a) Corfu island; (b) steep white cliffs of Lefkada; (c) Corinth Isthmus between the Saronic Gulf and the Corinthian Gulf; (d) ancient Oiniades harbor ruins; (e) Apollo’s Temple at the Delphi archaeological site; (f) Philippeion temple in ancient Olympia.
Figure 5. The main attractions of Greek pilot sites: (a) Corfu island; (b) steep white cliffs of Lefkada; (c) Corinth Isthmus between the Saronic Gulf and the Corinthian Gulf; (d) ancient Oiniades harbor ruins; (e) Apollo’s Temple at the Delphi archaeological site; (f) Philippeion temple in ancient Olympia.
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Figure 6. A typical thin section of pottery sample: the blackish layer represents the varnish; the reddish part is the ceramic body with minerals inside.
Figure 6. A typical thin section of pottery sample: the blackish layer represents the varnish; the reddish part is the ceramic body with minerals inside.
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Table 1. The main attractions in the Italian pilot sites.
Table 1. The main attractions in the Italian pilot sites.
Italian Pilot SitesMain Attractions
National Archaeological Museum of Magna GraeciaRiace Bronzes, one of the symbols of Magna Graecia. Findings dated back to the prehistoric and protohistoric periods until the ancient Roman and Byzantine eras. Section of Underwater Archaeology. The promenade on the Messina Strait, the city center, the Cathedral, the Thermae Romanae.
Archaeological Park of Locri EpizephyriiGreek ruins: the residential center and the artisan center (named hundred rooms); the city walls, the sacred area; the remains of the port area and the theater. Roman ruins: The thermal baths.
Archaeological Park of KaulonUnderwater site: more than 200 finds of pieces of ionic columns and squared blocks. Surfaced area: the Doric temple; the house of Dragon; Casa Matta and San Marco ancient residential areas.
Underwater Archaeological Area of Punta Scifo DThe shipwreck with one of the largest ancient stone cargoes discovered in the Mediterranean Sea
Aragonese Castle of Le CastellaThe fortress surrounded by the amazing Capo Rizzuto Marine Reserve, a rich source of biodiversity in Italy. Ancient Greek quarry and Roman milestones.
Archaeological Park of Capo ColonnaThe museum. The only column with stilobate remaining of the sanctuary of Hera Lacinia. The opus reticolatum of Roman Age. A Roman villa and baths
Table 2. The main attractions at the Greek pilot sites
Table 2. The main attractions at the Greek pilot sites
Greek Pilot SitesMain Attractions
CorfuPaleopoli: the temple of Artemis Gorgo, one of the earliest Doric temples; the Mon Repos estate; the foundations of Hera Acraia temple. Chalkiopoulos lake: the “Ellaiko” and Alkinoos harbors.
The ancient cemetery near Garitsa. Archaeological Museum with finds of Palaeolithic, Early Bronze Age, Hellenistic and Roman periods. The Shell Museum, one of Europe’s largest collection of shells and other marine species.
LefkadaRuins of Apollon temple famous in the ancient world; the medieval castle of Aghia Mavra; the Lefkada Archaeological Museum with findings from Palaeolithic times until later Roman Period.
CorinthIn the city area: the Temple of Apollo; the Odeon; the 18,000-seat theatre; the gymnasium; the Temple of Asclepius and the Lerna fountain; the castle of Akrocorinthos, the Acropolis of the ancient city; the temple of Poseidon; the ruins of the ancient theatre of Isthmia and the stadium; the stadium of Nemea with a seating capacity of 40,000, located southeast of the Temple of Nemian Zeus. Corinth Isthmus. The Justinian Wall.
Ancient OiniadesThe Greek great city walls and fortification towers; The ancient harbor and theatre.
DelphiThe Archaeological Museum; Apollo temple; the renowned tholos of Delphi; the theatre and the stadium, where the sporting events of the Pythian Games were held.
Ancient OlympiaRuins of the temple of Zeus; the temple and Altar of Hera, the first erected in Olympia around the end of the 7th cent. BC, today is the starting point of the Olympic torch relay; the Ancient Stadium with a seat capacity of 20,000 spectators; the Bouleuterion; the palaestra. Museums: The Olympia Museum and the Museum of the History of the Olympic Games. Modern Olympic Games Museum, Museum of History of Excavations, Pierre de Coubertin’s Monument, father of the modern Olympic Games.
Table 3. Assessment framework of the pilot sites. The scoring range is from 1 (minimum) to 7 (maximum).
Table 3. Assessment framework of the pilot sites. The scoring range is from 1 (minimum) to 7 (maximum).
Archaeological Appropriateness777777655777
Sailing tourism Appropriateness655555676567
Archaeological Attractiveness755577654746
Tourism (Sailing) Attractiveness655755777576
Unique sailing Points455555446757
Longer Touristic Period444444557767
New Destinations633633457677
Legend: Re = Reggio Calabria; Lo = Locri Epizephyrii; Ka = Kaulon; Pu = Punta Scifo; Le = Le Castella; Ca = Capo Colonna. Co = Corfu; Lk = Lefkada; Cr = Corinth; Oi = Ancient Oiniades; De = Delphi; Ol = Ancient Olympia.
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