Recently, I returned from a 17-day sojourn through Greece and Italy. The trip was led by Footsteps Ministries and traced the “footsteps” of the Apostle Paul on his missionary journeys as recorded in the book of Acts. More than 50 Taylor students were on the trip, which functioned as a Biblical Studies course. The leaders of the trip—David and Elizabeth Sparks, as well as Dave Sparks, Jr. and Kleanthis Iliadou, were tremendous guides, extremely knowledgeable in Greek and Roman history as well as biblical literature. They also demonstrated a wonderfully pastoral touch.
Our journey began in Thessaloniki, where we visited the Arch of Galerius, the Basilica of St. Demetrios, and the Roman forum. From there we went on to Philippi, where we visited the site of Lydia’s baptism and had a tour of the archaeological site: tour of the archaeological site: the agora, basilicas, theater, city walls, and the traditional location of Paul’s imprisonment. Next we traveled to Berea to see the Rostrum of Paul and the Jewish Quarter with its synagogue. Then we continued on to Vergina, site of the royal tombs of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.
Next, we traveled to Delphi, but on our way we stopped to visit the monasteries of Meteora, which are perched high atop gigantic rock formations. In Delphi we visited the sanctuary of Apollo, the Delphic agora, theater, and stadium. This is where the oracle at Delphi, reputedly speaking for the god Apollo, declared that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens, which is was our next destination. We stayed in Athens four days, visiting the theater of Dionysios, Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Zeus, the Acropolis, where the Parthenon, Erectheion, Temple of Athena, and other sites are located. We
also visited Areopagus (Mars Hill), where the Apostle Paul gave his discourse recorded in Acts 17.
While in Athens I used a free day to hike up to the northern part of the city, wending my way through the tangled, cramped city streets to visit the remnants of Plato’s Academy. I also made my way over to the ruins of Aristotle’s Lyceum. Although these sites are not as visually dazzling as many of the other destinations on this trip, they were highlights for me—just to walk amongst the remnants of the schools founded by these two great Greek thinkers, whose writings have so deeply impacted Western history.
We also visited Corinth, visiting the extensive ruins of the ancient city and climbing up to the Corinth acropolis, where the views are spectacular. Then it was on to Italy, where we spent the final four days of the trip, visiting numerous sites in Rome, including Piazza del Popolo, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, St. John Lateran Church, St. Paul’s Basilica, the Church of St. Sebastian, and the Roman catacombs. We also spent a day in Vatican City, visiting the Bridge of Angels, St. Peter’s Square (which isn’t really square), the Vatican Museum, and the Sistine Chapel.
What an extraordinary experience! If you decide to visit Greece and/or Italy, then by all means do it with Footsteps Ministries. The Sparks family are the best!
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