Our expert tour guides
The guides who lead our escorted holidays in Turkey, Greece, and Italy, are true specialists - archaeologists, historians and travel writers - natural enthusiasts steeped in Turkish, Greek, and Sicilian history and culture. We choose our tour guides not just because they are extremely knowledgeable, but because they are great communicators and friendly hosts. They are there to bring the history and archaeological sites to life. They are also there to make your holiday in Turkey, Greece, or Italy as enjoyable, relaxing, and inspirational as possible.
Peter studied Ancient History and Archaeology at Birmingham University before completing a Masters on the archaeology of Central Asia. He has taught at Birmingham University and Istanbul’s Boĝaziçi Üniversitesi (Bosphorus University). In 1994 he walked 2,000 miles across Turkey, retracing the route of Alexander the Great, and fell deeply in love with the country. For this epic journey he received The Explorers Club of America Young Expeditioners’ award. Two years into a PhD. at University College London, he was seduced into television to work on In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (BBC/PBS).
An award-winning documentary producer, he has shot around the world for acclaimed series like Millennium: A thousand years of history (BBC/CNN), Commanding Heights: the Battle for the World Economy (PBS/BBC), and Tales from the Green Valley (BBC).
Dr. Michael Metcalfe
Like Peter, Michael studied for his PhD. at University College London, however Michael took the trouble to actually finish his - focusing on the ancient Greek cities of western Turkey!
For many years Michael was Assistant Professor in Ancient History at The Mediterranean Center for Arts and Sciences in Sicily, before joining us full time in January 2009. A specialist in deciphering ancient inscriptions, Michael is the co-editor of the Blue Guide to the Aegean Islands and the editor of the Blue Guide to Sicily. He speaks Greek, Italian, and Turkish. Michael has led many gulet tours for us previously in Turkey, Greece and Italy, and received rapturous praise. Not only is he ‘enthusiastic, charming, and knowledgeable’, he is also a natural born organiser. We are delighted to have him as one of our key team.
Fluent in 4 languages (including Greek), Heinrich has studied at University College Dublin, lectured at Trinity College Dublin and was for many years the Assistant Director of the Irish Institute at Athens. A resident of Athens, he is active as a journalist reporting archaeological and cultural developments in print, online, as well as on radio and television.
Heinrich has excavated throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, and has an infectious enthusiasm for the history, traditions, cuisine, music and modern culture of the area. An experienced and popular guide for our tours in Greece and Turkey, he is currently finishing his PhD. for University College Dublin, is engaged in academic work on the prehistory of the Aegean and is Co-Editor of the Blue Guide to the Aegean Islands.
Peter has been working with Serdar since 1999, when Serdar acted as the local fixer on a BBC/CNN documentary series Peter was filming around the Antalya region of Turkey.
A man of many talents, not only is he a highly experienced location manager and tour guide, Serdar is a genteel, enthusiastic and knowledgeable archaeologist. He has lectured at a number of Turkish universities, and excavated and surveyed widely along Turkey’s southern shore, including major work at Patara, Tlos, and Kaunos. His major passions are Roman architecture and maritime archaeology. With his intimate understanding of the Turkish language, culture, and of course ancient sites, Serdar is a very valued member of our tour leaders.
Marcello first began his love affair with Italian food and wine as an 8 year old sous-chef in the kitchen of his father’s Italian restaurant in Hollywood, California. He ended up going into the food business, working as the manager of a successful catering company, before moving to Sicily where he has lived for the last ten years, immersing himself into the island’s history, food and culture.
Married to a native Sicilian, Marcello worked for many years as a Program Director at The Mediterranean Center for Arts and Sciences in Syracuse. Since then Marcello, has set himself up as a one man Sicilian culture specialist, focusing on ‘Slow Food’ and ‘Slow Travel’. As a mark of his success, Condé Nast Traveler magazine has selected him as Sicily’s top travel specialist and as one of the World’s Top 126 Travel Specialists. We’re delighted he’ll be leading our first ever Sicilian gastronomic tour.
Prof. Judy Barringer
Judy received her Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from Yale University. After teaching in the USA for 15 years, she took up a post at the University of Edinburgh, where she is Professor of Greek Art and Archaeology. She has published several books and numerous articles in her field and has great enthusiasm, energy, and breadth of knowledge. Judy has lectured to audiences of every kind and also done newspaper and television interviews, most recently a guest spot on Bettany Hughes’ Divine Women on the BBC.
She has traveled extensively throughout Turkey and has lived for extended periods of time in Greece. She has also published several books and numerous articles on Greek and Roman art and archaeology, and loves introducing people to the ancient world and exploring new places. We are delighted that Judy has become part of the team at Peter Sommer Travels.
Dr. Richard Bayliss
After a degree in archaeology Richard lived in Turkey working at the British Institute in Ankara as resident illustrator and surveyor. He has travelled widely around the country over many years, surveying and excavating many celebrated sites, from a church with its mosaics falling into the sea at Sinop, to the hidden rock-cut villages of Cappadocia, to the Byzantine palaces, fortifications and aqueducts of Constantinople.
His PhD. (under Jim Crow’s supervision) explored the evidence for the rise of Christianity in Roman cities. After lecturing at Newcastle University, Richard went on to work in building design and heritage conservation and now works in sustainable construction.
Prof. Julian Bennett
Julian studied Archaeology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, and has excavated in Britain, Germany, Romania and Turkey. He has taught at Bilkent University in Ankara since 1995 and has a particular interest in the history, archaeology and architecture of Roman and Byzantine Anatolia. Julian has appeared in many TV documentaries, for the BBC, The History Channel and National Geographic. A well travelled and experienced tour leader, he has escorted groups throughout the Mediterranean for institutions such as the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Prof. Jim Crow
Jim Crow is Professor of Classical Archaeology at Edinburgh University with special research interests in Byzantine Archaeology and Roman Frontier Studies. A graduate of Birmingham and Newcastle Universities he has worked in Turkey for over twenty years and recently completed a major research project on the Water Supply of Byzantine Constantinople and the city’s hinterland fortification system ‘the Anastasian Wall’.
He directed the archaeological excavations on Hadrian’s Wall for the National Trust for some 5 years earlier in his career, and has led study tours to Istanbul and lectured on gulet cruises in Lycia and for Cunard around the Eastern Mediterranean. Jim is a marvellous enthusiast and travelling companion, and we are delighted to welcome him to our team of specialist guides.
Dr. Cathie Draycott
Before moving into archaeology, Cathie first trained as an artist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Her Doctorate in Classical Archaeology at Oxford University focused on Greek and Roman sculpture and the art and archaeology of Anatolia (ancient Turkey).
Cathie has worked as a researcher and lecturer at the University of Oxford and is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations working on a project on Art and Economy in 5th century Lycia. She is also working on a number of books that focus on the imagery on ancient monumental tombs. Cathie likes nothing better than exploring Turkey’s ancient sites in fine company. We are very pleased to welcome her to our team.
Dr. Alan Greaves
A lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Liverpool, in 2005 Alan was one of 50 British university lecturers to win a National Teaching Fellowship for their inspiring teaching. There can’t be many archaeologists that have acted as tour guide to American Presidents. Alan Greaves is one of them, having escorted Bill Clinton around Ephesus in Turkey.
He has spent many years excavating sites right across Europe – in France, the UK (at Hadrian’s Wall), and especially in Turkey. He knows western Turkey intimately, having spent 9 summer seasons digging at Miletos, and has written one of the definitive books on the history of this most influential of ancient Greek metropolises.
Dr. Olivier Henry
Olivier holds a degree in ancient history, two masters degrees in ancient history and classical archaeology and a PhD. from the University of Bordeaux focusing on the region of Caria in south-west Turkey. After a couple of years at the University of Illinois, lecturing on ancient architecture, he settled in Istanbul where he lives with his Turkish wife (also an archaeologist) and children. Fluent in French, English and Turkish he is a specialist on ancient (Karian) funerary architecture and published extensively. He now works at the French Institute for Anatolian Studies, coordinating all French archaeological activities in Turkey.
Olivier has excavated in Turkey since 1998, working on a variety of sites which we visit on our tours including Herakleia, Iasos and Labraunda. He has been the Excavation Director at Labraunda since 2012. We are delighted Olivier will be sharing his passion, knowledge and expertise with our guests.
Born and bred in Athens, Nota has been travelling to Turkey, especially Cappadocia, for many years, captivated by its multicultural history, the spectacular landscape and the warm local hospitality. With a degree in Archaeology and Art History and a Masters in Byzantine Archaeology, she is currently finishing her PhD. at the École Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris, focusing on the Byzantine churches of Cappadocia.
Nota has excavated and surveyed at a number of sites in Cappadocia and elsewhere in Turkey, and at sites in Greece, ranging from the island of Kos to central Athens. Alongside her academic studies she has worked for a specialist Byzantine photo-library and the Byzantine Museum of Athens. A native Greek-speaker, she is fluent in English and French (and is picking up Turkish too) and puts her language skills to use as a freelance translator and editor. We are very pleased Nota will be sharing her passion and expertise with our guests.
Dr. Ulrike Krotscheck
Ulrike received her degree in Art History from Mount Holyoke College, her M.A. in Archaeology and Art History from the University of Heidelberg and her PhD. in Classics and Archaeology from Stanford University. She has spent more than ten seasons conducting archaeological fieldwork and travelling in Greece, Turkey and southern France, working on a number of sites that we visit on our tours such as Miletus on Turkey’s Aegean coast.
A native speaker of German, Ulrike is also almost fluent in French and Spanish and has studied ancient Greek and Latin, Italian and Turkish. She is currently an associate professor of Classical Studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Her current academic specialization is in ancient maritime trade. A keen sailor, Ulrike loves nothing more than sharing the beautiful landscapes and history of the Eastern Mediterranean with others, especially when travelling by boat.
Prof. Annalisa Marzano
Annalisa studied Classics at the Università degli Studi di Firenze and received her PhD. from Columbia University, New York; she is currently Reader in Ancient History in the Classics Department of Reading University. Annalisa is interested in Roman archaeology and in social and economic history of ancient Rome - from its early beginnings to the late Empire. She has been part of various archaeological projects in Italy, Egypt, and Libya since 1988, excavating sites ranging from Etruscan tombs on the hills of Tuscany, Roman tabernae in the Forum in Rome, and a late antique school in the Dakhla oasis in Egypt. Her books include Roman Villas in Central Italy and Harvesting the Sea.
In addition to her academic expertise on ancient Campania, as a Positanese, she has insider’s knowledge of the local history, different customs, and traditions of the Amalfi Coast.
Dr. Claire Nesbitt
Claire visited Turkey for the first time a decade ago and was captivated by the land and its antiquities. She gained a first class degree in Ancient History and Archaeology before specialising in the Byzantine period. Fascinated by the Byzantine churches she saw in Turkey, she has been studying them ever since, focusing on their archaeology and aesthetics as the subject of her PhD.
Claire has lectured at Newcastle University and Queen’s University Belfast, and is now Research Associate at Durham University. She has worked on a wide variety of archaeological projects in the UK, from Neolithic henges to Hadrian’s Wall, and has led historical tours in Istanbul and Rome. Claire has spent many fieldwork seasons working in Turkey, learning the language, absorbing the culture, and examining the archaeology of Istanbul and Thrace, primarily the fortifications and aqueducts of Byzantine Constantinople. We are extremely pleased she can share her expertise and zest with our guests.
Dr. Graham Oliver
Graham is a lecturer in Ancient History at The University of Liverpool as well as a Visiting Fellow at the British School at Athens. He believes passionately in bringing sites and monuments to life as part of the living history that we see when exploring today’s ancient world. His PhD. at Oxford University focused on the politics and food supply of ancient Athens and he has worked and travelled extensively in the Mediterranean and led numerous groups around the region’s archaeological sites.
Fluent in French and Greek, Graham has lectured in the USA and throughout Europe to audiences of all ages. He most recently produced a book on ancient and modern war memorials and is an expert in Greek inscriptions: he was a key part of the team that made a new study of the queen of inscriptions, the Res Gestae (Achievements) of the Divine Augustus, inscribed on the Temple of Rome and Augustus at Ankara in Turkey. We are delighted Graham can share his knowledge and enthusiasm with our guests.
Özlem is a passionate and enthusiastic tour guide who enjoys nothing more than sharing her wealth of knowledge and love of her country with our guests. She has a masters degree in classical archaeology and is currently studying for her PhD. at Ege University. Her master’s degree explored the Overseas Colonisation Activities of the Ancient City of Clazomenae, one of the ancient Ionian cities (which also happens to be the town where Ozlem now lives). She also has a background in art history and her thesis work also involved ancient Greek vase painting.
A member of a classical choir (as an alto), she is also interested in Turkey’s culinary history, nature and horticulture, as well as traveling. Özlem is very much looking forward to sharing the landscape and history of ancient Anatolia with our guests and we are delighted she is part of our team.
Dr. Michael Scott
A lecturer in the Classics Faculty at Cambridge University, Michael enjoys nothing more than spending time among the sites of the ancient Mediterranean. He also believes passionately in making the ancient world as accessible, relevant and interesting as possible in the 21st century.
Michael has presented a number of TV series for the BBC including Delphi: bellybutton of the ancient world and Guilty Pleasures: Luxury in the Ancient Greek and Medieval Worlds, as well as documentaries for the History Channel such as Ancients Behaving Badly and a four part documentary on the Persian wars, The First War for the West for Australian TV. He is currently filming for a 3 part series about the rise of Christianity for National Geographic.
Peter first met Jeremy when he took part in our very first Sailing the Lycian Shore tour back in 1997. You can read his piece about this gulet cruise for The Sunday Times).
Jeremy is an award-winning travel writer and author of Turkey-based travelogues A Fez of the Heart, and Santa: A Life. Other books include The Snakebite Survivors’ Club, and The Wreck at Sharpose Point. He is a regular contributor to the travel pages of the Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, Conde Nast Traveller, and numerous other publications. He has presented TV documentaries and is a regular on radio programmes like Radio 4’s ‘Excess Baggage’. He has tutored on numerous residential courses in creative travel writing, and is a charming and witty host with an extensive knowledge of the Turkish coastline.
Prof. Tony Spawforth
Tony Spawforth is professor of ancient history at Newcastle University, UK, Visiting Fellow at the British School at Athens (2014) and a former fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. A freelance writer, lecturer and broadcaster he is well known for presenting documentaries for the BBC such as Alexander The God King, Flightpaths to the Gods and Egypt’s Lost City. His published books including Greece: An Oxford Archaeological Guide, The Complete Greek Temples, The Oxford Classical Dictionary and the bestselling Versailles: A Biography of a Palace.
Tony has excavated on Crete and Sicily and has considerable experience as a tour leader across the Mediterranean. We are extremely pleased that he will be sharing his enthusiasm and expertise with our guests.
Dr. Nigel Spivey
Peter had the good fortune of directing Nigel a few years back in a documentary about Britain’s ancient monuments. We are absolutely delighted that he is one of our tour leaders.
Nigel is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, where he teaches Classical Art and Archaeology. His books include The Ancient Olympics, Greek Art, and Panorama of the Classical World. A renowned TV presenter, his credits include How Art Made the World (BBC), Kings and Queens, and Heroes of World War II. He’s also an experienced tour lecturer. His knowledge and passion make him an ideal guide in bringing Turkey’s past to life.
Dr. Jennifer Tobin
Peter met Jennifer digging at the ancient city of Issus back in 1994 at the end of his Alexander the Great walk in Turkey. We are delighted she is part of our team.
Jennifer is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has dug in Turkey, Israel, and Greece, speaks Greek and Turkish, and published widely on everything from Roman architecture in Syria to Alexander the Great as a builder. A renowned tour leader, noted for her passion and enthusiasm, she has been leading trips in Turkey since 1993 for companies and institutions such as the Smithsonian.
Francesca Del Vecchio
Francesca is an art historian and professional tour guide who also specialises in museum education and art communication in the Campania region of Italy. Francesca has been working with us for several years on our Cruising the Amalfi Coast tours and we are delighted to have her as part of the Peter Sommer Travels team. A very welcoming and friendly Neapolitan, her passion and enthusiasm for this ancient city and the entire Campania Region is matched by her in-depth knowledge of its history and treasures.
Fluent in English and French, she also speaks basic German and Spanish and is an excellent communicator able to provide a constant flow of information about the ancient and modern landscape of the region.