Trace our roots in Spain

NOTE: This trip has been cancelled.

For more information please contact Laurie Berlin at 727-873-2006.

Join us as we explore Florida’s cultural roots in Spain. We will travel to rural towns and medieval cities, examine 16th-century architecture and historic documents, and savor local cuisine and regional wine as we make our way from the city of Madrid to the ancient port of Avilés.

Our trip will be led by historian Michael Francis, a distinguished author and scholar who has researched and written extensively about the historical ties between Spain and Florida.

The Gathering

Day One – Sunday, October 13, 2013: Hotel de las Letras - Madrid

Our trip begins at the lovely, historic Hotel de las Letras, an architectural gem that is on Madrid’s heritage register. We get acquainted, meet our scholar and tour guides, and receive an overview of the week’s activities..

Day Two – Monday, October 14, 2013:  From Madrid to Segovia to Valladolid

We board our luxury motor coach to begin our journey. Our first stop is Segovia, a walled medieval city with Romanesque churches, ancient winding streets, and a Roman aqueduct. Here, Dr. Francis provides the historical context for our journey.

We take a guided tour of the Alcazar, one of Europe’s most famous castles—built in the 11th century by Spanish royalty. We have our midday meal in Segovia at a celebrated restaurant operated by a small family for five generations.

Day Three – Tuesday, October 15, 2013:  Valladolid

Mayor Javier León de Riva welcomes us to Valladolid, the Capital of the Kingdom of Spain until 1561, and sends us on a walking tour of the city that includes the Cathedral of Valladolid, Plaza Mayor, and the Christopher Columbus Museum.

Our midday meal features Old World regional cuisine prepared by the chefs at the renowned Escuela Internacional de Cocina Fernando Pérez, an international culinary institute. Dr. Francis and historian Julio de Valles discuss the food exchange that occurred centuries ago between the Old and New Worlds.

The evening entertainment is Paco Díez, who treats us to traditional Spanish music, wine, and tapas in his 17th-century wine cellar. Díez preserves and performs traditional Iberian music and is an internationally renowned interpreter of Sephardic-Spanish music.

Day Four- Wednesday, October 16, 2013: Valladolid

At Archivo General de Simancas, a short trip from Valladolid, we view a special exhibit of documents, letters, drawings, and maps that provide some first impressions of La Florida from early explorers, priests, and governors.

Later, we tour Bodega Yller in Rueda, a vineyard at the center of Spanish wine making since the 11th century. We move on to visit one of the area’s artisanal cheese producers and stop for our midday meal at a bull-fighting ranch.

Day Five- Thursday, October 17, 2013: Salamanca

We visit one of Europe’s greatest centers of learning during the Middle Ages—Salamanca University, founded in 1134. The city is home to a number of Romanic, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architectural styles, mostly centered around the Plaza Mayor. A guided tour of the city includes the University, the University archives, and the Old Cathedral.

We travel to a village outside the city to tour a factory that produces the world-famous Serrano hams—and we sample their products.

Day Six – Friday, October 18, 2013: Santervás de Campos, Astorga, Avilés

Mayor Santiago Baeza Benavida welcomes us to his village of Santervás de Campos, the birthplace of Juan Ponce de León. We make a special presentation to the mayor and the townspeople, and Dr. Francis talks about the shared history of Spain and Florida.

We travel to Astorga to see the Gothic Astorga Cathedral and the Episcopal Palace designed by famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. For our midday meal we stop in the small village of Castrillo de los Polvazares to enjoy the traditional Spanish dish, Cocido Maragato.

We end the day on the northeast coast in the city of Avilés, the birthplace of Pedro Menéndez—and sister city of St. Augustine, Florida.

Day Seven: Saturday, October 19, 2013: Avilés

Spanish historian Alberto del Río and Dr. Francis take us on a walking tour of Avilés, a departure point for many a voyage to the New World. The afternoon is set aside for shopping and exploring this charming seacoast town.

Day Eight: Sunday, October 20, 2013:  Oviedo, Madrid

Oviedo, a medieval walled city known for its high culture and ornate architecture, is a stop on the famed Santiago de Compostela (and was also the setting for Woody Allen’s film “Vicky, Christina, Barcelona”).

After a welcome by the Mayor and a guided tour of the city, we have our farewell lunch and wrap-up session. Dr. Francis leads us in a discussion about the experiences we have shared and what we have learned from our immersion into the culture and history shared by Spain and Florida.

Participants will spend their final night at Hotel de las Letres in Madrid and our tour guides will provide transportation back to the Madrid airport on Monday.

Fee Schedule

Two Persons
$7,000 ($3,500 per person)
One Person


We must have a minimum number of participants to conduct this unique trip. Please make your reservation by clicking on the link below. We require a $250 deposit on each reservation (non-refundable) to reserve your space, which will be applied to your registration. However, if the minimum number of participants is not met by July 12, 2013 we will refund your deposit. We highly recommend that you do not purchase airline tickets prior to this date.

If you have any questions, contact Laurie Berlin via email or call 727-873-2006.

We look forward to seeing you in Spain!