By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: We'll be travelling with friends to Tunisia in February 2004. We would like to go from there to Sicily for a few days. Would you know whether there are boats that could take us from Tunis to Sicily? Also, if there's anything else you can tell us about Tunisia.

A: Nestled in the northern bulge of Africa between Algeria and Libya in the middle of the Mediterranean basin, Tunisia has captured the imagination of artists for centuries.

In Anthony Minghella's screen adaptation of The English Patient, we discover the hidden beauty of the Sahara. Movie critics described the Tunisian desert as mesmeric with gorgeous images. After the film's release it was reported that the Tunisian Government Office was inundated with inquiries from curious travelers who wanted to learn more about this ancient country.

Often nicknamed, Paradise on Earth, Tunisia besides its array of outdoor monuments, it possesses fine sandy beaches, palm trees, bougainvilleas and is a favorite destination for swimmers, wind surfers and spa enthusiasts.

Inhabited since the Palaeolithic age, Tunisia has seen such civilizations as the Phoenicians, Romans, Turks, Byzantines, Spanish and French all who have contributed towards its rich heritage.

Today, travelers pay homage to the historic sites, nine of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Among them are the Medina of Tunis, the archeological site of Carthage and the Dougga, which received its UNESCO designation status in 1997. In the Bardo Museum located in the suburbs of Tunis, intricate floor mosaics show scenes of love, war and the hunt from various ancient legends. Must-see images include the Truimph of Bacchus and the Portrait of Virgil.

According to the Tunisian Government Office, the boat trip from Tunis to Sicily is possible. For reservations and ticket info, you can contact Compagnie Tunisienne de Navigation (CTN) 122 rue de Yougoslavie, Tunis 71 322 775 or 71 322 802. In summer, it's recommended to book weeks in advance. The trip takes about eight hours.


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All text & photos 2004.