Day 1 - Barcelona Dynamic Barcelona is all about architecture, from the magnificent medieval buildings of the Gothic Quarter to the Modernist movement typified by the work of Antoni Gaudi. Though his materials were stone and metal, his forms were organic, awash in curves, swirls, and colors. His masterpiece is the amazing Church of the Sagrada Familia, colossal and as yet unfinished, though construction began in 1882. A contemporary contribution to the scene is Ricardo Bofill's post modernist National Theater of Catalonia, an imaginative combination of classical and modern design, with a greenhouse-like lobby.
Day 2 - Marseille (Provence) At the same time bustling and picturesque, this oldest of the great French cities has progressed with the times, modernizing constantly. If it looks familiar that might be because it has played a role in many films, French and international, in fact just off the coast looms the foreboding Chateau d’If, where the fictional Count of Monte Cristo was imprisoned. Or perhaps you recognize scenes from paintings; the small port of l’Estaque was once a favorite haunt of artists such as Renoir, Cezanne, and Braque. In addition to a lengthy history, today Marseilles is well known in France for its hip-hop music. Who knew?
Day 3 - Saint Tropez Saint-Tropez invokes images of overly tanned bodies in tiny bathing suits, luxury yachts, white sandy beaches, and the over-the-top glitz and glamour of the Côte d’Azur. And while this isn’t too far from reality, we say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Stroll along the harbor and marvel at the yachts, many of which dwarf the surrounding buildings (and then smile happily to yourself, knowing the Azamara® ship you arrived on is “la pièce de résistance”). Join other jet setters on one of the fabulous beaches, some of which—like Tahiti Beach, made famous by Bridget Bardot—are clothing optional. Ooh, la la!
Day 4 - Monte Carlo The tiny principality of Monaco, a sovereign state of just under one square mile, has an outsized resume, boasting some of the planet's most expensive real estate, and the world's most prestigious casino. Facing the sea, and engulfed on the other three sides by France, it has been the domain of the Grimaldi dynasty since the 14th century, and enjoys the same glamorous reputation as the rest of the Riviera.
Day 5 - Calvi Arrival by sea is the best way to greet Calvi: for a breathtaking view of the lovely port, the fortifications towering over it, and the backdrop of rugged pine-covered hills. Once ashore, explore the citadel, containing a palace and the Cathedral of St. Jean Baptiste, erected to hold a supposedly supernatural crucifix. The social hub is Quai Landry, a seaside promenade lined with bars, cafes, and shops. In the surrounding countryside you will find many unspoiled mountain villages, and just offshore a nature reserve where crystal clear waters nurture a rich marine life.
Day 6 - Livorno (Florence & Pisa) Ah, Florence – sublime birthplace of the Renaissance, its historic center full to bursting with elegant squares, imposing palaces, magnificent churches, and museums with such an abundance of riches it could make an art lover weep for joy. The list of illustrious names connected with this city is mind-boggling: Botticelli, Dante, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo. Other colorful and fascinating characters were of dubious reputation: Machiavelli, and the religious extremist Savonarola, with his bonfire of the vanities. For many years the city was ruled by the powerful Medici family, patrons of the arts and bankers to the papacy, whose line included six kings and two popes.
Day 7 - Livorno (Florence & Pisa) Ah, Florence – sublime birthplace of the Renaissance, its historic center full to bursting with elegant squares, imposing palaces, magnificent churches, and museums with such an abundance of riches it could make an art lover weep for joy. The list of illustrious names connected with this city is mind-boggling: Botticelli, Dante, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo. Other colorful and fascinating characters were of dubious reputation: Machiavelli, and the religious extremist Savonarola, with his bonfire of the vanities. For many years the city was ruled by the powerful Medici family, patrons of the arts and bankers to the papacy, whose line included six kings and two popes.
Day 8 - Civitavecchia, (Rome), Italy Rome has something special to offer to all visitors, no matter their interests and tastes. Whether you daydream about fighting with gladiators in the Coliseum, debating with togaed senators in the Forum, tossing a coin in a fabled fountain, or being awestruck by the magnificence of St Peter’s Basilica and Michelangelo’s masterpieces, Rome seems to live up to its sobriquet – the Eternal City. When you need sustenance, today’s Rome will provide delizioso pasta e vino. Or perhaps you draw strength from a little retail therapy – the Italians are also renowned for their sense of style.
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