Mediterranean with France & Italy
Day 1 - Barcelona The 1992 Summer Olympics revealed to the world what Europeans and seasoned travelers already knew - Barcelona is one of the world's greatest treasures. Vibrant and earthy, commercial and cultural, this city of two million residents is the capital of Spain's autonomous region of Catalonia. Stroll along the wide, tree-lined promenades of Las Ramblas and marvel at the spires of Gaudi's Basilica La Sagrada Familia. Or visit the former Olympic Ring on the hill of Montjuic - also home to world-class parks, fountains and museums. Barcelona, which nurtured such artistic giants as Picasso, Dali, Miro and Casals, is definitely a traveler's paradise.
Day 2 - At Sea
Day 3 - Gibraltar The Rock crouches over the sea like an ancient stone beast, looking Sphinx-like to Africa. Beneath the white cliffs of this natural fortress grows a profusion of palm, pine, and cypress. No fewer than 600 varieties of flowers thrive here, some not found anywhere else on Earth. Gibraltar's stunning setting is matched by its history - five countries have battled for 13 centuries to control the passage between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The result made for a cultural melting pot. Veiled Moroccan women in caftans and vacationing Englishmen and Spaniards stroll along the narrow, steep lanes. The locals revert to a liquid Spanish when talking among themselves. And visitors to a 15th-century cathedral pass through a blue-tiled courtyard, once part of a 13th-century mosque.
Day 4 - At Sea
Day 5 - Marseille (Provence) The largest port on the Mediterranean, Marseille is France's second largest city and a virtual melting pot of peoples and cultures. It is also a place of striking contrasts, from the fishing boats and pleasure craft of the picturesque Vieux Port to the modern Canebiere. Dominating the harbor is the infamous Chateau d'If, the rocky prison from which Alexandre Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo escaped. Marseille is also your gateway to Provence. Explore the countryside around Arles and Avignon, immortalized in the canvases of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso.
Day 6 - Genoa Genoa is the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria. Many regard Genoa as having the largest historic city center in Europe as a result of having been, for centuries, a powerful commercial center seaport and city-state. It was the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and its maritime roots have fostered a dialect that has, absorbed elements of Neapolitan, Calabrese and Portuguese over the centuries. Genoa's harbor is a bustling swarm of activity, which makes it a great launching point for the sprawling metropolis of Milan.
Day 7 - Florence/Pisa (Livorno) Livorno is the gateway to glorious Tuscany. Visit Florence - the cradle of the Renaissance - home to the Duomo, the Uffizi and the Ponte Vecchio. Here the Medici fostered a city-state whose cultural legacy is as great as classical Athens. Giants like Dante, Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Galileo infused the West with a new creative spirit. Then there is Pisa, Florence's rival for political power. Pisa, a brash, commercial seafaring town rivaled the great maritime powers of Venice and Genoa. The city was a leader in art and architecture second only to Florence.
Day 8 - Rome (Civitavecchia) Your gateway to the Eternal City, Civitavecchia has served as Rome's seaport since the 13th century. The port has a long and venerable history. The emperor Trajan built a pleasure villa near the modern city, while Bernini and Michelangelo designed the harbor fortifications. Yet the Eternal City eternally beckons. The ancient capital of the Western World and the center of Christianity for nearly 2,000 years, Rome provides an inexhaustible feast. Visit the ruins of the Forum, view the splendors of the Sistine Chapel, or climb the Spanish Steps, once the heart of Rome's Bohemian Quarter. Rome has been a magnet luring the world's greatest artists, architects, and philosophers since the days of the Caesars.
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