Autumn Mediterranean Isles
Day 1 - Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy Originally built by Emperor Trajan who had a villa here, Civitavecchia has flourished as a major port for Rome since the 13th century. Today it is an important ferry terminal and for many travelers the gateway to the Eternal City, Rome. The Renaissance fortifications that surround the harbor area were begun by Bramante and completed by Michelangelo in 1535.
Day 2 - Portovenere, Italy The Gulf of La Spezia has been so frequent a subject for poets over the years - from Dante and Petrarch to Byron and Shelley - that it is often referred to as the Golfo dei Poeti. The elongated yellow and orange houses, which line the harbor stretch up the steep slope toward ancient battlements beyond. Mentioned as a landing place in Claudius Ptolemy's "General Geography" (150 AD), today Portovenere is a resort with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
Day 3 - Monte Carlo, Monaco The Principality of Monaco is the epitome of Riviera chic. This tiny enclave of 370 acres surrounds a sheltered harbor that draws yachts from around the world to enjoy the beautiful scenery, mild weather and elegant casino. Glamorous Monte Carlo is one of Monaco's four quarters, which also include La Condamine, the business district; Monaco-ville, the capital; and Fontvieille, an area built on reclaimed land. Ruled by Prince Albert II, Monaco has a population of over 32,000, of which about 16 percent are citizens, or Monégasques.
Day 4 - Toulon, France One of the Mediterranean’s best ports and largest harbors welcomes you to the home of the French Mediterranean Fleet. Located in the Var prefecture of the Provence, Toulon has a long history that is revealed in various districts of the city. The Old Town is along the harbor, with narrow streets and small squares, most boasting a nicely decorated fountain. The Upper Town is mostly 19th century grandeur. You can take a cable car to Mont Faron, bypassing the road that is a notorious stretch for bicycle racers. The waterfront neighborhood of Le Mourillon is a family-friendly beach area for Toulonais. There are wonderful museums of history, art from various periods and naval history to explore as well.
Day 5 - Propriano, France Like a sweet fruit protected by a prickly peel, the mountainous southern side of Corsica offers many attractions hidden among its rugged slopes. None is more attractive than Bonifacio, a gem of a citadel-town perched precariously atop towering limestone cliffs above the strait that bears its name. The way there is a mildly hair-raising mountain road and a ride on a mini-train with breathtaking views of the strait and neighboring Sardinia. From the top, a strenuous stairway of 187 steps leads down to the harborside marina town. The mini-train offers a less taxing option. The seaside village of Campomoro also has a cliff, with a lovely swimming beach at the bottom.
Day 6 - Golfo Aranci, Sardinia, Italy The Sardinian coastline is serrated by deep-cut coves of sparkling sea, surrounded by rocky prominences and edged in lovely strands of beach. The Aga Khan fell in love with the place, and dubbed it the Costa Smeralda, creating a magnet for the global glitterati. At Golfo Aranci, shining arcs of silvery sand are linked into a larger curve, encircled by a muscular peninsula that looms protectively between the town and the sea. It looks expensive, and it is.
Day 7 - Trapani, Sicily, Italy Bright stone buildings mark the rambling layout and baroque architecture of Trapani. Extending out into the sea, the towns characteristic shape of a scythe, frames the majestic Tower of Ligny, which rises from its most extreme point. Originally under Arab dominion, Trapani was a blossoming center for the production of salt, tuna, and coral. The city became famous throughout the Old World in the 16th century, when the work of Trapanese coral artisans was revealed. Their gorgeous collection of works in coral is preserved in the Pepoli Museum.
Day 8 - Valletta, Malta Occupied successively by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, French and British, Malta has been of strategic importance throughout history. A British Crown Colony until 1964, Malta received the George Cross for its valiant resistance to German occupation in WWII. The island's rich heritage is reflected in the architecture of Valletta, the current capital, and Medina, the capital until 1565. In Valletta the Knights of St. John built such masterpieces as St. John's Co-Cathedral and the Palace of the Grand Masters, along with the fortifications that guard the town's magnificent harbors.
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