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As they say in Italy – Andiamo!! Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance; Rome, a city filled with classic ruins, palazzos, magnificent fountains, neighborhood trattorias…a place where life lives as if it were a theater and of course Venice a city as if magically built on the water. Bridges and small alleys, secret campi (squares) wonderful contemporary art mixed in with Gothic Palazzo’s and Byzantine cathedrals. These are the major cities but the real trick to this magnificent country is to explore the towns and regions outside of the norm - head to the island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples, a place where Romans vacation for the summer, visit Pienza in the breathtaking area of Val D’Orcia in Tuscany or spend some time up north in Turin – Italy’s first historical capital with miles of covered passages and underground tunnels. Don’t forget the region of Sicily, steeped in ancient history along with a vibrant contemporary life in Palermo, a city filled with great food and history.
The repertoire of this country is staggering, whether in its art, gastronomy, wine, architecture, history, philosophy, music, or just the Art de Vivre, the art of Living, make this country one of the cornerstones of world culture and influence. During the summer, if you’re looking for a slow-paced resort in Provence or a visit to the exuberance of light, color and excitement of the French Rivera (the Cote d’Azur), France has got it all. In the winter you can enjoy a day skiing in the Alps and in the afternoon share a Rosé by the Mediterranean Sea. As for an urban vibe, the beauty of Paris, along with the vibrant cities of Marseilles, Lyon, Bordeaux, Tours, just to name a few, are breathtaking, filled with museums, restaurants, romantic boulevards and cobbled streets. Not to be missed is exploring its rich wine culture. France is clearly a country that needs to be visited again and again, impossible to experience it all in one bite.
There are few countries in Europe that can match the draw of Spain. The beauty of the Costa del Sol with its endless sunshine, busy tapas bars, serving the freshest seafood, its ancient towns and cities scattered throughout the country make Spain a destination that rivals any country surrounding the Mediterranean. Its long history is filled with art and culture, fabulous architecture and for those looking for wonderful meals and wine, Spain is the place to immerse yourself through its thriving gastronomic culture.
A visit to Portugal has lots to offer the curious traveler. Whether it’s hopping along the coast visiting lovely seaside cobblestoned villages and Medieval castles or spending time in its main cities, the country has so much to see and experience. Follow a road less traveled while driving through the Douro Valley – a wine enthusiasts dream or just be a beach bum soaking up the summer sun on the Souths golden beaches, there’s so much to explore. Portugal is a country filled with a rich culture, great food and affordable prices. Not to be missed is a visit to its capital – Lisbon or its second city Porto, both with a thriving urban scene. A great destination to get to know.
Whether it’s breathtaking beaches, vibrant cities, ancient history or art, Greece has it all. A country made up of 227 inhabited islands, Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. Athens is only your starting point. Make sure to visit the Acropolis, walk the ancient streets of Plaka or enjoy a Greek institution, having a coffee outdoors at a traditional café. Greece is a country easy to fall in love with. Venture beyond Athens to one of its countless islands or experience a number of them by boat visiting hidden coves, swimming in crystal blue waters and revel in the warmth of Greek hospitality.
Today, one of Europe’s hottest destinations, with its beautiful coastlines…clear blue waters, hidden coves and beaches. You’ll find wonderful seaside resorts all along the Croatian coast, sleepy villages and islands scattered just offshore. Discover Dubrovnik with its old walled town and a bit further north the upscale island of Hvar, with its Old Town rivaling St Tropez or Capri. South of Dubrovnik is Split the cultural capital of the region filled with cafes, museums, as well as the 1,700 year old palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Croatia is a country with dense pine forests, vineyards, olive groves along with astonishing food, a rich history, rustic charm with a real sense of sophistication.
A country at the crossroads of East and West…full of mystery… the birthplace of the Ottoman and Roman Byzantine Empires. Spend a few days in Istanbul before heading south to the Turkey’s Turquoise coast, a stretch of coastline that connects the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Experience a spa treatment in your hotels hammam, visit Topkapi Palace the heart of the empire for almost 400 years, stop for a traditional lunch of grilled seafood and afterwards make sure to visit one of the historic harbor districts filled with small shops, coffeehouses and art galleries. For sure not be missed is the Grand Bazaar a place you’ll in all likelihood get lost in.
Head south to the Turkish Riviera, visiting Ephesus and Bodrum or take a weeklong cruise on a gullet schooner stopping in ancient cities, harbors and beaches. Legend has it that this incredibly beautiful area of Turkey was Mark Antony’s wedding gift to Cleopatra.
Israel is a nation created in 1948 but its roots go back thousands of years. It is the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity. It also contains the sacred sites of Islam and a number of other religions. Take the time to not only explore the Israeli culture and Christian history but recognize that in parallel the Palestinian culture can be seen throughout the land. This is a country of great passion and history...filled with religious significance and surrounded by a humming modern contemporary life. If Jerusalem is the religious capital of the country then the vibrant city of Tel Aviv, only an hour away, is its secular equivalent. This is a country of contrasts….wonderful modern seaside hotels, the vast Negev desert to the south and even a ski resort along the Northern Golan Heights. Take your time getting to know this Holy Land as it’s known to many and as Palestine to others…enjoy its cuisine, get to know its people and their history along with its wonderfully rich culture…a destination like no other.
Malta, one of the smallest countries of Europe but one that packs a huge punch, culturally it is exceptionally rich, ruled and settled by the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, the Knights of St. John, the French and up until 1964 a strategic stronghold and part of the British Empire, when it was granted Independence. The history of the island goes back 5500 years, even earlier then Stonehenge. This small archipelago is made up of three main islands: Malta, Gozo and
Comino. The main city of this Island-Nation is Valletta, named the European Capital of Culture in 2018. The city is surrounded by the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea and is packed with historic sights, a wide variety of fine restaurants, an active performing arts scene and over 300 days of sunshine per year – a true year round destination with lots to explore. .
Egypt, the country of Pharaohs, temples, ancient pyramids, exotic bazars, the river Nile and a history that dates back thousands of years is one of the worlds wonders. It’s a country that’s pulled explorers, writers and travelers into its time worn mysteries. Egyptians call modern day Cairo “the Mother of the World” a reflection of its place in history. You’ll experience a crowded, noisy and chaotic city, somewhat similar to New York…a city that’s alive 24 hour a day. Spend a morning outside of the city visiting the Pyramids and be sure to make time for the Cairo Museum. A part of a journey to Egypt not to be missed is taking a cruise on the Nile, from Cairo to Aswan – for sure the best way to discover the splendor of Valley of the Kings in Luxor.
According to Greek legend, Dido, a princess of Tyre, was the first outsider to settle among the native tribes of what is now Tunisia when she founded the city of Carthage in the 9th century BCE. Carthage fought a series of wars with its rival, Rome. Tunisia’s culture is highly diverse, in part because of long periods of Ottoman and then French rule but also because populations of Jews and Christians have lived among a Muslim majority for centuries. Similarly, the capital, Tunis, blends ancient Arab souks and mosques and modern-style office buildings into one of the most handsome and lively cities in the region . Dotted with the ruins of ancient civilizations, Tunisia is an important location for the study of world archaeology and architecture. Among the most significant of its numerous historic sites are Al-Zaytūnah Mosque in Tunis, which dates to the 8th century CE, the slightly older Great Mosque of ʿUqbah ibn Nāfiʿ in Kairouan, and the remains of the ancient city of Carthage
This is truly a spectacular way to travel…intimate experiences, open air views, great food and a terrific way to see Europe’s best sites from the comfort of your ships cabin. Europe’s river cruising is one of the most popular ways to visit ancient cities, and charming towns, see spectacular scenery along the Danube or the Rhine, starting in wonderful cities like Budapest or Amsterdam. For an even more intimacy with only four to ten passengers on board, you can Barge though France visiting the regions of Burgundy, Alsace & Lorraine or explore the Loire Valley. Some of these small ships aren’t just limited to rivers but are more like private yachts taking you through the Mediterranean with ports of call like Malta, St. Tropez, the Aeolian Islands, Santorini or coves along the Turquoise Coast of Turkey.