2,500 years of history are woven into the fabric of modern Rome. You can feel it in the glory of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Or as you wander sidestreets that open onto piazzas, fountains, Bernini sculpture, and elegant courtyards. Famous treasures are legion in Rome: the Colosseum…the Forum…St. Peter’s Cathedral…the Trevi Fountain…the Spanish Steps. Take time out between sights to do as the Romans do: enjoy a three-hour lunch, shop, people-watch, or savor the best gelati in the world. Board your ship this evening and settle into your luxurious cabin, preparing for your upcoming Mediterranean adventure.
Gliding into the town of Portoferraio, your first port of call on your Mediterranean cruise, you can see why Napoleon chose Elba for his exile; an island of pink granite, pine forests, and pristine beaches. The contrasts of the Elba countryside – from its typical fishing villages and high mountain passes to its stylish summer resorts on the coast – are enchanting. Elba’s restaurants feature excellent seafood, and small private vineyards produce local Moscato and Aleatico wines.
Portofino is considered by many yachtsmen to be the “world’s most beautiful small port.” From the sea, the entrance to town is a narrow waterway, usually crowded with yachts and sailboats. Tall cliffs rise steeply above the port, dotted with expensive villas and an imposing castle. Along the water, restaurants with outdoor tables and colorful umbrellas offer refuge to some of Europe’s wealthiest and most discerning pleasure-seekers.
Cannes is the sister city to Beverly Hills and the chic epicenter of the French Riviera – a world of exclusive boutiques, palm-lined avenues, starlet-studded beaches, and elegant sidewalk cafes. While most famous for its Film Festival in May, when international celebrities gather to screen films and make deals, it glitters every month with swimming and sunning by day, and a club and casino scene by night.
The fairy-tale kingdom of Monte Carlo glitters with opulence and jet-set glamour, and the action centers around its famed casinos. Inside, under gilt-edged ceilings and ornate frescoes, fortunes are made or lost. Elsewhere in Monaco are the Prince’s Palace, from which the Grimaldi dynasty has ruled since 1297; the Cathedral where Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier; and the Rock of Monaco, where gardens cascade to the sea.
Small but chic, St. Tropez is a lively town whose beaches are legendary, both for their beauty and for the beauties on them. Follow the narrow lanes from the waterfront, and you’ll arrive at the oldest part of St. Tropez, where twisting narrow streets open onto tiny squares and fountains. Great views can be had from the 16th-century Citadel, but the most interesting views are from a chair in a sidewalk café: sit on the terrace and watch the fascinating, flirtatious French Riviera pass by.
With its casual affluence, flower-lined streets, flourishing markets, and interesting museums (the Musée Chagall and Musée Matisse are highlights), Nice is a charming introduction to the spirit of the Côte d’Azur. Stroll along its wide sunny boulevards, broken here and there by shady gardens and parks. Or stop for bouillabaisse, a specialty of the area, in a local restaurant.