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. Embark the Wind Star in Civitavecchia and prepare for your upcoming Mediterranean adventure.
Your Italy exploration begins by gliding into the town of Portoferraio. Here 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.
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.
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.
Gliding into Marseille, you’ll spot the majestic 19th-century Basilique de Notre Dame de la Garde rising high on a hill. Ashore, explore the heart of the city in the Vieux Port (old port), then take time out for a steaming bowl of bouillabaisse, the spicy stew for which the city is renowned. Or make Marseille base camp for an excursion to exquisite, exuberant Aix en Provence, with its pretty squares and brilliant flower market – the birthplace of Paul Cezanne.
Capital of proud Catalonia, Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city like no other. Old and new combine in Barcelona; narrow Gothic Quarter alleyways contrast with grand boulevards. Everywhere, the city celebrates the work of Gaudi, its surreal modernist hometown architect. The city also boasts an incredible collection of Picasso’s work. Stroll down Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s wide tree-lined boulevard and enjoy the street carnival. Enjoy delectable tapas in the many restaurants and bars. See what the Olympic fervor was all about.