Valletta, Malta / EmbarkArrive in the fortress-city of Valletta: Europe’s most beautiful natural harbor with a distinguished historic and architectural heritage. Board Le Ponant between 4:30 and 5:30 PM. Settle in to your cabin and familiarize yourself with the ship and hew crew.
Goethe, the great German poet and writer, described Sicily as "the land where the lemon trees bloom," the ultimate in destinations. Its undulating rocky coastline, the endless sandy beaches, the menacing form of Mount Etna which surveys its island like a patriarch, the flowery gardens on the hillside...Sicily lays out its varied landscapes like a shopkeeper displays his wares.
Described by Cicero as "the most beautiful city in the world," Syracuse was one of the most prestigious cities in Sicily and at its height was even a rival for Athens. A central city of Ancient Greece, it was home to a succession of civilizations, each of which has left their mark. The blend of Arab, Roman, Norman, Byzantine and Spanish cultures makes Syracuse a town that is extraordinarily rich in fragrances, colors and flavors.
Taormina, ItalySail past the Stromboli Volcano, on your way to your port-of-call. Taormina stands out against the slopes of Mount Tauro in the heart of a picturesque and charming location. The town's alleyways and gardens tumble down the mountain to the Ionian Sea. Its ancient Greek theater is the second largest in Sicily and offers a magnificent panorama with the majestic Mount Etna, its lava flows still smoking, in the background.
Lipari and Vulcano, ItalyDominated by a fortified citadel, Lipari, the capital of the volcanic Aeolian Islands, is known for its many natural and architectural delights, including remarkable points of view, picturesque quarries of pumice stone and its "castello," built on the site of the ancient Greek acropolis. Not far from here, discover the magnificent sight of the Stromboli volcano. A plume of smoke rises from its sombre beauty and lava regularly erupts from the crater of this still-active volcano.
Palermo, ItalyCradled in the arms of a magnificent sweeping bay, Sicily's capital never fails to seduce. A crossroads between Eastern and Western civilizations since time immemorial, Palermo has been indelibly marked by the diverse cultures which have passed this way. The charm of this city of a thousand contrasts owes much to the atmosphere that prevails in the historic center.
Porto Empedocle, ItalyPorto Empedocle is a town and municipality in Italy on the coast of the Strait of Sicily. It is the namesake of Empedocles, a Greek pre-Socratic philosopher and a citizen of the city of Agrigentum (present-day Agrigento). The primary industries of Porto Empedocle are agriculture, fishing, iron working, pharmaceuticals and rock salt refining. The town's original name was Marina di Girgenti, because since the XX century it was the arrival point of all the cereal production of the area of Agrigento. The most outstanding monuments are the Quadrangular Tower of Carlo V, the Chiesa Madre dedicated to SS. Salvatore, and the eighteenth century Chiesa del Buon Consiglio.
Comino, MaltaNamed for the abundance of cumin growing here, Comino is among the most spectacular Maltese islands. Discover its fine-sand beaches, its creeks and of course the famous turquoise and crystalline Blue Lagoon.
Valletta, MaltaDominating Europe's most beautiful natural harbor, Valletta emerges on the prow of the island of Malta. Built by the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, Jean Parisot, the fortress-city possesses many of Malta's historic and architectural treasures. The Baraca Gardens, the Baroque Cathedral of Saint John and the Palace of the Grand Masters with its honey-colored walls combine to bring alive for you the period when Knights ruled this island. Join an optional excursion to discover more of this historic and unique locale.
Valletta, Malta / DisembarkFollowing an early breakfast on board, disembark in Valletta. Transfer to airport to continue your travels.