Your voyage begins in Nice, the glittering jewel of the French Riviera. Set sail from this sun-soaked port to the island of Elba, where Napoleon spent a period of exile. Sail to Corsica, where the charming Porto Vecchio invites exploration of its historic sites and its surrounding natural beauty. In Sardinia, admire centuries of distinctive architecture, finding traces of Phoenecian, Roman, and Byzantine occupation before it came under Hapsburg rule and then the House of Savoy. Next cruise to Sicily, where you'll visit highlights such as Palermo, with its baroque details and Moorish-influenced cathedral; Catania, dominated by the silhouette of nearby Mt. Etna; and Syracuse, a prestigious city dating back to Classical times. Your journey concludes in Valletta, Malta, a jewel of art and architectural history.
Explore ancient cities of France, Corsica, Sardinia, Italy, and Malta
Visit three historic cities of Sicily: Syracuse, Catania, and Palermo
Tour the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Valletta
Explore the beautiful island of Elba, where Napoleon was exiled.
The whole of the Maltese capital Valletta is UNESCO World Heritage-listed and occupies a peninsula in the northeast of the island. From the fountain of Tritons to Saint-Elme fort, there are as many majestic streets as there are narrow staircase vennels to explore. The tall houses' painted loggia and carved corbels will accompany you in your explorations, and you’ll rarely be bothered by traffic. You can visit the Grandmaster's palace decorated with coats of arms and frescoes. Saint-John’s cathedral and the ramparts which have guarded the city since the 16th century are also among the most emblematic sites of the city. Arranged in terraces, the Barrakka Gardens will punctuate your promenade with a green and floral experience.
Its undulating rocky coastline, the endless sandy beaches, Mount Etna's menacing form, 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 her 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 its mark. The blend of Arabic, Roman, Norman, Byzantine and Spanish cultures makes Syracuse a town that is extraordinarily rich in fragrances, colors, and flavors.
Sicily’s second city Catania is dominated by the majestic silhouette of Mount Etna. Nourishing and devastating at the same time, this giant crowned with smoke rings brought about the destruction of the city at the end of the 17th century. Catania was then rebuilt in the late Baroque style, and the many monuments of this epoch have earned their status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The baroque churches of the harmonious Via dei Crociferi perfectly illustrate the riches of this architectural heritage. During your stop, be sure to visit Saint Agatha Cathedral with its apses made of lava stones and Its square decorated with a fountain of the Elephant, the animal which allegedly has the power to calm the fury of Mount Etna.
Palermo is the guardian of the Sicilian soul. Many have been attracted to this city, the largest capital of the Italian islands. Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans. Palermo is a rich culmination of so many cultural influences as seen in the Moorish designs on the cathedral, and the Byzantine mosaics of the Palatine chapel, which is itself housed within the precincts of the Norman palace. You will fall under the spell of the palaces, baroque splendors that grace the town with their obsolete beauty. It is thrilling to stumble upon one of those fabulous markets, high in color, and headily picturesque.
The capital of Sardinia, Cagliari, like Rome, is built on seven hills. Its Sardinian name means “castle”, about the citadel, its historic center, which dominates the city. The old ramparts are now pleasant panoramic terraces bordering picturesque streets. The city hosted the Nuragic, Phoenician, Roman, and Byzantine civilizations before the reign of the Spanish Hapsburgs and the House of Savoy. The monuments of Cagliari bear the traces of these successive dominations, such as the Bastion of Saint-Rémy or the Sainte-Marie Cathedral. On the seafront, Art Nouveau-style public monuments give way to the Poetto beach, a magnificent stretch of sand that is 8 kilometers long.
Sitting in the curve of a very popular gulf in the southwest of Corsica, Porto Vecchio is a small city where the air is salty and infused with woody notes. The upper town stands within the walls of a 16th-century Genoese citadel, a symbol of the resistance to the barbarian invasions and malaria. From marshland to salt pans, the city, which has been rebuilt many times, became the “city of salt”. Under the Mediterranean sun, the idyllic beaches nearby reveal their finery: Palombaggia, a glistening bay lined with immaculate white sand, or lagoon-colored Santa Giulia, surrounded by pine trees. The magnificent Ospedale mountain offers breathtaking views of the bay and a refreshing pause.
In the elbow of a creek on the northern coastline of Elba Island, a small corner of paradise awaits in the form of Portoferraio. As you approach its coastlines, you will make out the powerful and majestic contours of its Medici fortresses. Napoleon Bonaparte spent many of his 300 days in exile here. The Palazzina Dei Mulini, his first imperial residence, whose gardens offer outstanding views of the sea, is a must-see. Historical treasures are followed by another kind of treasure, namely white sand beaches, and equally tempting local specialties including gurguglione and rice with cuttlefish ink.
Capital of the Cote d’Azur, Nice is surrounded by an amphitheater of hills and mountains that protects it from the wind. You will probably want to explore the Promenade des Anglais, where you can sit on one of the famous blue chairs laid out opposite the Baie des Anges. The Château hill is also a very pleasant place to walk. This is the entrance to the old city, with its bustling markets and regional products along the main street, the Cours Saleya.
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