All roads lead to Rome, and with good reason – this city is one of the world’s most thrilling, offering unmatched history along every street. An evocative, inspiring and utterly artistic capital of unrivalled cultural impact, Rome is a city of back-to-back landmarks, which will take you on an exhilarating journey through the ages. This may be one of the world’s oldest cities, but it’s well and truly lived in. The ruins are punctuated with murmuring cafes, and the outdoor seating of restaurants sprawls out across piazzas, enticing you to sample tangles of creamy pasta and crispy pizzas. Rome’s incredible Roman Forum is littered with the ruins of its ancient administrations, which have stood firm for 2,000 years, since the times when the area was the centre of the Western world. Few sites are more simultaneously beautiful and haunting than that of the storied Colosseum, which looms deep into Rome’s rich blue sky.
Sorrento’s colourful, sun-faded facades cascade down from green hills and cliffs to the Bay of Naples’ gently lapping waters. The perfect base for exploring this Italian corner of outstanding natural beauty, venture to the curvaceous roads of the Amalfi coast – or enjoy leisurely jaunts across the shimmering waves to Capri’s gem of an island. While it makes for a fantastic jumping-off point, Sorrento itself has oodles of rustic fishing town charm, so don’t rush off too quickly. Piazza Tasso is the locals’ main meeting spot and a starting point for a wander through the picturesque streets. Throw back a quick espresso caffeine kick at a standing cafe, before strolling through Corso Italia – Sorrento’s spine – which is lined with boutiques, museums, bars and restaurants. The historic Church of San Francesco blossoms with colourful celebrations of weddings, which spill out into its gorgeous ivy-tangled cloisters.
Spectacular tiers of colour splashed houses cascade down to immeasurably blue seas and hidden coves, along Italy’s premier coastline. Lemon groves and vineyards bask in the country’s generous southern sun, running alongside dramatic mountain precipices, and dazzlingly romantic fishing villages. The Amalfi Coast is rightly celebrated as a treasure of Italy, and you can enjoy the true scale of it, and the feel of the salty sea breeze in your hair, as you hike the Path of the Gods – where some of the best heavenly views of the beautiful beaches and improbably teetering villages open up below you. The call of beachside bliss is never far away, and descending down to Duoglio Beach is a mesmerising introduction to the coastline’s jagged rock setting and crystalline waters. A dramatic ramp of steps rears up to Amalfi’s distinctive black and white striped, Moorish-influenced cathedral, which stands at the heart of the town.
Honey-coloured Siracusa is a staggering UNESCO World Heritage Site, and an extraordinary Sicilian city of immense ancient history. The modern population is a fraction of what it was at the city’s heyday around 400 BC, when Athens’ might was successfully challenged and faced down, reinforcing the city’s incredible power and status. Siracusa’s historical nucleus waits to be discovered on the compact islet of Ortygia. The city was founded here, but grew over time, spreading across to the mainland. A small channel separates the two, which is now spanned by twin bridges. Wander the atmospheric streets of this time warp, to reach the shining elegance of Piazza Duomo. The Baroque cathedral rises like a giant sandcastle, and you can settle opposite to cradle a glass of wine and enjoy the view over the immaculate square – people watching before the glorious baroque façade. Dig deep into its history at the mainland’s archaeological park.
Perched high on the imposing Sciberras Peninsula, Valletta immediately presents its massive, protective walls and vertical bastions to visitors arriving by sea. Rising to 47 metres in places, the fortifications protect lavish palaces, grand domes and illustrious gardens. Built by the Knights of St John on the narrow peninsular, Valletta is a compact, richly historical treasure trove of Baroque wonders. Ascend to reach the restful, flower-filled Upper Barrakka Gardens, where cannons fire and boom in salute at noon each day, sending echoing cracks of noise out across the waves below. Recognised as 2018’s European Capital of Culture, Valletta is a fascinating and dense haven of history and intrigue. A busy, bustling capital, the breathtaking St John’s Cathedral – commissioned in 1572 – is almost concealed among its narrow streets.
Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.
Located in the heel of Italy’s boot, Monopoli is a Puglia port town that knows how to make a splash. In fact, the words Monos and Polis mean singularly unique – and Monopoli’s special blend of part historical, part functional is most definitely that. The city might lack some of the more aesthetic elements of its neighbours, but that only means good things for those who do discover it: far from the tourist route you’ll be greeted with medieval churches and castles, white stone buildings (contrasting perfectly with the azure of the sea and sky) and authenticity in buckets. Founded by the Greeks in 500 BC, then taken over by the Romans (and beset by various invaders), Monopoli was – and still is – a thriving port town. It’s position in Puglia between the seas made it strategic, while its placement on the Via Traiana (which led all the way to Rome) made it prosperous.
Croatia’s crowning glory rears up vertically from the tranquil waters of the Adriatic, and Dubrovnik’s daunting fortresses town is a truly imposing sight to behold. Encircled by chunky stone walls so thick and dramatic they could have been purpose-built as a film set, this city’s unmatched old town is the setting for countless films and shows – from Star Wars to Robin Hood, Game of Thrones and every production in-between seeking a truly authentic medieval flavour. This fantasy fortress’s walls – which are no less than 12-metres thick at places – are certainly not just for show, however. They kept Dubrovnik safe when it was a maritime republic and they were besieged as recently as 1991, when Serbian and Montenegrin forces attacked, as Yugoslavia broke apart. Fully restored now, the stone streets of the city take you through a beautiful mosaic of architectural splendour, baroque churches and splashing fountains.
Bathing in the Dalmatian Coast’s generous sunshine, and overlooking sparkling, island-studded waters, Split is a city of romantic beauty, built around an extraordinary – still beating – historical heart. The setting may be spectacular, but it’s the Diocletian’s Palace – a Roman remain of incredible scale and detail that is truly bewitching. While immensely historic, Split hasn’t been afraid to move with the times, and the stone walls encasing the streets are alive with buzzy bars and quiet nooks, where bottles of red wine are uncorked and delicious meals devoured. With a natural backdrop of dramatic limestone mountains, and Croatia’s trademark scenic wonders all around, Split is a true heavyweight of the Adriatic. To enter Split’s Diocletian’s Palace is to step into a beautiful time warp. Head first to the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, where a hollow bell tower rockets up, puncturing the sky.
Known by the Romans for its happy outlook, see the lighter side of life on the beautiful Adriatic island of Rab. Happy to keep its upbeat secrets to itself, the island’s charms were shared with the world when Edward VIII arrived to holiday and skinny-dip here, on an escape with his married lover. A highlight of the Kvarner Gulf, Rab is decorated with a spectacular contrast of cliffs, sandbars, dunes and pine forests, and the island is a protected geopark offering thrilling scenery for every taste. Characterful villages throw lavish fishing festivals and medieval celebrations, illuminating the island with summer feasts and cultural flavour. Dozens of beaches fringe this long thin island, whether you want shallow sand shelves or wild, bouldered coves. Watch beach sports, settle into beach bars or seek out isolated areas where the only soundtrack is the waves.
Losing none of its allure over the years, this floating city of canals, bridges and masks is a place of eternal beauty and enduring elegance. The lagoon of more than 100 islands is a heavenly sight, transporting visitors on a journey through time – from its Roman inception, through centuries of trade to the modern face we see today. Navigate Venice’s sparkling waterways by romantic gondola, or on cruises along wide canal boulevards. Span the Grand Canal over its iconic original crossing, the Rialto Bridge, which – with its parade of tiny shops – gives some of the city’s most endearing views. If the crowds unsettle you at any point, take two turns away from the main thoroughfares to find peace alone, amid the city’s labyrinth of tiny streets. Hurry to Piazza San Marco to be immersed in Venice’s elegant glory. Basilica San Marco transports you back to the wealthy days of the Doges, who ruled for over 1,000 years.
|Date||Price Per Person|
|27th July 2021 - 6th August 2021||£3,897|
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