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Above the city, looking out towards the blue Aegean, stands the Acropolis. Here lie the ruins of a culture 2,500 years old: the Propylaea; the Temple of Athena Nike; the Erechtheum temple, and, most famous of all, the Parthenon.
Meanwhile, modern Athens buzzes busily below, a city of chic restaurants, lively bazaars, sophisticated banking, historical museums, and the sights and smells of the Plaka district.
Situated near the site of ancient Sparta, the ancient castles and fortresses, faded palaces and narrow byways are more reminiscent of the city’s Byzantine and Venetian days.
Truly one of the world’s original great urban centers, the port city of Gythion was founded by the ancient Phoenicians prior to 400 B.C. Gracing the isolated southern edge of the Peloponnese, the city has a rich political and cultural heritage which is still in evidence today. The castle of Mistras, with its elaborate Byzantine frescos, carved throne and majestic cathedrals will impress even the most seasoned traveler. Or visit the beautiful Caves of Diros, with their incredible underground lakes and fossils dating back 2 million years.
This ancient city of cobblestone streets and friendly people is the gateway to the sunny island of Sicily, a mountainous and rugged place which remains in the shadow of its still-active volcano, Mt. Etna. In addition to its own enchanting landscape, Messina is the launching point for visits to the classical ruins at Taormina and the Church of the Black Madonna in Tindari.
This Mediterranean land has been depicted, described and immortalized in song by artists, poets and travelers from every period of history. Along the coast, rugged and inaccessible cliffs soar upwards between beautiful beaches, hidden caves, enchanting bays and sheltered coves. Whereas inland, the high plains, rolling hills and lofty mountains are seared by deep valleys to create a truly unique landscape in which man has also left a clear sign of his remarkable work: the more impervious areas have been modeled into the now-famous terraces, those huge steps descending into the sea on which man has planted vineyards and groves of orange, lemon and olive trees. There are the gardens of delight which exude an inebriating perfume of blossom in spring. The mild climate and predominantly fine weather all year round make the Sorrentine Penisula an ideal destination in any season. The first town in the Peninsula is Vico Equense with its Giusso Castle on the coast and the austere Mont Faito (1400 metres high) which allows you to pass from the sea to the mountain in just a few minutes. Next we find Meta di Sorrento , a town hidden in a maze of alleyways whose small hamlets and sun-drenched beaches are a must for visitors. Piano di Sorrento is a bustling town which harmoniously blends its sea-faring vocation with its rural identity and its role as a major shopping centre. The hill rising up behind the town is traversed by narrow roads flanked by high walls that enclose centuries-old orange and lemon groves.
Ponza is the largest island of the Italian Pontine Islands archipelago, located 33 km south of Cape Circeo in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is also the name of the commune of the island, a part of the province of Latina in the Lazio region.
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.
Gliding into the town of Portoferraio, 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.
The city dates from Roman times, when a base was set up at Biguglia to the south, beside a freshwater lagoon, or étang. Little remains of the former colony, but the site merits a day-trip for the well-preserved pair of Pisan churches at Marana, rising from the southern fringes of Poretta airport. Although Bastia began to thrive under the Genoese, when wine was exported to the Italian mainland from Porto Cardo, forerunner of Bastia’s Vieux Port, or Terra Vecchia.
The enigmatic beginnings of Christopher Columbus’s past has prompted rumors of his true birthplace. Calvi is the site of one of these rumors. This is not fully provable, but it reveals the local transmission of Mediterranean folklore. Spanish and Roman influences have long contributed to the fortification of this French port city. Calvi is located on the coast of L’ille Rousse on the island of Corsica. Corsica is positioned between Spain and Italy in very close proximity to Sardinia. Romans resided on the island during the neolithic period. The Citadelle of Calvi is the central point of town. This 15th century fortress served as military outpost, tower and protected the city from intercontinental attacks. It created a picturesque and sturdy lot for the restoration of the governor’s palace. Watch for brick walls, tunnels, and windy stairs throughout the city. The citadel is conveniently entered from rue Christopher Colomb, the main paved street in Calvi. Rue de Fil is a smaller side street off the quai Landry. It leads to the alleged birthplace of Christopher Columbus. Since Corsica was once a part of the Genoese empire, local authorities have rationalized Calvi as the potential, historical home of Columbus. In the course of visiting these historical attractions, you may incidentally become attracted to quai Landry. Quai Landry is the beachside main line of restaurants, shops, bars, and hotels. It connects the marina to the port along a beach walkway.
Mahón, or Maó, is the capital of the Spanish island of Menorca. It’s known for its British-style Georgian houses and sheltered harbor. Santa María Church, with an ornate 19th-century organ, sits on central Plaça de la Constitució. Next to the church, the city hall has a Renaissance facade and a clock donated by the island’s first British governor. The Menorca Museum displays art and exhibits on the island’s history.
Mallorca is an island of emerald mountains, turquoise seas, lemon and orange orchards, olive groves, and cedar-studded hills. In Palma, the capital, you’ll find a dramatic seafront cathedral to explore and leafy promenades to stroll. Visit the Arab Baths for a glimpse of the town’s Moorish past. Or simply enjoy the sun, sand, and sea that have beguiled celebrities, jet setters, and royal families for years.
Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, is known for its art and architecture. The fantastical Sagrada Família church and other modernist landmarks designed by Antoni Gaudí dot the city. Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró feature modern art by their namesakes. City history museum MUHBA, includes several Roman archaeological sites