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Formerly a sleepy Spanish city, Barcelona has recently been reborn as an eclectic fusion of the modern and medieval. Seek inspiration from the creations of its modernist architect, Antonio Gaudí, or the Picasso Museum. Or, take in the breathtaking cathedrals in the Gothic Quarter.
This island enclave is often described as a mini-Barcelona, with a Gothic feel that has overtaken centuries of Roman and Moorish culture. Visit El Baluard, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, which was built on the site of the remnants of the 16th century Bastio de Sant Pere, or shop for bargain pearls at the city’s many jewelers.
The distinct Italian accent you’ll find here is a remnant of the 2nd century B.C. Romans. Finding the climate and inland of what is now known as Provence so inviting, they stayed and Toulon didn’t become part of France until the 15th century.
La Spezia, Italy is a stunning town not far from some of Italy’s most famous cities like Pisa, Genoa and Florence. Historically, La Spezia was a prominent trade center during the Roman Empire. Today it remains not only one of Italy’s busiest port towns, but also home to the country’s largest naval base. As a stop on a Cinque Terre cruise, La Spezia is convenient, centrally located, and a little underrated.
The city is a major stop for a variety of Mediterranean cruises, and passengers often continue on to Ligurian cities like Cinque Terre, Pisa, or Genoa from La Spezia. Cinque Terre is merely a thirty minute westbound train from Stazione La Spezia Centrale, making it easy to explore the port of call and surrounding areas in a day or half-day excursion. Florence, too, is just two hours away—start your day on the coast of the Ligurian Sea and end the day looking up in awe at the Gothic-style Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
From the La Spezia cruise port, you’ll have a view of commercial and passenger ships coming and going from the port’s plentiful canals and inlets. Don’t miss views of the Apuan Alps and Cinque Terre to the west. On your Cinque Terre cruise, the opportunities are plentiful to explore inland cities and seaside towns alike.
Civitavecchia was settled in 108 A.D. by the Emperor Trajan and has since served faithfully as a gateway to the capital of the Empire—Rome. Once the center of the Ancient World from which emperors ruled over nearly all of western civilization, Rome is still a cultural mecca. Stroll the ancient halls of the Colosseum or gaze upon the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel.
Located on the southern coast of Italy, Naples has spectacular scenery that attracts artists from around the world. From this key spot, you can embark on a trip to the ruins of Pompeii or shop the many boutiques of Sorrento. You may work up an appetite for one of Naples’ greatest inventions – pizza – invented to honor the Queen of Italy in 1889.
Kotor offers some of the most well preserved architecture in all the Adriatic coast, with landmarks such as the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon. Built in 1166, there are frescoes dating back hundreds of years, and much of the gold and silver relief work done by the city’s master craftsmen of that time are held for safe keeping within its walls.
Lined with palm trees, this Adriatic seaside town is also a cultural mecca. Within the walls of the Diocletian Palace, you’ll discover historical buildings, numerous museums, the National Theatre and a collection of old churches. Culture, beauty, natural wonder – Split has it all.
One of the world’s most beautiful cities also happens to be one of its most unusual. Venice is actually spread over 120 islands in the Adriatic Sea. Because the city is connected by canals instead of streets, a good way to see Venice is on a romantic gondola ride. The epicenter of the city is St.Mark’s Square, where you’ll find the 900-year-old St. Mark’s Basilica.