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Mention Spain and the images that inevitably spring to mind are images of Andalusia – shadows falling across the bullring, the staccato rhythms of flamenco, the waft of orange blossoms from a Moorish garden. Cadiz is your gateway to this storied land and the city of Seville. Visit Seville’s massive Alcazar fortress, modeled on the legendary Alhambra Palace of Granada. See the city’s cathedral, a 15th-century Gothic masterwork that boasts a Moorish patio, fountain and minaret. Seville is also the legendary home of Don Juan, Bizet’s Carmen and Rossini’s Barber of Seville.
Cadiz is one’s of Europe’s oldest inhabited cities, dating from 1100 B.C., and your gateway to Seville and Andalusia.
The 1992 Summer Olympics revealed to the world what Europeans and seasoned travelers already knew – Barcelona is one of the world’s greatest treasures. Vibrant and earthy, commercial and cultural, this city of two million residents is the capital of Spain’s autonomous region of Catalonia. Stroll along the wide, tree-lined promenades of Las Ramblas and marvel at the spires of Gaudi’s Basilica La Sagrada Familia. Or visit the former Olympic Ring on the hill of Montjuic – also home to world-class parks, fountains and museums. Barcelona, which nurtured such artistic giants as Picasso, Dali, Miro and Casals, is definitely a traveler’s paradise.
The largest port on the Mediterranean, Marseille is France’s second largest city and a virtual melting pot of peoples and cultures. It is also a place of striking contrasts, from the fishing boats and pleasure craft of the picturesque Vieux Port to the modern Canebiere. Dominating the harbor is the infamous Chateau d’If, the rocky prison from which Alexandre Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo escaped. Marseille is also your gateway to Provence. Explore the countryside around Arles and Avignon, immortalized in the canvases of Van Gogh, Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso.
Livorno is the gateway to glorious Tuscany. Visit Florence – the cradle of the Renaissance – home to the Duomo, the Uffizi and the Ponte Vecchio. Here the Medici fostered a city-state whose cultural legacy is as great as classical Athens. Giants like Dante, Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Galileo infused the West with a new creative spirit. Then there is Pisa, Florence’s rival for political power. Pisa, a brash, commercial seafaring town rivaled the great maritime powers of Venice and Genoa. The city was a leader in art and architecture second only to Florence.
Your gateway to the Eternal City, Civitavecchia has served as Rome’s seaport since the 13th century. The port has a long and venerable history. The emperor Trajan built a pleasure villa near the modern city, while Bernini and Michelangelo designed the harbor fortifications.
Yet the Eternal City eternally beckons. The ancient capital of the Western World and the center of Christianity for nearly 2,000 years, Rome provides an inexhaustible feast. Visit the ruins of the Forum, view the splendors of the Sistine Chapel, or climb the Spanish Steps, once the heart of Rome’s Bohemian Quarter.
Rome has been a magnet luring the world’s greatest artists, architects, and philosophers since the days of the Caesars.
Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean. Like its neighbor Corsica, Sardinia boasts a dramatic coastline, superb small harbors and beaches that draw visitors from around the world. Gaunt hills crowned with granite outcropping take up most of the island interior, though the landscape is broken by vineyards and groves of olive trees and cork oaks. The island’s harsh beauty is counterpointed by its rich culture – the island boasts extensive prehistoric ruins, fine Pisan churches and medieval walled towns.
For centuries, Italian city-states and Spain vied for control of Sardinia. The old port of Alghero has a distinctive Catalan feel – it was known as “Little Barcelona.” The Albi Palace was a residence for the Spanish viceroys who governed Sardinia.
Alghero is an anchorage port. Passengers transfer to shore via ship’s tender.
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory and headland, on Spain’s south coast. It’s dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar, a 426m-high limestone ridge. First settled by the Moors in the Middle Ages and later ruled by Spain, the outpost was ceded to the British in 1713.