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Genoa is marvellously eclectic, vibrant and full of rough-edged style; it’s a great cruise excursion.
Indeed “La Superba” (The Superb), as it was known at the height of its authority as a Mediterranean superpower, boasts more zest and intrigue than all the surrounding coastal resorts put together.
During a holiday to Genoa you can explore its old town: a dense and fascinating warren of medieval alleyways home to large palazzi built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by Genoa’s wealthy mercantile families and now transformed into museums and art galleries. You should seek out the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, the Palazzo Ducale, and the Renaissance palaces of Via Garibaldi which contain the cream of Genoa’s art collections, as well as furniture and decor from the grandest days of the city’s past, when its ships sailed to all corners of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Acquario di Genova is the city’s pride and joy, parked like a giant ocean liner on the waterfront, with seventy tanks housing sea creatures from all the world’s major habitats, including the world’s biggest reconstruction of a Caribbean coral reef. It’s a great aquarium by any standards, the second largest in Europe by capacity, and boasts a fashionably ecology-conscious slant and excellent background information in Italian and English.
Just 35 km south of Genoa, there’s no denying the appeal of Portofino, tucked into a protected inlet surrounded by lush cypress- and olive-clad slopes. It’s an A-list resort that has been attracting high-flying bankers, celebs and their hangers-on for years, as evidenced by the flotillas of giant yachts usually anchored just outside. It’s a tiny place that is attractive yet somehow off-putting at the same time, with a quota of fancy shops, bars and restaurants for a place twice its size.
Naples is a large, sprawling Mediterranean port, with a centre that has many different focuses just waiting to be discovered on an MSC Mediterranean cruise excursion.
No trip to Naples is complete without visiting the area between Piazza Garibaldi and Via Toledo, roughly corresponding to the old Roman Neapolis (much of which is still unexcavated like in many other Italian cities).
The old part of Naples – the centro storico – is formed by the main streets of Via dei Tribunali and Via San Biagio dei Librai (the latter also known as “Spaccanapoli” as it literally splits Naples in two), which still follow the path of the ancient Roman roads. This is much the liveliest and most teeming part of Naples, an open-air kasbah of hawking, yelling humanity that makes up in energy what it lacks in grace. But it’s the city’s most intriguing quarter, and a must-see on any cruise to Naples. The Duomo is a Gothic building from the early thirteenth century (though with a late nineteenth-century neo-Gothic facade) dedicated to the patron saint of the city, San Gennaro.
MSC Mediterranean cruises also offer excursions to Pompeii. One of Campania’s most important Roman commercial centres – a moneyed resort for wealthy patricians and a trading town that exported wine and fish – the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 in effect froze the town’s way of life as it stood at the time.
Trips can also be taken to the island of Capri, place of legend, home to the mythical Sirens and a much-eulogized playground of the super-rich in the years since – though now it has settled down to a lucrative existence as a target for day-trippers from the mainland.
Definitely worth a visit, but these days the origins of much of the purple prose may be hard to find.
The resort island of Corfu, an MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination, is renowned for its rocky mountains, beautiful beaches, and utterly romantic atmosphere.
It’s capital city, also named Corfu, is one of the ancient jewels of Greece. Here you’ll find a Venetian fortress and a UNESCO World Heritage old town boasting winding lanes, bustling bars, towering houses, and heavenly gardens. Discover ancient remains from eras past, scattered throughout the island.
The city of Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located on the southern coast of Croatia, overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
This MSC Mediterranean Cruises destination boasts a treasure trove of sights including a 16th-century old town and romantic limestone streets. See Gothic-Renaissance Rector’s Palace or wander along the city’s ancient clifftop walls. Further afield, you’ll find a host of natural wonders including some of the most enchanting caves in the world.
If you are looking for elegance and culture, the ideal destination is Trieste. An MSC Mediterranean Cruise will take you to the old cafés where you can relive the same atmosphere that inspired many writers, among the Art Nouveau and Neoclassical palaces, or along the Grand Canal.
Your MSC Cruise will take you to the “little Vienna on the sea” which is now one of the largest ports in Italy for freight traffic, one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the peninsula. A meeting of peoples, languages and religions that magnify the city’s Central European, Slav and Mediterranean soul.
One of the MSC Excursions will guide you to visit The Castle of Miramare, residence of Maximilian of Hapsburg and Charlotte of Belgium. A desirable palace for its view of the Gulf of Trieste and unique elegance of the furnishings still visible of the apartments, on the spouses’ ground floor and the guests’ first floor. Built between 1856 and 1860, it contains a small castle used by the married couple during the construction works in the magnificent richly scented park that surrounds it.
Another MSC Excursion will take you to visit the Roman amphitheatre at the foot of the Colle di San Giusto, set among the modern buildings of Trieste, a city with an ancient history. Constructed around the end of the 1st century, it was only brought to light in 1938. Interestingly, it once overlooked the sea.
Everything in Trieste faces the sea including Piazza Unità d’Italia, the Piazza Grande, the destination of an MSC Excursion. Strolling along this large rectangle framed on three sides by the city’s most famous buildings and the renowned Caffè degli Specchi, stopping under the column of the Statue of Charles VI and idling in front of the Fountain of the Four Continents, are experiences crowned by the view of the sea on the fourth side.
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