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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. Take a tour to learn details of the grisly goings-on within. The best way to experience Rome is to wander its streets, gelato in hand. There is a lot to see here – whether it’s the domed spectacle of the Pantheon, or the elaborate flowing waters and artistry of the Trevi Fountain. Vatican City is an astonishing, colossal display of Catholic grandeur, while the Spanish Steps – crowned by the Trinità dei Monti church – offer a beautiful spot to gather and soak up the lively atmosphere of this humming city. With so much on the to-do list, you’ll relish the breaks you take, enjoying simple pleasures like a strong espresso, or fresh pasta with tomato sauce and ripped basil.
A summer escape for Rome’s historic elite, the stacked waterfront of Porto Santo Stefano is a secluded taste of idyllic southern Tuscany. Physically closer to Rome than Florence, the city is strung to Italy’s western coast by two sandy harnesses, and sits on the unqiue peninsula of Monte Argentario – which was once an island. Flamboyant pink flamingos and herons stroll through the encased lagoon, while Porto Santo Stefano’s waterfront hums with clinking cafes and strolling visitors. View less
The luxury yachts in the harbour show that Porto Santo Stefano has lost none of its luxury appeals, and with beaches, wild hikes and waterfront beauty, it continues to lure visitors to this secluded escape. Known for its fishing and cuisine – which is based around heavy use of the Tyrrhenian Sea’s juicy bounty. Stroll to Piazza dei Rioni for a dripping lemon gelato, or wander the streets noticing the lingering World War II damage – the city was heavily bombed during the conflict. Fortunately, the historic, star-shaped, Spanish fort was spared, and it still watches out resolutely over the waters. Built during the Napoleonic Wars, it fortified the exposed town against pirate raids, and offers beautiful views over the old town’s terracotta roofs. Rugged coastline falls to secluded beaches, with a wilder, unkempt charm. Sail the coves – seeing cascading olive groves – or island-hop to Giglio and Giannuti, which lie 12 miles from shore, and can be seen from the monastery topped Argentario mountain. On the other side of the promontory, you’ll find Porto Ercole – where the lifeless body of the Old Master, Caravaggio, was discovered.
The Island of Elba is probably best known as one of the places where Napoleon spent time in exile. Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Elba is the largest island of the Tuscan archipelago. Its considerable deposits of high-quality iron ore were already mined by the Etruscans, which enabled them to assert their dominance in Italy. Later, the mines were worked by the Romans. In fact, the name of Elba’s capital means “iron port,” testifying to the island’s important resource.
Encircled by dramatic medieval walls, which rise abruptly from deep-blue waters, Alghero’s defences shelter one of Sardinia’s largest and most spectacular old towns. Uneven cobbled streets, rich history and a fiery Catalan flare provide a real depth of character, and the Coral Riviera’s pristine beaches, which stretch out nearby, help to make Alghero a real highlight of Sardinia. Alghero has changed hands numerous times over its tempestuous history, but it’s the Catalan influence that you’ll feel most acutely, as you explore.
It was the Catalans who upgraded the defensive ramparts of the ‘Sardinian Barcelonetta’ into the spectacular, imposing fortress we see today, enclosing the old town’s evocative knot of narrow streets and rose-gold-coloured masonry. Wander the streets at your leisure, enjoying the cooling shade of the tight, cobblestone streets with lemon-gelato in hand, or enjoying fresh tuna steak at the bustling La Boqueria market. Alghero Cathedral is hidden amid the labyrinth of narrow streets, but it’s the distinctive Baroque-dome of Chiesa di San Michele that you’ll immediately notice peeking ostentatiously over the terracotta roofs of the old town, flaunting its rainbow-coloured patterning. Plush restaurants revel in Alghero’s historical collision of cultures and produce delicious fare like plump clams tangled in tagliatelle, and succulent porcetto pork – slowly roasted to perfection in smoky wood ovens. Wash it down with mirto, a crushed berry liqueur, or sample the fruits of local vineyards, with a platter of Sardinia’s renowned pecorino sheep’s cheese. The city dominates Sardinia’s Coral Riviera – so named because of the red coral found here that’s been used for jewellery since Roman times. Lie back and listen to the waves washing ashore at Spiaggia di Maria Pia beach, breathing in the smell of pine-needles on the breeze.
Ajaccio is Corsica’s largest town. As such, it retains the image of a typical French Mediterranean resort – palm trees, street cafés and a marina full of yachts from around the world. Set in a magnificent bay with a shadowy mountain range as a scenic backdrop, its first image is of yellow-toned buildings and a majestic citadel.
Ajaccio also serves as a popular departure point for trips into Corsica’s rugged interior
Le Lavandou is a commune in the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. It derives its name either from the flower lavender that is prevalent in the area, or more prosaically from the local form of the Occitan name for lavoir, lavandor
Today, Marseille is the country’s most important seaport and the largest one in the Mediterranean. The city is divided into 16 arrondissements fanning out from the Old Port. The large industrial port area virtually rubs shoulders with the intimate, picturesque old harbor, the Vieux Port. Packed with fishing boats and pleasure crafts, this is the heart of Marseille. Two fortresses guard the entrance to the harbor: Fort Saint Nicolas and, across the water, Fort Saint Jean.
Surrounded by the Côte d’Azur and the Ligurian Alps, this charming town full of mystery first appeared in the 12th century. At this time Menton belonged to the Vento family of Genoa.
In 1346, Menton was under ownership of Charles Grimaldi, Lord of Monaco. From hence, Menton’s history became intertwined with that of the principality of Monaco. In 1848, Menton broke away from the principality and proclaimed itself a free city under the protection of Sarde. Menton chose to become part of France in 1860 and Charles III of Monaco released all rights of the city to Emperor Napoléon III. Menton became part of the Alps-Maritimes department.
The small village of Villefranche, with its prominent citadel, colorful buildings, fishing boats and old town, has managed to retain much of its original charm. Visitors enjoy strolling along the waterfront and climbing the narrow streets to the upper town.
Located behind the sheltering promontory of Cap Ferrat, the pretty village offers easy access to many sites of the French Riviera.The enclave of Monaco is a short drive to the east, while Nice and Cannes lie to the west. Each can be reached by the Lower Corniche, Middle Corniche or Grand Corniche, the Riviera’s three major scenic roads.
In Monaco, the celebrated Monte Carlo Casino is no longer exclusively patronized by ladies and gentlemen in formal dress; it has adapted to the modern age with a new relaxed atmosphere including a room full of slot machines. The famed Hotel de Paris, however, retains its grand and elegant air. In Nice, department stores and specialty shops offer luxury French merchandise.
Nice, often called the Queen of the Riviera, is a delightful city that is fashionable yet relaxed and fun. Sprawling over an extensive area, Nice comprises a wonderful blend of old and new. The old town is one of the delights of the Riviera. Narrow streets and winding alleys are lined with faded 17th- and 18th-century buildings, where families sell crafts and produce. The Italian façades of modern Nice and the exuberant, early 20th-century residences, which made the city one of Europe’s fashionable winter retreats, remain intact. Although not blessed with the best beaches, its pebbled sands continue to attract scores of visitors every year.
Adding to the city’s attractions are relics of its ancient past. Greek seafarers founded Nice around 350 BC. The Romans took control 196 years later, settling farther uphill in the area that is now Cimiez. By the 10th century, Nice was ruled by the Counts of Provence and in the 14th century fell to the House of Savoy. Although the French occupied Nice for short periods during the 18th and 19th centuries, the city did not become a definitive part of France until 1860 when Napoleon III made a deal with the House of Savoy. Nice grew in popularity during the Victorian period when the English aristocracy favored it as a winter retreat because of the mild climate.
Backed by scenic mountains, the city is generally divided into the Old Town and modern Nice. The look of the old town has changed little since the 1700s. Its colorful flower market should not be missed. The celebrated, palm-lined Promenade des Anglais follows the gently curved beachfront for about three miles and visitors as well as residents enjoy strolling along its path. Everything costs more along this famed strip; expensive shops, restaurants and art galleries blend with more modest establishments. The showpiece of the Promenade des Anglais is the palatial Hotel Negresco.
North of the Old Town, the stately Place Massena is the main hub of Nice. The square is surrounded by neo-classical, arcaded buildings painted in shades of ochre and red. The central part of the city contains fine restaurants and hotels and is particularly known for its pedestrian zone with many boutiques of well-known designers. North of the city center is the posh suburb of Cimiez, where several museums are located.
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