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When you embark on a cruise to Rome with Holland America Line you experience its bustling modernism along with its rich history. You can walk in the footsteps of emperors, have coffee in Renaissance piazzas and see contemporary art all in one afternoon. Your sightseeing time in Rome begins at the nearby port of Civitavecchia, a seaside town with roots that stretch back to the Etruscan era. Take note of the Forte Michelangelo (both Bramante and Michelangelo had a hand in its design), and the lungomare, a lively stretch along the sea with beach clubs, bars and restaurants.
Once in the Eternal City you can fill your day with museums, churches, archaeological sites, traditional trattorias, artisan shops and, of course, gelato. The Colosseum and the Vatican Museums are Rome’s superstar attractions, but there are plenty of quieter gems to explore. For food lovers there are the markets in Campo de’ Fiori or the slightly farther flung Testaccio. The hip neighborhood of Monti, next to the Colosseum, has a vibrant piazza scene and boutique shopping, while the Villa Borghese offers a green oasis with a view towards Saint Peter’s Basilica and the masterpiece-filled Galleria Borghese. Although Rome might not have been built in one day, you’ll certainly be able to see its highlights on our Rome cruises along with the top things to do there in 24 hours.
Rising behind the wide curve of its bay with brooding Mount Vesuvius and the deep blue sea as a backdrop, Naples, Italy enjoys a magnificent natural setting. It is the third-largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan, and arguably the most colorful and seductive of them all: Splendor and squalor live side by side in 21st-century Naples, and the mix is intoxicating.
Cruise to Naples, home to world-class museums and attractions. Naples has something for everyone – superb restaurants, eclectic shopping, a thriving contemporary art scene and an edgy and vibrant street life. But once you’ve had enough of the pounding traffic and jostling crowds while sightseeing in Naples, there are endless opportunities for exploration further afield. The celebrated Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, both victims of Vesuvius’ devastating 79 C.E. eruption, lie just south of the city. Explore Naples’ history or take a short ride over to the island of Capri on a Naples shore excursion. The delightful town of Sorrento and the magnificent scenery of the Amalfi Coast are also within easy reach, and the dolce vita glamour of Capri—not to mention the healing thermal waters of Ischia—are a short hydrofoil hop from the mainland. Naples cruises offer a perfect mix of cultural and natural attractions.
Territory of the legendary Godfather, Sicily has hosted many film crews, and Palermo in particular is home to the Opera House where Al Pacino’s character met his Waterloo in the Godfather III. Also in Palermo are a Spanish church with a Moorish cloister and a cathedral whose electic facade speaks volumes about all those who came, saw and conquered. Enjoy it all as you would the caponata—sweet and tangy and, not surprisingly, delicious.
Stroll Tunis’ spirited medina where close-packed souks offer silver, perfumes, spices, carpets and other treasures at fire sale prices. Sharpen your haggling skills here—it’s anticipated! At the edge of the Sahara, the Phoenician city at Carthage now lies in windswept ruins, but once was the glorious rival of Rome.
Floating gemlike off Spain’s Mediterranean Riviera, these islands offer you pearls, pottery and perfectly sublime sandy beaches. Visit Valldemosa, where George Sand and Frederic Chopin spent a romantic winter in 1838.
Famous for paella at Pepica’s, favorite of Ernest Hemingway when he came to Valencia for bullfight festivals. Overlooking the Gulf of Valencia and the Balearic Islands, this Spanish jewel blends ancient and new in its historic center, where the Barrio del Carmen neighborhood uses the old walls of the city in its more modern structures. Walk the cobblestone streets to the chic Colon Street, home to local boutiques-or take in the sublime views from Las Arenas beach or one of the many delightful plazas. Sample shore excursions: Valencia City Tour.
On the northeast coast of Spain, overlooking the Mediterranean, Barcelona is a vibrant port city, packed with centuries of iconic art and architecture—Gaudí and Picasso both called it home—and lined with sunny white-sand beaches. Explore the Catalan capital’s tourist attractions and historic neighborhoods, Modernisme and world-renowned art museums, galleries and local crafts shops—some of which are centuries old and stock traditional Catalan wares. After you see the sights, there are lively tapas bars around every corner where you can stop for a drink, a café amb llet (Catalan for espresso with steamed milk) or a snack, no matter the hour. Green spaces for picnics, long walks and respite from the hustle and bustle are scattered throughout Barcelona’s attractions: There’s Gaudí’s mosaic-decorated park, a neoclassical maze at the Laberint d’Horta, as well as plenty of high places (mountains, monuments and edifices) where sightseeing visitors can take in the view. A short trip from Barcelona by car or train, luxury outlets, cava wineries, a mountaintop abbey and the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean coast await.