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Leave Monte Carlo, to see the Ionian and Adriatic waters mingling at Santa Maria di Leuca - where exquisite natural caves arch over glowing turquoise waters. You’ll also drop in on Corsica and Sardinia - and see the godfather of Italian destinations at Sicily - before this luxurious jaunt comes to a fitting climax on the otherworldly waterways, and charming backstreets of Venice.
Sunday July 08
On one of the best stretches of the Mediterranean, this classic luxury destination is one of the most sought-after addresses in the world. With all the high-rise towers you have to look hard to find the Belle Époque grace of yesteryear. But if you head to the town's great 1864 landmark Hôtel de Paris—still a veritable crossroads of the buffed and befurred Euro-gentry—or enjoy a grand bouffe at its famous Louis XV restaurant, or attend the opera, or visit the ballrooms of the casino, you may still be able to conjure up Monaco's elegant past. Prince Albert II, a political science graduate from Amherst College, traces his ancestry to Otto Canella, who was born in 1070.
Monday July 09
Livorno is a gritty city with a long and interesting history. In the early Middle Ages it alternately belonged to Pisa and Genoa. In 1421 Florence, seeking access to the sea, bought it. Cosimo I (1519–74) started construction of the harbor in 1571, putting Livorno on the map. After Ferdinando I de' Medici (1549–1609) proclaimed Livorno a free city, it became a haven for people suffering from religious persecution; Roman Catholics from England and Jews and Moors from Spain and Portugal, among others, settled here. The Quattro Mori (Four Moors), also known as the Monument to Ferdinando I, commemorates this. (The statue of Ferdinando I dates from 1595, the bronze Moors by Pietro Tacca from the 1620s.
Tuesday July 10
Set on a hillock overlooking a beautiful deep blue bay, Porto Vecchio, 15 miles (25km) north of Bonifacio, was rated by Scottish author James Boswell as one of "the most distinguished harbours in Europe". It was founded in 1539 as a second Genoese stronghold on the east coast, Bastia being well established in the north. The site was perfect; close to the unexploited and fertile plain, it benefited from secure high land and a sheltered harbour, although the mosquito population spread malaria and wiped out the first Ligurian settlers within months. Things began to take off mainly thanks to the cork industry, which still thrived well into the twentieth century.
Wednesday July 11
Amid the resorts of Sardinia's northeastern coast, Olbia, a town of about 60,000, is a lively little seaport and port of call for mainland ferries at the head of a long, wide bay.San SimplicioOlbia's little Catholic basilica, a short walk behind the main Corso Umberto and past the train station, is worth searching out if you have any spare time in Olbia. The simple granite structure dates from the 11th century, part of the great Pisan church-building program, using pillars and columns recycled from Roman buildings. The basilica has a bare, somewhat somber interior, its three naves separated by a series of arches.
Day At Sea
Thursday July 12
While you are at sea, enjoy wine tastings, designer boutiques, language and dance classes. Take in a matinee movie, check the market or slip away with a novel from the library to a sunny chaise or with a movie to your suite. Or just take in the sun pool side. The choice is yours.
Friday July 13
The medieval cliff-hanging town of Taormina is overrun with tourists, yet its natural beauty is still hard to dispute. The view of the sea and Mt. Etna from its jagged cactus-covered cliffs is as close to perfection as a panorama can get—especially on clear days, when the snowcapped volcano's white puffs of smoke rise against the blue sky. Writers have extolled Taormina's beauty almost since it was founded in the 6th century BC by Greeks from nearby Naxos; Goethe and D. H. Lawrence were among its well-known enthusiasts. The town's boutique-lined main streets get old pretty quickly, but the many hiking paths that wind through the beautiful hills surrounding Taormina promise a timeless alternative.
Santa Maria Di Leuca
Saturday July 14
An ordered line of palm trees watches out over the shimmering waves along the huge seafront promenade of appealing Santa Maria de Leuca. Sitting at the tip of the jutting heel of the Salento peninsular, which stretches out into the Adriatic towards Albania, the mighty lighthouse, which towers 102 metres over the waves, is one of the most important in Italy, and it keeps a watchful eye over the narrowing sea pass here. Ascend high above the picturesque harbour, to the monumental lighthouse that soars 47 metres upwards, into the bright blue sky. It’s still functioning, despite having been erected all the way back in 1864.
Sunday July 15
Dubrovnik is one of the world's most beautiful fortified cities. Its massive stone ramparts and splendid fortress towers curve around a tiny harbor, enclosing graduated ridges of sun-bleached orange-tiled roofs, copper domes, and elegant bell towers. In the 7th century AD, residents of the Roman city Epidaurum (now Cavtat) fled the Avars and Slavs of the north and founded a new settlement on a small rocky island, which they named Laus, and later Ragusa. On the mainland hillside opposite the island, the Slav settlement called Dubrovnik grew up. In the 12th century the narrow channel separating the two settlements was filled in, and Ragusa and Dubrovnik became one.
Monday 16 - Tuesday 17 July
Venice is a city unlike any other. No matter how often you've seen it in photos and films, the real thing is more dreamlike than you could imagine. With canals where streets should be, water shimmers everywhere. The fabulous palaces and churches reflect centuries of history in what was a wealthy trading center between Europe and the Orient. Getting lost in the narrow alleyways is a quintessential part of exploring Venice, but at some point you'll almost surely end up in Piazza San Marco, where tourists and locals congregate for a coffee or an aperitif. .