Arrival in Athens. Our hotel in Athens is located at the foot of the Acropolis in the beautiful Plaka. We leisurely explore the old city’s ancient streets and visit the Agora where Socrates taught and democracy was born. In the morning of Day 3, we ascend the Acropolis to visit what many art historians believe to be the most perfect building in the western world— the Parthenon! After, we descend to visit the new Acropolis museum. In the evening we dine in the midst of the Plaka.
We board our ship for a cruise of the Aegean! Ports-of-call for this three-day cruise include: the island of Mykonos; the ancient ruins of Ephesus on the coast of Turkey; the island of Patmos; the island of Crete where we will be guided through the labyrinth that once confined the minotaur; and, Santorini, an island that many of us think to be the most beautiful of all.
Our flight from Athens takes us to beautiful Italy!
Sorrento has been a resort destination since the time of Caesar. Our hotel, Hotel del Corso, is located in downtown Sorrento where all the best shopping and restaurants are located, but our first morning will be a trip back in time to the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, frozen in time by the eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. Travelers are free to explore the Bay of Naples on our 2nd day. Some will choose to visit the many beaches of the Bay; others will enter the famous Blue Lagoon when they visit the Isle of Capri; and, still others will want to explore and shop their way through picturesque Positano and Amalfi.
Our home in Tuscany will be with Massimo Ravalli, his wife Susanna and daughter Sara at their country estate, Le Boscarecce. Here, you may choose to lounge by the pool or be adventurous and visit nearby Florence, San Gimignano, Sienna, or Lucca. Susanna can arrange guided tours of the Chianti wine region. Venice (Optional Trip) is the original unique city — anywhere. Travelers who purchase this optional trip have time to visit the extravagant St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace, shop for glass and masks before taking gondola rides through the picturesque canals.
Italy’s excellent high-speed rail will whisk us from the Bay of Naples to the heart of an empire— Rome! Our first full day together in the Eternal City begins with a walk through the streets and alleys of the Renaissance neighborhood, exiting into the ruins of ancient Rome. A stone-by-stone tour of the Roman Forum that follows the footsteps of Julius and Augustus, Cleopatra, Peter and Paul ends in a visit to the unforgettable Colosseum. The afternoon is dedicated to travelers tossing coins into Trevi Fountain and mingling with the crowds on the Spanish Steps. Day 16 is our opportunity to visit the seat of Catholicism when we enter Vatican City— St. Peter’s Basilica and Square. A tour of the Vatican museums includes the history of sculpture in the Western world, the School of Athens by Raphael and a prolonged visit to Michelangelo’s heavenly frescos in the Sistine Chapel.