13 Days, from Antibes to Palermo
Be seduced by the charm of the Italian Riviera, discover the wonders of Rome, island-hop through rugged wonders and live the highlife in Sicily on this sweeping 13-day itinerary. Charterers can experience the incredibly varied landscapes, cultures and historical riches of the West Mediterranean, from the hotspots of Porto Fino and Palermo to under-the-radar gems such as the Pontine and Aeolian Islands.
Spend the afternoon anchored off the glorious beach at Ramatuelle. You could take the tender ashore for a late lunch; Club Cinquante Cinq is still widely regarded as the best. In the evening, Josephs is a good choice should you decide to enjoy dinner ashore. Overnight cruise to Portofino.
Originally a small fishing village shaded by eucalyptus and olive trees, Portofino has become a sunny and relaxing paradise on the Ligurian Riviera.
The exquisite swimming cove at Paraggi is just around the corner and from the summit of Monte Portofino are stunning panoramic views across the Mediterranean, reaching as far as the mountains of Corsica. Cocktails at the famous Hotel Splendido overlooking the harbour are a must.
Day 3Cinque Terre
Wake up anchored close to the Cinque Terre, five incredibly beautiful secluded villages surrounded by spectacular scenery and tranquil beaches. They are inaccessible by road and so take a tender ashore and explore.
Riomaggiore boasts topsy-turvy pastel houses. Manarola is perched majestically on a rock and backed by terraced vineyards. Climb the winding stairs at Corniglia, and sit back to enjoy lunch and a bottle of the local white wine whilst overlooking the spectacular views. Vernazza is the prettiest of all, and a typical Italian Riviera fishing village sitting in a rocky cove of dark rocks with brightly coloured houses, whilst Monterosso Al Mare’s cobbled streets are the busiest, with many restaurants tucked away down winding streets.
Day 4Forte Dei Marmi
In the last century, Forte dei Marmi has become a world- famous tourist resort and, maintaining its respect for nature, part of its original environment has successfully been transformed into delightful gardens and meadows with secluded villas surrounded by greenery.
In the countryside surrounding Forte dei Marmi there is an architectural, historical and cultural heritage to be discovered, charming villages are nestled in the numerous valleys or perched atop tumbling hills, and the beauty of alpine pastures can be enjoyed on the scenic Apuan Alps.
Day 5Porto Ercole & Island of Giglio
This pretty seaside resort is one of the most famous in Tuscany and is one of the two main towns on Argentario.
The fortresses of La Rocca, Filippo, Santa Carolina and Stella, which dominate the hillside above the small natural harbour, are reminders of times when the town was controlled by the Spanish in the 16th century. Porto Ercole is a place associated with pleasure, good food, boats and relaxation. The historic centre of Porto Ercole can be reached through the Porta of Sienese, origin surmounted by a clock tower on which one can read the plate commemorating the great painter Michelangelo Merisi – “Caravaggio” – who died in Porto Ercole in 1610.
The neighbouring island of Giglio is only a short distance away. Offshore the conditions are perfect for watersports. Step ashore via the harbour of Giglio Porto and walk up through the vineyards to the medieval town of Castello.
Rome, with more than 2,000 years of history, has one of the biggest cultural heritages in the world, from the time of the Roman Empire through the Renaissance and Baroque eras to the present day. Rome is a fascinating city. You should visit the Coliseum constructed in 80 AD and which could hold more than 50,000 spectators, as well as the smallest state in the world, the Vatican.
Rome’s fantastic piazzas are ideal spots to blend in and experience the everyday Rome life. Piazza di Spagna, at the foot of Spanish Steps is perhaps the most popular. Its beauty is further enhanced by Bernini’s boat-shaped Barcaccia fountain. The stunning Piazza Navona was built on the ruins of Domitian’s stadium. It’s lined with baroque palaces and holds three fountains, including Bernini’s Fountain of the Rivers. Among other must-sees are Piazza Barbeni, Piazza Venezia and The Campo dei Fiori.
Day 7Ponza, Pontine Islands & Santo Stefano - Ventotene
Ponza is one of the Pontine Islands - or Ponza Islands - a volcanic island group located off the coast just to the north of Naples in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Although still relatively quiet, Ponza is the largest and most developed Pontine Island, and a perfect place for a day’s relaxation. The island is a popular summer resort, and boasts beaches, bays and snorkelling opportunities. The water is remarkably clear, and in the treacherous shallows of the Secca dei Mattom, between the islands of Ponza and Palmarola, archaeologists have uncovered a number of wrecks of Roman galleys dating from the Republican Period. Other sites of interest include the San Silverio church and Governor’s Palace. Stop off on the north side of the island and have dinner at Da Paolino.
After lifting anchor, explore the other islands of the Pontine archipelago. These sunny islands offer a playground of sparkling turquoise waters, secluded beaches, tiny vineyards and an uncommon serenity. In the morning, anchor off Santo Stefano – associated with the former prison which has long since closed. The circular building was built by architect Carpi in 1794-95 and, out of curiosity, you can visit the prison if you wish. In the afternoon, visit neighbouring Ventotene, only half a mile away. A walk around Ventotene is worth the effort, especially for nature lovers. Starting at Eolo Point, stroll to Cala Rossano beach with its caves and tiny harbour and on to the ancient Roman harbour. This is a curious island of tiny fishing villages with pink, blue and white houses. The island’s sparkling waters are perfect for an afternoon swim.
Visit the fascinating ancient city of Pompeii buried under volcanic ash by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, which was rediscovered in the 18th century with many treasures still intact.
Naples (Napoli, Campania) is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. It has a great bay with nice views of Capri and Ischia and, from here, you can visit Pompeii and Herculaneum both buried by Mont Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 AD. Visit the old district of Naples, where you’ll see the more typical sights of this city and the Santa Maria Donnaregina cathedral, constructed over an old Paleochristian church in the 13th century.
Spend the day exploring the island of Ischia. There are some great beaches, including Ischia Porto, Forio and Maronti. Visit Citara beach at Soccorso, a steep promontory watched over by a little white chapel. Sant’Angelo is an ancient, tiny fishing village on a rocky peninsula, which is now dedicated to a tranquil and very private retreat for the elite.
If you want to explore, visit Serrara Fontana and then climb up to the summit of Monte Epomeo. Barano d’Ischia has some ancient settlements and geological formations. Lacco Ameno is a cosmopolitan spa town famous for the steamy cave of San Lorenzo. You will also see the 10-metre-high green ‘mushroom’ rock believed to have fallen from the volcano. Forio has the most beautiful sandy beaches and vineyards, and the old town is well preserved. In the 1950s Forio became a magnet for the jet set following visits from the likes of Tennessee Williams and Capote Liz.
Capri is a beautiful island covered by trees and surrounded by a coastline of dramatic cliffs. The island is six kilometres long and three kilometers wide, and is located off the city Sorrento on the mainlaind.
Capri is famous for its sophisticated guests, its spectacular natural scenery and the pedigree of its architecture. The upper town is very picturesque and home to many luxury shops and hotels. The views afforded by walking along the cliffs are exceptional and it's possible to enter the gardens of the famous old villas. The beauty of the place itself explains why it has been a popular holiday destination since the time of Tiberius.
Capri also has a fabulous range of evening entertainment. It is recommended to take a walk through the narrow whitewashed streets to enjoy the sunset and tranquillity, and then walk back to the Piazzetta in the centre of the city. For lunch, try out the Capri Palace Hotel, which is set in a fabulous location and serves exceptional food.
Day 11Stromboli & Lipari Islands
Panarea is the destination highlight for most who visit the Aeolian Islands. It has beautiful old towns, with narrow cobbled streets, small shops, cafés and white-washed flat roofed villas. There are thermal springs near the village of Punta di Peppe e Maria and scuba diving is a popular excursion on this tiny island. You can even swim to a shipwreck between the off-shore rocks of Lisca Bianca and Bottaro.
Lipari is the largest of the islands and its historic citadel provides an uninterrupted record of inhabitants from Neolithic times. The island is characterised by extensive acropolis, deep grottos, delightful beaches, small inlets and bays, perforated rocks and steep wild cliffs. Lipari is also renowned for its pumice stone. The island is visually spectacular, with its rumbling volcano, and there are also cultural treasures in a 16th century castle and a 17th century cathedral perched above the harbour. Lipari provides an excellent café culture to take in the Mediterranean atmosphere, as well as stunning sunsets that can light up the cliffs.
Cefalù is a medieval town and one of the loveliest resorts along the Tyrrhenian Coast in Sicily.
The Temple of Diana on a mountain overlooking the town is said to be one of the oldest buildings still standing in Sicily. Climb to the summit of the mountain that backs the town; viewed at night from the coast to the west, the illuminated mountain and cathedral make for an inspiring site. There are some good restaurants in the town centre and near the beach, which offer seafood and other local specialities, and a number of pizzerias.
Palermo is Sicily’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, offering great dining as well as excellent shopping.
Try the restaurants up the side streets instead of those near the port, which tend to be rather touristy, and there are also some good places to dine on the sides of the Piazza Marina. Hop ashore and explore a range of attractions, including La Martorana Church, the San Cataldo, the cathedral, the Royal Palace, the Archeological Museum and the Galleria Regionale della Sicilia. The shopping in Palermo is also something not to be missed, especially the market.