14 Days, from Monaco to Ajaccio
The west coast of Italy and the French island of Corsica are both renowned for boasting incredibly beautiful coastlines but, below the water, are a plethora of incredible dive sites. Embark on this two-week itinerary and discover the fascinating underwater world of the Mediterranean. This is a must for those wanting to combine scuba diving with the allure of Italy’s most picturesque coastline and the unforgettable rugged beauty of Corsica.
Day 1Monaco - Portofino
The tiny old fishing village, which has been transformed into a playground for the rich and famous, has not lost its charm. The busy harbour overlooking an azure sea is dotted with palm trees and backed by the tranquil Italian countryside.
Day 2Portofino - Cinque 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, so take a tender ashore and explore Riomaggiore and its topsy-turvy pastel houses, and Manarola 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 local white wine whilst taking in the spectacular views.
Vernazza is the prettiest of all; a typical Italian Riviera fishing village sitting in a rocky cove of dark rocks, with brightly coloured houses. Monterosso Al Mare’s cobbled streets are the busiest, with many restaurants.
There are many different diving spots in the area for both beginners and experienced divers. You will find a great variety of marine life and various species of fish of all sizes such as blennies, gobies, striped breams, wrasses and giltheads. Deep-sea divers will encounter some bigger fish near the Marine Reserve. In those areas you will find sole fish, greater weever fish, stingrays and octopuses hiding near the rocks.
If you're lucky you may even spot some dolphins.
Day 3Cinque Terre - Elba
Spend a day relaxing around the idyllic island of Elba. There are plenty of sandy beaches and secluded anchorages around Elba’s winding and varied coastline. Spend the evening in Portoferrario.
The submarine park of the Tuscan Archipelago hides beautiful treasures and, in between multi-colored shoals of fish, you can explore the wrecks of ancient vessels which sank centuries ago.
Day 4Elba - Rome
Sprawling across seven legendary hills, Rome was one of the great centres of the ancient world. Its beginning is shrouded in legend and its development is full of intrigue and struggle – Rome is the eternal city. After tying up in Porto Touristico di Roma Marina, it is just a short trip to the centre, where you can explore the city for the best in Italian shopping on its tree-lined boulevards, dotted with outdoor cafes and fountains.
Trips to the Colosseum, the Trevi fountain and the Sistine Chapel are essential for your day visit. For a treat, book a table at restaurant Quinzi e Gabrieli for some of Rome’s best seafood or La Posta Vecchia at Palo for authentic charm.
Day 5Rome - Ischia
To explore the island of Ischia, visit Serrara Fontana and then climb up to the summit of Monte Epomeo. Barano d’Ischia offers some ancient settlements and geological formations for exploration.
Lacco Ameno is a famous cosmopolitan spa town where you can visit the steamy cave of San Lorenzo. Forio has the most beautiful sandy beaches and vineyards, and the old town is well preserved.
Day 6Ischia - Capri
Cruise to Capri, a rustic island of epic beauty. Visit the Grotta Azzura (Blue Grotto) in the northeast, a cave on the water’s edge whose strange light has made it the area’s most popular attraction after Pompeii. The Palace Hotel is situated close by and makes a great spot for lunch.
In the afternoon, visit the town heading for La Piazzetta, the most famous square surrounded by white-washed houses. Explore the narrow, winding streets filled with flowering terraces and elegant shops. Have dinner in a typical trattoria where you’ll sample some of the local specialties. Spend the night at anchor near to the Bay of Sorgeto near Ponza, with its hot water wells making it perfect for a late-night dip.
Diving in the waters around Capri is suitable both for beginners and experts. You will have access to a full list of excursions which go from 15 to 40 meters in depth. The underwater world of Capri is populated by cernia fish, lobsters, anemones and marine flora of every kind. The seabed is rich in red and yellow gorgonia and, in certain seasons of the year, it is even possible to witness the flowering of the rare black coral.
Day 7Capri - Amalfi
Visit the picturesque town of Amalfi, located at the heart of the Amalfi Coast. In the evening, stroll and see the beautiful marble-faced church in the heart of town.
The cathedral, founded in the 9th century, retains its original bell tower. The church went through a number of alterations and eventually the facade was re-built in the 19th century based on the original monument. There are two important doors at the entrance and two 12th century ambos in the interior. From the atrium, visitors can access the Cloister of Paradise, which is one of the most charming pieces of Norman/Arab architecture.
Day 8Amalfi - Pompeii
From Amalfi, a private trip can be arranged to visit the fascinating ancient city of Pompeii buried under volcanic ash by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Many in-tact treasures were discovered in the 18th century. Mont Vesuvius is the only active volcano in Europe’s continent.
Day 9Amalfi - Positano
Take a morning cruise along the breathtaking Amalfi Coast, stopping at Positano at the foot of Mt Lattari. The town is full of character and charm with bright architecture, many boutiques and a cosmopolitan clientele.
The origins of Positano, as with many other towns, are difficult to distinguish between history and legend. The nearby “Li Galli” archipelago, according to legend, is home to the bewitching sirens. Myth tells us that Positano was founded by Poseidon - the god of the sea - for the sake of the nymph Pasitea, whom he loved. Positano has Roman, Angevin and Aragonese influences.
Day 10Positano - Naples
Goethe sympathised with all those who fell in love with Naples and lost their senses. He felt that once one began to write about the city, paint it or come close to it in anyway, one forfeited heart and soul to its beauty. This sensation is no different today.
The city is divided into 21 zones and it has so many monuments that it is rightfully known as an open air museum. Time will always be your enemy in Naples, with so much to do and see.
Day 11Naples - Maddalena
Lying adjacent to Sardinia's famous tourist resort of the Costa Smeralda, the Maddalena archipelago shares the same crystal clear waters and wind-blown granite coastlines, but also remains a haven for wildlife.
It is a designated National Park, the Parco Nazionale Arcipelago di La Maddalena.
Day 12Maddalena - Bonifacio
Bonifacio’s long, narrow harbour carved from a cleft in the rock face will strike you at once with its immense beauty
The old citadel is perched on impressive limestone cliffs and the harbour buzzes with life. Spend the day exploring, stroll along the pretty café and restaurant-lined harbour. This is certainly one of Corsica’s prettiest and most cosmopolitan spots.
Day 13Bonifacio - Propriano
Campomoro in Propriano’s Gulf of Valinco is a long beach and one of Corsica’s finest, lined with restaurants and boasting fine sand and crystal blue water.
You will be able to find lots of dive sites around Propriano.
Day 14Propriano - Ajaccio
Ajaccio is the capital of Corsica and the birthplace of Napoleon.
It is a working town of bustling streets, markets, palm trees, traffic, people, fountains, monuments and rustic buildings.