Day 1 Depart Australia
Today we board our flights to Venice.
Day 2 Venice, Italy
Early afernoon we arrive in Venice and we are transferred to our hotel. Built on 117 islands, Venice was once the head of the Mediterranean empire. We will have two nights here before the cruise to enjoy the canals, renaissance palazzos and of course, the fabulous food and wine from the Veneto region. The rest of the day will be free for individual exploration.
Day 3 Venice
Today we will have a sightseeing tour of this beautiful city. We visit St Mark’s Square, see the Grand Canal, St Mark’s Cathedral, the Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. We will wind our way through the narrow alleyways to the market square of the Rialto. There will be free time in the afernoon to explore the meandering laneways and bridges of this magical city. Perhaps try an espresso or gelato and take in the sights and sounds of Venice. This evening we enjoy an included welcome dinner to celebrate the start of the tour.
Day 4 Embarkation
This morning is free for individual exploration. In the early afernoon we are transferred to the cruise terminal. Make sure that you are up on deck as the Oosterdam sails past Venice Island, one of the most beautiful sights in the world as we commence our ‘Medieval Cities of the Mediterranean’ cruise.
Day 5 Split, Croatia
Today we visit Split, the second largest city in Croatia. The Old Town grew up around the Emperor Diocletian’s vast Roman Palace. We have a morning sightseeing tour, during which we visit the interior courtyard of the Roman complex and the Golden Gate, the main entrance to Diocletian’s Palace. We visit the Baptistry of St John a small, beautiful building consecrated in the sixth century. We see the Renaissance Town Hall on People’s Square surrounded by Venetian buildings.
Day 6 Dubrovnik, Croatia
This morning we call in to the historic city of Dubrovnik. Known as The Jewel of the Adriatic, the city is situated on a promontory surrounded by the beautiful waters of the Adriatic Sea. It is renowned for the beauty of Itinerary its monuments, its magnificent city walls and welcoming atmosphere. It was founded by fugitives from the Roman city of Epidaurum during the seventh century. We have a comprehensive tour of Dubrovnik and see the impressive Fort of St John and the Sponza Palace, which was built in the 14th century as the Mint for the city.
Day 7 Sarande, Albania
This morning we arrive in Sarande, in the mysterious country of Albania and a gateway to the ancient city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Set in a National Park, these impressive ruins are amongst Albania’s finest and were once occupied by the Greeks, then the Romans over a period of 2,500 years. We have the opportunity to explore the ruins and see the Roman Theatre and Baptistery, and the famous “lion’s gate”.
Day 8 Katakolon (Olympia), Greece
This morning we visit Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympic Games. The Ancient Greeks flocked here every four years for more than a millennium to celebrate the sacred games dedicated to Zeus. We visit the ruins of the Sanctuary, with its athletic quadrangles, stadium, temples and treasuries; then visit the modern Archaeological Museum, a treasure house of Archaic, Classical and Roman sculptures, including the famous Nike “Winged Goddess of Victory”.
Day 9 Chania, Greece
Today we arrive in Chania, Crete. On our sightseeing tour today we will travel inland through the Old Town to visit and explore the Minoan Palace of Knossos, legendary home of the Minotaur. We will walk through the ruins and excavations of the island’s vast ancient palace and learn about the Greek mythological tales that are linked to it.
Day 10 Mykonos, Greece
Today we arrive in the scenic Greek island of Mykonos. Mykonos is one of the smallest islands of the Cyclades complex, but is definitely the most famous, thanks to its treasure of natural beauty, rich history, cosmopolitan character combined with plenty of local colour. Chora, the islands capital is spectacular with its narrow, whitewashed streets and white cubicle houses with their tiny balconies, coloured windows lined by bougainvillea and posts of basilicum. Numerous little churches and chapels, hidden minuscule piazza’s and water wells, as well as the multitude of colourful shops makes this a fabulous place to explore at leisure. We will have a free day to explore the quaint streets of this beautiful island.
Day 11 Day at sea
A day at sea to enjoy the facilities of the ship. This afernoon test your knowledge with fellow group members at Trivia.
Day 12 Valletta, Malta
The capital of Malta, Valletta was founded by the Knights of St John in 1566. Its purpose was to strengthen the Order’s position on the island, following the siege of Malta by the Turks in 1565. Our sightseeing tour includes visits to St Johns Co- Cathedral and the magnificent Palace of the Grand Masters. We also visit Mdina, Malta’s ancient capital and a medieval walled town situated on a hill in the centre of the island. The afernoon is free to visit Valletta’s wonderful museums or palaces. The ship overnights in Valetta.
DAY 13 Gozo, Malta
This morning we arrive on the island of Gozo, one of the 21 islands that make up the Maltese archipelago. Our sightseeing begins with a visit to the Temples of Ggantija. The two temples at this UNESCO World Heritage Site were built back in 3600BC, however were not revealed to the modern eye until the 19th century. Locals believed that the temples were built by giants, and once you see the size of the blocks you’ll understand why. This afernoon we enjoy a walking tour of Victoria, the ancient fortified city that dominates the island. We will see sights such as It-Tokk (Independence Square), St George’s Basilica and the Old Prison which was used by the Knights of St John in the 16th century.
Day 14 Palermo, Sicily
Founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC, the city has been home to numerous settlers including the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans and Spanish, before finally becoming part of a unified Italy in 1860. We will visit the medieval Cassaro quarter which contains the cathedral, 14th century palazzos and gardens. We will also visit the La Kalsa quarter which is in the old Islamic area, the centre of the city when it was ruled by the Arab Emirs. In the afernoon we visit Villa Malfitano built by the Whitaker family in 1885. The walled garden is rich with sub-tropical flora with a unique Sicilian layout.
Day 15 Naples, Italy
We arrive in Naples this morning and have a tour of the beautiful resort town of Sorrento, with its spectacular views of the Bay of Naples. We then visit the ancient, perfectly preserved ruins of Pompeii, a wealthy settlement of the Roman Empire, destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD. We will have a tour of the ruins with a local guide to see the Forum, the House of the Vetti, a well-preserved aristocratic villa and much more.
Day 16 Orvieto & Florence, Italy
This morning we arrive in the port of Civitavecchia and travel by coach to Florence where we will spend the next three nights. Along the way we will stop in Orvieto, one of the most popular places in the region of Umbria, Italy. It is situated high above tufa clifs showing traces of every phase of history for the past three thousand years.
Day 17 Florence, Italy
This morning we will have a walking tour of the great medieval city of Florence, capital of Tuscany. Home of Michelangelo and the Medici family, the city was the cradle of the Renaissance. During our walking tour we see the Piazza del Duomo, one of the largest cathedrals in the Christian world. Together with Brunelleschi’s wonderful dome, we see the Campanile and the Baptistry. We also wander through the Piazza della Signoria, which contains the Loggia della Signoria, the Palazza Vecchio and nearby, the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno River. There will be free time to explore Florence. You might want to visit the famous statue of David or visit the Ufizi Museum.
Day 18 Siena & Florence, Italy
Today we drive through the picturesque Tuscan countryside to Siena, where we soak up the atmosphere of this lovely city. Best known for the famous Palio horse race held in the magnificent Piazza del Campo, Siena is also home to the oldest bank in the world, a spectacular town hall and majestic cathedral. Our local guide will introduce us to the sights of the city, including the Piazza del Campo, with its splendid civic tower and the enormous, partially completed Duomo. The afernoon will be free for tour members to explore Siena independently. We return to Florence for a farewell dinner to celebrate our wonderful cruise.
Day 19 Departure
This morning the group will be transferred to Rome airport for the flight back to Australia.
Day 20 Arrival Australia
Tour members arrive back in Australia. The tour concludes.