Marseille is France's second largest city, but it often goes unnoticed and unvisited by travelers... They are missing out on one of France's most diverse cities, both in terms of people and activities... Today, Marseille faces the same problems as any growing city. Crime is an issue, as is racial tension between the native French population and the arriving North African immigrants. Twenty-five percent of the population in Marseille is of North African descent, and that number is growing. But the city has come to embrace its newfound diversity, and is eager to put its best foot forward to attract a piece of the ever-growing tourism industry.
One of the most spectacular bays in the world lies in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. Visit the San Carlo Opera House and the cathedral of San Janarious, or tour the ancient ruins in the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
This village of 7,000 inhabitants is hidden among wooded slopes, above the crystalline waters of the Cote d'Azure. The town itself is delightful, with medieval chapels and an impressive hilltop fortress built by the Duke of Savoy in 1560. And, just up the coast are the luxuries of Nice and the extravagance of Monte Carlo.
From Livorno (Leghorn), your path leads through the rolling green hills of Tuscany to Florence, the flower of the Renaissance. The creative explosion happened right here, with masterworks by Michelangelo, Brunelleschi and Botticelli now landmarks of daily life. Ufizzi, Academmia, il Duomo: the art treasures of a golden age are commonplace to blessed Florentines.
Piraeus is the seaport for Athens, the capital of western civilization, which boasts a fantastic mix of classical ruins and vivacious modern life. In a single day, you can climb the hill of the Acropolis to wonder at the Parthenon, join the lively Athenians in Constitution Square, and then find a welcoming taverna for some spirited bizouki music, plenty of ouzo to drink, and with luck, energetic Greek dancing.
Barcelona is the cultural heartland of Spain, yet its first language is Catalan, the native tongue of the proudly independent Catalonia region. Stroll down the shady, tree-lined Ramblas between street musicians and elegant bistros. Then perhaps visit the venerable Gothic cathedral, Picasso Museum or enjoy the architectural genius of Antonio Gaudi's Church of the Holy Family.
The Plaza de Merced, cathedrals, and museums of Malaga make it a remarkable site for studying the history and culture of Spain.The coastline that borders the city is magnificent, and it creates a wonderful backdrop to the ancient land.
A lovely seaport in its own right, Haifa is a departure point for Tel Aviv and Holy Land sightseeing. Jerusalem beckons with the Mount of Olives and the Western Wall. Jericho, Nazareth, Bethlehem, and the crusader city of Acre are also within reach.
Legend has it that Apollo blessed this isle with sunshine and beauty. True to the myths, the "Island of Roses" is rich in magnificent scenery and umbrella-lined beaches. Take an excursion to Lindos, where high on a hill rises an ancient acropolis dedicated to the goddess Athena. You will also want to see the medieval Old Town, once home to the Crusading Knights of St. John, and tour the Grand Master's Palace, an Italian restoration famed for its superb mosaic floors.
The port of Civitavecchia is the gateway to The Eternal City, where all roads lead. Mad traffic careens past monuments of the great civilizations of the past. You will want to see it all: the soaring inspiration of St. Peter's, the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel; the flow of life along the Spanish Steps, the Coliseum, the Via Veneto and Trevi Fountain. Be sure to leave time for la dolce vita in one of the piazzas.
The Knights of St. John made this their base in the Mediterranean Sea. The castles, cathedrals and fortresses they built still are their remaining legacy. But Phoenicians, Romans, Carthaginians and Arabs preceded them and left their marks as well. Take a drive to M'dina, the former capital, and wonder at Europe's third-largest dome in Mostra.