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.
The major island in the chain known as the Balearics, Mallorca is Spain's sunny outpost in the Mediterranean. The town of Palma boasts a shady plaza near the Gothic Cathedral. Visit the Roman ruins and the Drach Caves nearby, or journey to the enchanting village of Valledemosa. Leave time to shop for lovely majolica faux pearls and hand-made lace.
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.
One of Europe's leading cities, Amsterdam's rings of canals and traditional Dutch architecture are unmistakable. Rich in art, history and culture, Amsterdam is home to the Van Gogh museum, Anne Frank's house, and the Rijksmuseum, which houses many works by Rembrandt and Vermeer.
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.
Lisbon is many cities, from the cobbled alleys of the Alfama district to the broad Parisian style avenues at its heart. View it all from the heights of St. George's Castle. Belem's Monument to the Discoveries recalls the seafaring past, while nearby Sintra's storybook palaces, and the seaside resort of Caiscais, have different tales to tell.
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.
Venice enchants you from your first glimpse as your ship glides through the Grand Canal. A world power in the middle ages, its affluence lives on in its beautiful old buildings like those surrounding Piazza San Marco. Be sure not to leave without a romantic ride along the canals in a gondola.