Splendors of Italy: A Cruise from Venice to Nice
Previously "Jewels of Antiquity"
Sail from the once powerful city-state of Venice to the historic ports of the Adriatic and Mediterranean during this cruise of discovery aboard the intimate M.V. Aegean Odyssey.
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Venice is a place like no other in the world, and a perfect starting point for this journey through the historic Adriatic and Mediterranean. The Basilica of San Marco and the Campanile form the iconic center of Venice. Board the intimate M.V. Aegean Odyssey and sail through the Venetian Lagoon into the Adriatic to Ancona and the Italian Renaissance city of Urbino. Visit Emperor Diocletian’s palace in Split and continue the journey to admire the beauty of the Dalmatian Coast, the island of Corfu and Taormina on the island of Sicily. A port call in Sorrento affords access to the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum destroyed by Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Visit the antiquities of Rome as you explore the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and St. Peter’s Basilica. Sail north along the western coast of Italy to Livorno, and motor to Florence to visit the Basilica del Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio and the Accademia, home to Michelangelo’s David. Sail along the Cote d’Azur to the French city of Marseille for a full day excursion to Provence and the historic cities of Avignon and Nimes. Spend time exploring the glamorous Riviera city of Nice.
Please note that this tour was formerly named Jewels of Antiquity for our 2015 departure.
May 17 — Depart U.S. Gateway Cities
Smithsonian Journeys Travelers depart on overnight trans-Atlantic flights for Venice, Italy.
May 18 — Venice
Upon arrival in Venice, transfer to the Hotel Monaco and Grand Canal beautifully located facing the Grand Canal. The afternoon is free to rest or explore Venice independently. Gather with fellow travelers this evening for a Welcome Reception at the hotel. (R)
May 19 — Venice
Whether it is your first time or 15th in Venice, it is easy to lose yourself in the labyrinth of bridges, footpaths and small side canals. On an escorted walking tour, navigate the city and uncover the treasures of this remarkable city. Visit the Piazza San Marco or St. Mark’s Square where you will see the Campanile and the 15th-century Clock Tower where two huge bronze statues strike the hour. Walk to St. Mark’s Basilica and admire the beauty of the Doge’s Palace seat of the Venetian government for nearly a millennium. Spend some time exploring the shops and cafes that surround the square. This evening Smithsonian Journeys Travelers will have an exclusive visit inside St. Mark’s Basilica. During this private tour, admire the breathtaking sight of the famous mosaics illuminated by a spectacular light show. The church was built in 828 A.D. as a tomb for St. Mark. After a fire it was rebuilt and served as the Doge’s private chapel. (B)
*During the cruise your Smithsonian Journeys Expert will offer exclusive lectures. Smithsonian Travelers will get together in the Smithsonian Journeys Traveler’s Corner during the cruise to exchange experiences and lively conversation. Times and location will be advised during the cruise.
May 20 — Venice
Early today, there is free time for exploring on your own in Venice. This afternoon, transfer to the pier and embark the M.V. Aegean Odyssey. (B,D)
May 21 — Ancona and Urbino
Discover the Renaissance spirit of Urbino, with its towering city walls built according to designs by Leonardo da Vinci. Visit the Ducal Palace, an architectural masterpiece in the Piazza Duca Frederico. Continue the tour to the home and birthplace of the great artist Raphael. Take some time to explore local galleries and shops. This evening you’re invited to meet the Captain of the ship at his Welcome Aboard Reception. (B,L,D)
May 22 — Split
Located on the eastern shore of the Adriatic, Split was originally built around the magnificent Palace of Diocletian in preparation of his retirement. Visit the historical complex which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the medieval fortifications, gates, the palace cellars as well as the octagonal Mausoleum. This afternoon is at leisure to explore Split on your own. (B,L,D)
May 23 – Dubrovnik and Kotor Bay
On a shore excursion of Dubrovnik, explore the 10th-century City Walls, the Baroque Church of St. Blaise and the Cathedral. After returning to the ship enjoy a relaxing day of natural beauty as you cruise along the Dalmatian Coast and beautiful Kotor Bay. This evening gather with other Smithsonian Journeys Travelers for an exclusive pre-dinner Reception. (B,L,D)
May 24 — Corfu
From the port journey to Corfu Town, there is a 15th-century church that holds a surprise for all who venture inside. You’ll discover one of Greece’s most extensive collections of Byzantine art. The Republic of Venice once controlled Corfu and left a very distinct Venetian flavor. Northernmost of the Ionian Islands, Corfu is renowned for its natural beauty and as a crossroad of Aegean civilization. The island figured prominently in Homer’s Odyssey and Shakespeare’s Tempest. (B,L,D)
May 25 — At Sea
Sail through the azure Ionian Sea on a heading toward the Island of Sicily. Enjoy a full array of shipboard activities. (B,L,D)
May 26 — Taormina, Sicily
Nowhere is the beauty of Sicily more apparent than in the hilltop town of Taormina. This morning go ashore for scenic drive to this idyllic town with its backdrop of Mt. Etna, lemon blossom scented air, and charming, medieval streets. On a walking tour stroll past the Cathedral and the 15th-century Palazzo Corvaja with its black and white lava decoration. A highlight of the tour is a stop at the Greek Amphitheater. Originally built by the Greeks in the 3rd-century B.C. and then rebuilt by the Romans in the 2nd-century A.D. the site offers panormic views of the sea and Mt. Etna. The excursion concludes with a stroll along the pedestrian Corso Umberto. In the small lanes and twisting alleyways you can see colorful ceramics, delicices, and prize-winning wines. This evening join fellow travelers for an exclusive Smithsonian Journeys pre-dinner Reception. (B,L,D)
May 27 — Sorrento
For choice today, travelers can select one of the following tours ashore.
Pompeii: Patricians who built their mansions in Pompeii came to escape the chaos of Rome, but a different sort of chaos awaited them. In 79 A.D. Mt. Vesuvius erupted in mid-morning and, within three hours, extinguished this affluent community. Begin with a scenic drive along the Bay of Naples to the excavations. On the walking tour, discover spectacular site. Places not to be missed include the aristocratic mansions, temples, theaters, markets and the large forum. At every turn, inscriptions bring the hustle and bustle of this ancient city to life.
Herculaneum: A scenic drive takes you to Herculaneum which was engulfed by volcanic mud in the same eruption that claimed Pompeii. Fortunately for archaeologists, this mud sealed and protected entire buildings. Today inlaid marble floors, paintings, mosaics and carbonized woods can all be seen. Herculaneum was a wealthier town than Pompeii with an extraordinary density of fine houses, with far more lavish use of colored marble. The discovery in recent years of some 300 skeletons along the sea shore came as a surprise since it was known that the town itself had been largely evacuated. Following the visit, return to central Sorrento where you have the option of exploring independently.
After returning to the ship, there will be dinner and evening activities on board. (B,L,D)
May 28 — Rome
Depart the port of Civitavecchia and motor to the Eternal City of Rome. From 200 B.C. to A.D. 200, Rome was the undisputed center of an enormous empire. During the tour, discover the Flavius Amphitheater, also known as the Colosseum the largest stadium in the Roman world. In the afternoon, explore St. Peter’s Basilica the most important basilica in Christianity. The basilica is built on the site of a church that is said to hold the tomb of St. Peter. Walk along the Via del Corso to the Pantheon and on to the Piazza Navona. (B,D)
May 29 — Florence
This morning, depart the port of Livorno for the drive through the Tuscan countryside on a full day guided excursion of Florence. The tour begins with the Accademia Europe's first school of drawing to see the famous David by Michelangelo and other masterpieces. After visiting the museum, walk to the Piazza del Duomo and enjoy a visit inside this magnificent cathedral. After the visit, walk to the Piazza della Signoria to see the Palazzo Vecchio and then on to the Ponte Vecchio. Return to the ship in late afternoon. (B,D)
May 30 — Marseille
Enjoy a full day at sea to relax and enjoy shipboard activities. In early evening arrive at the port of Marseille. (B,L,D)
May 31 — Marseille
Depart the port of Marseille for a full-day tour of the region of Provence and the cities of Avignon and Nimes. Morning will focus on the medieval marvels of Avignon including the famous Palace of the Popes. Continue on to explore Nimes and the stunning best-preserved Roman Amphitheatre in France. (B,L,D)
June 1 — Nice
The day is at leisure in Nice. Located on the magnificent French Riviera, the beautiful city of Nice is the perfect place to relax and stroll along the captivating seaside Promenade des Anglais or visit the Old Town and its Opera de Nice. The ship will remain overnight in Nice. (B,L,D)
June 2 — Return Flights to the U.S.
Depart the ship after breakfast and transfer to Nice Cote d’Azur International Airport for homeward flights. (B)
Note: Itineraries, included features and schedules are subject to change due to operational considerations.