11 Nights around Barcelona to Nice
Capital of proud Catalonia, Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city like no other. Old and new combine in Barcelona; narrow Gothic Quarter alleyways contrast with grand boulevards. Everywhere, the city celebrates the work of Gaudi, its surreal moderniste hometown architect. The city also boasts an incredible collection of Picasso’s work. Stroll down Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s wide tree-lined boulevard and enjoy the street carnival. Enjoy delectable tapas in the many restaurants and bars.
Tarragona was originally built on a rocky bluff in 218 BC, when it was founded by the ancient Romans as a military base. Remains of its past persist in the form of ruins of the Roman amphitheatre, aqueduct, forum and other buildings of the Paseo Arqueologico, which leads to some panoramic views. The Rambla Nova is the modern main street outside the old city walls. Visitors can explore the old harbour, El Serrallo, to watch the fishing boats dock and fishermen auction their catch. There are excellent beaches near Tarragona, including Playa Llarga, regarded as one of the biggest and best on the Catalonian coast. Among the many museums is an archaeological museum devoted to Roman antiquities; the Diocesan Museum displaying Gothic paintings, sculptures and tapestries; and a house museum detailing the life and career of renowned cellist, Pablo Casals.
Cotlliure is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France. It lies on the Mediterranean and was a part of the ancient Roussillon province.
Collioure is famous throughout France for its three-day August 15 celebration, which attracts twice its population in visitors, who come to see the town's bodégas and fireworks.
In the beginning, under the Gallo-Romans, Sète was known as Ceta or Sita. It was a town on the island of Mont Saint Clair, and made a name for itself in the production of pickled fish. Soon fishing built the towns wealth, making it the envy of local lords and barons. Under the control of the Abbot of Aniane since the 9th century, Sete came under the bishop of Agde in 1246, no doubt to provoke the King of Aragon and the bishops of Maguelone. During this time the lagoon closed up creating the Bassin de Thau. Similarly silt forced the eventual closure of the then sea ports of Aigues Mortes, Agde, and Narbonne. Under the Duke of Montmorency, Governor of Languedoc, Sète, became the definitive Languedoc port, replacing those that had died under the mud. It became the base to hunt the last of the privateers lead by the infamous Barbe Rousette.
In 1596, construction work was started on a jetty that was to serve to protect the port from the storms of the sea. Because of financial problems the jetty was not completed until 1666. Finally Sète was a secure anchorage for commerce and the royal fleet, as well as a sea entrance for the Canal du Midi. The town was officially created by a decree of the council of state on 30 September 1673. Forty years later in July 1710, the English attacked and seized the port with apparently little difficulty, before eventually being hunted out. Consequently Languedoc immediately improved the defenses at Fort Saint Pierre and the Citadelle Richeleu.
Two centuries later the town was almost totally destroyed whilst being liberated by the allies at the end of the second World War. However Sète was quickly reborn to become the principal fishing port for France on the Mediterranean.
Portovenere’s small colorful houses – some only three yards wide and as much as seven stories tall – climb steeply up the hillside. Wander its maze of tiny alleyways – this is a fascinating small town to explore. From the ship, the steeple of the 12th-century church of San Lorenzo can be seen, along with the simple Gothic church of San Pietro built on a promontory above the harbor.
It was from a grotto in Portovenere that the dare-devil poet, Lord Byron, launched his famous swim across the Gulf of La Spezia to visit his friend and fellow poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, in Lerici. Byron made it, but Shelley purposely sailed out into a storm and lost his life. That's why today the area is known as the Golfo dei Poeti.
Livorno, a busy port city near Pisa is graced with canals, an historic town center, a splendid coastline and some of the peninsula's best seafood. The city is also your gateway to beautiful Tuscany.
Sailing into Portoferraio, you can see why Napoleon chose Elba for his exile; an island of pink granite, pine forests, and pristine beaches. The contrasts of the Elba countryside – from its typical fishing villages and high mountain passes to its stylish summer resorts on the coast – are enchanting. Elba’s restaurants feature excellent seafood, and small private vineyards produce local Moscato and Aleatico wines.
From his villa in Portoferraio, Napoleon, no longer Emperor of France, looked out over the waiting ships in the harbor and dreamed of returning to glory. Today you can enjoy a local vineyard tour, and near Portoferraio, discover the remains of an ancient Etruscan civilisation.
On the hills above, palatial villas in ice-cream colors look down on the tiny harbor and exclusive boutiques and harbor-side cafés. This is Portofino, a name that has come to symbolize the sophisticated, sybaritic lifestyle of the Italian Riviera.