11 Nights around Livorno-Malaga
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.
Menton is a town on the French Riviera in southeast France. It is known for its beaches and gardens with rare plants. East, the hilly, medieval old town is home to Basilique Saint Michel with its 18th century bell tower.
Menton used to be famous for its lemons and exceptionally sunny climate. Some of its glitz has worn off in so far as it was the "in" place to be but with the opening of the architecturally striking Mesee Jean Cocteau Collection Severin Wunderman, not to mention excellent restaurants, Menton is enjoying a renaissance.
With its casual affluence, flower-lined streets, flourishing markets, and interesting museums (the Musée Chagall and Musée Matisse are highlights), Nice is a charming introduction to the spirit of the Côte d’Azur. Stroll along its wide sunny boulevards, broken here and there by shady gardens and parks. Or stop for bouillabaisse, a specialty of the area, in a local restaurant.
Sanary Sur Mer, France
A pretty town along the Provencal coast, Sanary Sur Mer offers a charming seafront ambience, and interesting streets to wander. Stop off in a café and enjoy excellent rosé from the nearby region of Bandol. During the 1930’s, Sanary, on the Côte d’Azur, was a welcome refuge for German and English ex-patriot intellectuals. Sanary became the home of Aldous Huxley, Thomas Mann, Bertold Brecht, and Wilhelm Herzog. D.H. Lawrence and Jean Cocteau were frequent visitors. All escaped before the German invasion.
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.
Valencia, Spain's third-largest city, is famous for its magnificent orange groves and the beauty of its long beaches, and paella (a rice dish with chicken or seafood). In Valencia's center you will find a medieval cathedral and its octagonal bell tower, El Miguelete, impressive city gates, and other architectural treasures. Museums here include the Museum of Fine Arts and the Valencia Institute of Modern Art.
The Mercat district took shape around the commercial life of the city's residents. Accordingly, its two most emblematic buildings are used for trading purposes. The Gothic building of La Lonja, declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, features a beautiful columned room where the old tables on which trading transactions were finalised are still in use today. Outside the destroyed wall grew the Valencia of the bourgeoisie, with its wide pavements, broad landscaped thoroughfares and countless instances of modernist architecture. On the other side of the Turia's old riverbed lie the nursery gardens, along with the Fine Arts Museum and the ultramodern part of the city which, on account of its size, serves as a nexus between the coastal townships and the old quarter. Life in the city spreads down to the seafront with the harbor and the beaches of Las Arenas and La Malvarrosa.
Alicante is a province of eastern Spain, in the southern part of the Valencian Community. It is bordered by the provinces of Murcia on the southwest, Albacete on the west, Valencia on the north, and the Mediterranean Sea on the east. Famous for its excellent weather, the city invites you to take a trip along the coast or to the wonderful island of Tabarca. Along the Alicante harbor you will find beautiful long alleys for nice relaxing walks, enjoying the palm trees and the mild climate. With many historical buildings around the entire city, Alicante offers countless sightseeing attractions, from cathedrals to churches and of course a wonderful harbor area. In addition to sightseeing, direct from the harbor area, a long wide sandy beach leads its way up to San Juan. Just drop your towel on the sand and enjoy a wonderful day in the sun. Modern day Alicante is perhaps most famous for its seafront promenade, the Paseo de la Explanada with its four rows of magnificent palms, its Parisian-style street cafes and its intricate marble inlays of red, cream and black tiles, representing the colors of Alicante. More than six and a half million of the tiny tiles were laid in 1957 guaranteeing the esplanade's future reputation as one of the most impressive in the whole of Spain.
Malaga, Spain (return)
Malaga is the major coastal city of Andalucia and is a genuine and typical Andaluz city with a gritty individualism untouched by tourism and, to a large extent, the passage of time. The Moors occupied the city until the mid-15th century, after which it grew to become one of the foremost merchant centers in the entire Iberian Peninsula. This illustrious past has left its imprint on the historic center, particularly around La Alcazaba, a fortress which dates back to 1065 and is now a fascinating archaeological museum. Also worth a visit is the nearby castle which was rebuilt by the Moors and is today a traditional parador (state hotel) with superb panoramic views.
During the nineteenth century, Malaga was a popular winter resort for the wealthy famed for its elegance and sophistication. The impressive park on Calle Alameda dates back to this era and is recognized as being one of the most celebrated botanical collections in Europe. Pablo Picasso is the city’s famous son, and there are several galleries showing his work, including the 16th century Museum of Fine Arts, adjacent to the Cathedral. His birthplace in Plaza Merced is today an archive of his life and works and open to the public - free of charge. Málaga's main theater is the Theatro Cervantes, where Antonio Banderas still visits.
As well as being a cultural center, Malaga is also a great place to eat out. The Malagueños love their food and the bars and restaurants here are where the real social life takes place. The choice is unlimited and, on the whole, reasonable, with some bars offering a menu of the day with bread and wine for as little as 700 pesetas. Tapas, small portions of many different dishes is an Andalusian tradition and a wonderfully inexpensive way to try a variety of local food. The best known local fare in Malaga is pescaito frito, an assortment of fried fish, including small sardines and red mullet, best washed down with a glass of ice cold fino at one of the many old fashioned bodegas in town. But it is El Palo, to the east of the city which is a typical fisherman’s village and the place to go if you want that veritable ‘catch of the day’ freshness. Try a tapas and a glass of Malaga wine at Malaga's oldest tapas bar called 'Antigua Casa de la Guardia'. Keep to the north side of the Alameda and find no. 16. Malaga is always closed for the siesta period, so this is a perfect time for a long relaxing lunch.
These days, Malaga prides itself on being a modern city with the heart of commerce dominated by Calle Larios which is the local Bond Street equivalent. This is the recommended place to start exploring the city as it is surrounded by attractive small streets and plazas, as well as the magnificent Renaissance cathedral which offers daily guided tours. Garden lovers won't be disappointed in Malaga either. In the center of the city is the beautiful Alameda Gardens, and just outside on the way to Antequera one finds the extensive Jardines de la Concepcion. Málaga airport is one of the major airports in Spain due to the number of tourist arrivals on charter flights from Northern Europe using Malaga airport as a gateway to the Costa del Sol.