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The Leader in Small Groups on the Road Less Traveled
Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

2017 NEW Italy’s Western Coast & Islands: A Voyage from Rome to Valletta

16 Days from only $8195 including international airfare

CRUISE COMFORTABLY IN SMALL GROUPS OF 25 ABOARD OUR PRIVATELY OWNED 50-PASSENGER M/V ARTEMIS

Italy: Rome, Anzio, Ponza, Pozzuoli, Procida, Sorrento, Paestum, Civita • Sicily: Aeolian Islands, Strait of Messina, Mount Etna, Siracusa • Malta: Valletta, Hagar Qim Temple, Mdina

Courtesy Rodolfo Bonucci
The Colosseum in Rome

Soar above one of Rome’s—and the world’s—most famous ancient sites, the Colosseum.

Courtesy Silvia Santamaria and Ian Cross
Bazaar: Sicily

Delve into eastern Sicily’s cultural gems, from a bustling fish market to wine produced on Mount Etna and colorful ceramics.

©2013 The New York Times
The Italian Gesture

See why Italians favor talking with their hands, and learn to interpert the gestures often accompanying conversation.

Courtesy Small World Productions
Sicily

Join travel expert Rudy Maxa for a tour of Sicily’s timeless treasures.

Courtesy of Michael Paulis
Life in Malta

From a peaceful pace to friendly neighbors, hear why locals love living in Malta.

FROM
$8195
16 DAYS
$513/DAY
including international airfare
15 DAYS FROM $6895 Small Ship Adventure Only
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Marvel at Italy’s islands from a private balcony.
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Itinerary Overview

Savor la dolce vita (the sweet life) along the Italian peninsula and its neighboring islands on an incredible journey of discovery. Marvel at the treasures on display in the “Eternal City” of Rome, and then revel one of the most romantic gardens—home to ruins and roses—in Ninfa. Then cruise along the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea from the Italian mainland to tiny lemon- and cypress-tree dotted islands, where fishing vessels and sailboats tuck into cozy harbors and ports. See how the locals live in these hidden gems—like the kaleidoscopically hued Procida Island—and taste the local flavors, from the daily catch to fresh capers. You’ll be so much more than an observer here: You’ll connect with the culture through visits to a local mozzarella cheese farm in timeworn Paestum, an ancient village nestled high in the Pollino Mountains, and the knightly organization that continues to keep watch over Malta’s walled capital city of Valletta. Aboard our 50-passenger small ship, you’ll experience an authentic side of Italy, Sicily, and Malta you never could have imagined—and make memories you’ll never forget with Grand Circle Cruise Line.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 5 nights from only $1395

    Trace history’s footsteps back to the birth of the Renaissance, as the world’s most influential dreamers—artistic, philosophical, and political—descended upon what we now know as Tuscany. Behold artistic treasures, from the Ponte Vecchio to the Duomo, within iconic Florence, and then discover Siena, Florence’s ancient rival to the south and home to some of the most splendid examples of Gothic architecture in all of Italy.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • Depart today on your flight to Rome.

  • You'll be met at the Rome airport and assisted to your hotel. Relax and settle in before meeting your Program Director and fellow travelers for a Welcome Drink. If you began your explorations early with our optional Tuscany: Florence & Siena pre-trip extension, you'll will join the main group today.

    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    Set off this morning to discover the “Eternal City” and the myriad treasures it has amassed over more than two and a half millennia. At varying points throughout its history, Rome has served as the heart of kingdoms, empires, and nations; a religious and cultural touchpoint; an Olympic city; and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today it remains a vibrant metropolis of historical and cultural significance—a can’t-miss experience for travelers from around the world.

    Your morning walking tour will introduce you to many of the city’s history-spanning highlights, from the Pantheon, built in the second century AD, to its resplendent Spanish Steps, designed in the 18th century by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi. You’ll also see the many layers of history on display: Today one of the most iconic fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain was built in 1762 upon the site of an ancient Roman aqueduct.

    The afternoon is yours to discover Rome as you’d like. Perhaps you’ll embark on a spirited walk to Piazza Navona, home to the Obelisk of Domitian, the Fountain of Neptune, and more. Or, if you’d prefer, you can relax in an open-air café and indulge in a leisurely lunch or espresso as you watch Rome’s well-heeled residents travel past.

    This evening, rejoin your Program Director and fellow travelers for dinner at a local restaurant.

  • Check out from your hotel after breakfast this morning, and embark on a motorcoach transfer to Anzio, where you’ll meet up with the 50-passenger M/V Artemis, your home for the next ten nights.

    En route, you'll pause for an included walking tour through the Garden of Ninfa, a remarkable display of ruins and roses considered one of the most romantic gardens in Europe. This 260-acre, English-styled garden, located about 40 miles southwest of Rome, was created on the site of an ancient settlement. Today it continues to feature a temple dedicated to the water nymphs believed to live nearby. Now an Italian natural monument, the garden has transformed ruins of the village into a decadent oasis: Flora covers ruined buildings and bridges, while the garden is crowned by the tower of an eleventh-century castle.

    Continue on to Anzio, a city forever linked to World War II. In January 1944, Allied forces commenced World War II’s Operation Shingle, an invasion intended to launch the mainland campaign into Rome. After a four-month siege, Allied forces finally broke through and made their way to Rome. You'll have the opportunity to honor the sacrifice of those who lost their lives here during a visit to the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery. A total of 7,860 soldiers are buried here—marked by white marble crosses and Stars of David placed in perfect formation.

    Board the Artemis late this afternoon. After settling in, gather in the lounge for your first Port Talk—nightly sessions during which your Program Directors will outline the next day’s experience. Then, toast to the discoveries that await during your Captain’s Welcome Dinner.

  • This morning, discover the Pontine Islands, an archipelago of islands off the western coast of Italy, perennially popular among Europeans—including ancient Romans, celebrities, and royals.

    The Artemis will anchor off the shore of Ponza, the largest of the island chain, and you’ll disembark by tender boat and journey to the shore. A tour by foot and boat will showcase the island’s 3.1 miles of rugged terrain, hillside neighborhoods, and seaside coves. History and local lore suggests that Homer was aware on Ponza’s charms—he used the island and its grottoes as inspiration for Circe’s island of Aeana in Odyssey. Please note: Boat tour is available on April-October departures.

    Enjoy free time here before returning to the ship for lunch and an afternoon of leisure. Should you choose, the island offers myriad swimming opportunities in its grottoes and along beaches. It also offers an abundance of freshly caught and prepared seafood in small, local restaurants.

  • The Bay of Naples and its islands are the result of millennia worth of volcanic activity—from ancient volcanoes now long gone; to Mount Vesuvius, the only active volcano on mainland Europe; to Monte Nuovo, the cone volcano that formed over the course of eight days in 1538.

    While centuries have passed since the last major eruption in the region, the area is still lively—and you’ll see this in action with this morning’s excursion. After docking in Pozzuoli, you’ll travel overland to the Phlegraean Fields, a regional park composed of craters, boreholes, and sulfuric fumes. As you explore the fields, including the Solfatara crater, you’ll understand just why the ancient Romans considered this the home of Vulcan, the god of fire.

    Then return to Pozzuoli for the chance to explore its oldest district, Rione Terra. Here, history has built upon itself—quite literally. During your walking tour, take note of the 17th-century Duomo: Its columns were originally part of a first-century temple, which was built to replace another structure that dates back to the second century B.C. 

    Freshen up and enjoy lunch onboard early this afternoon as the Artemis embarks for your next port of call: Procida, one of the Bay of Naples least known—and most treasured—gems. Disembarking by tender, you’ll discover a tiny island of kaleidoscopically hued buildings and sun-drenched narrow streets. Unlike some of its larger neighbors, Procida has held onto its tight-knight, local vibe—and offers an unfiltered glimpse into the traditional Italian way of life.

    Enjoy dinner onboard this evening. Your ship cruises to to Amalfi Coast overnight.

  • After breakfast, disembark your ship and tender to the cliff-side town of Sorrento.

    With its romantic location on the cliffs over the Bay of Naples, Sorrento has long served as the subject of songs and legends. It was here that mythical sirens, with the beauty of their sweet singing, were believed to lure sailors to shipwreck on the rocks. Ulysses greatly desired to hear these songs for himself, but knew of the potentially catastrophic results—so he ordered his crew to block their own ears, and then secure him to his ship’s mast, so that he could hear without risk to his vessel.

    Sorrento is a town made for strolling, with remarkable architecture and commanding ocean views around each bend. Your walking tour will give you ample opportunity to see the cathedral, Piazza Sant’Antonino, Public Gardens, and the Piazza Tasso main square. But you’ll also have time to delight in its quaint little alleys, each charming and unique.

    Return to your ship for lunch and then enjoy an afternoon of leisure—whether you’d like to relax and revel in the view with a drink on the Sun Deck, or tender back to shore for additional exploration along the Via San Cesareo, a street lined with shops offering food and handcrafts.

    Or, journey to one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites: Pompeii. Early on an August afternoon in the year AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted in explosive fashion, unleashing a massive debris cloud. In Pompeii, ash began to fall from the sky, at a rate of up to six inches an hour. A cloud of gas and debris followed the next day—and the city was buried until it was re-discovered in the 17th century. The World Monuments Fund, to which Grand Circle Foundation has contributed $150,000 for preservation efforts across Europe, cites Pompeii as one of the world’s most 100 most-endangered sites.

    Dinner tonight will be aboard the Artemis.

  • Your ship will dock this morning among fishing vessels and sailboats in Agropoli, a small local port. Step off the ship and set off for Paestum, an ancient city in Italy’s Campania region.

    While Campania is distinctly Italian today, its history is much more closely aligned with ancient Greece than Rome—which is why you’ll see decidedly Greek touches throughout your exploration here. During your tour of Paestum, witness three beautifully preserved Doric Greek temples, which date back to 600 to 450 BC, as well as the ruins of ancient homes—all of which you’ll discover with an expert guide by your side.

    Next, indulge in one of the region’s more contemporary delights: its iconic buffalo mozzarella cheese. You’ll journey to a local buffalo farm, where you’ll explore the family-run facility and meet the cheesemakers—who will share with you the secrets to making this Italian staple. Your visit here will include a special lunch.

  • After cruising south along mainland Italy’s western coast, the Artemis docks in Cetraro, a cozy harbor of local vessels. After disembarking your small ship, you’ll depart for higher ground: the Pollino mountain chain.

    Rising quite sharply from the coast, the Pollinos are home to rugged mountain landscapes that have long served as buffers for those who live here—particularly the Albanian population that settled here after escaping the Ottoman Empire more than 500 years ago. You’ll see this firsthand as you explore Mount Pollino, the chain’s second-highest peak. After visiting Santa Maria delle Armi, an ancient mountainside complex, you’ll be introduced to the village of Civita. Here, a local family will welcome you in for an exclusive Discovery Series Home-Hosted Lunch. Perhaps you’ll sample some of the meats for which this region is renowned—or even sample some of the spicy chili of which locals are especially fond.

    Back aboard your ship this evening, behold the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” during a scenic cruise around the island of Stromboli. One of the eight Aeolian Islands and one of Italy’s three active volcanoes, Stromboli is noteworthy for its mildly explosive, regularly paced volcanic activity—in fact, volcanologists refer to this type of activity around the world as “strombolian eruptions.” While the opportunity to view the volcano in action can be thrilling at any time of day, your twilight scenic cruise gives you the best opportunity to witness volcanic ash, steam, and perhaps even the glow of lava.

  • After breakfast, discover more of the Aeolians, perched off the shores of southern Italy and Sicily, after your ship tenders off the coast of Salina. Unlike the fiery Stromboli, Salina has maintained a stable and eruption-free state for millennia—while the island is home to six volcanoes, the last known eruption was more than 13,000 years ago. The rich history of volcanic activity, however, has earned the island a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

    You’ll explore Salina during a boat and walking tour, during which you’ll see volcanic cliffs plunging into the sea, and small villages teeming with local produce. Salina’s soil and climate are particularly well-suited for growing crops—fans of capers or figs would be well advised to sample some of the local produce here, while wine enthusiasts can try Malvasia, a sweet white wine unique to the island. You’ll then return to the ship for lunch onboard. Please note: Boat tour is available on April-October departures.

    After dinner onboard and your evening Port Talk, gather on the Sun Deck with your camera for a special scenic cruise through the Strait of Messina, the slip of waterway that separates Italy and Sicily. Your journey through will be significantly more pleasant than the crossing Odysseus experienced in Odyssey. Homer introduced his hero to two mythical sea monsters: the rocky horned Scylla on the Italian side and a whirlpool, Charybdis, on the Sicilian side. With this context, the phrase "between a rock and a hard place" takes on new meaning.

  • This morning, your ship docks in Marina di Riposto. After breakfast, disembark for your transfer to Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano and one of the most active on Earth. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has been active for more than 500,000 years—in fact, ancient Greeks attributed this to Typhon, the monster Zeus allegedly kept beneath the mountain.

    A popular destination for travelers from around the world, Etna offers incredible views into Sicilian history and culture—and you’ll go a step further than many of its other visitors. Aboard 4-wheel-drive vehicles, you’ll leave the buses behind and trek up its slope for a closer look: Step onto its lava fields and benefit from the insights of a local naturalist expert before enjoying lunch in a mountain lodge.

    Returning to the Artemis this afternoon, you’ll enjoy your evening onboard as your ship journeys to Siracusa.

  • This morning, discover Siracusa, a Sicilian city with history dating back more than 2,700 years. During a guided tour of Ortygia, the city’s historical gem, admire architectural splendors—ancient medieval streets, Baroque structures, and a cathedral fashioned out of an ancient Greek temple.

    Of all the Greek cities of antiquity that flourished outside of Greece, Siracusa was the Mediterranean’s most important—a formidable seafaring power nearly equal to Athens. In the heyday of its power, it dared to take on both Carthage and Rome, and its wealth and size were unmatched by any other city in the ancient world. It is said that Siracusa is the birthplace of comedy in Greek theater, and was the only school of classical drama outside of Athens.

    Today this UNESCO World Heritage Site serves as one of Europe’s richest historical sites and a photographer’s haven, complete with white limestone buildings, narrow winding streets, and rich architectural details.

    After returning to your ship for an onboard lunch, the afternoon is yours to continue your discoveries. Perhaps you’ll journey to the Papyrus Museum, where you’ll learn about how papyrus plants came to grow in an unexpected spot in Europe. Or, you can visit remarkable Greek and Roman ruins, including the cave known as “the ear of Dionysius.” More than 200 feet long and shaped like a human ear, the cave has such impeccable acoustics that the ripping of paper can sound like a gunshot. It earned its name thanks to the tyrant Dionysius, who forced his prisoners into the cave at night; it is said that he was able to hear every word they said during this captivity.

    Dinner tonight will be onboard.

  • This morning, the third act of your trip begins as you cruise into Valletta, Malta’s walled capital city and a UNSECO World Heritage Site. An included tour will introduce you to the city, with visits to the serene Barracca Gardens and St. John’s Cathedral.

    Then gain a unique perspective on local life and tradition here as you meet with members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta for an exclusive Discovery Series discussion, The Knights of Malta Yesterday & Today. The world’s oldest surviving chivalric order, these Knights of Malta founded the city more than 500 years ago and continue to serve the community today. Malta’s cultural identity is entwined with that of the Knights: The order originated during the Crusades and, over time, found its way to Malta, where it defended the island from attacks by the Ottoman Empire. Without the protection of the Knights, Malta’s history—and in fact, Europe’s history—would be very different than it is today.

    Return to the ship for lunch then enjoy an afternoon of leisure. Perhaps you’ll elect to discover the area known as “The Three Cities,” for the three historic fortified towns of Cospicua, Senglea, and Vittoriosa. Explore Vittoriosa, an ancient city that dates back to the time of the Phoenicians, and where the Knights of St. John made their headquarters before Valletta was built.

    Tonight will be the Captain’s Farewell Dinner and your last night onboard the Artemis.

  • This morning, disembark your ship and continue your explorations of Malta. First you’ll visit one of Malta’s best-known prehistoric temples, Hagar Qim, which means “free-standing boulders.” Malta boasts monumental remains of sites older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll also visit the Tarxien megalithic temples from 3200 BC.

    Then stop at the quiet fishing village of Marsaxlokk, home to the largest fishing fleet in Malta, among which there are still many characteristic luzzu ships painted in vibrant primary colors and decorated with the Eye of Osiris—a symbol of protection brought to Malta by the ancient Phoenicians. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant and time to explore.

    Later, depart for your hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Dinner will be on your own.

  • Today you’ll discover Mdina, known as the “Silent City.” This medieval city is surrounded by thick, imposing walls, and the limited access allowed to traffic gives Mdina its nickname. Stroll along the peaceful winding streets, lined with elegant buildings of Malta’s characteristic yellow limestone. Admire palaces now serving as private homes, and see Mdina’s Baroque cathedral anchoring a large square. With a history that can be traced back 4000 years, an exploration through Mdina is like a voyage through time—with layers of cultural and religious treasures waiting to be discovered.

    The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure and lunch is on your own. Then gather with your fellow travelers this evening for a Farewell Drink and Dinner in a local restaurant.

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return home. Or, begin your Langhe Countryside & Lake Orta trip extension.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    The Langhe Countryside & Lake Orta

    5 nights from only $1595

    Make the most of your Italian sojourn by extending your travels to the Piedmont region of Italy, the country’s Alpine north. Here, in the famed Langhe wine country, you’ll revel in rolling patchwork hills and the chance to indulge in the culinary delights produced here: wine, cheese, and truffles. Cap your discoveries at silvery Lake Orta, described by Balzac as a “grey pearl in a green jewel box.”

    View Extension Itinerary
  • 5 nights from only $1595

    Make the most of your Italian sojourn by extending your travels to silvery Lake Orta, described by Blazac as a "grey pearl in a green jewel box." Then venture into the Piedmont region of Italy, the country’s Alpine north. In famed Langhe wine country, revel in rolling patchwork hills and indulge in the finer things in life produced here: wine, cheese, and truffles.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • Depart today on your flight to Malta.

  • Arriving today in Malta, you’ll be greeted at the airport by a Grand Circle representative who will assist with the transfer to your hotel. Later, meet your Program Director and your fellow travelers for a Welcome Drink and briefing.

  • This morning, begin your discoveries in earnest with an included tour of Valletta, the walled capital city of Malta and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You'll be introduced with visits to the serene Barracca Gardens and St. John’s Cathedral. Then gain a unique perspective on local life and tradition here as you meet with members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta for an exclusive Discovery Series discussion, The Knights of Malta Yesterday & Today. The world’s oldest surviving chivalric order, these Knights of Malta founded the city more than 500 years ago and continue to serve the community today. Malta’s cultural identity is entwined with that of the Knights: The order originated during the Crusades and, over time, found its way to Malta, where it defended the island from attacks by the Ottoman Empire. Without the protection of the Knights, Malta’s history—and in fact, Europe’s history—would be very different than it is today.

    Your afternoon is at leisure, with lunch on your own. Perhaps you’ll elect to discover the area known as “The Three Cities,” for the three historic fortified towns of Cospicua, Senglea, and Vittoriosa. Explore Vittoriosa, an ancient city that dates back to the time of the Phoenicians, and where the Knights of St. John made their headquarters before Valletta was built.

    This evening, gather with your group for an included dinner at a local restaurant.

  • After this morning's breakfast, continue your explorations of Malta.

    First you’ll visit one of Malta’s best-known prehistoric temples, Hagar Qim, which means “free-standing boulders.” Malta boasts monumental remains of sites older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll also visit the Tarxien megalithic temples from 3200 BC.

    Then stop at the quiet fishing village of Marsaxlokk, home to the largest fishing fleet in Malta, among which there are still many characteristic luzzu ships painted in vibrant primary colors and decorated with the Eye of Osiris—a symbol of protection brought to Malta by the ancient Phoenicians. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant and time to explore.

    This afternoon, embark the Artemis, your home for the next ten nights. After settling in, gather in the lounge for your first Port Talk—nightly sessions during which your Program Directors will outline the next day’s experience. Then, toast to the discoveries that await during your Captain’s Welcome Dinner.

  • Today you’ll discover Mdina, known as the “Silent City.” This medieval city is surrounded by thick, imposing walls, and the limited access allowed to traffic gives Mdina its nickname. Stroll along the peaceful winding streets, lined with elegant buildings of Malta’s characteristic yellow limestone. Admire palaces now serving as private homes, and see Mdina’s Baroque cathedral anchoring a large square. With a history that can be traced back 4,000 years, an exploration through Mdina is like a voyage through time—with layers of cultural and religious treasures waiting to be discovered.

    After an afternoon of leisure, your ship cruises out of Valletta—offer stunning views of the walled city—and sets off for Sicily. Dinner will be onboard.

  • This morning, discover Siracusa, a Sicilian city with history dating back more than 2,700 years. During a guided tour of Ortygia, the city’s historical gem, admire architectural splendors—ancient medieval streets, Baroque structures, and a cathedral fashioned out of an ancient Greek temple.

    Of all the Greek cities of antiquity that flourished outside of Greece, Siracusa was the Mediterranean’s most important—a formidable seafaring power nearly equal to Athens. In the heyday of its power, it dared to take on both Carthage and Rome, and its wealth and size were unmatched by any other city in the ancient world. It is said that Siracusa is the birthplace of comedy in Greek theater, and was the only school of classical drama outside of Athens.

    Today this UNESCO World Heritage Site serves as one of Europe’s richest historical sites and a photographer’s haven, complete with white limestone buildings, narrow winding streets, and rich architectural details.

    After returning to your ship for an onboard lunch, the afternoon is yours to continue your discoveries. Perhaps you’ll journey to the Papyrus Museum, where you’ll learn about how papyrus plants came to grow in an unexpected spot in Europe. Or, you can visit remarkable Greek and Roman ruins, including the cave known as “the ear of Dionysius.” More than 200 feet long and shaped like a human ear, the cave has such impeccable acoustics that the ripping of paper can sound like a gunshot. It earned its name thanks to the tyrant Dionysius, who forced his prisoners into the cave at night; it is said that he was able to hear every word they said during this captivity.

    Dinner tonight will be onboard.

  • This morning, your ship docks in Marina di Riposto. After breakfast, disembark for your transfer to Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano and one of the most active on Earth. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has been active for more than 500,000 years—in fact, ancient Greeks attributed this to Typhon, the monster Zeus allegedly kept beneath the mountain.

    A popular destination for travelers from around the world, Etna offers incredible views into Sicilian history and culture—and you’ll go a step further than many of its other visitors. Aboard 4-wheel-drive vehicles, you’ll leave the buses behind and trek up its slope for a closer look: Step onto its lava fields and benefit from the insights of a local naturalist expert before enjoying lunch in a mountain lodge.

    After dinner onboard and your evening Port Talk, gather on the Sun Deck with your camera for a special scenic cruise through the Strait of Messina, the slip of waterway that separates Sicily and Italy. 

    Your journey through will be significantly more pleasant than the crossing Odysseus experienced in Odyssey. Homer introduced his hero to two mythical sea monsters: the rocky horned Scylla on the Italian side and a whirlpool, Charybdis, on the Sicilian side. With this context, the phrase "between a rock and a hard place" takes on new meaning.

  • Today, discover the Aeolian Islands, an archipelago of eight islands perched off the shores of southern Italy and Sicily known for a long history of volcanic activity. After breakfast, your ship will tender off the coast of Salina. Home to six volcanoes, this island has maintained a stable and eruption-free state for millenia. The last known eruption here was more than 13,000 years ago, but its storied past has earned the island a place on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

    You'll explore Salina on a boat and walking tour, during which you’ll see volcanic cliffs plunging into the sea, and small villages teeming with local produce. Salina’s soil and climate are particularly well-suited for growing crops—fans of capers or figs would be well advised to sample some of the local produce here, while wine enthusiasts can try Malvasia, a sweet white wine unique to the island. You’ll then return to the ship for lunch onboard. Please note: Boat tour is available on April-October departures.

    After dinner onboard and your evening Port Talk, behold the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” during a scenic cruise around the island of Stromboli. Unlike its tamer sister island, Stromboli is today home to one of Italy’s three active volcanoes, and noteworthy for its mildly explosive, regularly paced volcanic activity. Volcanologists refer to this type of activity around the world as “strombolian eruptions.” While the opportunity to view the volcano in action can be thrilling at any time of day, your twilight scenic cruise gives you the best opportunity to witness volcanic ash, steam, and perhaps even the glow of lava.

  • After cruising from Malta to Sicily, begin the third act of your journey, as the Artemis reaches mainland Italy and docks in Cetraro, a cozy harbor of local vessels. After disembarking your small ship, you’ll depart for higher ground: the Pollino mountain chain.

    Rising quite sharply from the coast, the Pollinos are home to rugged mountain landscapes that have long served as buffers for those who live here—particularly the Albanian population that settled here after escaping the Ottoman Empire more than 500 years ago. You’ll see this firsthand as you explore Mount Pollino, the chain’s second-highest peak. After visiting Santa Maria delle Armi, an ancient mountainside complex, you’ll be introduced to the village of Civita. Here, a local family will welcome you in for an exclusive Discovery Series Home-Hosted Lunch. Perhaps you’ll sample some of the meats for which this region is renowned—or even sample some of the spicy chili of which locals are especially fond.

    Return to your ship in the mid-afternoon and enjoy time to relax onbaord before your evening Port Talk and dinner onboard. The Artemis cruises tonight to Agropoli.

  • Your ship will dock this morning among fishing vessels and sailboats in Agropoli, a small local port. Step off the ship and set off for Paestum, an ancient city in Italy’s Campania region.

    While Campania is distinctly Italian today, its history is much more closely aligned with ancient Greece than Rome—which is why you’ll see decidedly Greek touches throughout your exploration here. During your tour of Paestum, witness three beautifully preserved Doric Greek temples, which date back to 600 to 450 BC, as well as the ruins of ancient homes—all of which you’ll discover with an expert guide by your side.

    Next, indulge in one of the region’s more contemporary delights: its iconic buffalo mozzarella cheese. You’ll journey to a local buffalo farm, where you’ll explore the family-run facility and meet the cheesemakers—who will share with you the secrets to making this Italian staple. Your visit here will include a special lunch.

  • After breakfast, disembark your ship and tender to the cliff-side town of Sorrento.

    With its romantic location on the cliffs over the Bay of Naples, Sorrento has long served as the subject of songs and legends. It was here that mythical sirens, with the beauty of their sweet singing, were believed to lure sailors to shipwreck on the rocks. Ulysses greatly desired to hear these songs for himself, but knew of the potentially catastrophic results—so he ordered his crew to block their own ears, and then secure him to his ship’s mast, so that he could hear without risk to his vessel.

    Sorrento is a town made for strolling, with remarkable architecture and commanding ocean views around each bend. Your walking tour will give you ample opportunity to see the cathedral, Piazza Sant’Antonino, Public Gardens, and the Piazza Tasso main square. But you’ll also have time to delight in its quaint little alleys, each charming and unique.

    Return to your ship for lunch and then enjoy an afternoon of leisure—whether you’d like to relax and revel in the view with a drink on the Sun Deck, or tender back to shore for additional exploration along the Via San Cesareo, a street lined with shops offering food and handcrafts.

    Or, journey to one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites: Pompeii. Early on an August afternoon in the year AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted in explosive fashion, unleashing a massive debris cloud. In Pompeii, ash began to fall from the sky, at a rate of up to six inches an hour. A cloud of gas and debris followed the next day—and the city was buried until it was re-discovered in the 17th century. The World Monuments Fund, to which Grand Circle Foundation has contributed $150,000 for preservation efforts across Europe, cites Pompeii as one of the world’s most 100 most-endangered sites.

    Dinner this evening will be aboard the Artemis.

  • The Bay of Naples and its islands are the result of millennia worth of volcanic activity—from ancient volcanoes now long gone; to Mount Vesuvius, the only active volcano on mainland Europe; to Monte Nuovo, the cone volcano that formed over the course of eight days in 1538.

    While centuries have passed since the last major eruption in the region, the area is still lively—and you’ll see this in action with this morning’s excursion. After docking in Pozzuoli, you’ll travel overland to the Phlegraen Fields, a regional park composed of craters, boreholes, and sulfuric fumes. As you explore the fields, including the Solfatara crater, you’ll understand just why the ancient Romans considered this the home of Vulcan, the god of fire.

    Then return to Pozzuoli for the chance to explore its oldest district, Rione Terra. Here, history has built upon itself—quite literally. During your walking tour, take note of the 17th-century Duomo: Its columns were originally part of a first-century temple, which was built to replace another structure that dates back to the second century B.C.

    Freshen up and enjoy lunch onboard early this afternoon as the Artemis embarks for your next port of call: Procida, one of the Bay of Naples least known—and most treasured—gems. Disembarking by tender, you’ll discover a tiny island of kaleidoscopically hued buildings, and sun-drenched narrow streets. Unlike some of its larger neighbors, Procida has held onto its tight-knight, local vibe—and offers an unfiltered glimpse into the traditional Italian way of life.

    Enjoy dinner onboard as your ship cruises on to the Pontine Islands overnight.

  • This morning, discover the Pontine Islands, an archipelago of islands perennially popular among Europeans—including ancient Romans, celebrities, and royals.

    The Artemis will anchor off the shore of Ponza, the largest of the island chain, and you’ll disembark by tender boat and journey to the shore. A tour by foot and boat will showcase the island’s 3.1 miles of rugged terrain, hillside neighborhoods, and seaside coves. History and local lore suggests that Homer was aware on Ponza’s charms—he used the island and its grottoes as inspiration for Circe’s island of Aeana in Odyssey. Please note: Boat tour is available on April-October departures.

    Enjoy free time here before returning to the ship for lunch and an afternoon of leisure. Should you choose, the island offers myriad swimming opportunities in its grottoes and along beaches. It also offers an abundance of freshly caught and prepared seafood in small, local restaurants.

    This evening, celebrate the memories you've made aboard the Artemis with your Captain's Farewell Drink & Dinner.

    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    Say goodbye to the Artemis this morning as you disembark in Anzio, a city forever linked to World War II. In January 1944, Allied forces commenced World War II’s Operation Shingle, an invasion intended to launch the mainland campaign into Rome. After a four-month siege, Allied forces finally broke through and made their way to Rome. You'll have the opportunity to honor the sacrifice of those who lost their lives here during a visit to the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery. A total of 7,860 soldiers are buried here—marked by white marble crosses and Stars of David placed in perfect formation.

    Then begin your overland transfer to Rome. Along the way, delight in an included tour through the Garden of Ninfa, a remarkable display of ruins and roses considered one of the most romantic gardens in Europe. This 260-acre, English-styled garden, located about 40 miles southwest of Rome, was created on the site of an ancient settlement. Today it continues to feature a temple dedicated to the water nymphs believed to live nearby. Now an Italian natural monument, the garden has transformed ruins of the village into a decadent oasis: Flora covers ruined buildings and bridges, while the garden is crowned by the tower of an eleventh-century castle.

    Arrive in Rome this afternoon, and enjoy an evening of leisure, whether you'd like to relax in the hotel or set off on your own discoveries. Your Program Director will be happy to provide recommendations for dinner.

    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    Set off this morning to discover the “Eternal City” and the myriad treasures it has amassed over more than two and a half millennia. At varying points throughout its history, Rome has served as the heart of kingdoms, empires, and nations; a religious and cultural touchpoint; an Olympic city; and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today it remains a vibrant metropolis of historical and cultural significance—a can’t-miss experience for travelers from around the world.

    Your morning walking tour will introduce you to many of the city’s history-spanning highlights, from the Pantheon, built in the second century AD, to its resplendent Spanish Steps, designed in the 18th century by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi. You’ll also see the many layers of history on display: Today one of the most iconic fountains in the world, the Trevi Fountain was built in 1762 upon the site of an ancient Roman aqueduct.

    The afternoon is yours to discover Rome as you’d like. Perhaps you’d like to embark on a spirited walk to Piazza Navona, home to the Obelisk of Domitian, the Fountain of Neptune, and more. Or, if you’d prefer, you can relax in an open-air café and indulge in a leisurely lunch or espresso as you watch Rome’s well-heeled residents travel past.

    This evening, rejoin your Program Director and fellow travelers for dinner at a local restaurant.

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return home, or continue your discoveries with our optional Tuscany: Florence & Siena post-trip extension.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Tuscany: Florence & Siena

    5 nights from only $1395

    Trace history’s footsteps back to the birth of the Renaissance, as the world’s most influential dreamers—artistic, philosophical, and political—descended upon what we now know as Tuscany. Behold artistic treasures, from the Ponte Vecchio to the Duomo, within iconic Florence, and then discover Siena, Florence’s ancient rival to the south and home to some of the most splendid examples of Gothic architecture in all of Italy.

    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on NEW Italy’s Western Coast & Islands: A Voyage from Rome to Valletta

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