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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 $7695 including international airfare

EXPLORE IN SMALL GROUPS OF 25 ABOARD OUR PRIVATELY OWNED 50-PASSENGER M/V ARTEMIS
OPERATED BY GRAND CIRCLE CRUISE LINE

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

©2010 The New York Times
36 Hours in Rome

Experience the ancient allures and of-the-moment appeals that await in Italy's vibrant capital, Rome.

©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 of Michael Paulis
Life in Malta

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

Courtesy Small World Productions
Naples & the Amalfi Coast

Discover southern Italy’s exuberant culture and the stunning beauty of the Amalfi Coast with travel expert Rudy Maxa.

Courtesy CNN
Gorgeous Rome

Take in the full beauty of the "Eternal City," from its cafes and contemporary art museums to the iconic treasures on display.

FROM
$7695
16 DAYS
$481/DAY
including international airfare
15 DAYS FROM $6395 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 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 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.

Make It Your Adventure

Personalize your trip to meet your individual needs, from preferred flights and air routing, to “breaking away” to spend more time in a destination.

  • O.A.T’s team of Adventure Specialists makes every effort to provide you with non-stop flights and acceptable connection times to and from your destination. You also have several other options for personalizing your air itinerary, which include:

    • Choose your departure city and airline: We list the most popular gateway cities on our website, but not all of them. If you don’t see yours listed, or there’s one that better suits your needs, let us know. You can also tell us if you have an airline preference and we will try to accommodation your request.
    • Depart from one city and return from another: Just because your flight leaves from one city doesn’t mean you have to return there. Maybe you flew out of Boston and wish to visit friends in Los Angeles after your trip is over. Tell us where you want to go and we’ll do our best to get you there.
    • Fly the way you want to: We’ll gladly arrange a flight upgrade to business or premium economy class if it’s available. And when you fly economy class, we’ll do our best to see that you get your choice of seating preference or even add a special meal request if you have dietary restrictions or needs.
  • You can extend your time abroad and "break away" anywhere you'd like to do more exploring on your own. Stay for a day, a week, or even a month in a favorite locale. Or consider arriving a few days early in Rome for a fresh start or spending more time at the end of your trip in Malta. Our Travel Counselors can provide you with information on the accommodations we will use at the beginning of your trip so that you can make your own arrangements. That way, you'll know that you will be exactly where you need to be to meet your group.

  • Many of our travelers choose to take another trip directly after their first one ends. Think about it: If you’re already overseas, why not see more of the region and avoid the expense and length of another international flight? Many of our travelers have taken two or three consecutive trips before returning home. Travelers who are interested in this trip may choose to continue their discoveries in eastern Italy on our Italian Coastal Odyssey: Hidden Italy, Sicily & Malta Small Ship Adventure—a combination of Italy’s Western Coast & Islands: A Voyage from Rome to Valletta and Undiscovered Adriatic: Eastern Italy, Venice, Puglia & Malta. By doing so, you'll not only enjoy the most comprehensive tour of both sides of the Italian peninsula, but you'll also save $3000 per couple versus taking the trips separately. 

  • Many Grand Circle travelers simply don’t want their trips to end. With an array of pre- and post-trip extensions to choose from, you have the chance to experience more of the places you’ve traveled so far to see, including Tuscany: Florence & Siena and The Langhe Countryside & Lake Orta. Plus, you lower your average per-day costs because you’re taking advantage of your already included international airfare.

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 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.

    After an included lunch at a local restaurant, 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. After you disembark by tender, a boat tour 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 of 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 subject to weather conditions.

    After enjoying lunch onboard, return to the island via tender to learn more about its culture during a discovery walk and free time.

  • Your ship docks on the island of Pozzuoli this morning, where you'll embark a ferry bound for the smaller island of Procida nearby. Upon arrival, you'll board a local microtaxi for a panoramic tour of the island's scenic highlights. Then, continue on by foot to the 17th-century port of Corricella. With narrow, pedestrian-only streets, a tangle of colorful buildings, and a waterfront alive with busy fishermen, Corricella is not only Procida's oldest village, but also its most authentic and picturesque. 

    After enjoying an included lunch here, you may choose to return to your ship or continue your discoveries independently in Pozzuoli. Or, spend the afternoon exploring Procida at your own pace, catching a ferry back to the ship in the early evening in time to enjoy dinner onboard.

  • 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 discovery walk 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 100 most-endangered sites.

    Dinner tonight will be aboard the Artemis.

  • Your ship will anchor this morning among fishing vessels and sailboats off the coast of Agropoli, a small local port. After tendering to shore, 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 discover how this Italian staple is made as you watch the cheese-makers at work. Your visit here will include lunch.

    This afternoon, you'll return to Agropoli for a discovery walk with your Program Director, followed by free time. A local tender will transport you back to your ship this evening, where you'll enjoy dinner.

  • After docking in Vibo Marina this morning, travel overland to Serra San Bruno to visit the town's signature attraction: Certosa Abbey. Founded in 1091, this was the second monastery ever built by the Carthusian religious order. A small museum on the site affords glimpses into the lives of the monks that still live here.

    Following your discoveries here, you'll enjoy a glimpse into everyday life in small-town Italy when you join a family in Monterosso Calabro or neighboring Capistrano for an exclusive Discovery Series Home-Hosted Lunch.

    Return to your ship this afternoon to set sail for the Aeolian Islands. After dinner, 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 the quaint charm of the Aeolian Islands, a small archipelago off the shores of southern Italy and Sicily. You’ll tender to Salina by way of Lipari, the largest island in the Aeolian chain. Unlike 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.

    Salina’s soil and climate are particularly well-suited for growing crops—and after your discovery walk and panoramic tour here today, you'll discover the island's agricultural traditions up close during a visit to a local caper farm. You’ll return to the ship for lunch onboard before tendering to Lipari for a discovery walk and time at leisure. 

    This evening, 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 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. Dinner will served 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.

    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 UNESCO World Heritage Site. An included tour will introduce you to the city, with a visit to the serene Barracca Gardens.

    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. The island boasts monumental remains of sites older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today, you'll visit one of the most famous: Hagar Qim, a megalithic temple complex believed to have been built around 3600 BC. Composed entirely of hulking slabs of limestone, the name Hagar Qim literally translates to "worshiping boulders."

    Then proceed to 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. After checking in, 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 your hotel.

    • 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 a visit to the serene Barracca Gardens. 

    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 in a local restaurant.

  • Malta boasts monumental remains of sites older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today, you'll visit one of the most famous: Hagar Qim, a megalithic temple complex believed to have been built around 3600 BC. Composed entirely of hulking slabs of limestone, the name Hagar Qim literally translates to "worshiping boulders."

    Then proceed to 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.

    Following lunch onboard, gain a unique perspective on local life and traditions 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.

    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.

    This evening, 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. Dinner is onboard tonight.

  • After breakfast, discover the quaint charm of the Aeolian Islands, a small archipelago off the shores of southern Italy and Sicily. You’ll tender to Salina by way of Lipari, the largest island in the Aeolian chain. While Salina 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.

    Salina’s soil and climate are particularly well-suited for growing crops—and after your discovery walk and panoramic tour here today, you'll discover the island's agricultural traditions up close during a visit to a local caper farm. You’ll return to the ship for lunch onboard before tendering to Lipari for a discovery walk and time at leisure.

    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 docking in Vibo Marina this morning, travel overland to Serra San Bruno to visit the town's signature attraction: Certosa Abbey. Founded in 1091, this was the second monastery ever built by the Carthusian religious order. A small museum on the site affords glimpses into the lives of the monks that still live here.

    Following your discoveries here, you'll enjoy a glimpse into everyday life in small-town Italy when you join a family in Monterosso Calabro or neighboring Capistrano for an exclusive Discovery Series Home-Hosted Lunch.

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

  • Your ship will anchor this morning among fishing vessels and sailboats off the coast of Agropoli, a small local port. After tendering to shore, 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 learn how this Italian staple is made as you watch the cheesemakers at work. Your visit here will include lunch.

    This afternoon, you'll return to Agropoli for a discovery walk with your Program Director, followed by free time. A local tender will transport you back to your ship this evening, where you'll enjoy dinner.

  • 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 discovery walk 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.

  • Your ship docks on the island of Pozzuoli this morning, where you'll embark a ferry bound for the smaller island of Procida nearby. Upon arrival, you'll board a local microtaxi for a panoramic tour of the island's scenic highlights. Then, continue on by foot to the 17th-century port of Corricella. With narrow, pedestrian-only streets, a tangle of colorful buildings, and a waterfront alive with busy fishermen, Corricella is not only Procida's oldest village, but also its most authentic and picturesque.

    After enjoying an included lunch here, you may choose to return to your ship or continue your discoveries independently in Pozzuoli. Or, spend the afternoon exploring Procida at your own pace, catching a ferry back to the ship in the early evening.

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

  • 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. After you disembark by tender, a boat tour 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 of 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 subject to weather conditions.

    After enjoying lunch onboard, return to the island via tender to learn more about its culture during a walking tour and free time.

    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 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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