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

New! 2017 Undiscovered Adriatic: Eastern Italy, Venice, Puglia & Malta

Italy: Venice, Ravenna • Republic of San Marino • Italy: Urbino, L’Aquila, Tremiti Islands, Monopoli, Alberobello, Otranto, Riace • Malta: Valletta, Hagar Qim, Marsaxlokk, Mdina

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

Sold out in 2017 , Join us in 2018

Courtesy of Michael Paulis
Life in Malta

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

©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 Kristine Juergensen and Ian Cross
Metropolis: Venice

Discover Venice’s rich cultural landscape--from the city’s labyrinth of canals to St. Mark’s Square and Doge’s Palace.

Courtesy David Conover
Sunrise Diaries - Go Fish

Visit a Venetian morning fish market where the catch is so fresh it might swim away.

Courtesy Tolvydas Ramanauskas
Amazing Venice

Soar peacefully above St. Mark’s square—the magnificent heart of Venice.

Sold out in 2017 , Join us in 2018
Extend Your Trip
 

2018 departures now available
Space is extremely limited
Reserve today! >>

 
 

SAVE up to $6200
Combine this trip with our
NEW western Italy cruise. »

Find the Adventure That’s Right for You

Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.

Activity Level 1:

1 2 3 4 5

Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 2:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 3:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderate

Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

1 2 3 4 5

Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

Itinerary Overview

Step aboard the award-winning, 50 passenger M/V Artemis and embark on a journey across the Adriatic and Ionian seas—uncovering the hidden gems of Italy’s eastern coast and the island nation of Malta. Begin in the cobbled squares and famous canals of Venice before setting sail on the sparkling Adriatic. In an intimate group of no more than 25 fellow travelers, you’ll explore places Americans rarely get to experience, such as the Tremiti archipelago—known as the pearls of the Adriatic—where you’ll see unspoiled fishing villages and marvel at the inviting water. Along the way, you’ll lose yourself in the winding streets of small, white-washed port towns like Monopoli and Otranto and gaze upon the whimsical cone-shaped trulli dwellings of Alberobello. You’ll also connect with authentic local culture, including a visit to a family-owned olive farm and a Home-Hosted meal in the medieval city of L’Aquila. Immerse yourself in a region you never imagined existed—yours to discover 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 Venice 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 western Italy on our Italian Coastal Odyssey: Hidden Italy, Sicily & Malta Small Ship Adventure—a combination of Undiscovered Adriatic: Eastern Italy, Venice, Puglia & Malta and Italy’s Western Coast & Islands: A Voyage from Rome to Valletta. 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 Ljubljana & Trieste and Rome, Italy. 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 $1495

    With cafe-lined streets in its Old Town and quaint bridges spanning its namesake river, Ljubljana is reminiscent of the timeless cities of Old Europe. It boasts a modern touch as well—much of the city was rebuilt after an earthquake at the end of the 19th century. Discover how the past and present have seamlessly merged in Slovenia. Then find inspiration where James Joyce once did in Trieste, Italy—where Italian, Slovenian, Croatian, and Austrian influences combine is a flourish of central European elegance. While here, you'll discover historical influences at World War II sites, and visit the Collio Wine Country for a tasting on a journey worth raising a glass to.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • Depart today on your flight to Venice, Italy. 

  • Arrive in Venice, where you’ll be met at the airport and assisted with the transfer to your hotel, which includes a motorboat ride. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for your exact arrival time. Depending on when you arrive, you may enjoy a brief orientation walk with your Program Director, before a Welcome Drink and briefing.

  • After breakfast, embark on a walking tour of this romantic city, visiting the famous Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square), the center of Venice. This square was the heartbeat of the Serenissima (“Serene Republic”) in the heyday of Venice’s glory as a seafaring republic, and the city’s major attractions are centered here. It is one of the most beautiful and most photographed squares in all of Europe. Dominated by the lovely St. Mark’s Basilica, the spacious square is surrounded with outdoor cafés, and is the perfect place to do a little people-watching Italian-style while sipping a cappuccino.

    Ornate St. Mark’s Basilica is so richly embellished that it looks like it could have been moved intact from Istanbul. Though the domed church is a conglomerate of many architectural styles, its main influence is Byzantine. Its façade is adorned with marble and mosaics that depict the life of Christ and St. Mark. Outside the basilica is the campanile (bell tower), which was rebuilt after it collapsed in 1902. It is now open should you want to ascend for a good view of the six cupolas of the church.

    Enjoy the afternoon to make your own discoveries. You can choose to remain longer to enjoy St. Mark’s Square, exploring some of the little alleys that radiate from it. Or perhaps you’ll get a taste for everyday Venetian life if you choose to pause for some light snacks and a glass of wine at a local bacaro, a typical Venetian coffee shop.

    Rejoin your fellow travelers this evening for dinner in a local restaurant.

  • After breakfast, spend the day visiting the islands of the Venetian Lagoon—Torcello and Burano. First, you’ll visit Torcello, a peaceful, sparsely-populated island famed for the stunning Byzantine mosaics found in Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell’Assunta, constructed in the seventh century.

    Next, travel to the isle of Burano, where you’ll enjoy a walking tour of this colorful fishing village. Lunch is on your own; you can ask your Program Director to point out some authentic Venetian dining options.

    Later this afternoon you will embark the Artemis, which will be your home for the next eleven nights. Enjoy the Captain’s Welcome Dinner onboard tonight before you set sail for your next destination.

  • Today’s discoveries will introduce you to Ravenna, the fifth-century seat of the Roman Empire and, later, a major city during the Byzantine era. Witness the city’s highlights on a walking tour that includes Dante’s tomb, as well as the colorful mosaics adorning both the 1,400-year-old Basilica di San Vitale and the Mausoleo Galla Placida.

    Lunch will be served in a local restaurant today, and a shuttle bus will be available for travelers who wish to return to the ship afterward. Or, you may choose to spend the afternoon exploring Ravenna at your own pace. If the morning has whetted your appetite for more mosaics, seek out the collection at Battistero degli Ariani. You can also examine an array of artistic achievements spanning the centuries at the Mar, the city’s fine arts museum. 

    Dinner will be served onboard this evening.

  • This morning, you ship docks in the Italian port town of Rimini, which you'll explore during a discovery walk and free time. Then, following lunch onboard your ship, you'll transfer to the independent Republic of San Marino, one of the world’s smallest states. Survey the distant countryside—and, on a clear day, sweeping views of the Adriatic Coast—during a funicular ride up to the Old Town this morning. Make sure to get your passport stamped!

    After a discovery walk of the Old Town, you’ll meet with members of the local crossbow association during an exclusive Discovery Series event. A long and proudly-held tradition since 1537, San Marino’s crossbow federation used to make up the state’s militia but now is practiced ceremonially only. Hear about the history of this centuries-old practice from members of the association and get a first-hand look at the archer’s crossbows. 

    This evening, return to the ship to settle in and savor dinner onboard.

  • Dock in Pesaro this morning then depart for the university city of Urbino. Once a thriving hub for artists in the 15th century, Urbino was a direct rival of Florence during the Renaissance and still retains much of the architectural splendor of the period today. Its historic center, encircled by an expansive city wall of sandstone and brick, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. Enjoy a guided tour, including a visit to the magnificent Ducal Palace, which has one of the most impressive collections of Renaissance paintings in Italy on display. Later, enjoy lunch in a nearby farmhouse.

    This afternoon, return to the ship and prepare to sail to your next destination. Dinner will be served onboard.

  • Wake up in the bustling fishing port of Ortona this morning and, after breakfast, transfer to L’Aquila, a mountainous region of picturesque villages perched right along the mountain side. The secluded location cultivated a region unique from the rest of Italy, such as their shepherding culture.

    During a guided tour of the medieval city, you’ll hear of the devastating earthquake which wreaked havoc across the land in 2009, killing more than 300 people and destroying its historical center. You’ll also have a chance to speak to locals during an emotional exclusive Discovery Series event that will focus on the controversial reconstruction of the Old Town, the families that were relocated in the process, and the slow recovery of the community as a whole.

    This afternoon, join a local family for a Home-Hosted Lunch. Perhaps you’ll enjoy one of L’Aquila’s unique specialties, such as agnello alla diavola, lamb chops cooked with chilies, orange peel, rosemary, and fennel; or maccheroni alla chitarra—a squared egg pasta with a spicy tomato and meat sauce.

    Return to your ship this evening and enjoy dinner onboard.

  • Today your ship will anchor just two miles from Puglia’s beautiful Tremiti Islands—much closer than other cruise ships can get. This morning, you'll tender to San Nicola, the most populous of three islands that make up this archipelago, for a walking tour.

    Following lunch aboard your ship, set off aboard tenders once again for a boat tour offering picture-perfect views of rugged cliffs, sandy coves, and lush woods—the Adriatic Sea glittering all around you. You may return to the ship after your tour is complete, or spend the afternoon on the island of San Domino this afternoon, which you'll explore on a discovery walk with your Program Director.

    Set sail this evening and enjoy dinner onboard.

  • After docking in Monopoli and enjoying breakfast onboard, depart for the town of Alberobello. During your visit, you’ll marvel at the town’s conical-roofed homes, or trulli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll gain an insider’s view of an authentic trullo, whose limestone architecture (built without cement) dates back as far as the mid-14th century but remains remarkably well-preserved.

    Next, you’ll visit a family-owned olive farm where you’ll get a true taste of Italy—both literally and figuratively. Stroll through the twisty, winding olive groves and learn about the plants and their cultivation during an exclusive Discovery Series event. You’ll then enjoy a light lunch at the farm, including a taste of the golden olive-oil.

    Afterwards, you'll head back to Monopoli, where your Program Director will lead a discovery walk. Amble past the tranquil harbor—blue and white boats bobbing in the sparkling sea—and marvel at its fortified sea-front walls, dating back to medieval times.

    Return to the ship this evening for dinner onboard.

  • This morning, enjoy breakfast onboard before discovering the port of Monopoli for a day at leisure. Perhaps you’ll head toward the Piazza XX Settembre and explore the nearby local street market—a lively open-air hive of color and cacophony.

    Or, join our optional Matera Troglodyte City tour to discover the ancient cave dwellings of Sassi di Matera—a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Take a walk along Churches Road, so called for the stretch of the ancient stone houses of worship you’ll discover. Then explore a path from the city to one of two original Sassi districts in the valley. Go back in time as you walk past quarries, ravines, and sculptured gardens, toward a network of small cave churches, crypts, and fortifications. During your tour, you may see the churches of San Pietro Barisino, Sant’Agostino, and Santa Maria de Idris, which overlooks scenic Sasso Caveoso valley. You’ll want to keep an eye out for medieval paintings executed in fresco on many of the church walls.

    Afterwards, you’ll enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before returning to the ship to relax after the day’s explorations.

    Dinner is onboard your ship this evening.

  • Today, you’ll awake in the pretty port city of Otranto in the far eastern corner of Italy’s boot heel. Once a strategic port during Roman times, today Otranto is known for its white, sandy beaches, famed Aragonese Castle, and eleventh-century Romanesque cathedral. You'll pass by the castle today during a walking tour among the town’s highlights.

    After savoring lunch onboard, the balance of the day is yours to explore Otranto’s warren of winding streets, white washed homes, and charming markets—enjoying the slow-paced way of life of this corner of Italy.

    Set sail over the open seas later this afternoon for your next destination. While onboard, take part in an exclusive Discovery Series discussion, The Meridione: Economy, Unemployment, and the Mafia in Southern Italy. This controversial topic will enlighten you to Calabria’s economic issues and the mafia’s exploitation of this struggle.

    Enjoy dinner onboard tonight as you sail.

  • This morning, your ship drops anchor off the coast of Roccella Ionica. After tendering ashore, you’ll transfer to the medieval village of Riace. Once on the verge of collapse due to economic downturn, conditions in Riace have markedly improved thanks to a revolutionary immigration program introduced in 1998. Today, one quarter of the village's population hails from North Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.  

    You'll meet with locals who help these refugees adjust to life in Italy, and then visit an art workshop managed by a team of locals and immigrants. Before returning to your ship, you'll have one final opportunity to get to know Riace's diverse community when you share an exclusive Discovery Series lunch together. 

    Return to the ship later this afternoon and prepare to cruise to your next destination. Enjoy dinner onboard this evening.

  • This morning, admire your surroundings as your ship cruises into Valletta, the capital of Malta and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An included city tour today begins with visits to the serene Barracca Gardens and St. John’s Cathedral. Then gain a unique perspective on local life and tradition here during an exclusive Discovery Series discussion, The Knights of Malta Yesterday & Today, with members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The world’s oldest surviving chivalric order, these Knights of Malta founded the city 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 the centuries 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 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 M/V Artemis.

  • This morning, disembark your ship and continue your explorations of Malta.

    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, which means “free-standing boulders.” 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 at your hotel.

    • Meals included:

    Fly home or extend your discoveries in Rome, Italy on our post-trip extension. 

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Rome, Italy

    4 nights from only $945

    From the Sistine Chapel’s immortal frescoes to the countless masterpieces displayed in museums, there may be no other city that has as many legendary expressions of beauty as Rome. We think you’ll agree with us that, when you travel Italy, additional time to explore the "Eternal City" in depth is an opportunity not to be missed.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • 4 nights from only $945

    From the Sistine Chapel’s immortal frescoes to the countless masterpieces displayed in museums, there may be no other city that has as many legendary expressions of beauty as Rome. We think you’ll agree with us that, when you travel Italy, additional time to explore the "Eternal City" in depth is an opportunity not to be missed.

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

  • Arrive in Malta, where you’ll be met you at the airport and assisted with the transfer to your hotel. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for your exact arrival time. Depending on when you arrive, you may enjoy a brief orientation walk with your Program Director, before a Welcome Drink and briefing at a local restaurant. (Please note: Travelers arriving after 5:00PM may miss the briefing and Welcome Drink. Your Program Director will provide all necessary information upon your arrival.)

  • After breakfast this morning, you’ll set off on an included tour of Valletta, the walled capital of Malta and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour includes a visit to and St. John’s Cathedral.

    Then gain a unique perspective on local life and tradition here during an exclusive Discovery Series discussion, The Knights of Malta Yesterday & Today, with members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The world’s oldest surviving chivalric order, these Knights of Malta founded the city 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 the centuries 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 would be very different than it is today.

    Lunch will be on your own and you’ll enjoy an afternoon of leisure. Gather with your fellow travelers this evening for an included dinner.

  • Malta boasts monumental remains of sites older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids, and which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After checking out of your hotel this morning, you'll set off to visit one the island’s best-known prehistoric temples: Hagar Qim, which means “free-standing boulders.” 

    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 this afternoon you’ll embark your ship, your home for the next eleven nights. This evening will be the 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 4000 years, an exploration through Mdina is like a voyage through time—with layers of cultural and religious treasures waiting to be discovered.

    Return to the ship for lunch then set sail over the open seas this afternoon for your next destination—Calabria, Italy. Enjoy dinner onboard tonight as you cruise.

  • After tendering ashore, you’ll transfer to the medieval village of Riace. Once on the verge of collapse due to economic downturn, conditions in Riace have markedly improved thanks to a revolutionary immigration program introduced in 1998. Today, one quarter of the village's population hails from North Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

    You'll meet with locals who help these refugees adjust to life in Italy, and then visit an art workshop managed by a team of locals and immigrants. Before returning to your ship, you'll have one final opportunity to get to know Riace's diverse community when you share an exclusive Discovery Series lunch together.

    This afternoon, your ship will begin sailing toward your next destination. As you cruise, take part in an exclusive Discovery Series discussion, The Meridione: Economy, Unemployment, and the Mafia in Southern Italy. This controversial topic will enlighten you to Calabria’s economic issues and the mafia’s exploitation of this struggle.

    Enjoy dinner onboard tonight.

  • Today, you’ll awake in the pretty port city of Otranto, in the far eastern corner of Italy’s boot heel. Once a strategic port during Roman times, today Otranto is known for its white, sandy beaches, famed Aragonese Castle, and eleventh-century Romanesque cathedral. You'll pass by the castle today during a walking tour among the town’s highlights.

    After savoring lunch onboard, the balance of the day is yours to explore Otranto’s warren of winding streets, white washed houses, and charming markets—enjoying the slow-paced way of life of this corner of Italy.

    Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to explore more of Otranto's charms. Later this evening, enjoy dinner onboard.

  • This morning, enjoy breakfast before you disembark the ship at the port of Monopoli and depart for Alberobello. During your visit, you’ll marvel at the town’s conical-roofed homes, or trulli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll gain an insider’s view of an authentic trullo, whose limestone architecture (built without cement) dates back as far as the mid-14th century but remains remarkably well-preserved.

    Next, you’ll visit a family-owned olive farm where you’ll get a true taste of Italy—both literally and figuratively. Stroll through the twisty, winding olive groves and learn about the plants and their cultivation during an exclusive Discovery Series event. You’ll then enjoy a light lunch at the farm, including a taste of the golden olive-oil.

    Afterwards, head back to Monopoli for a discovery tour of the Old Town with your Program Director. Amble past the tranquil harbor—blue and white boats bobbing in the sparkling sea—and marvel at its fortified sea-front walls, dating back to medieval times.

    Return to the ship this evening for dinner.

  • This morning, enjoy breakfast onboard before disembarking at the port of Monopoli for a day at leisure. Perhaps you’ll head toward the Piazza XX Settembre and explore the nearby local street market—a lively open-air hive of color and cacophony.

    Or, join our optional Matera Troglodyte City tour to discover the ancient cave dwellings of Sassi di Matera—a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Take a walk along Churches Road, so called for the stretch of the ancient stone houses of worship you’ll discover. Then explore a path from the city to one of two original Sassi districts in the valley. Go back in time as you walk past quarries, ravines, and sculptured gardens, toward a network of small cave churches, crypts, and fortifications. During your tour, you may see the churches of San Pietro Barisino, Sant’Agostino, and Santa Maria de Idris, which overlooks scenic Sasso Caveoso valley. You’ll want to keep an eye out for medieval paintings executed in fresco on many of the church walls.

    Afterwards, you’ll enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before returning to the ship to relax after the day’s explorations.

    Dinner is onboard your ship this evening.

  • Today your ship will anchor just two miles from Puglia’s beautiful Tremiti Islands—much closer than other cruise ships can get. This morning, you'll tender to San Nicola, the most populous of three islands that make up this archipelago, for a walking tour.

    Following lunch aboard your ship, set off aboard tenders once again for a boat tour offering picture-perfect views of rugged cliffs, sandy coves, and lush woods—the Adriatic Sea glittering all around you. You may return to the ship after your tour is complete, or spend the afternoon on the island of San Domino this afternoon, which you'll explore on a discovery walk with your Program Director.

    Set sail this evening, enjoying dinner onboard.

  • Wake up in the small fishing port of Ortona this morning and, after breakfast, transfer to L’Aquila, a mountainous region of picturesque villages perched right along the mountain side. The secluded location cultivated a region unique from the rest of Italy, such as their shepherding culture.

    During a guided tour of the medieval city, you’ll hear of the devastating earthquake which wreaked havoc across the land in 2009, killing more than 300 people and destroying its historical center. You’ll also have a chance to speak to locals during an emotional exclusive Discovery Series event that will focus on the controversial reconstruction of the Old Town, the families that were relocated in the process, and the slow recovery of the community as a whole.

    This afternoon, join a local family for a Home-Hosted Lunch. Perhaps you’ll enjoy one of L’Aquila’s unique specialties, such as agnello alla diavola, lamb chops cooked with chilies, orange peel, rosemary, and fennel; or maccheroni alla chitarra—a squared egg pasta with a spicy tomato and meat sauce.

    Return to your ship this evening and enjoy dinner onboard.

  • Dock in Pesaro this morning then depart for the university city of Urbino. Once a thriving hub for artists in the 15th century, Urbino was a direct rival of Florence during the Renaissance and still retains much of the architectural splendor of the period today. Its historic center, encircled by an expansive city wall of sandstone and brick, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. Enjoy a guided tour, including a visit to the magnificent Ducal Palace, which has one of the most impressive collections of Renaissance paintings in Italy on display. Later, enjoy lunch at a nearby farmhouse.

    This afternoon, return to the ship and prepare to sail to your next destination. Dinner will be served onboard.

  • This morning, you ship docks in the Italian port town of Rimini, which you'll explore during a discovery walk and free time. Then, following lunch onboard your ship, you'll transfer to the independent Republic of San Marino, one of the world’s smallest states. Survey the distant countryside—and, on a clear day, sweeping views of the Adriatic Coast—during a funicular ride up to the Old Town this morning. Make sure to get your passport stamped!

    After a discovery walk of the Old Town, you’ll meet with members of the local crossbow association during an exclusive Discovery Series event. A long and proudly-held tradition since 1537, San Marino’s crossbow federation used to make up the state’s militia but now is practiced ceremonially only. Hear about the history of this centuries-old practice from members of the association and get a first-hand look at the archer’s crossbows. 

    Early this evening, return to the ship to settle in and savor dinner onboard.

  • Today’s discoveries will introduce you to Ravenna, the fifth-century seat of the Roman Empire and, later, a major city during the Byzantine era. Witness the city’s highlights on a walking tour that includes Dante’s tomb, as well as the colorful mosaics adorning both the 1,400-year-old Basilica di San Vitale and the Mausoleo Galla Placida.

    After savoring lunch in a local restaurant, the afternoon is yours to do as you please. A shuttle bus will be available to transport you back to your ship. Or, you may choose to explore Ravenna at your own pace. If the morning has whetted your appetite for more mosaics, seek out the collection at Battistero degli Ariani. You can also examine an array of artistic achievements spanning the centuries at the Mar, the city’s fine arts museum.

    Return to your ship this evening for the Captain's Farewell Dinner.

  • After breakfast, say farewell to the M/V Artemis and continue your explorations in Venice. You’ll spend the day visiting the islands of the Venetian Lagoon—Torcello and Burano. First, you’ll visit Torcello, a peaceful, sparsely-populated island famed for the stunning Byzantine mosaics found in Cathedral of Santa Maria Dell’Assunta, constructed in the seventh century.

    Next, travel to the isle of Burano, where you’ll enjoy a walking tour of this colorful fishing village. Lunch is on your own; you can ask your Program Director to point out some authentic Venetian dining options.

    Later this afternoon you will transfer to your hotel and check in. The remainder of the day is at leisure and dinner is on your own.

  • After breakfast, embark on a walking tour of this romantic city, visiting the famous Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square), the center of Venice. This square was the heartbeat of the Serenissima (“Serene Republic”) in the heyday of Venice’s glory as a seafaring republic, and the city’s major attractions are centered here. It is one of the most beautiful and most photographed squares in all of Europe. Dominated by the lovely St. Mark’s Basilica, the spacious square is surrounded with outdoor cafés, and is the perfect place to do a little people-watching Italian-style while sipping a cappuccino.

    Ornate St. Mark’s Basilica is so richly embellished that it looks like it could have been moved intact from Istanbul. Though the domed church is a conglomerate of many architectural styles, its main influence is Byzantine. Its façade is adorned with marble and mosaics that depict the life of Christ and St. Mark. Outside the basilica is the campanile (bell tower), which was rebuilt after it collapsed in 1902. It is now open should you want to ascend for a good view of the six cupolas of the church.

    Enjoy the afternoon to make your own discoveries. You can choose to remain longer to enjoy St. Mark’s Square, exploring some of the little alleys that radiate from it. Or perhaps you’ll get a taste for everyday Venetian life if you choose to pause for some light snacks and a glass of wine at a local bacaro, a typical Venetian coffee shop.

    Rejoin your fellow travelers this evening for dinner in a local restaurant.

    • Meals included:

    Fly home or extend your discoveries in Trieste & Ljubljana on our post-trip extension. 

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Ljubljana & Trieste

    5 nights from only $1495

    With cafe-lined streets in its Old Town and quaint bridges spanning its namesake river, Ljubljana is reminiscent of the timeless cities of Old Europe. It boasts a modern touch as well—much of the city was rebuilt after an earthquake at the end of the 19th century. Discover how the past and present have seamlessly merged in Slovenia. Then find inspiration where James Joyce once did in Trieste, Italy—where Italian, Slovenian, Croatian, and Austrian influences combine is a flourish of central European elegance. While here, you'll discover historical influences at World War II sites, and visit the Collio Wine Country for a tasting on a journey worth raising a glass to.

    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on Undiscovered Adriatic: Eastern Italy, Venice, Puglia & Malta

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