|Many Lines Call in Sorrento, which overlooks the Bay of Naples and is a great jumpoff point for excursions along Amalfi Drive and to Pompeii.|
Seaside Enclaves of Distinction
Simply saying “Italia” out loud brings a wistful sigh and a smile to the faces of travelers eager to vacation again in a land they adore. Fortunately, seaside views coupled with luxury travel experiences await cruisers in a trio of ports along Italy’s 4,700-mile coastline.
|The Trieste Cathedral was dedicated to San Giusto, a Roman Catholic saint.|
From its dramatic cliffside perch, Sorrento embodies the best of southern Italy. Near Slovenia, laid-back Trieste is a lovely city just a two-hour drive from Venice. And Palermo delivers a rich mix of Norman heritage and Sicilian culture.
Sorrento is a city of extraordinary beauty with orange-, gold- and almond-colored buildings. Many lines call at Sorrento during the European cruise season. Among them, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Mariner calls at Sorrento on a 10-night Riviera Reveries voyage departing May 28 from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (the port for Rome); Oceania Cruises’ Marina has a long call (8 a.m. to 11 p.m.) during its Enchanted Rivieras voyage on August 26, 2011, from Civitavecchia to Venice; and Seabourn Cruise Line calls at Sorrento on its Italian Idyll roundtrip Seabourn Legend voyage from Civitavecchia on May 8, 2011.
Highly popular among cruisers are tours from Sorrento to the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, destroyed by Mount Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 AD. Voyages to Antiquity operates an excursion covering both sites. Alternatively, shoppers may hop on a jetfoil to Capri, while those seeking scenic beauty may hire a private car and guide for an Amalfi Coast drive.
|Palermo Cathedral in Sicily is noted for its variety of styles due to a history of additions and restorations.|
Small villages are reached via a mind-blowing, yet breathtaking two-lane road hugging the mountainsides. The drive delivers both harrowing curves and scary views; at times, the road has no shoulder—just abrupt drop-offs that overlook the aquamarine sea hundreds of feet below. Crystal Cruises’ guests may experience the exhilarating drive on a shore trip; one of Crystal’s recent shore excursions included lunch at Ristorante Quattro Passi.
A few cruise ships now anchor off Sorrento overnight, allowing guests to enjoy dinner in town. On September 17, 2011, SeaDream I departs Civitavecchia for a weeklong voyage, with an overnight at Sorrento.
Trieste is a picturesque city that’s quieter and less touristy than neighboring Venice. Azamara Club Cruises’ Azamara Quest will call at Trieste on July 30, 2011, during a roundtrip voyage from Venice.
It’s easy to admire the city’s Piazza Unita d’Italia, a vast square ringed by grand buildings and city hall. Nearby are several shopping streets where clients may peruse clothing, high-end home-design goods, culinary specialties of the region and wine. Suggest clients drop into Chocolat on Via Cavana for a creamy pistachio or chocolate gelato.
Cruise guests often tour the 19th-century Miramare Castle, built seaside by Maximilian of Austria. Archaeological buffs should check out the Roman amphitheater and an arch that’s the last vestige of the city’s Roman walls. For panoramic views, visitors may climb the hill behind the city center; the rewards are a 15th-century castle and the San Giusto Cathedral with interior mosaics. Insider’s tip? Advise clients to step inside the cathedral’s bookstore (the belltower entrance) to glimpse a portion of the Roman Propylaeum.
|A bird ’s-eye view of Trieste.|
If cruisers opt to stay in Trieste before or after their cruise (from Venice), we recommend room No. 163 at the Savoia Excelsior Palace, part of The Collection by Star Hotels. It boasts separate living/dining and bedroom areas, a small kitchen, flat-screen TVs and window-doors that open onto a massive balcony overlooking the waterfront. As a special treat, you may book a private car to take clients into the countryside for dinner at Al Cjant Dal Rusignul at Dolegna del Collio; it serves vintages (including a delightful schioppettino) from the La Di Zuf vineyard estate.
Situated along Sicily’s northern coast, Palermo is a city bearing Norman, Arab and, of course, Sicilian influences. Your clients will have a slew of historical sites to view, including the classical Massimo Theater, one of Europe’s largest opera houses.
What’s not to be missed? Definitely the Palatine Chapel, built in 1130 within the Norman Palace. Styled with Byzantine, Latin and Moorish influences, this chapel beams with brightly colored Biblical scenes. The chapel’s shimmering effect is created by enamel and gold-leaf mosaic tiles inserted between transparent glass panes.
Just two blocks away is San Giovanni degli Eremiti, a 12th-century Norman-era church with simplistic design and red Arabic domes. Another site worth a visit is Palermo’s Cathedral, which combines Norman exterior and Baroque interior design.
Speaking of Baroque, the city’s 16th-century Pretoria Fountain caused quite a controversy when it was installed. Many of the fountain’s 50 white Carrera marble sculptures are nude. Conservative Sicilian locals of the era were outraged. As a result, the fountain’s nickname, Fountain of Shame, lasted until the 20th century. Today, it’s simply a lovely fountain and a prime tourism attraction.
If cruisers wish to try Palermo’s local cuisine, they might select pasta with wild fennel, fresh sardines, pine nuts, as well as panelle, a Sicilian fritter made from chickpea flour.
|The Castle of San Giusto in Trieste took almost two centuries to build.|
Palermo is also the gateway for day trips to the Cathedral at Monreale and the ancient Greek city of Segesta. Silversea Cruises’ Silver Wind will call at the city during an eight-day voyage departing May 16, 2011, from Civitavecchia for Piraeus (Athens).
For more information on Italian seaside destinations, visit www.italiantourism.com.