In alliance with Smithsonian Journeys.
This cruise is part of a collection of PONANT voyages that are specially-tailored for English-speaking travelers who want to engage with the world. In addition to the usual elements of the PONANT experience, the listed price for these voyages includes transfers to and from the ship, talks and discussions aboard ship by world class experts, and a shore excursion or activity in each port of call that encourages guests to embrace the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of the local environment and culture.
This 9-day voyage in Sicily and Southern Italy aboard Le Dumont-d’Urville visits some of the Mediterranean’s most compelling ancient, medieval, and Renaissance sites while also offering extensive opportunities to sample the foods and wines that have made this part of the world famous for its cuisine. Because there is so much to see and do, the itinerary is designed to allow for maximum time ashore.
From Valletta, Malta, your experience of Sicily begins in Syracuse, where you may choose to focus on Ortygia, the ancient center of this once-powerful Greek colony, and on the city’s extensive archaeological park; enjoy a tasting at a nearby winery; or join excursions that combine exploration of historical sites with samplings of Sicilian arancini, cheeses, salamis, breads, and desserts.
The beautiful resort town of Taormina, perched high on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea, is home to a stunning Greek theater, an Odeon from Roman times, buildings blending Arab and Norman cultures, and villas built by European aristocracy in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is also your gateway to Mt. Etna and the vineyards that thrive in the rich volcanic soils of its slopes.
Reggio di Calabria, just across the Strait of Messina from Sicily, is home to the National Archaeological Museum of Magna Graecia and the world famous Riace Bronzes. The surrounding area, both along the coast and in the interior mountains, boasts a number of intriguing castles and many wineries. During your time here, you may visit the hilltop Norman Castle in Vibo Valentia, the Ruffo Castle overlooking the Messina Strait, or the Aragonese Castle in the village of Pizzo, enjoying a variety of local food specialties whichever excursion you choose, including the native citrus bergamot and the ice cream and fruit delight called tartufo.
From the port of Agropoli, about 30 miles south of the Amalfi peninsula, travel to Paestum, founded by Greeks in the 6th century BC and one of Italy’s most important archaeological sites, containing Doric temples that are among the best-preserved ancient monuments in the Mediterranean. The region around Agropoli is famous for the production of Campania mozzarella, and you will have the opportunity to see it being made and to sample the end product.
No visit to Naples is complete without the opportunity to explore Pompeii, destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD and frozen in time. No other site so acutely captures everyday life in the early Roman Empire. Other excursions include Herculaneum, which shared Pompeii’s fate, and a working farm near Sorrento, where you can make your own version of what is perhaps the region’s most famous food, Neapolitan style pizza.
Spend a full day in the Eternal City of Rome, where exploration of monuments like the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Vatican, and Villa Borghese competes for your attention with tastings of street food and making Rome’s version of pizza.
Your final full day of discovery from Livorno includes a full day excursion to Florence for an introduction to the heart of the Italian Renaissance. Or if you prefer, you may explore the Etruscan ruins and museum at nearby Volterra. Alternatively, spend the day exploring Romanesque Lucca, birthplace of Giacomo Puccini, and medieval Pisa, with its magnificent Duomo, Baptistry, and Leaning Tower.