With a great historic past and incomparable art treasures, Venice is renowned as one of the world’s great cities. Its 118 islands are separated by more than 150 canals and spanned by 400 bridges. During Venice's artistic golden age many magnificent structures were erected to create world-famous masterpieces. One of the best sightseeing routes is along Grand Canal, with many palaces lining the famous waterway. St. Mark’s Square offers access to some of Venice’s most famed attractions - St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace. From Piazza San Marco, a maze of narrow streets are lined with shops, cafés and restaurants. A popular pastime is sitting at an outdoor café facing the square while people-watching and letting the whole marvelous scenario unfold. Venice’s Murano, Burano and Torcello Islands comprise an area famous as home of Venice’s glass-blowing industry and known for their charm, skilled lace-making and medieval monuments. Relax on a gondola ride, see art treasures in museums, churches and palaces, and have a sumptuous meal - all in this incomparable city.
Ancona is a port on the Adriatic coast of central Italy. Monuments of interest include the Cathedral remodelled in the 12th and 13th centuries in Romanesque style with evident Byzantine influence. Notable landmarks, restored since the war, include the marble Arch of Trajan (115), the 11th century Church of Santa Maria della Piazza and the Cathedral of San Ciriaco, which is supposed to occupy the site of a Roman temple of Venus and incorporates the remains of a 5th century basilica. The city has many fine Gothic buildings and is the site of the National Museum of Marche and Piazza del Plebiscito considered the favourite meeting point of Ancona.
Take a step back in time and visit the old town of Kotor, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in this part of the Mediterranean. The asymmetric structure of the narrow streets and squares, combined with the awesome monuments of medieval architecture, contributed to Kotor being placed on UNESCO’s “World’s natural and cultural inheritance” list. From ancient fortification systems surrounding the city to 12th century cathedrals, Kotor is a dream come true for those who revel in history. Entrance to town from the Gurdic spring, consists of 3 separate gates, built from the 13th, 16th and 18th centuries. The Cathedral of St. Tryphon is one of the most visited and impressive churches in the city. According to some texts, the original church was erected in the 8th century and rebuilt in 1166. Two earthquakes, one in 1667 and one in 1979 seriously damaged the cathedral and it continues to be restored to this day. The city is breathtaking in every respect and only a visit will truly reveal all it has to offer.
Bari (ancient Barium) is an industrial city in the Apulia region of southern Italy and a seaport on the Adriatic Sea. The old quarter of the city sits on a promontory separating the old and new harbors. It is the site of two notable Romanesque churches: the Basilica of San Nicola (11th-12th century) and the cathedral (late 12th century). Bari was formerly a Greek colony and later a Roman trading settlement. It came under the domination of the Lombards, the Byzantines, and the Normans. It was a key Italian naval base during World War II and sustained heavy damage. From here it is easy to visit Alberobello and Egnazia.
Sitting on the heel of Italy in Salento, this seaside escape used its fertile lands to breed the best horses across the country. It's colorful past retained much influence from the Greeks, Byantines and Turks. Visit the Romanesque mosaic that rivals the famous Ravenna mosaic. It is preserved in the 12th-century Otranto cathedral that hovers over the bones of 813 martyrs behind the altar.
Visitors will enjoy visitng the many medieval buildings and relaxing on the beautiful beaches. The Cathedral is a beatiful blend of neo-classical and Baroque styles. Another historic building worth visiting is the 16th century castle of Charles V, as it also houses the Town Museum. Visitors will find plentiful dining, shops, and cafe's along the beaches.
Sicilia is the favorite island of Gods in traditional poetry. The most powerful and biggest ancient city in Sicilia is Siracusa. Its name may come from the native word "Siraco", which means "marsh", due to the bogs which surrounded the city. Or it may derive from a Phenician etymology signifying the presence of seagulls on its rocky shores. Few cities of the ancient world had the importance Syracuse had in Magna Grecia, the ancient Greek settlements in Italy. The most spectacular monuments in the archeological area surrounded by colorful Mediterranean vegetation are the Greek amphitheatre and the Orecchio di Dionisio (Dionysius' Ear). Besides touring the Archeological Museum that contains beautiful objects, Ortigia Island, the heart of the old Greek city, is worth a visit. Outside the city limits is Eurialo Castle, an incredible structure built to protect the city from the Cathaginians, and Pantalica, the great rocky necropolis in Anapo Valley.
Valletta is the capital of Malta. This remarkable fortified city with its massive bastions followed the most advanced Renaissance ideas in town planning, with streets laid straight on a grid looking over the Grand Harbour. Outside the 'City Gate' is the famous Triton Fountain. 'City Gate' has public buses and vendors selling soft drinks and all sorts of traditional fresh Maltese bread and sweets. Freedom Square shows an extraordinary capital with buildings of fine architecture of different tastes and styles ranging from the Mannerism to Baroque to Rococo to Neoclassicism. Valletta is a fascinating city for wandering around looking at what used to be the Knight's own cathedrals and Auberges. The city's backbone is Republic Street, which runs straight through the city center to Fort St. Elmo. Valletta has several narrow, steep side streets decorated with traditional Maltese pastel colored balconies and a statue on almost every street corner. There are plenty of shops, cafes, and restaurants to choose from.
While there is little to see in Porto Empedocle except the 16th century Quadrangular Tower of Carlo V, the jewel is Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples. Numerous remarkable monuments are present all over Agrigento including the Cathedral and the 13th century Church of Saint Nicholas - now an Archeological Museum. However, it is the Valley of the Temples, built in the 5th century BC, which is the most significant evidence of the Greek civilization in Sicily. In a countryside of blooming almond trees, enjoy the wonderful ruins of temples which even after centuries still keep their architectural grandeur intact.
Trapani was founded in antiquity on Sicily's western coast by the Sicanians. Trapani is an unusual Sicilian city for its westward position, which affords spectacular views of some of the Mediterranean's most beautiful sunsets. The oldest parts of the city have been modernized in many respects, but Trapani shows its medieval past. The Annunciation Sanctuary was built in the fourteenth century in Romanesque Gothic style and still retains splendid medieval elements such as the facade's portal and rose window, though the church's interior has been modified. The Pepoli Regional Museum is renowned for its medieval and modern collections, including articles from the Bourbon era, though it also houses ancient finds. Giudecca Palace is a Catalan Gothic structure built in the sixteenth century. The Church of Saint Mary of Jesus has a splendid Renaissance Gothic facade. The Church of Sant'Agostino is Romanesque Gothic with a beautiful rose window. The Cathedral and Collegio Church were built in Baroque style during the seventeenth century.
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On the French island of Corsica, Ajaccio is famous as the birthplace of Napoleon. Visit the Bonaparte family home and the 16th century church where he was baptized. Or, take a tour into the wild and rugged outback countryside they call the maquis.
Monaco is famous as Côte d’Azur’s playground. With spacious beaches, elegant hotels and lively nightlife, this tiny domain is a jet set favorite and home to some of the world's most expensive real estate. In addition to luxury hotels and beautiful beaches, Monaco is noted for mild climate and magnificent scenery. Monaco and Monte Carlo rank high on every visitor’s must-see list. Monaco-Ville is the old city and seat of Monaco’s government. The 19th-century Romanesque cathedral Prince's Palace contains impressive works of art and the tomb of Princess Grace, while the Parliament building and Oceanographic Museum, under the auspices of the Jacques Cousteau Society, offer additional sights. Monte Carlo spells sophistication, elegance, and glamour. Every year the rich and famous gather here to bask in the sun, gamble at the world’s most opulent casino and attend spectacular parties. The most splendid hotels, several fine theaters, museums and excellent restaurants cater to the elite. Nothing typifies more the elegant lifestyle of the Côte d’Azur than glamorous Monte Carlo.
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