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Setting sail from Rome (Civitavecchia)
One of the world's great cities, Rome continues to dazzle and delight visitors with a potent mix of architectural marvels, continent-defining history and buzzing nightlife. As the saying goes, the city wasn't built in a day, and if you want to make the most of Rome you'll need to spend at least a couple of nights here. The Colosseum, the Vatican and the Forum are among the big ticket items, with the crowds to match, though in truth you will find history around almost every corner.
The Via Appia - this ancient Roman road is now part of a national park, and closed to car traffic on Sundays. Take a picnic, stroll, and visit the extraordinary catacombs.
The lovely town of Sorrento, draped across rugged cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naples, has been charming visitors since the days of the Grand Tour. The Renaissance palaces and many craft shops make Sorrento an attractive destination in its own right, and it’s also a jumping off point for Capri, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.
Italy: Giardini Naxos
The charming village of Giardini Naxos is one of the jewels of Sicily, a popular resort located on a majestic bay facing the Ionian Sea. Restaurants and bars line a long stretch of beach, and the attractive town of Taormina is within easy reach, along with the slopes of brooding Mount Etna.
The Calabrian city of Crotone was once an important Greek colony, home to the mathematician Pythagoras, and some ruins still survive at Capo Colonna, to the south of the modern city. Another popular excursion is a visit to the fishing village of Le Castella, where a fairytale castle sits on an island at the end of a narrow causeway.
Otranto sits at the end of the ‘heel’ of Italy, and has borne the brunt of many invasions and attacks over the years, most notably by the Turks in 1480. If you only have a day here we'd recommend visiting nearby Lecce, a true baroque masterpiece that has been described as the ‘Florence of the South’.
We never fail to be moved when we see the terracotta roofs and honey-golden walls of Dubrovnik, and a stroll around the perfectly preserved old town is a highlight of any visit to the Dalmatian coast. Make sure you take the time to walk around the walls and soak up the marvellous sea views.
Of all Croatia’s myriad inhabited islands, Vis is the furthest from the mainland, and was off-limits to tourists for many years, reserved for the Yugoslav military. The resulting lack of development is a big part of the island’s appeal, along with stunning scenery, excellent food and wine, and the attractive little towns of Komiza and Vis Town.
Arriving in Venice
Venice is a city like no other, a marble maze of turquoise canals criss-crossed by beautiful bridges, overflowing with palaces, churches and charming little piazzas. No matter how many times you've seen it in photographs, that first glimpse of the Grand Canal will simply take your breath away; it hardly seems credible that such an eye-popping scene could exist outside of a Canaletto painting. Of course Venice is a city that draws big crowds, especially in summer, but don't let this put you off; even the busiest areas are never more than a few steps from a quiet courtyard or a secluded square.
The long, long queues for St Marks might put you off, but just book online in advance for timed entrance and bypass the exhausted tourists.
Your home from home
Emerald Azzurra and Sakara are the first ships in the Emerald yacht fleet, carrying just 100 lucky travellers in sleek and stylish surroundings.
What we love
Enjoy small ship cruising in style, with comfortable staterooms and suites (most with private balcony), an à la carte restaurant, infinity-style pool, al fresco Sky Bar, wellness area and a marina at the back of the yacht, allowing you to hop straight into the water and have fun with a host of water toys.
Intimate and informal, with an emphasis on relaxed, al fresco living and exploration ashore.
Tailor-make your trip
Extend your stay in Rome
There are so many great hotels but we particularly love the Campo de’ Fiori, for its great location in the centre of everything.
Beat the queues
Get a private guide to help you jump the queues into the Vatican who can whizz you through the galleries to see the essentials and ensure your best view of the Sistine Chapel.
Our favourite hotel in Venice
The Metropole is an old favourite for its quieter location and lovely lagoon views.
See more of the Veneto
If you’ve time, take the train to Padova and visit the Scrovegni Chapel.