Perhaps singer Elton John sums it up best, “I love places that have an incredible history. I love the Italian way of life. I love the food. I love the people, I love the attitudes of Italians.” Between the unparalleled culture, arts and history and picture book landscapes to the couture and culinary delights and a daily mindset that celebrates la dolce vita, Italy may very well be nirvana.
The Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio, Pitti Palace and Michelangelo’s Renaissance masterpiece sculpture of David are just a few of the must-see destinations of Florence. A city that is best experienced on foot, see the sights on a complimentary walking tour and visit the Giotto Bell Tower and the astonishing array of statues such as Cellini’s Perseus, Ammannati’s Neptune Fountain and Michelangelo’s famous David. Take in the Florentine architecture at the Piazza di Santa Croce and walk across the only bridge to survive the attacks of World War II, the Ponte Vecchio (also known as Old Bridge), and pick up a souvenir jewel or two.
Be sure to visit at least one of the city’s museums – the Uffizi, Gallerie dell’Accademia and Bargello as well as the numerous majestic churches. As home and influence to the creative genius of Michelangelo, Dante, Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci and Machiavelli, the gateway to the Renaissance is a cultural delight.
The picturesque coastal village of Portofino is filled with yachts, chic restaurants and fashionable boutiques and one of the toniest fishing ports in the Mediterranean. A trip to the nearby port town Genoa is also in order. A walking tour will take you to the Strada Nuova where a stunning view of the city’s most incredible Baroque-style palaces awaits. The Via Garibaldi evokes an open-air museum and you can tour the architectural history of the city’s biggest palaces and architectural gems that house paintings by Van Dyck, Caravaggio and Rubens.
Design enthusiasts will enjoy the Villa Durazzo that was built in the 17th century. The summer residence of the Durazzo family, the villas are filled with artworks from the Genoese School, Murano glass chandeliers, majolica, and frescoes and tromp l’oeil designs accompanied by citrus and Italian gardens by the sea.
And last but not least, an added bonus on your voyage – a front row seat at the Monte Carlo International Fireworks Festival. Known as one of the largest pyrotechnics competition in the world since its inception in 1966, enjoy a cocktail on the ship’s pool deck and soak in the view of the Rivera’s biggest light show.