Road Scholar : Home
Voyages to Antiquity: Rome to Cannes

Program Number: 20720RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/16/2013 - 5/29/2013;
Duration: 13 nights
Location: Italy/France/Spain
Price starting at: $5,590.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Cruises
Meals: 32; 12 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Gluten Free; Low Fat; Low Salt; Vegetarian    

Delve into a world of emperors and Popes, soldiers and farmers, sculptors and painters on this voyage from Italy to Barcelona to the French Riviera. Learn the stories that shaped history as you travel to eras when coliseums and citadels rose from the dust, when Michelangelo worked and when Napoleon waited in exile.

Activity Particulars

Walking up and downhill, up to two miles per day. Standing up to four hours per day, with breaks; uneven terrain and steep stairs without railings at historic sites.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Rome (Italy), 2 nights; aboard Aegean Odyssey, 10 nights.

Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.

Days 2-4: Arrival Rome (Italy) / embark Aegean Odyssey:

Discover Vatican City on a special field trip. See the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Trevi Fountain. En route to the ship enjoy a meal at a farmhouse in the countryside. Lodging: Four-star hotel.

Day 5: Elba:

Go ashore on this lovely Mediterranean island where Napoleon served as governor during his 300-day exile.

Day 6: Florence:

In the heart of the Italian Renaissance, discover two of the world’s greatest museums: the Accademia and the Uffizi Gallery.

Day 7: Corsica (France):

Pull into the port of Bonifacio and explore the Haute Ville, the old “upper city,” strategically built on a promontory above the sea.

Days 8-9: At Sea / Mallorca (Spain):

On the beautiful island of Mallorca, discover Palma's bustling old town and its incredible La Seu cathedral.

Day 10: Barcelona (Spain):

Spend a full day exploring the Roman sites of Barcelona including the Barcelona History Museum, theTemple of Augustus and Roman remains in the Gothic Quarter.

Day 11: Sète (France):

From this seaside commune, travel to the breathtaking medieval fortress city of Carcassonne.

Day 12: Marseille:

Journey to Avignon to step inside the Palais des Papes, residence of the Pope from 1309 to 1376. Continue to Arles to examine its impressive Roman ruins.

Days 13-14: Cannes / disembark / departure:

Enjoy a day to explore the historic waterfront and palm-shaded cafés of Cannes independently.

Aegean Odyssey

The Aegean Odyssey is a premium-class ship especially rebuilt for sailing along shallow coastlines, among remote islands and into small, uncrowded harbors that larger ocean liners can’t reach. Public areas include several gourmet restaurants, library, Internet center, sweeping sun decks, outdoor pool, gym and spa.

Meals and Lodgings
   Grand Hotel Beverly Hills
  Rome, Italy 2 nights
   MV Aegean Odyssey
  MV Aegean Odyssey - At Sea, At Sea 10 nights
 Grand Hotel Beverly Hills
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: A spacious and elegant reception hall welcomes guests to the Hotel Beverly Hills Rome. This is a precursor to the expert hospitality and warm welcome which guests will find inside. The warmth of this welcome is continued into the guest rooms and suites with their classic interiors and modern comforts. The ristorante Mascagni and the Puccini Bar are both elegant and lovely. The hotel is located in the prestigious Parioli neighborhood with easy connections to the center of Rome, highways, and airports.
  Contact info: Largo Benedetto Marcello 220
Rome,  00198 Italy
phone: +39 06 85 42141
  Room amenities: Each room has a hair dryer, mini bar, safe box, telephone, television, and wireless Internet access (for a fee).
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, bar, air conditioning, laundry services, business center, Internet access (30 minutes of free wireless Internet in the lobby, additional wireless Internet available for a fee), and safe box.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: N/A Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 MV Aegean Odyssey
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The MV Aegean Odyssey offers boutique-style cruising at its best. In contrast to the massive vessels cruising to and from major ports, it is a midsized ship adapted for island and coastal cruising. The Aegean Odyssey can visit smaller, less crowded harbors and sail closer to the coast enabling you to really appreciate the magical views.
  Ship Information: Ship’s Tonnage: 11,563 Length: 461 feet Beam: 67 feet Draft: 20.5 feet Cruising Speed: 18 knots Passenger Decks: 7 Stabilizers: 2 Passenger Staterooms/Cabins: 198 Passengers – lower beds: 378 Classification: Lloyd’s Register Society London Ship’s Registration: Malta
  Contact info: Voyages to Antiquity
1800 SE 10th Avenue, Suite 230
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316 USA
phone: 877-398-1460
  Room amenities: All cabins are equipped with a flat screen TV, air-conditioning, and personal safe. Particular importance is placed on the standard of bedding in cabins. Luxury bedding, including fine duvets, covers and sheets, ample soft pillows and quality towels can be expected. Also, shampoo, bath and shower gel, soap, and shower cap are provided. Your cabin steward is always available. Cabins and suites feature outlets with 220 voltage, using the “European” two round pin plug. Hair dryers are provided in your cabin and electric rollers, curling irons, electric shavers and other small appliances can be used in your cabin. For safety reasons, travel irons are not allowed.
  Facility amenities: Dining: MV Aegean Odyssey offers many dining facilities: The Marco Polo Restaurant is the ship's more formal restaurant, providing casual country-club elegance for lunch or dinner; The Terrace Cafe offers a combination of indoor and outdoor seating where you can indulge in breakfast, lunch and dinner from the grill or the sumptuous daily buffet. In the evenings, enjoy breathtaking views over dinner at Tapas on the Terrace. *There is a complimentary choice of wine, beer, or soft drinks with your evening meal. There will be a string trio, pianist and casual dancing before and after dinner. You may also wish to partake in afternoon tea, served in the Observation Lounge. Or perhaps an evening snack and cocktail, available in the Lido and Rendezvous bars. A limited room service menu is available. Special Diets: Please advise us at the time of booking of any special dietary requirements. The ship can usually meet most general requests such as those made with an air carrier; however, this cannot always be guaranteed. Services: Library; outdoor pool; spa; health center, saunas, massage and beauty treatment rooms and early morning yoga on the Lido Deck; elevators; Internet center (open 24 hours and a charge of $18 for 4 non-consecutive hours is applied, no wireless available); beauty salon; medical center; laundry and pressing services (order form and laundry bag is provided in cabin); lecture theater and cinema and on board shop.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Rome, Italy. Group Meeting Time: 5:00 PM in the hotel lobby for a one hour introductory orientation. You will be staying at Grand Hotel Beverly Hills that night.
  End of Program:
Cannes, France. The program will end after breakfast on the last day. You will be staying at MV Aegean Odyssey the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. The Voyages to Antiquity Guest Registration Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: See above.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Rome
  Transportation to site: From the Fiumincino Airport take the Leonardo Express train to the Termini central train station. Take bus number 86 to the bus stop on the corner of Via Po and Via Simeto. From here it is a short walk to the hotel. If you wish to hire a private car (57 Euro), you may contact Italian Details at or 011-39-06-89087926.
  From End of Program
  Location:  MV Aegean Odyssey - At Sea
  Transportation from site: From Cannes, you may take a taxi from the ship to the airport in Nice. You may purchase a private or group transfer onboard.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departures
(Thursday, May 16)
 In Transit: Depart US/Canada on international overnight flight.

Day 2: Welcome
(Friday, May 17)
 Morning: Arrival in Rome Leonardo da Vinci - Fiumicino Airport (FCO). Meet group inside the customs area. Transfer to hotel.
 Afternoon: Group Meeting Time: 5:00 PM in the hotel lobby for a 1 hour introductory orientation.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Beverly Hills
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Rome, Italy
(Saturday, May 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room.
 Morning: Enjoy a guided field trip to the Vatican.
 Lunch: Explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore Rome on your own. You may wish to explore the Pantheon, or behold stunning views of the city from the top of the Spanish Steps.
 Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.
Accommodations: Grand Hotel Beverly Hills
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 4: Rome, Italy / Embark on the MV Aegean Odyssey
(Sunday, May 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room.
 Morning: We will enjoy a guided excursion of Rome. Highlights include the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain. Transfer to Civitavecchia.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch at a charming farmhouse about 30 minutes from Civitavecchia. Dine on mouth watering regional cuisine while tasting local wines at a farmhouse in the Italian countryside. Absolutely breathtaking!
 Afternoon: Embark on the MV Aegean Odyssey and settle in to your cabin. Late afternoon Road Scholar orientation to the ship in the "Observation Lounge."
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Elba, Italy
(Monday, May 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: At sea. A relaxing morning to enjoy the late-spring sunshine and the shipboard guest lectures as the ship makes its way to Elba.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Follow the path of Napoleon Bonaparte as you explore the island where he was exiled from 1814 to 1815. The highlight is a walking tour that visits the Emperor's principal residence, an elaborate villa overlooking the city, much of it unchanged from when he lived here. Start your adventure with a scenic drive from Portoferraio, the main town and port, to Golfo Stella. Visit the fishing harbor of Porto Azzuro, dominated by a medieval fortress. Wander the charming streets where shops feature crafts of minerals and crystals mined in Elba's mountains. Continue to Punta delle Grotte, the ruins of a Roman villa, for magnificent views of Portoferraio, which Greek mythology called Argos, port of the Argonauts. Your walking tour of Portoferraio begins in the Old Town and visits sites of Napoleon's exile. While his stay was short, he left a lasting heritage as you'll see in your visit to Villa dei Mulini with its original art, furniture and library filled with the books he loved, or the San Martin Napoleon Museum. Also visit the first-floor apartment where he stayed when he first arrived on Elba. On your walk see such landmarks as the star-shaped Fort Stella designed by Cosimo di Medici, the theater Napoleon built and historic Piazza Cavour.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Livorno, Italy
(Tuesday, May 21)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Discover the town that gave birth to the Italian Renaissance and view the period's outpouring of art in the renowned Uffizi Museum. From the port of Livorno, it is a about an hour and a half drive through the Tuscan hills to Florence where you begin an exploration through the history and art of this timeless city. A highlight of the morning is a visit to the Accademia, Europe's first school of drawing, where Michelangelo's colossal statue of David presides over a rich collection of paintings and sculptures. Enjoy a guided walking excursion past such landmarks as the 10th-century Ponte Vecchio spanning the River Arno. View the Duomo cathedral flanked by Giotto's Bell Tower. So dense is Florence with monuments, every step reveals new marvels. See the Baptistry, where Ghiberti and Donatello competed to design the bronze doors. Admire the Basilica di Santa Croce where Michelangelo and Machiavelli are interred. Pause in Piazza Signoria, in 1497 the site of Fra Savonarola's Bonfire of the Vanities.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: The centerpiece of this excursion is an afternoon visit to the world-renowned Uffizi Museum. The 16th-century palace, built when Cosimo Medici was the First Grand Duke of Tuscany, houses such Renaissance masterpieces as The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, the exquisite Madonnas of Filippo Lippi, and an entire room of Botticellis, including The Birth of Venus. Foreign artists from Rembrandt to Rubens are also represented.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 7: Bonifacio, France
(Wednesday, May 22)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: At sea. Enjoy the Observation Deck if the weather is nice, or dive into a good book from the ship's library. Attend a talk by your Road Scholar Group Leader.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Discover the star of Corsica's cliff-lined coast: the medieval town of Bonifacio and its walled citadel, Haute Ville, perched high above the sea. Discover this magnificent town, founded in 828 by Bonifacio, the Marquis of Tuscany, and built on the site of an earlier Roman settlement. Start with a tram ride to upper town that offers panoramic views at every turn (if it's a clear day, you may spot Sardinia). Pass the eerie marine cemetery in the Bosco quarter and the 13th-century church of St Dominique, a rare example of the Corsican Gothic style. Following your ride, enjoy a walking excursion through the heart of the historic district. Stroll along cobblestone streets lined with tall narrow houses, many originally built without doors so residents could enter by ladders they pulled up after themselves to prevent surprise attacks. Bonifacio's architecture reflects its many centuries as a colony of Genoa. Admire the 12th-century cathedral, St Marie Majeure, a mix of Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic architectural styles. Visit The Two Emperors Street, where Charles V and Napoleon Bonaparte once stayed, in 1541 and 1793 respectively. See the Place des Armes, the Jardin des Vestiges and an old market that offers sweeping views over the 230-foot cliffs. Pass through the enormous walls of the Porte de Gênes, once the only entrance to Haute Ville, (the drawbridge is a later addition). See the Chapel of St Roch, built where the last plague victim died in 1528. Following the excursion, you can return to the ship with the guide or stay to explore on your own.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: At sea
(Thursday, May 23)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: A chance to relax on deck and enjoy the shipboard guest lectures as the ship makes its way to Palma.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: At sea. Enjoy a late afternoon Road Scholar cocktail party.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Palma, Mallorca, Spain
(Friday, May 24)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Get an overview of Mallorca's capital from the sweeping vistas at Bellver Castle to the architectural wonders of La Seu Cathedral. This half-day excursion begins with a drive to 14th century Bellver Castle, poised 500 feet above Palma and unique among Spanish castles for being entirely round. Bellver means "lovely view" and it is the perfect photo stop for a picture of Palma city and the entire bay. Drive along the Maritime Promenade to the oldest part of Palma and La Seu Cathedral, built on the site of a mosque. This Gothic masterpiece was started in 1230 by King James of Aragon and completed over 300 years later. You will be guided through its interior, with its frescoes, paintings and tombs of Mallorcan kings. Above the great nave is a distinctive canopy by Antoni Gaudí, who participated in the 20th-century remodeling. Highlights include the Mayor and Mirador doorways with sculptures by Guillermo Sagrera and the 9-bell tower with its five-ton "N'Eloi" bell. Our field trip continues through the old town's meandering streets past stately mansions. Then on to the area of Palma's bullfighting arena, modeled on Rome's Colosseum, where you'll have free time to shop for such souvenirs as Mallorca's exquisite man-made pearls.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own in Palma.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a free afternoon to further explore Palma on your own or choose one of the two optional excursion the ship will offer to either Valldemossa or Drach Caves (additional cost, bookable on board). Please see the Optional Excursions page for a full description.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Barcelona, Spain
(Saturday, May 25)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Descend to a unique underground museum for a glimpse of everyday life in Barcino, as Roman Barcelona was called. Hidden under the medieval buildings and squares of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter is a town of far greater antiquity. Roman troops arrived here during the Punic Wars (264 to 146BC) and remained for over 600 years, putting their imprint on the language, law and culture. Not all of the ancient colony is underground. Sections of the original walls, towers and gates can be seen en route to Plaza Ramon Berenguer and Plaza Nova, where an aqueduct and main road once connected Barcino with the rest of the Empire. View the Forum with its remains of a 1st century temple to Caesar Augustus. Then take an elevator to get an in-depth look at daily life in Roman times. Visit one of Europe's largest underground archaeological sites at the Barcelona City History Museum. Stroll metal walkways through workaday Barcino with its laundry, dye shop, salted fish factory and wine shop to get a slice of life – 20 centuries ago. Collections of objects found at the digs include Roman portraits, mosaics, Roman and Hebrew inscriptions, as well as the utensils of daily life. Emerge from this excursion with an enriched understanding of Roman influence and appreciation of Barcelona's antiquity.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own in Barcelona.
 Afternoon: A free afternoon allows you to see more of Barcelona according to your own interests and pace. Perhaps visit extraordinary Sagrada Familia, the massive Catalan church designed by the visionary architect Antoni Gaudí. Or, choose from one of the two optional excursions being offered by the ship (additional cost, bookable on board). Please see the Optional Excursions page for a full description.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Sete, France
(Sunday, May 26)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Relive centuries of history when you visit two cities with Roman roots: the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Carcassonne, an outstanding example of a medieval fortified town, and landlocked Narbonne, once a leading port celebrated by the troubadour Bertrand de Bar. Your adventure starts from Sete with a drive through the wild Languedoc countryside to Carcassonne, a site continuously occupied for over 2,500 years. Encircled by double walls, this stronghold stands exactly as it did in the Middle Ages with miles of battlements, 52 towers and a castle. View the mighty gate with its chains, portcullis and intricate access system. Stroll the lists between the double walls and savor the atmosphere as you get an education in military architecture. The round towers built by the Romans to guard the passage to Spain had to be adapted for medieval weaponry and the guards' walk was designed to be taken apart and re-assembled in an early example of pre-fabricated design. Also see the fine Gothic Basilica of Saint-Nazaire and enjoy some time for shopping before continuing to Narbonne.
 Lunch: En route, enjoy lunch and wine amid the vineyard covered hills. It is said the Romans planted the first grape vines here, after they founded Narbonne in 118BC.
 Afternoon: After lunch we will continue our excursion to Narbonne. When the town was on the sea, it was a maritime crossroads. In the 5th century Narbonne was a Visigoth capital and in the Middle Ages an important Episcopal center, as can be seen in several superbly preserved monuments. Meanwhile the vines grew steadily. By the middle of the 18th century, wine was key to the area's prosperity until the crisis of 1907, an event from which the town never fully recovered. Today the region is considered one of the best in France for the production of quality wines, as well as a cultural center of indisputable historic wealth.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture as the ship sails toward Marseilles.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Marseilles, France
(Monday, May 27)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Explore the Provençal countryside and two ancient towns on this full-day excursion that visits Avignon with its papal legacies and Arles, once a crossroads of the Roman Empire. Your adventure starts with a 90- minute drive to Avignon which rose to glory in the Middle Ages, when a series of Frenchborn Popes fled Rome and made the town a base from which they ruled Christendom until 1407. Enjoy views of the Rhone River and Avignon's much-sung-about bridge, Pont St Benezet. The highlight of your visit is a guided excursion of the Pope's Palace with its long, echoing Great Audience Hall, 14th-century wall paintings and Great Chapel. Also enjoy a walking excursion through Palace Square and Horloge Square.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant in Arles.
 Afternoon: After lunch, though a mere 25 miles from Avignon, the town of Arles seems centuries removed with its well-preserved Roman monuments. You'll see many of them on this afternoon's walking excursion which passes Cafe de Forum, Republic Square and the 17th-century Town Hall. Enjoy a brief stop at the Church of St Trophime, noted for its magnificent doors. See the Roman Theater and enjoy a guided excursion inside the Amphitheater, the largest in Roman Gaul. On your return, you'll understand why Vincent van Gogh spent two years in Arles, enraptured by the color and light of this amazing region.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Cannes, France
(Tuesday, May 28)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: A day at leisure to enjoy the pleasures of the French Riviera. The ship is moored a short distance from La Croisette, the waterfront avenue with its palm trees, picturesque beaches, cafes, and boutiques.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or at a local restaurant on your own.
 Afternoon: Continue your day at leisure or choose one of the two optional excursions offered by the ship to Grasse & St Paul de Vence or Monaco & Monte Carlo (additional cost, bookable on board). Please see the Optional Excursions page for a full description.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Disembark / Departures
(Wednesday, May 29)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Disembark the MV Aegean Odyssey and depart for the airport.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

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Ancient Rome: Art, Architecture, and History

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Blue Guide Concise Italy

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Colomba, A Corsican Story

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Eyewitness Guide Provence & the Cote D'Azur

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Florence Map

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Fodor's Barcelona's 25 Best

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Fodor's Rome's 25 Best

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Description: This shirt-pocket guide includes a map of the city and essential information on its highlights.

Homage to Catalonia

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La Bella Figura, A Field Guide to the Italian Mind

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Mediterranean Explorer

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Description: This handy color map of the Mediterranean from Spain to the Black Sea and the Levant puts ancient sites and historic ports into context. With notable people, a timeline and descriptions of dozens of places across the classical world, this map serves equally well for Mediterranean and Black Sea cruises.

Mediterranean by Cruise Ship

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Description: The best-selling, compact guide, featuring excellent local maps, hundreds of color photographs, concise background information and recommended excursions for ports-of-call throughout the Mediterranean.


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Description: In just over 200 blistering pages, British historian Johnson not only traces the major events of the emperor's life, from his birth on Corsica to his death on St. Helena, but also exposes Napoleon's ruthless appetite for power and his naked opportunism.

Olive, A Global History

Author: Fabrizia Lanza

Description: Lanza provides an engaging, potted history of the modest fruit. The author explains the olive’s use in cooking and ritual and its appearance in art, from Greek myth to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Also includes a selection of recipes.

Pillars of Hercules

Author: Paul Theroux

Description: Theroux seems to have had an exceptionally good time on his tour of the Mediterranean, circling the celebrated sea on foot, horseback, train and boat from Gibraltar to North Africa.

Renaissance Florence, The Invention of a New Art

Author: A. Richard Turner

Description: A cultural and social history of the city focusing on the great art and famous monuments, featuring vivid color pictures and illustrations.

The Ancient Mediterranean

Author: Michael Grant

Description: Grant explores the realms of archaeology, geography, art and economics to sketch this classic portrait of the ancient world, from prehistory through the Roman Imperium, and the influence on western civilization.

The Colosseum

Author: Keith Hopkins, Mary Beard

Description: This engaging overview of the history of the Colosseum deconstructs Hollywood-perpetrated misconceptions of gladiator-eating lions, Nero fiddling and other myths.

The House of Medici, Its Rise and Fall

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Description: A well-written, entertaining history of the Medicis in Renaissance Florence. Great to read before going to Florence, where the influence of the Medicis and the artists they supported is still very much in evidence.

The Middle Sea

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Description: A marvelous writer who has already tackled Byzantium, the Normans in Sicily and Venice, Norwich spins his magic in this story of culture, trade and politics, royalty and rulers, wars and religion in the Mediterranean.

The Shadow of the Wind

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Two Towns in Provence

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Description: Celebrated food writer M.F.K. Fisher contrasts village life in Aix-en-Provence with bustling Marseilles, evoking these two favorite places with anecdote and loving description.

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