Day 1 London to Athens, Greece. Fly by scheduled flight. On arrival, transfer to Le Bougainville, moored in Pireaus.
Day 2 Nafplion. This morning we will visit one of the most renowned of Greece’s ancient sites, Epidaurus, with its astonishing theatre known for its fantastic acoustics. Return to Nafplion and enjoy time wandering the twisting labyrinthine streets. Alternatively take a scenic drive through the Argos Plain to Nemea, the site of a religious sanctuary which hosted the pan-Hellenic athletic games every two years from 573 BC until 271 BC. Nemea is also famous for its red wines and we will enjoy a wine tasting at a local vineyard and lunch at a local restaurant before we continue to the famous citadel of Mycenae.
Day 3 Corinth Canal & Delphi. Be on deck this morning as we transit the Corinth Canal. Completed in 1893 and only 6.4 kilometres long and 21.5 metres wide, it is only small ships like ours which can now make this journey. We spend the remainder of the morning cruising arriving into Itea at lunchtime, our base for an afternoon at Delphi, one of Greece’s most important sites of antiquity. The ruins here are exceptional and we will explore the Sanctuary of Apollo, site of the sacred Delphic Oracle and walk along Delphi’s Sacred Way, visiting the Treasury of the Athenians and the 5000 seat theatre dating from the 4th century BC.
Day 4 Olympia. Pastoral and lush, Olympia’s plentiful ruins are shaded by Aleppo pines and olive trees. We will see the gymnasium, the stadium and the palaestra or wrestling school. We will also explore the Altis, or sacred precinct of Zeus, which houses structures including the Temple of Zeus, one of the largest temples on the Greek mainland and the Archaeological Museum which houses some fine sculptures and artefacts from the site.
Day 5 Syracuse, Sicily. After a morning at sea we will arrive in Sicily at the port of Syracuse. This morning you may choose to visit the Neapolis Archaeological Park to discover the well-preserved Greek theatre. Alternatively enjoy a private visit to the gardens of the Marquis of San Giuliano. See the Mediterranean, Arabian and Tropical gardens which owe much to the head gardener, Rachel Lamb. After dinner this evening we will transfer to a stunning private 18th century palace, located in the central square near the cathedral where we will enjoy a private concert.
Day 6 Giardini Naxos for Taormina or Mount Etna. We anchor this morning in Giardini Naxos for our visit to Taormina and some truly impressive sites including the 3rd century Greek Theatre, Palazzo Corvaja, Corso Umberto, the Cathedral and the public gardens. After our tour we return to the ship for lunch and spend the afternoon in Giardini Naxos to explore the small town independently or relax on the local beach. Alternatively you may prefer to drive to Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano. We will climb to the Cratere Silvestri which offers wonderful views and also visit one of the vineyards which benefits from the nutrients in the volcanic soils to produce excellent wines. We will learn about the cultivation and enjoy a tasting with Sicilian delicacies.
Day 7 Palermo. Over breakfast we arrive in Palermo where there will be a choice of tours today. Maybe take a city tour including the impressive 12th century cathedral and the Palatine Chapel in the Norman Palace. Alternatively, join an excursion to visit the remarkable Byzantine mosaics in the cathedral at Monreale or take the drive along the coast to Cefalu where a walking tour will include the splendid Norman-Arab Cathedral and the Osterio Magno, the 11th century residence of King Ruggiero II. This evening, after an early dinner, return to the centre of Palermo for an exclusive private concert and cocktail reception at one of the stunning palazzo.
Day 8 Lipari Island, Italy. This morning we arrive at the picturesque island of Lipari situated in the Aeolian Islands off the north coast of Sicily. Lipari town is a thriving little place prettily located between two harbours and our morning tour includes a visit to the upper town set within fortress walls, a drive around the volcano followed by a visit to the Archaeological Museum. After lunch there will be some free time for further exploration before we sail in the early afternoon. In the early evening we will anchor off the island of Stromboli, the ‘Lighthouse of the Mediterranean’ where we enjoy dinner on board and, if weather permits, hope to view the eruptions from island’s active volcano.
Day 9 Amalfi Coast. Awake this morning at our anchorage off the town of Amalfi for a full day to enjoy the stunning Amalfi Coast. Flanked by an old Saracen tower and a 12th century Capuchin monastery, Amalfi boasts a splendid cathedral dating from the 11th century. Enjoy time to walk the town or maybe people watch from one of the cafes by the marina. There will also be a chance to join a tour to Ravello where we will visit the beautiful gardens of the Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo. Alternatively join a local boat for a cruise to beautiful Positano.
Day 10 Naples. We have a choice of activities today and you may choose to spend the day on the garden island of Ischia where the focus of the tour will be La Mortella, a wonderful garden designed by architect Russell Page for Lord and Lady William Walton. After some free time, we will have lunch in a local restaurant. Alternatively enjoy a day in Naples where a morning tour will take us to Herculaneum. Return to the ship for lunch and enjoy a free afternoon in Naples or join us on a guided tour of the spectacular San Carlo Opera House.
Day 11 Civitavecchia to London. Disembark this morning and transfer to Rome airport for our scheduled flight to London.