Discover the intriguing mélange of cultures that flourished in the wake of ancient empires on this exclusively chartered cruise to the resplendent shores of Italy, Sicily and Malta. Cruise for seven nights from Rome to Valletta aboard the newest Five-Star expedition ship, Le Bougainville, launching in 2019 with only 92 Suites and Staterooms, each with a private balcony, and featuring the extraordinary Blue Eye, the world’s first multisensory underwater observation lounge. This outstanding, custom-designed itinerary features the very best of this historic region at the most ideal time of year, affords you the unique opportunity to travel with a small, intimate group and showcases seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. Marvel at Italy’s stunning Amalfi Coast and the colorful seaside town of Sorrento. Gain insight into Roman life of A.D. 79 in the superbly excavated town of Pompeii. Discover Sicily’s storied town of Taormina, the legendary city of Syracuse and Agrigento’s majestic Valley of the Temples. Experience the rich history of Malta, the island nation where Saint Paul was shipwrecked.
John Meffert, consultant on Heritage Conservation Services, has a long tradition with the National Trust. He has served as the Director for our Southern Office from and was the director of the Preservation Society of Charleston, the oldest nonprofit organization in the United States, responsible for preserving the historic resources of Charleston, S.C. John has delighted many study tour groups with his lectures and insights on preservation, and receives rave reviews as study leader.
Depart the U.S. for Rome
Arrive in the former seat of the Roman Empire, UNESCO World Heritage‑designated Rome,
today the historic heart of Italy. From the iconic Colosseum and the Vatican to the Spanish
Steps and the Catacombs, ancient Rome continues to amaze modern visitors. Embark the
Five-Star Le Bougainville in Civitavecchia and enjoy the Captain’s Welcome Reception on
board this evening. (r,d)
Sorrento for Pompeii
Dock in quaint Sorrento, an outpost of the ancient Roman Republic and the scenic gateway to Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii. This seaside town of rose‑flushed buildings was built into picturesque cliffs high above the Tyrrhenian Sea and, as the world’s limoncello capital, is abundant with fragrant lemon and orange groves. Continue to Pompeii, which was engulfed by the tephra of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, rendering the city frozen in time. Discovered and excavated 17 centuries after petrification, the incredible UNESCO World Heritage‑designated ruins intimately reveal Roman daily rituals during Emperor Titus’s reign. On your walking tour, see the wealthy Vetti family estate, and the extraordinary amphitheater and Temple of Jupiter. (b,l,d)
Sorrento/for Amalfi Coast/Isle of Capri
Admire the natural splendor of the UNESCO World Heritage‑designated Amalfi Coast, and experience the allure of the Mediterranean seaside with secluded villages, opulent villas and sun‑drenched beaches.
Explore winding, cliffside streets on your own in the delightful, coastal village of Positano—frequented by Picasso, Toscanini and Bernstein, and popularized by John Steinbeck. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure in captivating Capri, the island where, legend has it, Homer’s Odysseus resisted the alluring call of the sirens, or cruise around the island by small boat, savoring views of translucent waters, luminous grottos and the craggy coastline. (b,l,d)
Naxos for Taormina, Sicily
Be on deck this morning to view the UNESCO World Heritage‑designated Aeolian Island of Stromboli, the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean”—a volcano mildly active for more than two millennia. From charming Taormina, the medieval center of Sicilian culture and commerce, enjoy
stunning panoramas of the Calabria coastline and snowcapped Mt. Etna, Europe’s highest
volcano and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tour the remarkably preserved third‑century B.C.
Greco‑Roman theater, still in use today. See the 14th‑century Gothic‑Catalan‑style Corvaia Palace and the Roman Odeon, the “small theater” built in 21 B.C., and visit the medieval Baroque portal of the Cathedral of St. Nicola, Stroll along Taormina’s distinctively Mediterranean pedestrian thoroughfare, Corso Umberto.(b,l,d)
Extolled for its grandeur since classical antiquity, enchanting Syracuse reached its zenith of influence as an intellectual milieu under Dionysius the Elder 350 years after Greek colonists first settled there in 734 B.C. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an open‑air museum of well‑preserved classical monuments. Visit the storied Greek Theater, where Aeschylus once spoke to ancient Siracusans, still in use today; the Roman Amphitheater, where gladiators competed for the crowds; the Altar of Hieron II; the limestone Ear of Dionysius cave; and the impressive
Archaeological Museum. Wander the hallowed small island of Ortygia, Syracuse’s maritime heart, where the most ancient Doric temple in Sicily, the sixth‑century B.C. Temple of Apollo, stands
in the remains of Piazza Pancali. The city’s Baroque cathedral incorporates the ruins of a fifth‑century B.C. temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, where you can admire the unique baptismal font, an ancient Greek marble krater (large vase) dating from the 13th century. The landmark Piazza Archimede showcases the dazzling, Baroque‑style Fountain of Diana, adorned with rearing horses, charging tritons and maternal sea nymphs. (b,l,d)
The classical Greek world is reanimated in Agrigento’s UNESCO World Heritage‑designated Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples). Here, the landscape features eight Doric shrines dating from the fifth century B.C., including the Temple of Hera, with its graceful northern colonnade; and the Temple of Concordia, said to be one of the most beautifully preserved Greek monuments still standing. See the temples honoring Zeus and Heracles and the Sanctuary of the Chthonic Divinities—mythological lords of Earth and the underworld. Visit the Agrigento Archaeological Museum, arguably Sicily’s finest collection of Greek, Etruscan, Phoenician, Carthaginian and
Cruise to the picturesque bay of Valletta, the “Fortress City.” Founded in 1566 by the Knights of St. John, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world’s earliest planned cities. Malta has held a strong connection to Italy and Sicily since A.D. 60, when a shipwrecked St. Paul brought Christianity by happenstance to the tiny archipelago. Today, this 2018 European Capital of Culture showcases incredible high Baroque, neoclassical and modern architecture, from the 16th century onward. Visit the ornate 16th‑century St. John’s Co‑Cathedral, featuring masterpieces such as Caravaggio’s The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist and Flemish tapestries designed by Sir Peter Paul Rubens. Tour the colonnaded Lower Barrakka Gardens, and enjoy unforgettable vistas of Valletta’s Grand Harbor and the Grand Master’s Palace. A member of the de Piro family of
Maltese nobility leads your private tour through the 430-year‑old Casa Rocca Piccola, the family’s ancestral home and a display of historical Maltese aristocracy. Attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception this evening. (b,l,r,d)
Disembark and continue on the Timeless Malta Post‑Cruise Option or transfer to the airport for your flight home (b).