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Dolce vita meets savoir-vivre – from the colourful Amalfi Coast to Gaudís fantastic edifices: Naples – Barcelona
The scenic Amalfi Coast Violet bougainvillea in front of pastel pink facades; houses clinging to the cliffs like swallows’ nests; a grand open staircase looking out onto the glistening turquoise sea – Sorrent, Positano and Amalfi sometimes seem too good to be true. But the colourful, romantic fishing villages are real. In 1997, the UNESCO declared the Amalfi Coast a World Heritage Site.
Artful and ornate – Florence Florence is a synthesis of the arts: From the smallest relief to the largest palazzo, from the Uffizi Gallery to the street painter, the Tuscan metropolis offers an abundance of art. The historical trade hub owes its riches in art and architecture to the Medici family, who promoted artists like Botticelli and Michelangelo and erected impressive architectural gems such as the Basilica di San Lorenzo.
Glamorous Monte Carlo Formula One races in its narrow streets; gambling in the world’s most famed casino; opulent productions in its opera house – people in Monte Carlo like to enjoy life to the full. Fancy a walk from Monaco’s harbour with its luxury yachts up the hill to the palace and cathedral? If you’d rather save your strength, you can simply take the escalator.
Little Venice in Languedoc: Sète To one side the blue of the lagoon, as smooth as glass; opposite the Mediterranean Sea: Sète has found itself a comfortable spot by the water. With its colourful facades, the canals and bridges, the harbour town is considered the “Venice of Languedoc”. On its main canal, the Canal Royal, you can dine like a king – especially the local oysters are a treat!
Naples rises from the sea around a huge bay and extends up into the hills like an amphitheatre. From the Castello Sant’ Elmo on the Vomero you can enjoy a fantastic view over the sea of houses, the port and the Gulf. The pretty centre of this chaotic Campanian city is the old town, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its huge fortresses, dignified churches and monasteries, splendid squares and palaces, and maze of winding streets.
The picturesque little town of Sorrento is delightfully situated high above white cliffs and offers a fantastic view over the Gulf of Naples. Visitors have been succumbing to Sorrento’s magic for 2,000 years, which is at its best when there’s a picturesque sunset. Everyone has heard about the tragic end that came to the prosperous Roman trading centre of Pompeii, situated at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. In 79 AD it was buried under ash and lava and remained hidden for centuries. Nowadays it is the greatest excavation site in Italy and gives you a glimpse into daily life in Roman times.
Livorno, itself a child of the Renaissance, is the gateway to Tuscany – the land of cypresses, the Italian lifestyle, art and architecture. Lucca is a Renaissance masterpiece. Magnificent palaces, richly decorated churches and elegant piazzas where you can see the Italians enjoying the summer – this jewel of a town combines the magnificence of typical Tuscan architecture with small town charm. Siena is one of the most beautiful Italian Gothic cities. Its old quarter, like the medieval towers of the world-famous walled town of San Gimignano, is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The sophisticated Monegasque city state between Italy and France is one of the world’s most exclusive addresses. Its densely packed buildings extend up the rocky coastline and gaze out over a gloriously azure sea, with three marinas where spectacular luxury yachts sway on the waves. In the centre, set high up, is the beautiful old city of Monaco-Ville with the splendid Prince’s Palace, cathedral and Oceanographic Museum of Jacques Cousteau. In the centre of Monte Carlo you can find the famous casino, a beautiful Belle Epoque building, and the palatial opera house.
Barcelona revels in contrasts. Many enthuse over the beautiful elegant squares and boulevards, while others look for medieval romance in the Gothic quarter. Some love the artistic treasures in the Picasso Museum or the Joan Miró Foundation, but for most people Barcelona is the capital of Catalan Art Nouveau and its glory is epitomised in the spectacular Palau de la Música. At every turn you encounter the playfully opulent creations of architect Antonio Gaudi. His exuberant fantasies are evident in the numerous houses, idiosyncratic parks and the famous uncompleted Sagrada Familia cathedral which he created.