The power of the volcanic island of Santorini creates an energy that overwhelms the senses. Exquisite luxury, amazing food and wine and the unforgettable Santorini sunset are just the start of what this legendary Greek island in the Cyclades offers visitors.
Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. It was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC, forever shaping its rugged landscape. The whitewashed, cubiform houses of its 2 principal towns, Fira and Oia, cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater). They overlook the sea, small islands to the west and beaches made up of black, red and white lava pebbles.
Sicily, the largest Mediterranean island, is just off the “toe” of Italy’s “boot.” Its rich history is reflected in sites like the Valley of the Temples, the well-preserved ruins of 7 monumental, Doric-style Greek temples, and in the Byzantine mosaics at the Cappella Palatina, a former royal chapel in capital city Palermo. On Sicily’s eastern edge is Mount Etna, one of Europe’s highest active volcanoes.
Rhodes, the largest of Greece’s Dodecanese islands, is known for its beach resorts, ancient ruins and remnants of its occupation by the Knights of St. John during the Crusades. The city of Rhodes has an Old Town featuring the medieval Street of the Knights and the castlelike Palace of the Grand Masters. Captured by the Ottomans and then held by the Italians, the palace is now a history museum.
Julia arrives in the Dodecanese, a far-flung group of islands at the gateway between Europe and the East where she visits the medieval capital of Rhodes.
Valletta (or Il-Belt) is the tiny capital of the Mediterranean island nation of Malta. The walled city was established in the 1500s on a peninsula by the Knights of St. John, a Roman Catholic order. It’s known for museums, palaces and grand churches. Baroque landmarks include St. John’s Co-Cathedral, whose opulent interior is home to the Caravaggio masterpiece “The Beheading of Saint John.”
Cefalù is a coastal city in northern Sicily, Italy. It’s known for its Norman cathedral, a 12th-century fortress-like structure with elaborate Byzantine mosaics and soaring twin towers. Nearby, the Mandralisca Museum is home to archaeological exhibits and a picture gallery with a portrait by Antonello da Messina. The beaches of Mazzaforno and Settefrati lie to the west.
Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast. It’s a nation known for historic sites related to a succession of rulers including the Romans, Moors, Knights of Saint John, French and British. It has numerous fortresses, megalithic temples and the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, a subterranean complex of halls and burial chambers dating to circa 4000 B.C.
Palermo is the capital of the Italian island of Sicily. The 12th-century Palermo Cathedral houses royal tombs, while the huge neoclassical Teatro Massimo is known for opera performances. Also in the center are the Palazzo dei Normanni, a royal palace started in the 9th century, and the Cappella Palatina, with Byzantine mosaics. Busy markets include the central Ballarò street market and the Vucciria, near the port.
Sardinia is a large Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea. It has nearly 2,000km of coastline, sandy beaches and a mountainous interior crossed with hiking trails. Its rugged landscape is dotted with thousands of nuraghi – mysterious Bronze Age stone ruins shaped like beehives. One of the largest and oldest nuraghi is Su Nuraxi in Barumini, dating to 1500 B.C.
Taormina is a hilltop town on the east coast of Sicily. It sits near Mount Etna, an active volcano with trails leading to the summit. The town is known for the Teatro Antico di Taormina, an ancient Greco-Roman theater still used today. Near the theater, cliffs drop to the sea forming coves with sandy beaches. A narrow stretch of sand connects to Isola Bella, a tiny island and nature reserve.
Sliema is a resort town on the east coast of the Mediterranean island of Malta. The waterfront features a long promenade and the 18th-century polygonal Fort Tigné in the south. To the north, St. Julian’s Tower is a 17th-century watchtower and battery. The baroque-inspired Stella Maris Church dates from the 1850s. On tiny Manoel Island is the star-shaped Fort Manoel, built by the Knights of St. John.