Friday, October 15 - ROME (CIVITAVECCHIA), ITALY
All roads lead to Rome, and with good reason - this city is one of the world's most thrilling, offering unmatched history along every street. An evocative, inspiring, and utterly artistic capital of unrivaled cultural impact, Rome is a city of back-to-back landmarks, which will take you on an exhilarating journey through the ages. This may be one of the world's oldest cities, but it's well and truly lived in. The ruins are punctuated with murmuring cafes, and the outdoor seating of restaurants sprawls out across piazzas, enticing you to sample tangles of creamy pasta and crispy pizzas. Rome's incredible Roman Forum is littered with the ruins of its ancient administrations, which have stood firm for 2,000 years, since the times when the area was the center of the Western world. Few sites are more simultaneously beautiful and daunting than that of the storied Colosseum, which looms deep into Rome's rich blue sky. Take a tour to learn details of the grisly goings-on within. The best way to experience Rome is to wander its streets, gelato in hand. There is a lot to see here -w whether it's the domed spectacle of the Pantheon or the elaborate flowing waters and artistry of the Trevi Fountain. Vatican City is an astonishing, colossal display of Catholic grandeur, while the Spanish Steps - crowned by the Trinita Dei Monti church - offer a beautiful spot to gather and soak up the lively atmosphere of this humming city. With so much on the to-do list, you'll relish the breaks you take, enjoying simple pleasures like a strong espresso, or fresh pasta with tomato sauce and ripped basil.
Saturday, October 16 - LIVORNO (TUSCANY), ITALY
There are few more elegant places to salute the sunset than Terrazza Mascagni, Livorno's refined chessboard piazza. A historic port, and a beachy gateway to Tuscany, Livorno welcomes you ashore to explore this enchanted Italian region's sun-soaked beauty, rich flavors, and world-renowned fine art. Stay in Livorno to explore 'Piccolo Venezia', or 'Little Venice' - a quarter of the town that's laced with canals, little marble bridges and plenty to keep you busy here, but most will be tempted to venture inland to explore more of Tuscany's many charms and artistic wonders. Test your nose, as you breathe in the subtleties or Tuscany's vineyard-draped scenery, and visit wineries showcasing the best of the renowned flavors of the Bolgheri wine-growing area. Or head out to Prato, where you'll find tightly-woven textile history. Pisa's showpiece tower is within reach, as is Florence's city of immense and imaginative renaissance beauty. Admire the delicate carving of Michelangelo's masterpiece, the David statue, and note the provocative stance as he casts a dismissive glance towards Rome. Stand before the city's majestic black and white cathedral - the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore - with its colossal brick dome. The view down over Florence's river and grand dome from Piazzale Michelangelo, meanwhile, is one of Italy's first. However you choose to spend your time in Tuscany, you'll discover an artistic region, filled with beauty designed to appeal to every sense.
Sunday, October 17 - PORTOFINO, ITALY
Effervescent and exclusive, Portofino rests on a privileged peninsular. Lavish yachts mingle together, seeking out sought-after berths in the harbour, while gelato drips onto the stone-paved streets in this, the most alluring and glamorous town of the Italian Riviera. This section of the Ligurian Coast is a protected area, and home to some of the country's most picturesque, and jaw-dropping scenery - which is best viewed from the deck of a sailing boat. Crisp white villas roll out across the verdant green hillsides, surrounded by laden vineyards and love groves. Down in Portofino itself, the buzz of chatter and the clatter of cutlery, provide the soundtrack to busy terrace bars and restaurants, which serve up fine food and delicious sea views. Portofino's achingly beautiful harbour arcs around the lapping waves, with a warmly-hued waterfront of peach and apricot colours - which also adorns postcards and promotional travel guides of Italy. For the authentic Portofino experience, sail out onto the tranquil waters of the Gulf of Tigullio, to mingle amongst the privileged at play, or settle back in the shade as you take aperitivo on the picturesque waterfront Piazzetta. Here you can sip the famous Ligurian wines, and stave off hunger with focaccia con il Formaggio - or platter of fine cheese and hams. Deeper into Portofino, you'll find artisans crafting their wares and weaving together lace or you can ascent to viewpoints like the lemon shaded Church of San Giorgio, to look over the pretty jumble from up above. A wander out along the headland to the tapering tip of the peninsular, rewards with the views of Portofino's iconic white lighthouse beaming out light and welcoming ships to this slice of Riviera heaven.
Monday, October 18 - MONTE CARLO, MONACO
Glitzy, glamorous and unashamedly luxurious - live the high life in Monte Carlo. From the super-yachts jostling for position in the harbour to the lavish bars splashing out iced champagne, tiny Monaco's only city is a high rolling, decadent affair - and a gloriously indulgent, sun-soaked taste of the good life. Famed for its low tax status - and the Formula One race that roars through its hairpin bends and tight streets each year - Monaco is the ultimate playground of the rich and famous. Monaco may be the world's second-smalled country - only the Vatican has a smaller footprint - but Monte Carlo has confidence, impact, and appeal that few can match. The gilded Royal Palace adds an air of regal glory, and whether you want to soak up the culture at the opera or raise the stakes at a casino - doing your finest 007 impressions - you'll feel very much at home here. Soar above the high-rise hotels and glorious casinos in a helicopter, to see the city from above, and admire landmarks like the cathedral where Grace Kelly married the Princ of Monaco in 1956. High-end fashion, fragrances, and fancy adornments await in the gold-label shops of Monte Carlo's lavish shopping streets, while the old town's pink and lemon floral facades offer an authentic balance of historic character to counterpoint the well-heeled excesses. A wonderful escape, revel in old-world glitz and glam, as you admire twinkling chandeliers and wander between palatial architecture while enjoying your time in Monte Caro's abundant wonderland. Before you leave, explore the storied fortress that protected this tiny state's independence for so long.
Tuesday, October 19 - MARSEILLE, FRANCE
France's sunniest and oldest city may not have the glamour of some of its Cote D'Azur neighbors, but what it lacks in glitz, it certainly makes up for in authenticity and cultural depth. France's second-biggest city, Marseille served as the European Capital of Culture in 2013 and is a fantastic hub of museums, creativity, and color. The Le Panier district is a vivid illustration of this - with its faded streets revitalized by overflowing flowerpots and pretty naturally-distressed doorways. Look down to the yacht-crammed port - where fishermen still unload fresh catches - from the viewpoint at the spectacular Notre-Dame de la Garde - a true crowning glory. Standing over walled fortifications - and capped by an elegant dome - the soaring golden statue of Madonna and Child rises high into the air and is visible all over the city. The huge Marseille Cathedral is equally impressive, with its stunning zebra-striped exterior. Palais Longchamp, built-in 1862, twinkles with flowering water, and its saturated gardens and splashing fountains were built to celebrate the engineering feat of successfully redirecting water to the city. You can't leave Marseille without tucking into its famous fish stew - bouillabaisse. Flavored with thyme, garlic, and hunks of Mediterranean fish and plump prawns, its' a bold and delicious taste of Provence. Wash your hands clean after, with some of Marseille's traditional soap, created using a fragrant recipe of rich olive oil. Escape the hubbub of the city, to soak in the natural glory of Calanques National Park. Hike, kayak, and sail your way through a treasure trove of limestone cliffs, dropping off to hidden beaches.
Wednesday, October 20 - DAY AT SEA
Thursday, October 21 - VALENCIA, SPAIN
Valencia is a proud city. During the Civil War, it was the last seat of the Republican Loyalist government (1935-36), holding out against Franco's National forces until the country fell to 40 years of dictatorship. Today it represents the essence of contemporary Spain - daring design and architecture along with experimental cuisine - but remains deeply conservative and proud of its traditions. Though it faces the Mediterranea, Valencia's history and geography have been defined most significantly by the River Turia and the fertile floodplain (Huerta) that surrounds it. The city has been fiercely contested ever since it was founded by the Greeks. El Cid captured Valencia from the Moors in 1094 and won his strangest victory here in 1099: he died in the battle, but his corpse was strapped into his saddle and so frightened the besieging Moors that it caused their complete defeat. In 1102 his widow, Jimena, was forced to return the city to Moorish rule; Jaume I finally drove them out in 1238. Modern Valencia was best known for its frequent disastrous floods until the River Turia was diverted to the south in the late 1950s. Since then the city has been on a steady course of urban beautification. The lovely bridges that once spanned the Turia look equally graceful spanning a wandering municipal par, and the spectacularly futuristic Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciencies (City of Arts and Sciences), most of it designed by Valencia-born architect Santiago Calatrava, has at last created an exciting architectural link between this river town and the Mediterranean. If you're in Valencia, an excursion to Albufera Nature Park is a worthwhile day trip.
Friday, October 22 - PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN
A rugged Mediterranean gem, arising out of the rich blue haze, Mallorca is a Spanish island of cuisine, culture, and sun-gorged beaches. Palma de Mallorca is the island's dominating capital and a sand-coloured mirage of glorious buildings and living history. Conquered and liberated countless times over the years, since its Bronze Age founding, the city is your gateway to ceaseless Mediterranean beauty, buzzy markets, and intense flavours. Cafes and bars wait close to the sweeping coastline, where you can enjoy strong espressos to kick start the day, or splashes of red Majorcan wines to round it off. Bicycles trundle up and down the promenade, which invites you to wander in the morning sunshine beside the waves. Dominated by the indefatigable form of Santa Maria cathedral, which looms over the city and coastline, Palma de Mallorca is drenched in history and culture. The labyrinth of the old town is a cobbled have, which bustles with dripping ice creams and sun-lashed squares. Settle to try the island's superb cuisine, and savour local ingredients with an exceptional depth of flavour. Something about the sunshine here makes tomatoes extra sharp and delicious, while the seafood is consistently juicy and plump. The creation of the mighty cathedral, Le Su, began in 1229 and was eventually concluded in 1601. A perfect encapsulation of Palma de Mallorca's blend of the historic and the contemporary, even Gaudi lent his hand to it, and the interior features a spectacular modernist take on the New Testament from artist Miquel Barcelo, which is painted across the chapel's walls. The splendid Royal Palace of La Almudaina fortress stands nearby, a left-behind Moorish footprint of square towers and Arabic archways that now serves as an official summer residence for the King of Spain.
Saturday, October 30 - BARCELONA, SPAIN (OVERNIGHT)
Sunday, October 24 - BARCELONA, SPAIN
The infinite variety of street life, the nooks and crannies of the medieval Barri Gotic, the ceramic tile and stained glass of Art Nouveau facades, the art and music, the throb of street life, the food (ah, the food!) - one way or another, Barcelona will find a way to get your full attention. The capital of Catalonia is a banquet for the senses, with its beguiling mix of ancient and modern architecture, tempting cafes and markets, and sun-drenched Mediterranean beaches. A stroll along La Rambla and through waterfront Barceloneta, as well as a tour of Gaudi's majestic Sagrada Familia and his other unique creations, are part of a visit to Spains' second-largest city. Modern art museums and chic shops call for attention, too. Barcelona's vibe stays lively well into the night when you can linger over regional wine and cuisine at buzzing tapas bars.