Explore the history and culture of the Western Mediterranean in style, featuring a 9-night cruise on the luxury 50-cabin sailing yacht Sea Cloud II. As well as the ancient Roman past of the “Mare Nostrum”, travellers will encounter the masterpieces of the great Mediterranean ports – from Caravaggio in Naples, to the super yachts of Monaco, Picasso in Antibes and Gaudi’s Barcelona. All this takes place in a setting of remarkable beauty – the dramatic mountains of Italy’s Tyrrhenian coast, the rich colours of southern France, and the exuberance of Valencia and Catalonia.
THE SEA CLOUD II
The Sea Cloud II is a luxurious 3-masted barque, traditionally crafted in teak, but with modern features. White cloth sails and understated elegance create a unique environment that is at once nostalgic and luxurious. Although most of the journey takes place under motor, on some days the crew climb the rigging to set the square sails and jibs and you experience the thrill of ocean yachting.
Cruising for 9 nights aboard Sea Cloud II, a very different experience to mainstream cruising, with outstanding service, food and wine
Three days exploring Naples, once a thriving Spanish outpost and now one of Italy’s most dynamic cities
Great art, medieval to modern: sculpture in Pisa, Caravaggio’s Naples, Picasso in southern France and Gaudí’s Barcelona
The fascinating Roman histories of Herculaneum, World Heritage-listed Tarragona and Caesar Augusta, today’s Zaragoza
The Mediterranean’s modern face, from super cars and super yachts in Monaco to stunning contemporary architecture in Marseilles and Barcelona
Days 1–4: Group transfer from Rome to Naples. Explore the Angevin and Spanish cities, Caravaggio’s masterpieces and the fascinating history of Roman Herculaneum from our hotel in the elegant Chiaia neighbourhood.
Days 4–12: Board Sea Cloud II in Naples for a 9-night cruise, with disembarkation in Valencia. Ports-of-call permit excursions to Pisa, Monaco, Marseille, Antibes, Barcelona and Tarragona, plus a full day to relax at sea.
Days 13–16: Disembark and explore Valencia and Zaragoza’s Roman history, admiring masterpieces by Goya and sampling the famous local paella. Travel to Barcelona, to survey the city’s layers of Roman, medieval and Modernista history.
The tour begins with a group transfer to Naples from Rome Fiumicino airport and ends in our hotel in Barcelona. Emirates and Qatar offer flights into Rome and out of Barcelona. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Friday 16 October: Arrival
Your tour leader, Dr Kathleen Olive, will meet the group in the arrivals hall of Rome’s Fiumicino airport and we depart by coach for the three-hour drive to Naples, stopping for a break along the way. After check-in, we meet for an orientation stroll and welcome drinks in the hotel bar. There is a welcome dinner near our hotel tonight. Overnight Naples (D)
Saturday 17 October: Naples, from the Middle Ages to Caravaggio
Today we explore the heart of ancient Neapolis, the “new city” founded by the Greeks above the Parthenopean harbour. With our local guide, we survey wonderful Gothic sculpture in the little-visited church of San Giovanni a Carbonara, and discover the ancient layers under the city’s cathedral. Nearby, in the Pio Monte della Misericordia, we see one of the few Caravaggio paintings still in the location for which it was commissioned, his extraordinary Seven Acts of Mercy, one of his most influential works. After a break for lunch near the fortress-church of San Domenico, we walk the narrow streets of Spaccanapoli, the ancient Greek street that still “splits Naples”, admiring the exuberant baroque majolica of Santa Chiara. The evening is at leisure. Overnight Naples (B)
Sunday 18 October: The Spanish Empire in Naples
We spend this morning at Capodimonte, located in the vast former hunting lodge of the Bourbon King Charles VII. Capodimonte now houses Naples’ most important fine arts museum, with masterpieces by Tuscans Simone Martini, Masaccio and Botticelli, alongside works by Mantegna, Bellini, Titian and Raphael. The strongly Hispano-Flemish taste of the Spanish viceroys is also reflected in works by Caravaggio, De Ribera (known in Naples as the “Spagnoletto”) and El Greco. After lunch, we stroll the streets of the so-called Spanish Quarter, developed as a garrison district by the imperial viceroys and today one of Naples’ most characteristic neighbourhoods. We also admire Caravaggio’s Martyrdom of St Ursula, his final work. The evening is at leisure. Overnight Naples (B)
Monday 19 October: Roman Herculaneum, embarkation
This morning we check out of our hotel and travel by private coach to Herculaneum, the Roman town buried like Pompeii by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. On a smaller scale than its vast sister site, and with structures preserved by the cataclysm in a totally different way, Herculaneum’s comfortable villas offer particular insights into the life of the wealthy in ancient Rome. After lunch at leisure back in central Naples, we have a guided tour of the National Archaeological Museum, where we will see many of the artefacts excavated in Herculaneum and in the Bay of Naples in general. In the later afternoon, we transfer to the port to board Sea Cloud II. At sunset we make the breathtaking departure from Naples harbour. All meals are included on our cruise when on board. Overnight Sea Cloud II (B, D)
Tuesday 20 October: At sea aboard Sea Cloud II
Our first day is spent at sea, with much of the day under sail. You will get to witness the crew setting sail and various technical aspects of the ship will be explained by staff. Today there will also be a background talk on board. Overnight Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
We arrive early this morning into Livorno and take a private coach to nearby Pisa. Our local guide introduces us to the cosmopolitan style of this medieval powerhouse, in the celebrated Piazza dei Miracoli. After we explore the cathedral, baptistery and restored Camposanto frescoes, there is time to climb the Leaning Tower. After lunch at leisure in Pisa, we visit the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, one of Italy’s finest museums of the Middle Ages, with a superlative collection of painted crosses. We return to the Sea Cloud II in time for its evening sailing. Overnight Sea Cloud II (B, D)
Thursday 22 October: In a modern-day principality
We arrive in Imperia harbour after lunch. Here, we meet our coach for the hour’s drive to Monaco. Originally a significant outpost for the ancient Greeks, the Romans and the Genoese, from the 13th century the town has been the stronghold of the House of Grimaldi. Our guided walking tour includes the Prince’s Palace, perched above the town’s twin harbours on the dramatic outcrop of La Roche, with time to marvel at the super-cars and super-yachts of Monaco’s super-rich! We return to the Sea Cloud II in time for our evening departure. Overnight Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Friday 23 October: Picasso and the Côte d’Azur
After a morning talk, we arrive into Antibes after lunch. From the 19th century, artists flocked to the French Riviera for the qualities of its light and landscape, the economy of its lifestyle, and the relative permissiveness of its morals. Today we encounter Picasso’s exuberance in Antibes’ Musée Picasso, which preserves more than 200 works by the artist (and a fine collection of Giacometti’s sculpture). There is time at leisure to stroll the town’s pretty streets, before Sea Cloud II sails this evening. Overnight Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Saturday 24 October: Marseille and the Mediterranean
Early this morning Sea Cloud II arrives in the pretty harbour of Sanary-sur-Mer, where we meet our coach for a private excursion to Marseille. This vibrant town has enjoyed a long prominence, from its early days as a Greek settlement to its inclusion in Roman Gaul and rise as a great medieval port under the Counts of Provence. We trace this history, as well as the modern-day movement of people across the Mare Nostrum at Marseille’s MuCEM, the stunning new Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations. Its stunning aesthetic is part of the rejuvenation of the once-seedy harbour, now a dynamic place to enjoy lunch at leisure. We return to Sea Cloud II by coach, in time for an early evening departure. Overnight Sea Cloud II (B, D)
Sunday 25 October: Salt and strongholds in the Camargue
We arrive this morning in Sète, for a private coach excursion to Aigues-Mortes. This town stands in the Camargue, the vast delta of the Rhône river and one of Europe’s most significant wetlands. In the Middle Ages, the power of the wind was harnessed by mills dotted across the marshy landscape, extracting salt and generative lucrative income for the region’s vast monasteries. Aigues-Mortes was founded by saintly king Louis of Anjou, to exploit the potential of trade from the Camargue with the great cities of the Mediterranean, and we admire its medieval walls, fortress and Gothic chapels on our guided walking tour. Returning to the Sea Cloud II for a lunchtime sailing, there is an afternoon talk on board. Overnight Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Monday 26 October: Barcelona and the sea
After a morning talk on board, we arrive in Barcelona after lunch and meet our coach for a guided visit exploring the city’s relationship with the Mediterranean. From the Middle Ages, crews and their ships set sail from the city, carrying Iberian goods – such as minerals and wool – across the Mediterranean for trade in southern Italy%
Dr Kathleen Olive
A literary and cultural historian with a PhD from the University of Sydney, with particular expertise in Italy, Spain and Japan.
Dr Kathleen Olive is a literary and cultural historian with close to 15 years’ experience leading tours to Italy, Spain, France, Turkey, Japan and the United States. She has a strong personal interest in the visual arts, interior design, fashion history and contemporary fiction.
Kathleen holds a BA with first class Honours and a PhD, both from the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Sydney. For a number of years she worked as a lecturer at the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney, teaching Italian language, literature and history. Kathleen continues to teach, as a national lecturer for the Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society (ADFAS), and in adult education courses in Sydney. In 2015, her edition of the Codex Rustici (a 15th-century commonplace book that Kathleen worked on with Nerida Newbigin, for her doctoral studies and for publication) was presented to Pope Francis on his first official visit to Florence.
Kathleen’s historical and artistic knowledge stretches from the Middle Ages through to the early 20th century. In Italy she has led numerous tours focusing on the medieval and Renaissance periods. In Spain she has a particular concentration on the “Convivencia” of Islamic, Christian and Jewish cultures in the south, and on the medieval pilgrimage routes of the north. Her tours of the USA’s north-east have focused on American collectors and their Gilded Age reinventions of European glory days, and in Japan she is particularly interested in contemporary design, from fashion to architecture. Kathleen speaks fluent Italian, is conversant in Spanish and understands French.
Kathleen was first involved on a tour to Italy in 2003 and it sparked her passion for on-the-spot communication of art and history. Since 2010 she has worked exclusively for Academy Travel, leading 6 tours a year. She has designed a number of our popular tours, from the Florence residential, to surveys of the courts of Renaissance Italy and of central Italy’s villas and gardens, as well as “twin city” tours to Palermo and Naples and to Florence and Rome. Closer to home, Kathleen is leading Academy Travel’s inaugural tour to Japan and our popular tours to Tasmania.
We asked Kathleen, what do you enjoy most about leading a group tour?
“I really enjoy travelling with groups who share interests in the history, culture and even food of a destination. It means that those personal connections are there right from the beginning, just waiting to be made.”
“There’s nothing I enjoy more than finding out the particular interests of my fellow travellers – an artist, a dish they love eating, their memories of a particular place – and finding a way to make an experience happen for them. That might mean recommending a particular wine bar, directing them to a museum that features artists they already like, or suggesting the best time of day for a view over a town. It’s so satisfying to be involved in making these kinds of memories for people.”
“Many of the people I travel with comment on my passion for the places I visit. It’s not just that I know my names and dates – it’s that I really enjoy bringing out the connections between history and art, for example, or between landscape and food. I never grow tired of injecting this kind of life into ‘dry’ academic knowledge.”
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate, taxis or public transport are also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity