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A Sail from Venice and Along the Amalfi Coast
This eight-night voyage begins with a few immersive days in one of the world’s most magical cities, Venice. The fantastic watery wonderland has inspired poets, painters, and writers: Lord Byron, Canaletto, Goethe, and Thomas Mann are among the long list of those who have fallen under the spell of La Serenissima, the Serene Republic of Venice.

Needless to say, Venice continues to have a magnetic pull for visitors from around the world—a reality that travelers confront when trying to book a room there in the high season. On this trip, however, you’ll have your base aboard the Azamara Quest, so all you need to worry about is whether you want to explore Murano or Burano on any given day.

After taking in the sights of Venice, including the annual Redentore Festival with its fireworks show, on the morning of your fourth day, you’ll depart for Kotor, in Montenegro, the first stop on your trip through the Adriatic and followed by Corfu, Greece; Taormina in Sicily; and Amalfi on the Italian mainland. You’ll end in one of the few cities that can rival Venice—Italy’s capital, Rome.
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    Photo By Kim
    Day 1
    Board your ship today and get settled before heading out for a visit to one of Venice’s iconic places. St. Mark’s Square, or the Piazza San Marco, dates from around 800 C.E., though it was much altered over the centuries; its famous basilica followed a little later and was completed in 1092. While Napoleon may or may not have described the square as “the finest drawing room of Europe,” the quotation has been passed down through the centuries for good reason. The square is an unusually refined public space, and no number of pigeons or tourists can diminish its elegance.

    Take a look at the basilica as well, which melds Romanesque and Byzantine influences. In fact, the four horses atop its façade were literally pillaged from Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, in one of the darker episodes in the history of Venice.

    Much of the magic of Venice is the joy of simply getting lost wandering its labyrinth of canals and alleys. So start walking in any direction from the square—you’re in no danger of getting too lost as you’ll dead end at the lagoon before you get too far.
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    Day 2
    Art in Venice
    It is not only artists, but also patrons of the arts, who have found Venice irresistible. Today start your day with a visit to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The museum, based around Peggy Guggenheim's own acquisitions, includes seminal works of early 20th-century modern art. Afterwards you can take a step back in time with a visit to the Accademia, just a few doors down, with its collection of paintings by Venice's most important old masters. Or, fast forward to the contemporary art scene with a visit to the Grassi Palace, a majestic 17th-century building on the Grand Canal with exhibitions of challenging and intriguing recent works.
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    Day 3
    Venice's Islands
    Head to the islands today. The islands that form the city of Venice proper are well known, of course, but the lagoon is also dotted with smaller ones that can be easily visited thanks to regular ferry and water taxi services. The Lido has long been Venice’s summertime playground with its grand dame beachfront hotels. This was the setting of Death in Venice, both the Thomas Mann novel and the Visconti movie, and it makes for a lovely excursion from the city proper. It’s an island of pine forests where Venetians go to enjoy a day by the sea. Murano is famous for its glass blowers, and like Venice itself, it is built on canals. The glass-blowing tradition has also taken root in Burano, though the island is better known for its lace-makers as well as its colorful buildings in a vibrant array of candy hues.
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    Day 4
    A Day at Sea
    A day at sea is a welcome opportunity to recharge and enjoy the amenities aboard Azamara ships. You might indulge in a treatment at the Sanctum Spa, a lecture by a featured speaker, or a leisurely meal that incorporates the local flavors of the regions you are visiting—a key element of Azamara’s Destination Immersion program. With only 690 guests aboard each Azamara ship, you won’t face long lines however you choose to spend your day. But perhaps you’d rather bask in the comfort of the ships’ staterooms, all of which have been redesigned to offer guests a boutique hotel experience. We won’t judge if you spend the morning in a plush robe with a book, or taking advantage of the upgraded onboard WiFi.
  • Day 5
    You’ll depart Venice at 9 a.m. on day 4 and arrive in Kotor, Montenegro some 24 hours later. The republic of Montenegro is one of the world’s youngest countries—it split from Serbia in 2006.

    On Azamara’s Pearls of the Adriatic excursion, you’ll visit two of Montenegro’s most beautiful destinations. The tiny islet of Sveti Stefan sits just off the mainland of Montenegro and is connected to it by a narrow isthmus. It’s the site of a magical resort, with breathtaking views of the sea around every corner. After visiting Sveti Stefan, you’ll continue on to the city of Budva, which has been inhabited for more than 2,500 years. The Greeks, Venetians, and Ottomans are among the many cultures to have left their mark on the city. You’ll tour its magnificent churches before returning to Kotor, where you’ll have free time to explore its Old Town, one of the best preserved medieval districts in Europe. You’ll also have time to see the famous Risan mosaics that date from the days when Kotor was a Roman outpost.
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    Day 6
    You’ll spend the morning and early afternoon today in Corfu, the second largest of Greece’s Ionian islands, sitting just off the Greek and Albanian coasts. Its long history reflects not just the influence of Venetians and Ottomans, but also French and British rule. The island did not become part of Greece until 1864.

    One reminder of British rule, the Royal Palace of St. George and St. Michael, is included on Azamara’s Panoramic Corfu excursion. The building was originally constructed for the British Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands and later served as a residence for the Greek royal family. The era of French rule is represented on the tour by Esplanade Square, where Napoleon’s troops trained. A 14th-century Venetian fortress rounds out the collection of buildings constructed by foreign powers that once controlled Corfu, though the tour also includes panoramic views at a spot nicknamed “God’s Balcony” and at Paleokastritsa Bay.

    You’ll depart Corfu in the early afternoon and spend the rest of the day at sea.
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    Photo By John Menard
    Day 7
    You’ll arrive at noon in Taormina on the east coast of Sicily, in the shadow of Mt. Etna. This lovely hilltop town overlooks the sea and is dotted with Baroque buildings.

    Azamara’s Land Discoveries cater to a range of interests and abilities. The Beautiful Taormina excursion focuses on the town itself—the Greek theater, Renaissance buildings, and the charming cobblestone streets of its historic neighborhoods, with Mt. Etna in the distance. If you want to get a closer look at the volcano, the Panoramic Sicily excursion includes a visit to the peak. You’ll first pass ancient craters and rivers of petrified stone (a cannoli tasting at a local restaurant will provide sustenance for the adventure). Much of this excursion is at elevations of over a mile high, so anyone prone to altitude sickness may want to skip this one. Short portions of it also involve walking across uneven terrain.

    Finally, the Flavors of Taormina Cycling Tour is the most active excursion in this port, though still not too strenuous. A guided tour on a lightweight bicycle will take you along the bays and coves sitting beneath Taormina to Giardini Naxos, a former fishing village whose harbor is today dotted with gleaming yachts. You’ll then leave your bike behind, board a cable car that ascends to Taormina, and reward yourself at the end with a cup of cannolo, the local gelato.
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    Day 8
    Even if you’ve never been to the Amalfi Coast, you’ll likely recognize it from photos of the pastel buildings that cling improbably to the sides of peaks, with the Mediterranean at their feet and clear blue skies above. Amalfi, Positano, and Sorrento are legendary towns, blessed by sunny skies, ocean breezes, and restaurants serving perfectly ripe tomatoes and the freshest fish from the sea.

    You’ll have a full day to explore this part of Italy, with your ship arriving in Amalfi at 7 a.m. and departing at 7 p.m. If you want to live out your Dolce Vita fantasies, grab your sunglasses and board a motorboat to Positano. Its pink and terracotta homes appear almost stacked one on top of another, on narrow streets that climb up the hillsides above the Mediterranean. You’ll find boutiques as chic as any in Milan and restaurants that rival those of Rome, all in a charmingly compact town by the sea.

    If you want to head inland instead, the Mozzarella from Farm to Table excursion is a satisfying and unusual opportunity to learn about one of Italy’s most popular cheeses—and get a taste of life on a family farm. You’ll meet the water buffalo whose milk is the basis of the cheese and hear about production techniques passed down through the generations. After your tour, you’ll sample a variety of mozzarellas and join in a casual conversation with the owners of the farm.
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    Day 9
    You’ll arrive early this morning in Civitavecchia, the port for the city of Rome. While your cruise ends today, your adventure in Italy does not have to. The monuments of ancient Rome—the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Forum—are waiting to be explored. Whatever sites interest you the most in Italy’s capital, Azamara can assist with post-cruise extensions and accommodations, even at the height of the busy summer season.