Thursday, May 23
Depart the USA on individual flights for Milan, Italy
Friday, May 24
Arrive at Milan airport and transfer to the five-star Grand Hotel et de Milan. Meet your traveling companions and hosts at the welcoming reception and dinner.
Saturday, May 25
After breakfast, embark on a breathtaking journey into the life of Leonardi Da Vinci as we visit his masterpiece, The Last Supper. On our tour, we will walk through the glamorous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping gallery and the medieval Sforza Castle. Next, we will tour the breathtaking Duomo, one of the world's largest, most striking Gothic cathedrals with its 135 spires and 3,200 marble statues and the fabulous La Scala, one of the world's best known opera houses.
Sunday, May 26
This morning, enjoy a visit to the ancient Roman town of Sirmione on Lake Garda. The tip of the peninsula became the place to live for wealthy Veronese families during the 1st century B.C., one of these being the Valeri family. From this family came the poet Catullo who, through his poems, sang of the beauty of Sirmione. At the end of the 1st century B.C., one of the greatest Roman villas was built in the city known as "Catullo's Cave". Sirmione is located at a strategic location between the plains and the south side of the lake where it was the border line between the Scaligero family land and the territory of the Venetian Republic.
Monday, May 27
Our drive from Milan takes as to breathtaking Monte Carlo. The tiny principality of Monaco, a sovereign state of just under one square mile, boasts some of the planet's most expensive real estate, and the world's most prestigious casino. Facing the sea, and engulfed on the other three sides by France, it has been the domain of the Grimaldi dynasty since the 14th century, and enjoys the same glamorous reputation as the rest of the Riviera. Afternoon transfer to Nice and embark on the luxurious Azamara Quest for our seven-night Mediterranean cruise.
Tuesday, May 28
Our first port of call is Spain's second largest city. Barcelona, a city with a turbulent history starting in the 4th century B.C. when the Greeks and Phoenicians first inhabited the area. The Romans conquered and remained in occupation until the 5th century A.D. followed in 711 by the Moors. Independence was gained in the latter part of the 9th century and Catalonia underwent a period of growth and development. Wealth was reflected in the building of magnificent churches and the creation of great works of art. The Civil War followed and General Franco banned the use of the Catalonian language, as Catalonia came under Spanish rule. It is only since the crowning of King Juan Carlos I that the Catalonian language and culture has again been allowed to flourish and regional autonomy granted. In the evening feel the passion of the Flamenco at Barcelona's legendary Tablao Cordobes, where some of the greatest names in Flamenco have performed. Entertained by an internationally renowned Flamenco group, you'll discover why the traditional dance of Spain is so popular.
Wednesday, May 29
Our tour of Barcelona's Barri Gòtic, the old Gothic Quarter, starts at the ancient heart of Barcelona - dating back 2000 years to the Roman colony of Barcino. Discover Barcelona's development from a tiny Roman colony into a wealthy medieval seafarer's and merchant's city. Strategically placed on a small hill overlooking the surrounding plains, the Roman temple marked the center of the first lasting settlement. Throughout the centuries, this area saw major change telling the rise and fall of the ruling empires until more than 500 years ago when the Gothic Quarter's face was shaped to what you see today. We visit the life's work of Barcelona's favorite son, Antoni Gaudí, as his magnificent spires of the unfinished cathedral imprint themselves boldly against the sky with outlines inspired by the holy mountain Montserrat.
Thursday, May 30
Founded by the Romans, Valencia has been the home of many cultures thoughout its history: Romans, Visigoths, Moors and the Aragonese. Valencia will amaze you with its stunning, old town center, gorgeous buildings, historic sights, squares, gardens, museums and charming little streets. The historic center bears the marks of 2000 years in a spectacular mix of Roman, Muslim and Christian traditions.
Friday, May 31
In 711 A.D. Moors from North Africa conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula, and retained portions of the land for 800 years. Granada was the last stronghold and a symbol of economic, cultural, and artistic prosperity until it too was overcome in 1492. The city's glory is embodied in the magnificent Alhambra, a compound of palaces and gardens that is a masterpiece of Moorish style. It appears that a primary goal of the architects was to cover every square inch with decoration. As Islam bans the representation of figures of any kind, the decorative elements are made up of complex, detailed, and intertwining, geometric and floral images, and Arabic script.
Saturday, June 1
The great Rock of Gibraltar is a sight to behold, towering 1,400 feet above the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounded by beautiful countryside. Home to the semi-wild and curiously tailless Barbary Apes, and St. Michael's cave - long believed to be bottomless - Gibraltar is the only link between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. In 711 A.D., Gibraltar was captured by a Moorish Chief known as Tarik Ibn Zeyad, and it became known as Gibel Tarik (Tarik's Mountain), from which the name Gibraltar was derived. In 1462, the Moors were conquered and this began a period of Spanish rule, which lasted for 242 years. During the Wars of the Spanish Succession, the British and the Dutch landed on Gibraltar and seized control. In 1713, nine years later, under the Treaty of Utrecht, Gibraltar became a British colony, and has remained so ever since.
Sunday, June 2
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is situated on a range of low hills at the estuary of the River Tagus and is approximately six miles from the Atlantic Ocean. It is both the western-most and oldest capital city of Europe, with a population of just over one million inhabitants. Our cruise ship will enter the River Tagus from the Atlantic following the course of Portuguese master navigators as well as that of Christopher Columbus. Lisbon's magnificent harbor made it a logical trading port as far back as the Phoenicians, as well as a departure point for 15th century voyages sponsored by Prince Henry the Navigator, patron of Portuguese explorers. The city is rich in architecture, from Romanesque and Gothic to Post Modern, and is crisscrossed by monument-studded grand boulevards. In 1147, as part of the Reconquista, crusader knights, led by Afonso I of Portugal, besieged and reconquered Lisbon. The city, with around 154,000 residents at the time, was returned to Christian rule. During World War II, Lisbon was one of the very few neutral, open European Atlantic ports, a major gateway for refugees to the U.S., and a haven for spies. More than 100,000 refugees were able to flee Nazi Germany via Lisbon. Enjoy our farewell dinner.
Monday, June 3
Transfer to Lisbon airport for individual flights back to the United States.
Daily breakfast, seven lunches, and eight dinners are included as well as all excursions and nine lectures as listed in the itinerary. Additional nights at the hotel are available before and after the tour.