Mediterranean Ports; Livorno, Villefrence, Rome, Venice and Corfu
LIVORNO; You can go to Pisa, use the local shuttle and make sure you walk around the town before heading to Pisa. Picture below is of Quattro Mori, known as the four Moors.
On another visit I arranged a tour of Tuscany through Guido “Tuscany wine tours”, Guido is a blast, he is a wealth of information and will accommodate all your changes, Guido met us at the ship gangway and we did not have to pay the rip-off 12 Euros to leave port so that in itself was a savings. We visited the lovely town medieval of San Gimignano, got there before the throngs of tourists started arriving, then drove through Tuscany country which was magnificent, stopped at one of the best vineyards to sample wine and then stopped at another vineyard where the group had a delightful lunch with the vineyard owner, we drank as much of the fine wine as we could and then where taken Pisa which was a terrific ending to our tour. Wow what a day.
VILLEFRENCE; a tender port with much to see in the local area, happened to be in town during a celebration and got to see a small reenactment of the town under Nobility rule. Stop by the tourist information booth at the cruise terminal and you can get all the information you need, they are very helpful. Catching the bus to “Nice” is a short walk from the port.
ROME; Another different group of folks and I arranged our excursion through “Romecabs”, we where met at the terminal and had an unbelievable whirlwind tour of Rome, the Vatican museum and many other sights, we also had a guide and pre booked our Vatican museum entrance. Romecabs did everything promised and went above and beyond; my head is still spinning from visiting all the sights. NAPLES; perhaps my only disappointment, a very dirty busy port. Walked to the Circumvesuviana (it was about a 20 minute walk/avoid the bus and tram walking is faster) rode the train the Pompeii and rented the headset tour. I was not impressed with the condition of the Ruins. I then headed back to the city and rode the metro to the National Archaeological Museum, if you see the ruins at Pompeii you MUST go to the museum; almost everything that was excavated from Pompeii and the other sites is on display and ties your Pompeii trip together. If you are not planning on visiting the museum then I personally would NOT recommend the Ruins of Pompeii or Herculean. On the way back to the ship my wife and I stopped and ate Napoli Pizza (not as good as New York pizza).
VENICE; This can be a very intimidating port as there are hundreds of tourists everywhere, but once you get used to this it is a lovely port. I had a plan to avoid the crowds and long lines. Upon arrival I headed directly to the fascinating Correr Museum (on the Piazza San Marco), at the Museum I bought the “Doges” Palace combined pass, which covers the museum and the Palace. After visiting the museum I walked over and got to see St. Mark’s Basilica (it was going to be closed the next day so I was lucky), I though that St Marks’ Basilica was one of the loveliest places I have ever visited so far on my trip. Once I finished visiting St Mark’s I bypassed the Campinile tower as the ship was moored very close to St Mark’s Square(a rare treat) and I had gotten to see the town from up high, I went over to visit Doges Palace and walked right in. Rode the Vaporetto to different places (be warned the Vaporetto makes NY subways seem like luxury). Navigating the streets of Venice is pretty simple and since I had spent so much money and wanted to experience a gondola trip and not get rip off by the high prices I took a “traghetto” ride. A troghetto is an old gondola stripped of the trimmings, they traverse the Grand Canal, it cost 1 Euros for the wife and I, the journey only takes a couple of minutes, but is a genuine gondola experience and you do not have a hundred tourists peering down at you from every bridge. SPLIT; a tender port with limited time. I just went to the town square picked up a “Diocletian Place” walking tour and then had lunch at a local place. Split is a lovely town but you have very limited time and if you arrive on Sunday many places are closed. In addition, you will have to change money to local currency.
CORFU; I had arranged with Vanessa co owner of “daily cruise Corfu” (the U-tube video on this outfit does not do them justice) to have a private boat charter. The boat picked up the entire group at the port about 100 meters from where our ship docked. Irakus the fabulous ship captain was a wonderful host, we cruised the lovely and calm north part of the island coast, stopped at two lovely small underwater caves in crystal blue waters, went to an isolated beach where we have a fabulous fish and meat BBQ to include all the drinks we could consume. On our way back we went to the village port of Kassiopi (rated #1 village on Corfu by numerous websites) followed by a final swimming spot at the top diving location in Corfu. This excursion was a fabulous ending to a lovely cruise, prior to this everyone in the group was pretty much “ruined, churched and museumed out”. Back on board many passengers I spoke too envied our excursion not to mention our cost.