Adriatic & Mediterranean
Our Constellation departs Ravenna.
Onboard temptations will abound, some more beguiling than others. Library and swimming pool pictures here are idealized from corporate ads ... we shall discover the truth anon.
Celebrity's Constellation will be home and transport and eating place for a good week and a half, from Ravenna to Croatia to Sicily to the Cinque Terre, and back to Rome.
Except for Split and La Spezia and of course Rome, these ports are new to us. Taking in sights and smells and tastes, plus the pleasures of a new-to-us cruise line, will likely be difficult. We shall suffer bravely.
Click to see our dining room
The old city's ninth century St Donatus church is one primary attraction of this otherwise non-starter of a cruise stop. Venturing out of town, however, there are breathtaking views to be wondered at — and of course photographed and videos captured.
In the sailing routes of Venetian merchants, then, to Dubrovnik
Here is the Dubrovnik that we want to see and remember. The vast lengths of protective wall that survive from the 14th century recall when this was the site of a Venetian garrison along the Adriatic sea (one wants to protect incoming trade items borne by one's fleet—and one wants to assure a marketplace for buyers of that stuff).
This scene is embarrassing, isn't it, just a wee bit? All the thousands of cruisers descending for a token hour or so, and likely going back home with a purchased trinket for little Sally. Hopefully some of the actual culture will be assimilated, too. But too often it
suggests walking past a local gourmet meal and licking a finger-full of local Zagorski štrukli, on the way back to the ship—supposing we really have experienced Croatian cuisine.
Scenes from Split as we knew it in 2006. I would like to revisit this farmer's market just for the joy of watching the dozens of short, earnest and stocky Croat women in black dresses, bustling around as only sturdy farmers' wives can do. Maybe find some dried Adriatic figs to smuggle back aboard.
Also we'll revisit the palace of Emperor Diocletian, that efficient slaughterer of Christians. He retired to this stone super-mansion in a.d. 303, the only Roman emperor, I believe, to live beyond his tenure. When he lay dying he commanded that his regal self should be placed in a stone sarcophagus and placed in one of the prettier alcoves, just yonder—where his remains stayed for a few centuries until they were displaced by some unpronounceable saint's relics to augment a Christian church being put up just there. Diocletian's bones are lost to posterity.
Don't you sometimes
just love karma?
Seafood salad first enjoyed here, and an Argentinian-beef steak. Astonishing flavor.
Klappa singers in Diocletian's Palace ... We must look this group up again!
Turn up sound.
Old and quaint Kotor ... It offers huge charm to cruisers, with structures dating back to the time of emperor Justinian. Subsequently the industrious Venetians established their trading routes and protections for their profitable merchandise.
An entire extra day on the water, then, brings us around Italy's stylish boot to its apparent football-island: Sicily.
Remains of Greek presence in Sicily. I hope these will be readily available to view, to explore, to ponder. After we give due attention to the of the old harbor panorama with its grand structures—a mere 600 years old.
Whether these heavy old columns remain upright, as intended, or supine as centuries of rain and sun and foolishness of humans decree, we will absorb their impressive beauty out among windswept hillsides.
And on to Salerno, beautiful on the mainland.
It was going to be Naples where Constellation would tie up next after Sicily. But somehow the wise corporate suits determined that this would be a better pause on our leisurely cruise from Ravenna to Rome.
So Salerno it became, vibrant and less complicated than the larger and denser city to the northwest—still bustling but homier with smaller streets and (!) fewer tourists.
The Amalfi Coast runs along here, with some of the bluest water and most picturesque villages that Italy has to offer.
La Spezia has a great harbor but is less photogenic than nearby towns. And anyway, as soon as is possible after leaving the ship we will rush directly to the train station (see looping video just below) for a day's happy hours exploring the Cinque Terre's five or so little towns. Pictured above is the Bay of Silence in Sestri Levante, some miles up the coast beyond the specific "five lands" which we'll pass among, as we leave La Spezia.
Not very far from La Spezia, Levanto has charm of its own. It strikes me as a family place.—where you bring your kids to the park and visit with friends while little Cristina and Alex work off some of that boundless energy in climbing and running and playing one of the endless soccer games. My beloved gelato emporium is right across the road from that very park.
Numero quattro of the actual Cinque, Vernazza is arguably the most photogenic and walkable (and most crowded with Rick Steves-reading tourists) of these handsome little towns.