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Adriatic & Mediterranean

 Cruise

Eleven days

Our Constellation ship departs Ravenna about 5 pm

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Onboard temptations will abound, some more beguiling than others. Library and swimming pool pictures here are color corrected and cropped 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, 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 require rigorous adapting to new places and distractions. We shall toil bravely to fit in.

We. Will. Eat.

Old Zadar's ninth century St Donatus church rises adjacent to a thoroughly excavated Roman forum, which hopefully there will be time to explore. A tour will take us out of town, however, where there are breathtaking views for us to wonder at—and of course photograph and take videos of.

Continuing along the sailing routes of Venetian merchants, then, to Dubrovnik

Zadar

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, I stoutly insist. The many thousands of cruisers descending daily for a token hour or so, before retreating to their vanilla-flavored stateroom, to return home some days later brandishing a purchased trinket for little Sally. Maybe some of the actual culture will rub off, too. But too often it suggests walking past a local

Dubrovnik

gourmet meal and licking a finger-dab of an insanely flavorful national gourmet entree on the way back to the ship—and supposing we really have experienced Croatian cuisine.

Split

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 just
love karma sometim
es?

Seafood salad first enjoyed maybe at that very table, alongside an Argentinian-beef steak. Astonishing flavor.

Klappa singers in Diocletian's Palace

We must look this group up again!

 

Turn up sound.

Kotor, eh?

Kotor

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 misshapen-football island: Sicily.

Messina

Remains of Greek presence abound 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—only 600 years old.

Whether these heavy old columns remain upright, as intended at first, or supine as centuries of rain and sun (and foolishness of humans) decree, we will gape at their impressive beauty out on windswept hillsides.

And on to Salerno, beautiful on the mainland.

Salerno

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It was going to be Naples where Constellation would tie up next after Sicily. But somehow wise corporate suits determined that they'd offer this one happy substitute 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 that's home to the world's most exquisite pizza—still bustling but homier with smaller streets and fewer (!)  obnoxious tourists.

The Amalfi Coast runs along here, with some of the bluest water and most picturesque villages that Italy has to offer.

La Spezia

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. La Spezia has a great harbor but is less photogenic than nearby towns. Regardless, as soon as is possible after leaving the ship we will rush directly to the train station (see looping video just below) for a several-hours happy season exploring the Cinque Terre's five or so little towns.

On the way from La Spezia to the border of France, 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. A much-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 guidebook-reading tourists) of these handsome little towns.

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