EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN • NOVEMBER 5TH – 15th, 2008
Almost Sold Out — No Bookings Accepted After July 1
Neapolis: the new city. The origins of the city are very ancient. It is an extraordinary historical and cultural centre, with cuisine and musical traditions successfully exported all over the world. The legend tells that the mermaid Parthenope was lying on the shores of Naples, giving her beauty and fortune to the land. Actually, historical evidence shows that the city was founded in approximately 600 BC by Greek colonisers.
Naples preserved Greek habits until the Romans came, three hundred years later, enriching it with a series of villas and settlements still witnessed by many remains and evidence. The Romans were but the first to conquer Naples. In fact it was dominated in succession by the Barbarians, Byzantinians, Normans, Angevins, Aragons, Austrians, Spanish and Bourbons. Naples obtained its freedom when it was annexed to Italy, immediately after Garibaldi passage in 1860.
Dominated by Mount Vesuvius, whose plume of smoke can be seen from any corner in the city, Naples is undoubtedly charming both for its geographical position and for its historical and architectural masterpieces. The Angevin Stronghold, with the Triumph Arc and the Palatine Chapel and the Royal Palace, the San Carlo Theatre and Piazza Plebiscito, recently restored by the municipality, are the most famous tourist attractions.
Naturally, Pompeii is worth mentioning. Its museum is the most visited in Italy. A sudden eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD destroyed the town, which was covered by a thick layer of ash. The excavations, opened in 1754, revealed thousands objects presently preserved in Naples Archaeological Museum and in Pompeii Museum. Capri, Ischia and Procida, the islands in the Gulf of Naples are similarly very attractive and popular thanks to the cinema, literature and international music successes, besides the famous Posillipo promenade. In particular, Capri is undoubtedly the most visited not just by Italian tourists but by foreign tourists as well for whom a picture with the Faraglioni as a background is an absolute must.
If you stop in Naples you simply have to taste the local cuisine. Pizza of course served according to the tradition on marble tables and pasta of any size and quality and cakes, such as the pastiera, the baba, struffoli (just for Christmas) and the typical Naples torrone.
The origins of Messina are uncertain, as is the case with other cities on the island of Sicily. The first evidence of the city concerns Zancle, its first name, as baptised by Zanclon, a character of mystery and legend. The historical centre of the city was constructed by the Phoenicians who made Messina a flourishing commercial centre, followed by Greek colonists from Cumae and Euboea.
Messina's strategic position made it attractive to all the Mediterranean powers of ancient times, including Syracuse and Carthage, who made it a military port, and later the Romans, leading to the first Punic War. Then the island saw the arrival of the Barbarians, followed by the Arabs and Normans, who in 1000AD freed the city from the Muslims. Under Norman and Suevian rule Messina knew a period of extreme grandeur and intense commercial activity. It was during this period that the basic design of the modern city was established.
The Normans governed until the arrival of the Angevins, followed by the Aragonians. There was then a period of intense struggle, with the result that, from 1400 onwards, Messina was integrated within the Reign of Sicily. In 1821 and 1847 the city witnessed a bloody, popular revolution calling for independence, and in 1848 Messina was threatened by the Bourbons. Narrowly escaping destruction and then freed by Garibaldi, Messina was yet to endure the most dramatic event in its history.
In 1908 the city was almost entirely devastated by a massive earthquake. Further tragedy struck during World War II when the city was severely bombed, resulting in the most ancient part of Messina being destroyed. Only the archives are left to witness the grandeur and pride of a city often subdued but never defeated. Perhaps because of this traumatic history, the inhabitants of Messina cherish the historical remains of their city. Among the most beloved monuments is the Cathedral, which, according to historians dates back to the time of Justinian, who commissioned it, and Pope Boniface II.
The Cathedral was first destroyed by earthquake, then by fire and subsequently fell victim to the wars and revolutions that blighted the city. Reflecting the tenacity of Messina's inhabitants, each time the Cathedral was destroyed it was rebuilt to an even greater grandeur, with a rich collection of masterpieces. The most recent reconstruction was in 1923, after Messina was hit by earthquake.
The Cathedral is perhaps the most exquisite example of Norman art on Sicily. Equally beautiful is the many-times restored Victor Emmanuel theatre. Another interesting building is found in the Monte di Pieta, built in 1530 by the noble San Basilio Confraternity, with the intention of assisting converted women and bringing comfort to prisoners sentenced to death.
The inhabitants of Messina are devoted to the Madonna, called locally the White Lady. The name originated from an attack by the French in which a mystery lady dressed in white defended the city walls by spreading a white veil and making the bulwarks impregnable. According to legend, it was the Madonna who had answered calls for help from the city's population.
The sanctuary Santa Maria dell'Alto is dedicated to the Madonna and is where Queen Constance, King Ferdinand, Queen Mary Christine of Savoy, King Victor Emmanuel and Pope John Paul II once to professed their religious devotion. The sanctuary is still a centre of great spiritual importance to the people of Messina and is the destination of numerous pilgrimages.
Alexandria is one of the most important cities in the history of the Mediterranean. A cradle of civilisations, history and culture, the city has passed through periods of grandeur and magnificence followed by deep crises and social unrest. A true country of the extreme, founded by Alexander the Great in 331 and named after him because of the pride he felt for this beautiful land.
Alexandria's legend tells that at the Nile delta, where the city was founded was where the gods of ancient Egypt hid all their knowledge and that any action performed by men extracted the life nymph from that knowledge. In fact, thanks to an absolutely prevailing commercial position in the Mediterranean Sea, Alexandria was soon able to significantly progress in science, culture, philosophy and spiritual life. Its lighthouse, 120 metres high, is legendary and its light was apparently visible from a distance of 100 miles from the coast. This lighthouse and the library were both destroyed, the former by an earthquake and the latter by a fire.
Alexandria's reign continued under Roman rule and with 500,000 inhabitants it became the second city of the Roman Empire. Under Arab rule, Alexandria knew the first period of conflicts due to religious struggles which resulted in the destruction of a large part of the ancient monuments and also caused the decline of the city.
However, Alexandria is a privileged starting point to study the mysteries of Egyptian art and architecture. Cairo, the busy Egyptian capital, with the multitude of activities and the high population concentration is nearby and offers a typical metropolitan context just close to the desert. The desert route, leading to the internal part of the country, is the path of the Pyramids and of the Sphinx. Giza, Cheops, Chefren, Zoster and Micerino as well as Mereuka Mastaba make for an extraordinary excursion. Besides the Egyptian Museum representing the most significant reference point for collections of objects, ornaments, documents and sarcophagi of the Egyptian time and of the Pharaohs, the ancient capital Memphis is most attractive with the mysterious monument, the Colossus of Ramses II.
Egyptian cuisine is particularly flavoured and spiced, particularly mutton and veal meat or game, which accompany all main traditional dishes. Egyptians have a true cult for "kebab", the gigantic roasted veal cut and eaten "on the hoof" and as a filling for sandwiches by many Europeans.
The ataijef is particularly delicious. A type of cheese salted bread, similar to that produced in Liguria, Italy. Also cossa, a vegetable similar in taste to cucumber filled with mutton meat and flavoured with thinly cut spices. Jewellery is particularly attractive, particularly amber and semi precious stones. Papyrus and traditional Egyptian souvenirs are very much favoured. Local clothes, such as the traditional galabia, are popular with tourist.
Cyprus has two souls. The former extremely practical, determined perhaps by the early industrial origins of the island and by the name deriving from the Latin "cuprum" (copper). In fact, mines in the southern part of the island are rich with copper, still extracted today and manufactured in the artistic Cypriot way. Also asbestos and chrome. The second soul derives from Greek tradition and is characterised by romanticism for those who want to realise their love dreams here. In fact it was in Cyprus, not far from Limassol, that Aphrodite was apparently born. Venus to the Romans, the love goddess, generated by the foam of the sea and exquisitely drawn by Botticelli while lying on a shell.
Perhaps for this reason one of the most important weddings in history was celebrated in Limassol. The one between Richard the Lion Heart and Berengary of Navarra who was crowned Queen in the castle of the city, thousands kilometres of from London. The island also has two geographic souls: rugged mountain chains with the Troodhos volcano, largely exploited from the industrial point of view, while inland small villages dot the valleys entirely devoted to farming. In particular cereals, citrus and grapes, producing a vintage wine. Similarly, two cultures influenced the island: the Greek culture, full of traditions and social organisation and the Turkish influence, whose coast is just 70 miles away.
Limassol's most important development started in the Middle Ages, a time characterised by dramatic events. A terrible flood was followed by a long siege of the Genoese and subsequently by the hordes of Barbarians and Arabs. After a further attack in 1570 by the Turk Lala Mustafa, there was a period of crisis and conflict which lasted until last century when the city became a commercial and industrial centre and the second largest and most important city in Cyprus. Cyprus offers many seaside attractions as well as archaeological ones. In this connection, the Curium and Colossi excavations are undoubtedly important with the baths and mosaics almost entirely uncovered. Cyprus has been eternally tied to Aphrodite's legend.
However, according to the legend, another god had elected its residence in Cyprus, Dionysius, Bacchus to the Romans, whose home is situated in Paphos which is certainly one of the most beautiful parts of the southern coast of the island. As far as shopping is concerned, silver, gold and bronze are good buys and their manufacture is one of the most ancient traditions in Cyprus.
You might well imagine that Marmaris, with its characteristic fjords, is located in Norway. But in reality, it's located in the heart of the Mediterranean. In ancient times it was known as "the place blessed by God," and judging from the surrounding countryside, there's no doubt this was the case.
Located where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean, it has a good climate and in winter this part of Turkey guarantees you mild and gentle conditions. Yet in the summer, there is always a welcome breeze. The history of Marmaris dates back to ancient times. Founded around 3400 B.C., its first inhabitants were known as "Caria". The city was first recorded by the Greek historian Erodono, who described Marmaris as a "paradise of green pine and sweet perfumes."
A Turkish sultan named Suliman the Magnificent established his base from which to launch his conquest of Rhodes. Suliman loved to say that the greatness of his empire began in Marmaris. Life has changed little in Marmaris since then. Life in the old town is centered around the small workshop. Here, the carpenters' craftsmanship remains unchanged. These skilled professionals built exceptionally good quality boats using just simple carpenters' tools, and this is probably why their craft still lives on here, while in other countries it is gradually disappearing.
One of the most beautiful ports is Bozurun. According to legend, it was constructed at the orders of Suliman, who wanted to repair his fleet here. The ancient Roman port of Cnido is even older, a tourist centre not far from Marmaris. Since then, Marmaris has become a "calm retreat" for Turkish VIPs. Monarchs, emperors, kings, religious and political leaders have been coming here for centuries to relax and gently revive themselves.
A popular tourist destination is the Castle. Before heading for Rhodes, Suliman the Magnificent ordered work to be carried out to enlarge it. When he returned, he was not satisfied with the work of his architects, Suliman then decided to further extend it according to a strict artistic concept, thus making the Castle one of the major architectural works of the whole Mediterranean. Inside, the Castle houses seven galleries as a sort of art museum containing important finds, as well as the private collection of Kenan Evren, the seventh Turkish President.
One of the Cyclades islands, Santorini is a spectacular jewel of the Aegean. Born out of a volcanic eruption in approximately 1500BC, which formed the two islands of Aspronissi and Terrasia, Santorini is a magnificent mixture of dramatic cliffside villages, glorious black sand beaches and ancient treasures. Steep cliffs plunging into a crystalline sea distinguish the west coast, while the east coast is gentler, featuring a fertile plain and delicate bays, with the Profitis Ilias mountains in the background.
Archaeological investigations have shown that the 69 kilometres of coastline of Santorini was probably inhabited in prehistoric times, while the first chronicled civilisation to live on the island were the Phoenicians. Through the centuries the island continued to fall under different rulers, including the Spartans, Athenians, Byzantines and Turks. Commencing in 1967, ongoing excavations near the pink sand beach at Akrotiri have revealed the ruins of ancient Thera, the centre of population on the island before it was destroyed by the volcanic eruption.
Among the extensive remains are ceramics, stone and bronze tools, ornaments and small artworks. A series of frescoes suggest a highly-developed community and some researchers believe it is the site of the mythical lost city of Atlantis.
One of the prettiest spots on the island is the village of Oia, a network of narrow marble-paved alleys, lined with yellow and blue domed houses, and extraordinary views out to sea.
Katakolon is a small port founded in the first half of the 19th century and linked to the legendary and nearby Olympia. According to the annals, which describe in detail and with some legend, the birth and history of Olympia, the city is a pastoral site chosen by the king of the gods Zeus to promote his culture among the Greeks.
Olympia, together with Delphi, the city dedicated to Apollo, and Athens represents the most important mythological places in traditional Greece. The Olympic Games originated here and, according to the Hellenic tradition described by the Greek poet Pindar, their origin is in honour of Pelope, a legendary character, after whom the Peloponnese was named. In the beginning the Games were composed of few disciplines, deriving from military arts characterised by loyalty and courage and lasted just one day often interrupted by religious ceremonies.
Subsequently the celebration of the Olympic Games, every four years at the summer solstice, lasted for a few weeks and at this time all conflicts had to be suspended to enable the performance of the games. The ceremony was strict. Women, except for Hera priestesses were not allowed, upon punishment of death. All competitors had to be Greek. The winners (at the time there were no sponsors or money compensation) were awarded by public triumph, they were included in a golden register engraved in stone and a life size statue was erected.
After over 1200 years of continued history, the Olympic Games were stopped in 393 AD by Theodosius I and started again in Athens in 1896 upon initiative of the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Life in Olympia takes place around the sacred walls of the Sanctuary where all the temples and religious buildings are situated. Olympia was discovered in 1776, but the most important excavations are recent. Zeus' temple for instance was entirely brought to light by German archaeologists who succeeded in reconstructing part of the front and side columns collecting the statues of Greek winners, votive offerings and small temples damaged by a series of earthquakes unfortunately frequent in the past.
The most ancient part of the Sanctuary is dedicated to Hera and it was destroyed and sacked after the prohibition of the pagan cult ordered by Theodosius. The stadium is very impressive, with an audience capacity of up to 45,000. Several votive offerings were found here, and among them Miltiades helmets after Athens victory in Marathon. It is still possible to see the starting and finishing lines of the races in the stadium. All archaeological finds are preserved in the Museum.
The MacMania 8 program fee is $795 and includes the following class offerings:
Becoming a "Black Belt Googler"
The iPhone and Your Road Life
Mac Productivity Bootcamp
Do it Fast — Quicksilver Fast!
Practicing Advanced Productivity Workflow
One-Finger Automation Tricks in Leopard
iPhone: The Missing Manual
Useful Mac Gadgets — Free!
Useful Mac Gadgets For Under $50 (and Worth far More)
Living on the Road: How TiVo and Slingbox Save My Life and Can Save Yours, Too
Digital Photo Workflow: Shoot and Edit Like a Pro!
From Snapshot to Art
Selected Bits o' Retouching Wisdom
How to Handle 1000 Photos a Day (and Publish 300 of Them)
Organizing Your "Digital Memories"
What's Left in User Interfaces?
Apple stores may own the rights to the name "Genius Bar," but at sea our own near geniuses will be ready to help you get up and running on Macintosh at the MacMania Ingenious Bar. Randal Schwartz, Apple Product Manager Sal Soghoian, Macworld Editor Dan Frakes, and our other onboard luminaries will gather to offer informal one-on-one assistance — every afternoon we're at sea.
Cruise prices vary from $1,499 for an Inside Stateroom to $3,299 for a Better Mini-Suite, per person. (Cruise pricing is subject to change.) For those attending our PROGRAM, there is a $795 fee. Taxes are $23.78 per person. There's a $70 fuel surcharge applied to the first two passengers in a booking. All prices and fees are detailed on the BOOK NOW page.
For a detailed listing of the cruise itinerary please review our ITINERARY page.
561 Windsor Dr., Menlo Park, CA 94025 • 650-787-5665 • Copyright 2008 © InSight Cruises