A European grand tour by yacht. Next stop - Italy.
Published 06 July 2023
Planning your European grand tour by yacht
The highlights of Italy were an essential part of a classic grand tour in days gone by. They still are today. The logical place to start is, naturally, the Italian Riviera – perhaps in Genoa. The gorgeous resort town of Portofino and the famous coastal scenery of Cinque Terre are the two sights that really must not be missed.
Next, cruising east then south, you’ll come to the Tuscan coast. Spend a day in Pisa – there’s a lot more to see than just the famous leaning tower – and take a trip inland to Florence for its Renaissance cultural sights. Enjoy the beauty and beaches of Elba and the other six islands that make up the Tuscan Archipelago, perhaps anchoring off tiny and remote Pianosa for a night.
You might make a diversion to Corsica, perhaps for a day at Palombaggia near Porto-Vecchio, which is reckoned to be one of the 10 best beaches in the entire Mediterranean.
There’s brilliant snorkelling in the Lavezzi Islands, plus the renowned scuba diving site of Grouper City, en route to Bonifacio – which is well worth a visit. The port is surrounded by a perfectly preserved medieval town with a towering, ancient citadel, cobbled streets lined with eccentric architecture, and the spectacular King of Aragon’s Stairway built into a cliff.
Just across the strait from Bonifacio lies Sardinia, the Maddalena archipelago and the Costa Smeralda, famed for its crystal-clear blue-green water, pink granite bays, and epic beach parties.
Porto Cervo is Italy’s yachting Mecca and billionaires’ playground, with Porto Rotondo a close runner up – there’s no reason not to visit them both.
Another prime location is Cala di Volpe, which will look very familiar if you’ve seen the classic James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.
There’s something quite special about spending a night at sea, with the stars clearer and brighter than you’ve ever seen them on land. And any sailor will agree that there’s a magical feeling of approaching the coast at dawn, a faint line on the dark horizon gradually resolving into the sights and smells of land.
For the full experience, you can set off from Sardinia at sunset and wake up in Rome – or very nearly in Rome, which is much closer to the sea than most people think. There’s a handy yacht harbour on the outskirts, less than 20 miles from the Colosseum at the heart of the Eternal City.
A day’s cruise south from Rome is the Bay of Naples, with a lunch stop en route at the exceptional seafood restaurant on the small island of Ponza. Apart from the fascinating city of Naples itself, the surrounding area is a treasure trove of high art, history and fine dining. Its highlights include the Roman site of Pompei, the iconic island of Capri and the wonderful Amalfi Coast.
Another day’s sailing, or an overnight passage, takes you across the Tyrrhennian Sea to the Aeolian Islands of myth and legend. This volcanic archipelago with its sheer mountains rising up out of the sea is one of the most spectacular landscapes of the Mediterranean.
The islands each have their own unique character, are renowned for excellent cuisine, and include the active volcano Stromboli – hiking up to its crater rim is a thrilling and memorable experience.
The Aeolians lie just an hour or two by yacht from the north coast of Sicily, so you’re well placed to conclude your grand tour of Italy with a tour of this fascinating island with its amazing cuisine, rich history and culture.
Venice should also be on the itinerary of any grand tour, but if you’re going by yacht it makes much more sense to combine a visit there with a cruise of Croatia.
Talk to a Burgess charter broker today about making your grand tour dreams a reality. Enquire now
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