Unique Ways to Experience History on the Mediterranean

Published on Thursday, February 6, 2020 1:12 PM

The Mediterranean Sea has seen countless conquests and cultural births over the centuries. "The Roman Lake" (as it was once known) was ruled by a succession of larger-than-life conquerors: Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Julius Caesar. The calming waves and salty breezes have inspired great thinkers and artists, including Pythagoras, Aristotle, and Monet. Truly, this basin has been the incubator of Western civilization.

This rich history means that each town and city along the Mediterranean coast is full of antiquities waiting for you to discover. Every brick is part of a mosaic, its legacy generations-old. To do this history justice, you need to be more than a passive observer who looks at buildings or reads plaques. On our journey from Lisbon to Rome, we sail among the most famous Mediterranean ports in Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, France, and Italy. The following are some of the unique ways in which our specially curated private excursions allow you to become an active participant in the history of this rich and inspiring region.


Traditional Fado Show


Originating in Lisbon in the 19th century, Fado is a music genre distinct from any other, with roots in the Iberian Peninsula. It features somber tunes and themes grounded in feelings of longing and loss. Common lyrical topics include life on the sea through the ages, or the day-to-day lives of working-class people in portside towns. Fado is performed on a viola (larger violin) and a viola baixo (four-string acoustic bass). The aching, soulful cries of the Fadista singer draw you in and create an emotional connection, similar to an expert opera performer or American R&B singer. During day three of our visit in Lisbon, we experience this remarkable performance while relishing a sumptuous dinner.


Sherry in Jerez


When Ferdinand Magellan prepared to sail around the world in 1519, he spent more money on sherry from Jérez than on weapons. Sherry first came to be in 711, when the Moors took power and brought with them the distillation technology needed to create fortified wine. Although vintners in Iran, Canada, and the United States have produced many similar wines, under international law, only those produced in Jérez, Sanlúcar, or El Puerto, Cádiz can bear the name "sherry." In this way, the reputation of this crisp and refreshing beverage has been protected. While in Jérez, we will visit one of the city's main wine cellars to learn about sherry's centuries-old production process, smell the rich oak of the 25,000-barrel collection, and of course sample the wares while browsing a private art gallery.


La Sagrada Familia


Only rarely does one have the opportunity to take part in historic events. Basílica de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona, Spain has been under construction for 137 years, and to this day the finest artisans in Spain work to erect its 18 spires and chisel its intricate stone façade. During our visit to this uncompleted minor basilica, you'll have ample time to gaze upon the ceiling of the vaulted nave and feel the presence of generations who have contributed to this living masterpiece.


Ajaccio, France


At once controversial and celebrated, Napoleon was one of the most effective military leaders in human history, leading several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. Napoleon grew up on the island of Corsica, born the same year that Corsica was transferred from Italian to French rule. He spent most of his youth in the town of Ajaccio, wandering the cobblestone streets and beaches of this now-contemplative seaside town. When we visit Ajaccio, you can walk those same streets, enjoy the many monuments to this prolific man, and visit his family residence (which has been converted into a museum) to learn more about the role Ajaccio played in Napoleon's life.


Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius


Like the mummies in Egypt, the remains of the noble citizens of Pompeii, Rome are well preserved for all to see. The main difference is that instead of being formally embalmed, the people of Pompeii were entombed in ash, almost instantly, when Mount Vesuvius erupted. In their place are plaster casts that preserve them in the final moments of their lives, which bear distinctly human expressions. When we visit Pompeii, we can catch a unique glimpse of life in a Roman city during the height of the empire—one that can only be seen in this haunting city, frozen in time.


Pasta cooking in Rome


Italians are known the world over for their delectable foods and their ability to transform the simplest ingredients into rich, savoury dishes. Delving into that legacy and putting your hands in the dough is the most sensational way to learn more about Italian culture and hone your own cooking skills. During our day in Rome, we meet a professional chef and learn how to make various types of fresh pasta and meat and vegetables dishes, before pairing (and savouring) our creations with a selection of fine wines. Take your time to smell the fresh basil, hand-select plump tomatoes, and add your own personal touch to this exceptional meal.


During our journey from Lisbon to Rome, engage all five of your senses in the oldest activity in the Mediterranean basin: exploration. On board the stately Oceania Riviera in October 2020, we follow the same routes blazed by emperors and artisans in the distant and not-so-distant past, and admire and relish their timeless contributions to this region. This adventure offers a perfect complement to the breathtaking mountain pinnacles in Naples, the finest beaches in Corsica, and the numerous other beautiful sights the Mediterranean has to offer.


If you would like to join us on our journey from Lisbon to Rome this fall, please call 1.800.265.8174. We look forward to having you join us.

Receive your Journal at home

If you would like to receive our new Journal, please fill out the following form. (Fields marked with * are required)
The captcha is mandatory