Italy: Cruise back through the centuries

Rome: Whether you are a confirmed lover of all things Italian or are just beguiled by Italy, Saga offers a brace of cruises that reveal the best of this remarkable, deliciously historic nation
Operatic performances, tantalising cuisine and expert speakers are among a host of authentic experiences that will delight you once you step onboard.

Saga’s Roman Italy and Sardinia digs deep into the culture and history of the country including a trawl through Roman legionnaires and composers. A toga party and Roman banquet plus lectures on the Roman Empire and a talk from travel writer and former television news reporter, Sam Hall complete the thematic line-up.

Our first Italian port of call is little visited Porto Torres on the Sardinian Bay of Asinara, which according to legend was founded by Julius Caesar and there are ancient Roman remains galore. From here you can venture into the city of Sassari and take in its breathtaking Piazza d’Italia and palace, or relax in historic Alghero, where cobbled lanes and café-lined piazzas accompany gorgeous sea views. It’s then on to an exciting new port for Saga, Piombino in Tuscany – the ideal jumping off point for visiting Pisa, where you’ll find much more history beyond its famously leaning tower. Alternatively, visit Lucca, Puccini’s birthplace – Saga offers plenty of choices.

Historic Rome, the Eternal City, is your next port of call. Follow in the footsteps of Roman emperors and gladiators at the impressive Forum and Colosseum; admire the splendour of Vatican City; or discover the former home of poet John Keats, now the Keats-Shelley house at the foot of the Spanish Steps.

Next up is Salerno on the picturesque Amalfi Coast, the landing site for allied forces in World War Two. Explore the medieval core of Salerno which has been extensively renovated and restored to its best, or enjoy the splendour of well-preserved Pompeii.

‘An Italian Premiere’ is another Saga Italian cruise. It offers an exclusive behind-the-scenes carnival experience in Bari followed by a banquet, as well as an insider walking tour of Venice’s greatest architectural treasures. On board, operatic performances, an Italian film festival, lectures from film producer Stephen Evans and insights into fashion and design from Wendy Rigg enable guests to really get under the skin of Italian culture.

This cruise visits three new Italian ports for Saga Cruising. In Corigliano Calabro, guests can head inland to the chocolate box old town where the Norman Castello Ducal dates back to the 11th century. From Ancona, they can explore the dramatic Frasassi Caves and their stalactites and stalagmites before sampling local wines. Ancona is one of Italy’s most underrated cities with a lively port, swathe of historic churches and the startling white marble Cathedral of San Ciriaco.

Bari, the next port of call, offers Norman heritage, including the Basilica di San Nicola and the 12th-century Norman-Swabian castle.

Two of Italy’s great cities are also included on the itinerary – Venice and Cagliari. Venice is built spectacularly on a lagoon dotted with islands and is littered with jaw-dropping and breathtaking architectural wonders. Cagliari, the Sardinian capital boasting 3,000 years of history, entrances with a rich volley of monuments and churches.