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Star Clipper:
Ligurian Route

Cruising along the Ligurian route has been the most amazing of all of my sailing cruises. From the picturesque villages along the Cinque Terre over to sophisticated Monaco and luxurious Saint Tropez - this cruise contained many of the must-sees. 

Cruise Itinary

Cannes - Saint Florent - Bastia - Portovenere/Cinque Terre - Portofino - Monaco - Saint-Tropez


Saint Florent

Saint-Florent is the capital of the *Nebbio* region and is situated on the Gulf of Saint-Florent on the north coast of Corsica, between the uninhabited coastal region of *Désert des Agriates* in the west and *Cap Corse* in the north. Because of its Mediterranean flair, Saint-Florent is often referred to as the *Corsican Saint-Tropez* according to many trip guides. While you can certainly admire countless sailing boats and luxury yachts along the harbor promenade during the summer, I found Saint Florent not really comparable to Saint Tropez given that the city was somewhat underwhelming. The excursions into Corsica however allow wine-lovers to sample many different wines nearby Patriomonio, Corsica's most famous wine-growing region.

The most interesting building in Saint-Florent is the *Citadel* from the Genoese era, with its *round tower* ("Donjon") and two half-towering towers. The complex, which was to defend the access to the Nebbio along with several defensive towers on the coast, is reminiscent of North African buildings. Inside there is a museum (which was closed unfortunately) as well as changing art exhibitions. 

You can find additional photos of the Saint Florent on my Flickr Page.

Bastia

The port town of Bastia is located on the north-west coast of Corsica. Bastia has the largest port of the island and serves as the economic center of Corsica. With its citadel, its old houses around the lively marina,and the palm-filled Place Saint-Nicolas, Bastia radiates Mediterranean flair. 

One of the most vivid places in Bastia is place Saint-Nicolas opposite the ferry port. It was laid out in the 19th century (300m long and 100m wide) and composed of many palm trees. Cafés and restaurants on its east side can be enjoyed throughout the year. The old town starts south of the square: the Terra Vecchia, with its high narrow houses and steep alleyways with many small pubs and shops, located on three sides around the old port (Vieux Port.). Center of the old town is the market square, the Place du Marché

The most impressive baroque building in Bastia is the Church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste with its two towers, dating from the 17th century. It is the largest church in Corsica and can be easily spotted as the landmark of the city above the old harbor once you are approaching Bastia's port.

You can find additional photos of Bastia on my Flickr Page.

Portovenere / Cinque Terre

"Cinque Terre" basically means "5 municipalities", including Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore . The coast, the 5 municipalities and the adjoining hills and mountains all belong to the Cinque Terre National Park . Receiving the Unesco World Heritage Site status in 1997, Cinque Terre is certainly no undiscovered paradise as it once was.. Despite the many tourists, it still is a splendid sight and sports a breathtaking hiking trail ("Sentiero Azzurro" - Blue Trail, no wonder given the water colors that you will see), which connects the 5 villages.

According to a travel guide, the fishermen painted their houses in different colors to make them distinguishable from each other, so they could spot their house (and what's going on there) easily from the sea.

You can find additional photos of the Cinque Terre on my Flickr Page.

Portofino

Of all places I've been, I enjoyed the visit to Portofino the most. This small coastal town has an idyllic location surrounded by nature. It is part of Parco Naturale Regionale and Riserva Marina. The present name was derived from the Latin Portus Delphini which means "port of the dolphins". The natural port of Portofino can be easily recognized as the entrance is slightly curved with many colorfully painted houses awaiting the traveller. The central place Piazzetta at the port is the place where you can sit down, enjoy the sight and get enjoy a meal or visit one of the many smaller shops.

Walking up to the Castello Brown, which sits on a small hill and was built in the 16th century will allow you a great sight towards the port. It is the natural beauty, the setting of the small town and the calmness which makes it an absolutely amazing place to visit, even for a few more days.


You can find additional photos of Portofino on my Flickr Page.

Monaco

Most people that visit Monaco want to see and experience two things: Walking along the Formula 1 racing track and visiting one of the many Casinos. I had walked the Formula 1 racing track on an earlier trip aboard the Sea Cloud already, and I wasn't particularly interested in visiting a Casino, so I went for some of the other attractions.


First on my list was a visit to the Heliport, the base of the Helicopter fleet Heli Air, which was set up by Prince Rainier III in 1976. During a panoramic flight, I could explore the principality from above and take some amazing aerial shots. 


Next on my list was the famous Oceanographic Museum of Albert I, which was inaugurated on March 29, 1910 after eleven years of construction. It is devoted to the wide range of marine sciences and houses a truly impressive collection of marine fauna brought together by Prince Albert I. One can admire the huge aquarium with many different animal species (eg piranhas, sharks, rays or sea turtles), which come from all seas of the globe and are directly supplied with seawater, as the museum is situated on a rocky outcrop. There are also numerous prepared marine and skeletons (including a 20 m long whale) as well as models of different ships and one of the first submarines. In total, one can admire over 3000 kilometres of living coral reefs. The museum is definitely worth a visit, but one should plan an ample amount of time (at least 3 hours) to experience the vast amount of things to see.


Finally, I walked up to the princely castle, which dates back to the 16th century, but also encompasses parts of a former medieval fortress, which is one of the main attractions of Monaco. 

You can find additional photos of Monaco on my Flickr Page.

Saint Tropez

Although the small town of St. Tropez has less than 7,000 inhabitants, it is one of the most famous places on the Côte d'Azur. Saint-Tropez is the city of the rich. Upon entering the port, you will see a variety of luxury yachts. Having passed those, don't be surprised to see one of the highest density of Lamborghinis and Ferraris. 


Whoever believes that a famous city like St. Tropez has a significant and far-reaching history is wrong. According to the legend, there should have been a Roman officer named Saint Torpes , but there is no history of the town before the Middle Ages. It was only in the 15th century that some families settled down in St. Tropez. Nevertheless, the city never attained greater importance. St. Tropez was not even in the shadow of Marseille or Toulon, but was simply an insignificant fishing village. In 1892 Saint Tropez achieved a notable ascent, when the painter Paul Signac settled in the city, following numerous artists. Thus Saint-Tropez became a city of painters and artists.

It was not until 1956, when a movie by Roger Vadim's was shot in the town, which also was the starting point of Brigitte Bardot's career. From then on, St. Tropez had a world-famous image as a top city, which it has been able to keep up till today.


Apart from the (usual) shopping in the many luxury stores, I walked up to the citadel high above the city, which was built in the 16th century to protect the coast from intruders. It provides a magnificent view of the city and the opposite coast, especially during sunset.

You can find additional photos of Saint Tropez on my Flickr Page.