7-Day Greek Isles from Venice
In Santorini, you’ll marvel at the iconic-whitewashed buildings lining the coast. Explore the Bronze Age ruins at Akrotiri or spend the day tanning on the red sand beaches. Mykonos is known for the non-stop party atmosphere, but it also provides ample opportunities outside the clubs. Immerse yourself in Greek mythology at the archeological sites on Delos or learn about local nautical history at the Aegean Maritime Museum. Start things off in Croatia with a walk along the famous stone walls that line the coast of the city of Dubrovnik. Take a cable car to the summit of Srd, a mountain just outside the city or visit the Rector’s Palace, a 14th-century Gothic-Renaissance museum.
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Santorini Island, Greece
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Kérkira or Corfu, island (1991 pop. 105,043), 229 sq mi (593 sq km), NW Greece, in the Ionian Sea. Its industries include agriculture, fishing, and tourism. Settled c.730 B.C. by Corinthians, it later concluded a rebellious alliance with Athens that helped to precipitate (431 B.C.) the Peloponnesian War.
Mykonos is the most chic and sophisticated of all the Greek Islands–instantly recognized by its glittering crescent of white-washed houses lining an azure bay. The beaches here are unspoiled and inviting, especially along Plati Tialos Bay. Miniature churches, lazy windmills, and tiny cafes serving up Greek specialties line the streets. Sample the freshest squid or lobster just snatched from the blue Aegean Sea, or shop for typical flokati rugs.
As you approach the city over the bridge from the Italian mainland, you leave behind terra firma and, with it, earthbound notions of how to see and experience a city. Venice is not solely the spill of churches and palazzi on either side of the Grand Canal, but rather a city of islands, 118 in all, some of which are little more than the weedy, humps you see in the Lagoon of Venice. And yet these mud flats provided haven for the people who fled here (without benefit of a bridge) from Huns, Visigoths, and other marauders in the fifth century. And those refugees gave birth to a culture that ripened into a thousand years of greatness.
As you near the end of the bridge, you see at first only the back side of the city itself. But in the time it takes to walk through the train station, you begin to hear sounds peculiarly Venetian–the low rumble of boat motors, a humid incubation of voices, water lapping insistently against wood and stone. And then Venice confers her greatest gift: No matter how many times you’ve been here, it always seems, in that first glimse, like the first time.
If you are smart, you will immediately start a tour down the Grand Canal by hopping on a vaporetto (water bus) or gondola or water taxi. If you are lucky, it will be during those few hours before sunset when the light shines most kindly on the venerable facades that line this liquid boulevard. If you are particularly observant, you might even notice that neither the light nor the colors are quite Italian, not like the tawny earth tones of Florence or Rome.
The canal is a murkey green, the palazzi a mix of faded, grimy sherbets–watermarked mint and sun-blanched apricot and deep overripe peach. Sunlight shatters into spangles on the water, gondolas knife bach and forth, the Rialto Bridge looms overhead, and then, beyond one final curve, the Palladian church of Santa Maria della Salute and the Campanile (bell tower) of San Marco come into view.
Piazza san Marco is Venice’s grand salon–expansive, familiar, picturesque, pigeonesque. It is anchored at its eastern extreme by the Basilica di San Marco, which is not only the spiritual seat of Venice’s patron saint but also one of the most glittering monuments of Christendom.
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