Up sticks from your Umbrian villa and drive to Ancona, Italy's largest Adriatic port and gateway to Croatia and Greece. Like Livorno, it's a commercial port not famed for its beauty, but stroll uphill to see the Old Town surrounding the city's Romanesque dome: it has a remarkable 16th-century fountain, a Roman amphitheatre and some wonderfully spooky Gothic architecture. Stop for lunch in Piazza Roma, a cobbled square lined with alfresco cafés and restaurants.
An overnight ferry from Ancona takes you to Stari Grad on Hvar, one of the prettiest islands off the Croatian coast. Stari Grad (literally "old town"), founded by the Greeks in 385BC, is a treasure trove for archaeology buffs: remnants of the old Greek city walls, Roman mosaic floors and a bathhouse. The true beauty of Stari Grad is its Renaissance and Baroque architecture ? a legacy of Venetian occupation in the 16th and 17th centuries ? and the fragrant lavender and rosemary-smothered hills that border the town, making it an antidote for stressed-out urbanites in search of lovely surroundings and safe beaches on which to unleash the kids. Jadrolinija (Croatian Ferry Operator) runs the 800-passenger Ivan Zajc. A 8.
30pm or 9pm departure from Stazione Marittima (in the centre of Ancona) gets you to Stari Grad at 6am or 8.30am; return ferries leave at 11pm and arrive at 9am. Services operate every two days or so.
One-way fares start at £251.43 for a party of four occupying a four-berth cabin with private bathroom and breakfast. Car transport costs £41.07 each way. Under-fours travel free, and round-trip tickets give a 20 per cent discount on the return. To travel from UK call Viamare Travel Ltd.
on Tel. +44 (0) 870 4106040 or alternatively book online at www.viamare.com. Timetable information and booking's are available for other Mediterranean destinations as well.
By: Viamare Travel Ltd. - book your ferry tickets with VIAMARE.COM