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Let’s talk cruises!
The Quieter Side of Venice
  • Writer's picturesbcrosby .

All Aboard for Split

Our first visit to Venice was 11 years ago and it was unseasonably hot, there were crowds upon crowds, and we remember the canal water being a smelly, dirty brown. While still hot, with limited breeze reaching the inner canal streets, this trip was much more enjoyable. Spending more time wandering through a maze of quiet streets, seeing St. Mark’s at night, and not feeling rushed at any given mome was definitely the way to go. To top it off, the canal water was much cleaner and has a lovely green hue. The waters benefitted greatly from less boat traffic and fewer tourists during the pandemic.

We've had the great fortune to have visited many different cities across Italy and throughout many of its regions (need I mention this is one of my favorite countries?!). I wouldn't put Venice at the top of my list; however, you must visit this unique city at least once. We are told the best time to visit is in early April or late October if you truly want to miss the crowds and avoid the hottest summer months.

Friday morning included checking out of our hotel and heading to the cruise terminal for embarkation onto Oceania Nautica. After getting settled into our stateroom, we quickly took care of much-needed laundry, and then explored the ship. We shared dinner with dear friends at one of the ship's specialty restaurants, Toscana, and then called it an early night.

We arrived in beautiful Split, Croatia, Saturday morning and ventured off the boat for a small tour of ancient Salona and Diocletian's Palace.

Salona sits near modern Split and was once the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. Salona was founded by Julius Caesar and the Roman emperor Diocletian abdicated his throne to move to his palace by the sea. We spent the first part of the tour at the ruins of an ancient cemetery and church – at one time, it was one of the largest basilicas in the Adriatic. This was a very important area for the early Christians, as it was one of the last official towns where Diocletian massacred the Christian bishop and persecuted many believers during the Great Persecution of 304 AD. The bishop and many early Christians were buried in this cemetery of ruins.  

We then ventured back into the town of Split, were we entered the walls of Diocletian’s Palace. The palace compound was finished around 305 AD. Diocletian lived there until his death in 312 AD. The original mausoleum was converted to a cathedral and is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world still in use.

The palace is also the only original Roman palace still in use as a residence. The palace was used by the people of Salona to defend themselves against the Huns and Slavs as they conquered the old Roman empire. In medieval times, various houses and buildings were added to the inside of the palace and eventually expanded outside its original walls. A perfect example of "old meets new," as these original walls were simply incorporated into new structures as they were built; you can see private residences with terraces sitting on top of portions of these palace walls today.

As we walked through the vestibule of what was the emporer's private residence, we were serenaded to beautiful Klapa singing, a form of a cappella that originated in Dalmatia. The word klapa translates to "a group of friends."

Diocletian’s Palace is the world’s most complete remains of a Roman palace. The temple of Jupiter was converted to a baptistry at the same time the mausoleum was converted to a cathedral. Another fun fact – several scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed here and in the surrounding area.


After a quick stop for gelato, we made our way back to the ship for some R&R poolside overlooking these amazing views. The water surrounding Split is crystal clear and gorgeous. I see us definitely returning to this region for a longer visit in our future.

We are at sea tomorrow as we make our way down the Dalmatian coast to Greece. Laku noć!


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