Our final port of call before Dubrovnik was the Southern town of Ótranto, basically the southernmost tip of the heel of the Italian peninsula. In the morning, we visited Lecce, the so-called Florence of the Baroque, to marvel at the churches and palaces built during in construction booms of the 17th and 18th centuries. The afternoon, on the other hand, was spent in Ótranto itself. Because of its favorable position, the town enjoyed wealth through maritime trade and in the Middle Ages, was coveted by different settlers and conquerors. Its Byzantine and Norman influences are still visible in a few surviving, spectacular buildings.
Guests aboard Sea Cloud awoke to a view of the medieval hotspot of Hvar, a dramatic finale for this fantastic expedition. After breakfast, we loaded into Zodiacs to be taken to the bustling inner harbor where we were met by our local guides. The tour began in the lower city with visits to the beautifully situated monastery, an impressive sixteenth-century arsenal, and the cities famous bell tower Loggia. Afterward, we had time to roam the city, stopping in a café or pizzeria for a pre-lunch snack or some people-watching. A few more adventurous guests made the steep trek up to the Fortress Spanjola for a view of the harbor and Sea Cloud off in the distance. Once back aboard, the infamous pasta-wheel lunch lulled us into relaxation mode for the afternoon ahead. Historian Rebecca Ingram woke us with a presentation of the “Wine Dark Sea: Seafaring in the Ancient Aegean” that lead into the special afternoon tea featuring iced coffees and hot chocolate served by our baker Ramona from Switzerland. With our final day on Sea Cloud coming to a close, we enjoyed an exceptional farewell dinner and then a nightcap on the Lido Deck. Gaynor Trammer played the piano while we reminisced about our one-of-a-kind voyage.