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Tracing the Masters of Modern Art on a Mediterranean Cruise

29th June 2017

Catalonia, Provence and Tuscany – the names alone paint a picture of old-world charm awash in the tides of modernity. From Picasso to Van Gogh, some of the world’s most instrumental artists have left their captivating marks on the sun-drenched shores of the Western Mediterranean.

A coastal cruise is the most fitting way to embrace the elegance of such a romantic era, disembarking at lively ports to discover the destinations that inspired influential works of art.

Barcelona Sagrada Famalia.jpg

Barcelona Sagrada Famalia
The Sagrada Famalia is a work in progress, and is due to be completed in 2026 after 144 years of construction


The city of Barcelona is the wildly beating heart of Catalonia. Born of this fiercely independent culture within Spain are paintings, sculptures and architectural compositions that have cemented Catalonia’s place in the annals of art history.

Explore the humble landscapes of rural Spain at the Joan Miró Foundation and unearth the Catalonian foundations of Pablo Picasso’s infamous works at the Museu Picasso. In the rambling streets of the city seek out the trademarks of Antoni Gaudi’s architectural domain, from hidden trencadís tile mosaics to his final masterpiece - the exceptional blend of Gothic and Catalonian Modernism that is the Sagrada Família.


Saint Paul de Mausole
The Monastere Saint Paul de Mausole, the asylum that Van Gogh called home between May 1889 and May 1890


France’s oldest city is alive with the warm spirit of Provence. Once known as the ‘port of the empire’, the city harbors an art culture steeped in history with unusual claims to fame like the Tarot de Marseille, the prevailing design of Tarot cards.

Travel from the city through the surrounding groves of olives and sunflowers that were said to be a source of comfort to Vincent Van Gogh during his tremulous era in Southern France. From the top of the 12th century monastery of St. Paul de Mausole, take in the wheat fields and rural settings that inspired Van Gogh’s iconic pieces including Starry Night and Self-Portrait.  

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Nice Old Town France
Nice was named for Nike, the Greek goddess of victory


Call into the nearby port of Monaco, gateway to the French Riviera and its cultural capital of Nice. Since the time of the ancient Greeks this elite city has attracted philosophers, composers, painters and sculptors.

On his first visit to Nice, Henri Matisse looked out on the town and said, “When I realised that every morning I would see this light again, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.”

On a walking tour of the Old Town, take in the sights and sounds of life in Provence that captivated Matisse. The Musée Matisse displays the painter’s interpretation of these scenes in a collection that spans sixty years of Impressionist art.

More Cruise Inspiration:

Croatia Coastal Cruising

Coasting in Amalfi

St. Tropez

The epicentre of the French Riviera is a town that has lived many lives, from fishing village to Hollywood hot spot.

The pastel-coloured archways and cobblestone streets lead to the Museum of the Annunciation; an unassuming chapel dating back to the year 1510 now holds a treasure trove of canvases that defined the Avant-Garde art movement.

Bright and vivid paintings glow on the white walls of the converted chapel, inviting visitors on a chronological journey through the collections of Fauvists and Cubists including Picasso and Matisse.

Florence Porto Vecchio bridge.jpg

Florence Ponte Vecchio bridge
The Ponte Vecchio Bridge impressed Hitler so much that he spared it from destruction in his 1944 retreat


Step back from modern art into the epoch of the Renaissance in Florence.

The capital city of the picturesque region of Tuscany has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its famed “600 years of extraordinary artistic activity.” Discover a medieval ambience unmatched in authenticity, well-preserved in the architecture and traditional artistic stonework of pietra forte.

From Tuscany’s cruise port of Liverno, carefully crafted tours guide visitors through art wonders that range from the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and its accompanying Baptistery to the 14th century Ponte Vecchio bridge.

Legendary works of art are housed in the city’s impressive museums – the Palazzo Pitti renaissance museum and the Academia Gallery at the Academy of Fine Arts are just two of the most enthralling. The masterpieces of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and many more beckon to art connoisseurs and dilettantes alike. 

A stop off at all of these spectacular ports is part of Viking Ocean Cruises' 8-day Iconic Western Mediterranean Cruise. Your local Travel Associates advisor has the latest info on luxury Viking packages, so get in touch and book your Mediterranean cruise today!