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One of Europe’s most visually stunning cities, Barcelona balances the medieval intimacy of its Gothic Quarter with the grace and distinction of the wide boulevards in the Moderniste Eixample. It was the home of architect Antoni Gaudí, whose Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Park Güell and Casa Milà are the most profound statements of Modernisme. View the splendid works at the Picasso Museum and the Miro Foundation, or discover Barcelona’s passionate ambiance at a flamenco show.
Tiny, but packed with fun, Monte Carlo offers a wonderful combination of history, beauty, entertainment and leisure. The wealthiest spot in Monaco, Monte Carlo is an enchanting place, known as the international capital of luxury and for its celebrity-sightings, casinos and nightlife. Yet the old world shines through in its art and architecture. Palaces, cathedrals and museums dot this small municipality in an old town full of rich history. Be sure to catch the once-daily changing of the guard, then tour the public areas at the Palais du Prince, home to the royal family, whose most famous resident was famous actress Grace Kelly.
Whether enjoying the street performers at the Spanish Steps and people-watching over a fine glass of wine in colorful Trastevere, or taking in the historical and architectural glory that is Rome, visitors are spoiled for choice in this truly Eternal City. St. Peter’s Basilica is a full-day outing, featuring the Sistine Chapel and panoramic city vistas for those willing to climb to the top of the dome. Other landmarks not to miss include the renowned Trevi Fountain, the Coliseum, and Aventine Hill, which provides you with a grand view of the imposing remains of the Imperial Palaces and the Circus Maximus, of Ben Hur fame.
Sorrento is surely one of the world’s most beautiful towns, built on a coast with breathtaking views and landscapes. Yet it is far from a frivolous vacation destination. The houses, people and the entire region are filled with a history and culture so deep that it can be traced back to the 11th century BC. Overlooking the bay of Naples, the town is the key point on the Sorrentine Peninsula and is one of the most popular destinations of the entire Campania region. Make sure to plan a day trip to Capri, one of the most celebrated Italian islands, noted for its natural beauty.
Messina, the third largest city in Sicily, was the most important port of departure for European knights on their way to the Crusades in the Middle Ages. Today, this extensively rebuilt port city still boasts many historically and architecturally significant landmarks, particularly the renowned cathedral with its unusual astronomical clock, the 12th century Catania Church and the ornate Teatro Vittorio Emanuele. Messina is also the starting point for a day trip to the peak of breath-taking Mt. Etna-Crateri Silvestri.
Found on the northern Dalmatian coast of Croatia, Zadar is rich with thousands of years of history. Ruled at various times by the Romans, Ostrogoths, and Byzantium, the city became a center of commerce and naval power rivaling that of Venice. Today, Zadar’s history, culture, and architecture draw visitors from around the world, as does Plitvice National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This renowned “City of Canals” was built on an archipelago of more than 100 islands formed by about 150 canals. Ancient cobblestone streets lined with tiny ceramic and glass workshops and tempting cafes wind their way between fabulous palazzos and vast town squares along the banks of the canals. For shoppers, the city offers colorful markets; for those interested in architecture, the original Baroque classics, Basilica San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, the Doge’s Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs as viewed from a gondola or toured on foot, are breath-taking. And art lovers should make sure not to miss the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, home to Tintoretto’s finest works; or, for more modern tastes, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, showcasing masterpieces of 20th-century art currents and the avant-garde movements.
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