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Experiencing Italy's cafés, cuisine, and wines is a joy, and in the heart of Tuscany, Florence offers a particularly satisfying spread. Restaurant competition in Florence is fierce, so it's easy to find delicious Tuscan specialties at fair prices-- even in the tourist zone. The best is from the white Chianina breed of cattle you'll see grazing throughout Tuscany.

Like many travelers, last spring I visited Barcelona dreaming of seeing Antoni Gaudi's breathtaking Sagrada Familia church. When I got there, the ticket office was closed, with a posted sign: "No more tickets today. Buy your ticket for another day online. "

When my travel dreams drift off to Spain, they often include visions of Andalucía, the southern part of the country that feels so quintessentially Spanish. With a string of whitewashed hill towns, sunny skies, vibrant festivals and tempting tapas, Andalucía is the soul of Spain-- almost...