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One of the most popular regions in Italy, Tuscany stretches from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Apennines. Its main cities include Florence, Pisa, Siena, Lucca, Arezzo and Livorno. Drive between stunning sites like Florence's cathedral and Uffizi Gallery and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Or join a bike tour and pedal past sun-baked olive groves and vineyards. Don't miss the towers of San Gimignano or serene northern hill towns. For a more modern take, hit one of Florence's hip clubs, such as Space Electronic.
Provence, in southeastern France, is divided into six departments and stretches from Orange to Nice. Many consider the Luberon in Vaucluse to be the "real Provence". Gently sloping vineyards and lavender fields are the backdrops that enthralled Cezanne, Van Gogh and Chagall. An excellent train network makes travel between towns easy. To explore villages, drive or catch a bus. Highlights include the Palace of the Popes at Avignon, the Roman amphitheatre at Arles and the craft centre of Les Baux.
From stylish Barcelona to sunny resort towns on the Costa Brava and Costa Dorada, Catalonia offers a wealth of attractions. Barcelona attracts those who love Gaudi's architecture, hot nightlife and thrilling restaurants. Elegant Tarragona's Roman ruins and amphitheater add to its historical appeal. Beach lovers flock to Mediterranean playgrounds including pine back-dropped Cape Salou, stunning Costa de Garraf, home to gay-popular beach resort Sitges, and the 40 sandy miles of La Maresme.
Hiking trails and art galleries abound in Stellenbosch, but it's wine that takes center stage. More than 100 wine cellars, most open to the public, surround the oak-lined South African town, and tasting tours operate daily. Winter brings a four-day festival celebrating the local vintages. The historic town center houses the trading-post style shop Oom Samie se Winkel, the Neo-Gothic Moederkerk church, and museums dedicated to toys, military memorabilia, autos and early life on the Cape.
From flat-topped Table Mountain down to the blue waters of Table Bay, Cape Town is simply stunning, but the city doesn't thrive by its looks alone. Proudly multicultural, its flourishing arts, dining, and nightlife scenes are proof of this modern metropolis' creativity and innovative spirit.
Brimming with both history and natural wonder, Northern Portugal is home to Porto, the city that gave the country its name, as well as the important ancient town of Braga. Also here is Peneda-Gerês, Portugal’s only national park, a gorgeous wilderness area of mountains, gorges, water features and wildlife. Many picturesque villages and manor houses dot the countryside. Two areas are UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alto Douro Wine Region, and the Paleolithic rock art in the Côa Valley.
The village of Franschhoek (French Corner), tucked into the Cape Winelands of South Africa, is known as the country's food and wine capital. Galleries and antique shops fill the tree-lined streets, and vineyards established more than 300 years ago cascade over the hills just outside town. Local activities range from wine-tasting tours to trout fishing and hiking. The Huguenot Memorial Museum honors the town's early settlers, who fled religious persecution in France.
With seemingly endless sunny beaches, charming towns, glamorous yachts and celebrities galore, the French Riviera keeps the Belle Époque alive. Most towns are best explored on foot, while a cheap and reliable rail network connects the cities and towns. Fabled destinations such as St-Tropez, Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Villefranche-sur-Mer and St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat lure visitors to follow in the wake of Picasso, Matisse and Bizet. Over a hundred museums and more than 150 galleries keep the artistic ambiance alive.