Friday, January 25, 2013

EL PASO

(includes Canutillo, Clint, Fabens, Mesilla, Salt Flat, San Elizario, Socorro & Sunland Park)

BAKERIES, COFFEE, ICE CREAM, JUICE & TEA
Bowie Bakery – 901 Park Street; 915-544-6025; bowiebakery.com; pan dulce.
Coffee Box – 401 North Mesa Street; elpasocoffeebox.com; unique coffee venue in downtown El Paso; two containers, one stacked on the other; modern; excellent but limited baked goods array.
El Paso’s Bakery – 3300 Fort Boulevard; 915-562-5600; elpasosbakery.com; authentic Mexican baking, traditional pan dulce, artisan panaderos, adobe oven.
Pastry Chef Cafe – 126 Shadow Mountain Drive; 915-585-9080; pastrychefcafe.com; European pastries.



BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Cafe Central – 109 North Oregon Street; 915-545-2233; cafecentral.com; over 100 years-old; luxurious.
Garden – 511 Western Street; 915-544-4400; thegardenep.com; outdoor club on weekends.
Hope & Anchor – 4012 North Mesa Street; 915-533-8010; hopeandanchorelpaso.com; large back patio strung with lights and paper lanterns.
Hoppy Monk – 4141 North Mesa Street; 915-307-3263; thehoppymonk.com; 70 craft brews on tap.
King’s X – 4119 North Mesa Street; 915-544-4795; thekingsx.com; since 1960; worth special trip.
Lotus – 201 North Stanton Street; 915-503-2335; lotusep.com; sleek, ultramodern dance club with 3 floors and 2 DJs; huge Buddha statue presides.
Lowbrow Palace – 111 East Robinson Avenue; 915-356-0966; thelowbrowpalace.com; caters to college crowd; local bands and touring acts.
El Meson de Oñate – 9993 Socorro Road; 915-860-8288; facebook.com/pages/El-Meson-De-Onate/445587685485382?rf=121680197842820; notable for beers & margaritas.
Tricky Falls/Bowie Feathers – 209 South El Paso Street (Union Square); 915-351-9938; facebook.com/bowiefeathers; Tricky Falls is music venue/nightclub in gorgeous historic building; Bowie Feathers is bar right upstairs (bar and hipster haven with black leather booths).



HOTELS
Camino Real – 101 South El Paso Street; 915-534-3000; caminoreal.com/elpaso; national historical landmark; adjacent to lobby, Dome Bar is crowned by original Tiffany Dome, which was hotel’s original lobby; don’t miss 2-story vaulted ceiling with cherry stone and gold scallion wall; in 1912, Zach T. Whites, young Virginian entrepreneur, opened as Paso Del Norte, most modern hotel of its time in southwest.



RESTAURANTS
Amigos Restaurant (used to be La Hacienda) – 2000 Montana Avenue; 915-533-0155; menu at original menu from old Hacienda Restaurant that was El Paso favorite for 40 years; never busy at night so bring your party.
Ardovino’s Desert Crossing – 1 Ardovinos Drive (Sunland Park); 575-589-0653; ardovinos.com; especially for brunch; worth special trip.
El Bandido Cantina & Restaurant – 1591 Main Street (Clint); 915-851-0660; elbandidocantina.com or facebook.com/elbandidocantina; one of only patio restaurants on Mission Trail; antojitos & cold beer, if nothing else.
Cafe Central – 109 North Oregon Street; 915-545-2233; cafecentral.com; over 100 years-old; luxurious; worth splurge; sleek urban bistro serving sophisticated international cuisine; 3 seating areas: gracious dining room; sleek lounge; and breezy patio out front; menu changes daily; creative Southwestern interpretations of traditional Continental dishes; award-winning wine list among city's best, with more than 300 bottles; desserts include best leches cakes in all of Texas.
Cafe Italia – 6705 North Mesa Street; 915-832-0587; elpasocafeitalia.com; brick-oven pizza.
Casa Jurado – 4772 Doniphan Drive; 915-833-1151; casajuradoondoniphan.com; serving great Mexican food, from family recipes for over 30 years; casual, yet upscale; 6 enchiladas types, chicken mole, steaks, and seafood; full bar with 6 margarita flavors.
Cattlemen’s Steakhouse – 3450 South Fabens Carlsbad Road (Fabens); 915-544-3200; cattlemanssteakhouse.com; back in 1966, while still working in his father’s shipping business in Germany, Dieter Gerzymisch was put in charge of moving German Air Force School and its soldiers to Fort Bliss; oddly, place made such impression on him, that I made it his home; later, trying to help friend who badly needed job, he bought livery horse string he stabled at Indian Cliffs, which gave ranch its name; started restaurant in 1973; Gerzymisch still buys every pound of beef every week hisself and personally sees that employees and managers never forget who makes paycheck happen.
Charcoaler Drive-In – 5837 North Mesa Street; 915-581-0660; facebook.com/pages/Charcoaler-Drive-In-Official/189685124386000; you can smell their charcoal-grilled burgers from street; drive through, place your order, then pull up to carport and enjoy 1950s ambience.
Chico’s Tacos – 4230 Alameda Avenue (original, off intersection of US I-10 & Patriot Freeway); 915-533-0975; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chico's_Tacos; legendary local chain; rolled tacos in tomato soup-like sauce, hamburgers, French fries, grilled cheese sandwiches (or, as Chicos Tacos employees refer to them, grillos), and special round hot dogs served on hamburger buns.
Chico’s Tacos – 5305 Montana Avenue (Northeast Side); 915-772-7777; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chico's_Tacos; legendary local chain; rolled tacos in tomato soup-like sauce, hamburgers, French fries, grilled cheese sandwiches (or, as Chicos Tacos employees refer to them, grillos), and special round hot dogs served on hamburger buns.
Chico’s Tacos – 11381 Montwood Drive (East Side); 915-849-8777; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chico's_Tacos; legendary local chain; rolled tacos in tomato soup-like sauce, hamburgers, French fries, grilled cheese sandwiches (or, as Chicos Tacos employees refer to them, grillos), and special round hot dogs served on hamburger buns.
Chico’s Tacos – 3401 Dyer Street; 915-565-5555 (North Side); en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chico's_Tacos; legendary local chain; rolled tacos in tomato soup-like sauce, hamburgers, French fries, grilled cheese sandwiches (or, as Chicos Tacos employees refer to them, grillos), and special round hot dogs served on hamburger buns.
Chico’s Tacos – 1365 George Dieter Drive (East Side, Rojas Commons); 915592-8484‎; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chico's_Tacos; legendary local chain; rolled tacos in tomato soup-like sauce, hamburgers, French fries, grilled cheese sandwiches (or, as Chicos Tacos employees refer to them, grillos), and special round hot dogs served on hamburger buns.
Garden – 511 Western Street; 915-544-4400; thegardenep.com; daytime dining on patio (that becomes dance floor at night).
G&R Restaurant – 401 East Nevada Avenue; 915-546-9343; old-school Mexican; family-owned since 1960; local favorite; colonial-style dining room; authentic and super-affordable enchiladas, rellenos and burritos.
Leo’s Mexican Food Restaurant (Airport) – 9420 Montana Avenue; 915-593-5367; leosrestaurantandbar.com; El Paso institution (along with Chico’s Tacos); category is “El Paso comfort food”; original restaurant opened in 1946; notable for lunch specials that include combination plates and sopapillas for dessert; all owned and operated by various Terraza family members; varied menu; caldo de res (beef soup with vegetables), served all day; try Tri-Color Baked Cheese Enchiladas; all food made with vegetable oil.
Leo’s Mexican Food Restaurant (Central) – 5103 Montana; 915-566-4972; leosrestaurantandbar.com; see review for Leo’s, above.
Leo’s Mexican Food Restaurant (Downtown) – 315 East Mills Avenue; 915-544-1001; leosrestaurantandbar.com; see review for Leo’s, above.
Leo’s Mexican Food Restaurant (Far East) – 1921 Zaragoza Road; 915-855-0063; leosrestaurantandbar.com; see review for Leo’s, above.
Little Diner – 7209 7th Street (Canutillo); 915-877-2176; littlediner.com; just beyond El Paso, far from interstate and several blocks off main road that runs through Canutillo; finest flautas and gorditas in West Texas.
L&J Cafe – 3622 East Missouri Street (just north of I-10, exit 22A at Copia Street); 915-566-8418; nicknamed “Old Place by Graveyard” because near Concordia Cemetery; El Paso landmark; Duran family operated and owned since 1st opened in 1927; was casino and speak-easy during Prohibition; today known for transcendental “border regional cuisine”; huevos, chile con queso, and caldillo (beef and potato stew with green chile and garlic kick).
Lucy’s Restaurant – 4119 North Mesa Street (in King’s X bar); 915-544-3922; thekingsx.com; biker dive notable, especially, for breakfasts.
El Meson de Oñate – 9993 Socorro Road; 915-860-8288; facebook.com/pages/El-Meson-De-Onate/445587685485382?rf=121680197842820; breakfast, lunch or dinner; traditional dishes like chile rellenos & hearty dishes like Tarahumara rib-eye smothered with cheese & long green chile; desserts include sopapillas made from scratch.
Red Mountain Bistro – 631 North Resler Drive; 915-585-6940; redmountainbistro.com; far-reaching menu of innovative American cuisine.
Ripe Eatery – 910 East Redd Road; 915-584-7473; ripeeatery.com; surprisingly chic spot in nondescript strip mall; great breakfasts (try Brisket Rancheros Eggs Benedict).
Riviera – 5218 Doniphan Drive; 915-584-1542; rivsauces.com; open since 1948; on old Camino Real; Mexican food.
Rosco’s Burger Inn – 3829 Tompkins Road; 915-564-9028; hoosierburgerboy.com/2008/05/roscos-burger-inn-el-paso-tx.html; burgers.
State Line – 1222 Sunland Park Drive (Sunland Park); 915-581-3371; countyline.com; restaurant based on 4 principles: (1) highest quality smoked barbecue (brisket, chicken, ribs, and sausage), with traditional sides (beans, cole slaw, and potato salad); (2) provide generous portions at reasonable prices; (3) employ college-age students to offer friendly table service with linens and bar service; & (4) authentic location.
Suzu – 5825 North Mesa Street; 915-845-7898; suzurestaurant.com; Asian-Mexican fusion; worth special trip.
Tabla – 115 Durango Street; 915-533-8935; tabla-ep.com; across from old locomotive on display; on cobbled block of dimly lit restaurants; modern decor; custom-infused liquors; extensive tapas menu.
Tacos X Cuatro – 9618 Socorro Road; 915-858-2199; es-es.facebook.com/pages/Tacos-X-Cuatro/114003948631036; fun & festive feel, rancho style; musico soundtrack singer knows all hits from JuanGa to El Chente; only place on Mission Trail to offer Chocoflan, chocolate twist on classic Mexican custard dessert.
La Terraza East – 11250 Montwood; 915-593-6400; leosrestaurantandbar.com; owned by Leo’s; see review for Leo’s, above.
Tom’s Folk Cafe – 204 Boston Avenue; 915-500-5573; tomsfolkcafe.com; tiny, locavore restaurant.
Toro Burger Bar – 2609 North Mesa; 915-533-4576; toroburgerbar.com; great hamburgers; good bar; something of sensation in West Texas after having been featured in Texas Monthly for their delectable Toro Burger (topped with avocado, pepper jack cheese & original spicy mayo called “Toro Sauce”).



SHOPPING
Bookery – 10167 Socorro Road (just past historic Socorro Mission driving east); 915-859-6132; facebook.com/elpasobooks; only independent bookstore in El Paso; incredible collection of books for adults & children, with a focus on Southwest Latino literature; also, gifts, artwork, and crafts.
Licon Dairy & Petting Zoo – 11951 Glorietta Road (San Elizario); 915-851-2705; licondairy.com; great cheese products, as well as camels, llamas, etc.
Las Misiones Arts & Crafts – 10520 Socorro Road; 915-858-1016; visitelpasomissiontrail.com/explore/las-misiones-arts-crafts.html; on Mission Trail, near Socorro Mission.
Mission Cabinet Shop – 9993 Socorro Road; 915-859-1793; visitelpasomissiontrail.com/article/follow-the-trail.html; Western furniture; call first.



SIGHTS & SITES
Camino Real & Don Juan de Oñate Trail – Highway 28 (El Paso to Mesilla); nps.gov/elca/photosmultimedia/traveling-the-trail.htm or caminorealheritage.org/camino/camino.htm; Highway 28 is back-road, winding through farm, wine, pecan, and chile country; fun and peaceful ride on old-fashioned, 2-lane road; several wineries; culminates in Old Mesilla, historical little village.
Concordia Cemetery – 3700 East Yandell Drive; 915-842-8200; concordiacemetery.org; John Wesley Hardin; lively during Dia de los Muertos in November.
El Paso Federal Building (Courthouse) – 511 East San Antonio Avenue (now U.S. Bankruptcy Court), Room 201; 915-779-7362 (Clerk); Tom Lea mural, “Pass of North” ●El Paso Mission Trail – start at San Elizario Presidio Chapel (7-11 am), then visit Socorro Mission (10 am-3 pm), then Ysleta Mission; 915-534-0630; visitelpasomissiontrail.com; addresses below; San Elizario - start day with peaceful almuerzo (breakfast) or early lunch at only patio restaurant on Mission Trail, El Bandido Cantina & Restaurant (address above), to enjoy patio dining & view; few steps away is local artist presence with numerous art galleries featuring local & regional artists; note that El Paso Mission Trail Art Market held every 3rd Sunday, featuring over 50 artisans from around region, displaying art, photography, pottery, jewelry & home accents; as you leave, can check out Licon Dairy & Petting Zoo (address above), famous for fresh azaderos cheese; Socorro - as you travel towards Socorro Mission, you are on 1 of America’s oldest roads; along way is Las Misiones Arts & Crafts & Bookery (addresses above), as well as El Meson de Oñate (address above), for coldest beers & margaritas on trail; Ysleta - on way, can stop at Bowie Bakery (address above) and/or Tacos X Cuatro (address above); also worth seeing is Tigua Cultural Center (address below).
El Paso Museum of Art – 1 Arts Festival Plaza; 915-532-1707; elpasoartmuseum.org; extensive collection; impressive; Tom Lea.
El Paso Museum of History – 510 Nort Santa Fe Street; 915-351-3588; history.elpasotexas.gov; 1956 illustration of “Arrival of First Train in El Paso” (1881) by Tom Lea; displayed outside Transportation Gallery; depicts Engine No. 1 (4-4-0 type steam locomotive, preserved in El Paso); characters based on actual people in El Paso & Juárez.
El Paso Public Library – 501 North Oregon Street; 915-543-5433; in lobby, Tom Lea mural painted in 1957, “Southwest,” gift from Tom and and his wife, Sarah, to their town.
Farmer’s Market – 1 Ardovinos Drive (Sunland Park); 575-589-0653, ext. 6; ardovinos.com/farmersmarket.html.
First Presbyterian Church – 1340 Murchison Drive; 915-533-7551; fpcep.org; stain glass window designed by Tom Lea.
Franklin Mountains State Park – 1331 McKelligon Canyon Road; 915-566-6441; tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/franklin-mountains; largest US urban park lying completely within city limits, covering 24K acres; hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, and scenic driving; pictograms and mortar pits; Mule Deer, Mountain Lions, Black Bear and various rodents; birds include Golden Eagles, owls, and hawks.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park – 400 Pine Canyon Road (Salt Flat); 915-828-3251; nps.gov/gumo; make sure to see McKittrick Ridge (best access from Dog Canyon); best trails for hiking (& among best in Texas) are: Guadalupe Peak Trail (Salt Flat), which will leave you feeling on top of world (takes you through ascending canyons, steep cliffs & raging waterfalls until you reach summit at over 8K' feet, being highest point in Texas); and/or McKittrick Canyon Trail (Salt Flat), which provides a nice contrast with west Texas (typically full of sprawling deserts) because turns into enthralling display of colors when Fall rolls around (only .9 miles long & takes less than 1 hour to complete).
Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site – 6900 Hueco Tanks Road #1; 915-857-1135; tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/hueco-tanks; low mountains in high-altitude desert basin between Franklin Mountains (to west) and Hueco Mountains (to east); hueco is Spanish for “hollows” and refers to many water-holding depressions in boulders and rock faces; unique concentration of historic artifacts, plants, and wildlife; spiritually significant to many Native Americans, such as Mescalero Apache, Kiowa, Hopi, and Pueblo; pictographs (rock paintings) found throughout region, some of which are Ks years-old; contains single largest mask painting concentration in North America, of which 100s exist.
International Museum of Art – 1211 Montana Avenue; 915-543-6747; internationalmuseumofart.net; lintels above Brown Street entrance by Tom Lea.
Keystone Heritage Park & El Paso Botanical Gardens – 4220 Doniphan; 915-584-0563; keystoneheritagepark.org; park includes among nation’s largest and oldest Archaic and late prehistoric villages.
Plaza Theater – 125 Pioneer Plaza (1 Civic Center Plaza); 915-534-0633; theplazatheatre.org.
Los Portales Museum & Info Center – 1521 San Elizario Road (San Elizario, across from Chapel); 915-851-1682; epcounty.com/sanelizariomuseum; housed in 1850s territorial building.
Rio Bosque Wetlands – 10716 Socorro Road (Socorro, take Loop 375 to Pan American Drive (1.5 miles to bridge)); 915-747-8663; riobosque.org; 372 acres; walking tours offered several times monthly; natural surface trail network weaves through wetlands; excellent birding.
San Elizario Mission – 1556 San Elizario Road/Main Street (San Elizario, on Plaza’s south side); 915-851-2333; nps.gov/nr/travel/tx/tx4.htm; constructed in 1877 to replace earlier chapel destroyed by flood (original chapel built for Mexican troops stationed in valley in 1770s); 1-story adobe chapel built in traditional Spanish Mission style.
Scenic Drive – Scenic Drive Road (between Rim Road & Wheeling Avenue); drive skirts around mountain; several visitors’ platforms; amazing views.
Socorro Mission (La Purisima) – 328 South Nevarez Road (Socorro); 915-859-7718; nps.gov/nr/travel/tx/tx1.htm; original Franciscan mission, Nuestra Señora de la Concepción del Socorro, founded in 1682.
Tigua Cultural Center – 305 Yaya Lane (El Paso, at Socorro Road); 915-859-7700; ydsp.stantonstreetgroup.com/locations.sstg?id=40.
Tom Lea Institute – 201 East Main Street (Chase Building), Suite 100; 915-533-0048; tomlea.com; unimpressive office in nondescript office building belies its value; arrange Tom Lea tours here, and pick up information from the knowledgeable (limited) staff.
La Viña Winery – 4201 New Mexico 28 (La Union/Anthony, NM); 575-882-7632; lavinawinery.com.
University of Texas at El Paso Centennial Museum (and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens) – 500 West University Avenue (at Wiggins Road); 915-747-5565; museum.utep.edu; Tom Lea designed massive stone lintel over front doors.
Wyler Aerial Tramway – 1700 McKinley Avenue; 915-566-6622; tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/wyler-aerial-tramway; aerial cable car that ascends Franklin Mountains.
Ysleta Mission – 131 South Zaragoza Road (Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, reservation contained within El Paso); 915-859-9848; ysletamission.org; oldest continuously operated parish in Texas.
Zin Valle Vineyard – 7315 Canutillo La Union Road (Canutillo); 915-877-4544; zinvalle.com.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

LAOS

GENERAL
Trails of Indochina – 10/8 Phan Dinh Giot Street (Ho Chi Minh City, Tan Binh District); 011-84-8-3844-1005; trailsofindochina.com.



SIGHTS & SITES
Plain of Jars
– Phonsavan (4 hours from Luang Prabang, 6 from Vientiane); plainofjars.net; giant stone jars of unknown ancient origin scattered over 100s sq kms; mystery what civilization created them; fashioned from solid stone & date from 500 BCE to 200CE.
Si Phan Don (4000 Islands)
– Champasak Province (southern Laos); riverine archipelago located in Mekong River, characterized by numerous islands, half of which are submerged when Mekong River in flood; principal islands are Don Khong (largest), and Don Det & Don Khon; key features include: fresh-water, Irrawaddy dolphins (pakha), viewed by boat off Don Khong island (highly endangered); Khone Phapheng Falls, succession of impassable raging rapids; and 1st railway, Don Det-Don Khong narrow gauge railway, built by French to bypass Khone Phapheng Falls; best place to stay is Sala Done Khong [salalaoboutique.com].

Monday, January 21, 2013

MALI

TIMBUKTU
Sights & Sites
Djingareyber Mosque – Old Town (west of Place de l’Indépendance); whc.unesco.org/en/list/119; initial construction dates to Sultan Kankan Moussa, returning from Mecca pilgrimage; rebuilt and enlarged between 1570-1583 by Timbuktu Qadi Imam Al Aqib, who added all southern part and wall surrounding cemetery located to west; central minaret dominates city; can enter but sometimes need guide; interior is forest of 100 sturdy pillars; interconnecting rooms with holes in wall at ground level (before microphones, worshippers who could not hear imam could look through into main prayer hall to see when to pray); separate women’s section, from close to which stairs lead up onto roof (ask permission before climbing up) for good views over town and out towards desert; don’t point camera south because police building in vicinity; muezzin still climbs pyramidal minaret, with its wooden struts, to call faithful to prayer.
Sankore Mosque – Old Town; whc.unesco.org/en/list/119; built in 14th Century; restored by Timbuktu Qadi Imam Al Aqib between 1578-1582 (had sanctuary demolished and rebuilt according to Kaaba dimensions).
Sidi Yahia Mosque – Old Town; whc.unesco.org/en/list/119; south of Sankore Mosque; built around 1400 by marabout Sheik El Moktar Hamalla in anticipation of holy man who appeared 40 years later as Cherif Sidi Yahia, who was then chosen as Imam; restored in 1577-1578 by Timbuktu Qadi Imam Al Aqib.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ITALY-TUSCANY

(does not include Florence, Perugia, Pitigliano, or Siena)

AREZZO (includes Poppi)

Hotels
Hotel Patio – 23 Via Cavour; 011-39-057-540-1962; hotelpatio.it; moderately expensive but perfectly located; pleasantly quirky.

Restaurants
Antica Osteria L’Agania – 10 Via Giuseppe Mazzini; 011-39-057-529-5381; agania.it; very popular with locals and good for lunch.
Ristorante Logge Vasari – 18 Piazza Grande; 011-39-057-529-5894; loggevasari.net; on Piazza Grande; dinner on terrace if warm enough.

Sights & Sites
Castello dei Conti Guidi – 1 Piazza della Repubblica (Poppi); 011-39-057-552-0516; castellodipoppi.it; main building in Casentino, known from 1191, once owned by Counts Guidi; additions by Arnoldo do Cambio; courtyard, external staircase, chapel with frescos & library containing rare manuscripts and incunabula.
Fiera Antiquaria – Piazza Grande (and small streets nearby); 011-39-057-537-7993; arezzofieraantiquaria.com; vast antique market 1st Sunday every month.



ASSISI
Hotels
Hotel Ideale – 1 Piazza Giacomo Matteotti; 011-39-075-813-570; hotelideale.it; inexpensive and quite with fine view.
Nun Assisi Relais – 1A Via Eremo delle Carceri; 011-39-075-815-5150; nunassisi.com; 18-room boutique hotel above city’s historic center; walking distance to atmospheric streets below, far enough away from public parking and tourists; housed in former St. Catherine convent, dating from 1275; secluded courtyard garden; modern features; ask for room No. 1 (“privilege suite” close to reception and spa; some units come with terrace; tremendous spa: built into 1st Century Roman amphitheater ruins (with barrel-vaulted cisterns and pool system based on ancient system (tepadario, sudatorio, caldario, and frigadario; great restaurant.

Restaurants
Trattoria Da Ermino – 19 Via Montecavallo; 011-39-075-812-506; trattoriadaerminio.it; tucked on tiny back street and utterly unpretentious; good dinner locale.
San Francesco – 52 Via San Francesco; 011-39-075-812-329; ristorantesanfrancesco.com; faces Basilica and has marvelous views; good for lunch.



LA BADIOLA
Restaurants
Macchiascandona – Via Castiglionese; 011-39-056-494-4127; don’t be put off by unprepossessing exterior; regional classics are 1st-rate, inexpensive, and simple.



BAGNO A RIPOLI
Hotels
Villa Olmi Resort – 4/8 Via degli Olmi; 011-39-056-37-710; villaolmiresort.com/en; place to stay near Florence.



BAGNO VIGNONI
Services
Le Terme Wellness & Spa – 13 Piazza delle Sorgenti; 011-39-057-788-7150; termedibagnovignoni.it; hot springs spa.

Sights & Sites
Medieval Town Center – large pool of hot springs in town square.



BETTOLLE
Hotels
Relais La Leopoldina – 10 Via XXI Aprile; 011-39-057-762-3447; relaislaleopoldina.it; beautiful; pool; must stay here.



BOLGHERI
Hotels
Strada Giulia – 16 Via Giulia; 011-39-331-266-1699; stradagiuliabolgheri.en; boutique.



CAMAIORE
Hotels
Locanda al Colle – 102 Via della Stretta; 011-39-058-491-5195; locandaalcolle.it; affordable; 7.5 miles from Forte dei Marmi; mid-century Danish and Italian furniture; 9 rooms; tremendous views over countryside.



CAPALBIO
Sights & Sites
Tarot Garden – Garavicchio-Capalbio; 011-39-056-489-5122; nikidesaintphalle.com; garden and statues created from world of tarot cards; includes mirror-mosaicked tower; worth seeing for kitsch value.



CARRARA (includes Marina di Carrara)
Hotels
Hotel Exclusive – 59 Viale Cristoforo Colombo (Marina di Carrara); 011-39-058-578-9263; exclusivecarrara.com; minimalist spot 150 meters from sea.
Hotel Michelangelo – 3 Corso Carlo Roselli; 011-39-058-577-7161; michelangelocarrara.com; newly renovated hotel filled with modern artworks.

Sights & Sites
Museo Civico del Marmo – 85 Viale XX Settembre; 011-39-058-584-5746; giove.cnuce.cnr.it/museo.html; preserves local marble culture; collection divided into Roman Archaeology, Territory History, Marble Library, Industrial Archaeology, Plaster Casts, Modern Sculpture; rich Library.
Piazzale Fantiscritti – 84 Miseglia; 011-39-339-765-7470; marmotour.com; marble quarry tour.



CASTELNUOVO BERARDENGA
Hotels
Castel Monastero – Monastero d’Ombrone; 011-39-57-757-0001; castelmonastero.com.



CASTIGLIONE DELLA PESCAIA
Hotels
L’Andana – Tenuta La Badiola; 011-39-056-494-4800; andana.it; owned by Alain Ducasse; former royal hunting lodge with 25 rooms and 22 suites; indoor and outdoor pools.

Restaurants
Trattoria Toscana – Tenuta La Badiola; 011-39-056-494-4800; andana.it; Michelin starred; country Tuscan cuisine.



CASOLE D’ELSA (includes Pievescola)
Hotels
Castello di Casole – Localita Querceto; 011-39-057-796-1508; castellodicasole.com; Tuscan resort is laid out like estate with bar, infinity pool, restaurants & spa; on 4.2K acres, built around 10th Century castle and garden; on 4.2K acres olive trees & vineyards; infinity pool overlooks valley.
Relais La Suvera – Via Della Suvera (Pievescola); 011-39-057-796-0300; lasuvera.it/en; former Papal villa near Siena; pool and spa; elegant.

Restaurants
Pazzia Bistro – Localita Querceto; 011-39-057-796-1508; castellodicasole.com.



CHIANCIANO TERME
Hotels
La Foce – 63 Via della Vittoria; 011-39-057-869-101; lafoce.com; apartment, cottage, and villa assortment that makes you feel like Italian aristocrat’s guest.



CHIANTI (includes Gaiole & Greve)
Hotels
Castello del Nero Boutique Hotel & Spa – 7 Strada Spicciano (Tavarnelle Val di Pesa); 011-39-055-806-470; castello-del-nero.com; on 700 acres centuries-old cypress trees and impressive gardens, 50 huge rooms; original structure dates to 12th Century; frescoes and vaulted ceilings, terracotta floors, claw-foot tubs, and 4-poster beds; Florence is 25 minute drive away and property offers twice-daily shuttle service; watch out for charges (breakfast at $40, glass prosecco $20, internet $26); mid-October best time; Room #114 offers best view.
Palazzo Leopoldo – 33 Via Roma (Radda); 011-39-055-735-605; palazzoleopoldo.it; old manor home with indoor pool and old Tuscan style.
Villa Bordoni – 31-32 Via San Cresci (Greve); 011-39-055-854-7453; villabordoni.com; country house hotel, nestled in hills above Greve, in Tuscany’s Chianti Classico region; 16th Century noble villa with extraordinary vantage over Chianti hills, vineyards, terraced olive groves, and forest; luxurious but unpretentious; more than 20 tortoises of different generations roam walled garden; painstaking restoration by Florentine architect Andre Benaim and veteran interior designer Riccardo Barthel; owners also run Beccofino in Florence.

Restaurants
Podere Le Vigne – on wine route 222 (3 mins outside Radda); 011-39-057-773-8640; chiantinet.it/scheda.php?id=1334&lng=ita.
Trattoria Baldovino – 31-32 Via San Cresci; 011-39-055-854-7453; villabordoni.com/en/food-wine; reasonably good food; appeals to Americans; excellent chocolate cake.
Badia a Coltibuono – in Gaiole; 011-39-067-725-0543; coltibuono.com; restaurant and cooking school.
Capezzana Estate Winery & Culinary School – 100 Via Capezzana (Carmignano); 011-39-055-870-6005; capezzana.it.



CINIGIANO
Hotels
Castello di Vicarello – Poggi del Sasso; 011-39-056-499-0718; castellodivicarello.it; restored 12th Century castle.



CIVITELLA PAGANICO
Hotels
Petriolo Spa Resort – Localita Petriolo; 011-39-056-49-091; petriolo-spa-resort.com.



CORTONA
Hotels
Azienda Fontelunga – Localita Montalla; 011-39-057-562-464 or 011-39-348-929-4084; fontelunga.it; Catani family owns this farm 2 miles outside Cortona and recently began renting houses on it; serve dinner in their home.
Hotel San Michele – 15 Via Guelfa; 011-39-057-5560-4348; hotelsanmichele.net; attractive, convenient, and friendly; parking is difficult.
La Locanda del Molino – Localita Montanare; 011-39-057-561-4192; locandadelmolino.com; inn and restaurant.
Relais Il Falconiere – 370 Localita San Martino; 011-39-057-561-2679; ilfalconiere.it.

Restaurants
Hostaria La Bucaccia – 17 Via Ghibellina; 011-39-057-560-6039; labucaccia.it; pleasant atmosphere (14th Century palace) and good regional food for dinner.
La Locanda del Molino – Localita Montanare; 011-39-057-561-4192; locandadelmolino.com; inn and restaurant.
Taverna Pane e Vino – 27 Piazza Signorelli; 011-39-057-563-1010-pane-vino.it; cantina in 14th Century palazzo that draws young crowd at night; 600 label cellar.
Trattoria Tacconi – 46 Via Dardano; 011-39-057-560-3588; only open for lunch and only has 5 tables; no menu; excellent.
Trattoria Toscana – 12 Via Dardano; 011-39-057-560-4192; trattoriatoscana.eu; homemade basics and rare pici with leek sauce.

Shopping
Bottega della Pasta Fresca – 29 Via Dardano; 011-39-057-560-4211; pastas and sauces.
Enoteca Molesini – 3 Piazza della Repubblica; 011-39-057-562-544; molesini-market.com; Italian olive oils and wines.



FIESOLE
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Pasticceria Alcedo – 39 Via Gramsci; 011-39-055-59-349; paginegialle.it/fiesole-fi/pasticceria-alcedo.

Hotels
Il Salviatino – 21 Via del Salviatino; 011-39-055-015-0201; salviatino.com.
Pensione Bencista – 4 Via Benedetto da Maiano; 011-39-055-59-163; bencista.com; shambling, bucolic, and charming with view rooms.

Restaurants
Villa San Michele – 4 Via Doccia; 011-39-055-567-8200; villasanmichele.com; 15th Century monastery on hill near Florence; façade designed by Michelangelo; floral arrangements throughout; stunningly romantic loggia with outdoor dining.
Trattoria I’Polpa – 21-22 Piazza Mino; 011-39-055-59-485; cozy, friendly, and inexpensive.

Sights & Sites
Area & Museo Civico Archeologico di Fiesole – 1 Via Portigiani; 011-39-055-596-1293; fiesole.it/museo-civico-archeologico.html; Etruscan-Roman archeological area, dating back to 9-8th Century BCE to at least 2nd Century CE; also Roman baths & theater; in Civic Museum, artifacts from both periods; Antiquariam Costantini is special collection of over 150 ceramic pieces from ancient Greece & Etruria; after visiting outdoor area & museum, head down street that runs behind area to see remnants of massive, ancient Etruscan walls that have managed to survive through all these centuries.
Badia Fiesolana (Il Duomo) – 9 Via Roccettini; 011-39-055-59-155; fiesole.it/badia-fiesolana.html; contains St. Romulus’ shrine; also known as Catedral San Romolo.
Monastery di San Francesco – 13 Via San Francesco; 011-39-055-59-175; fratifiesole.it; tremendous views.
Museo Bandini – 1 Via Dupre; 011-39-055-59-118; palinsesto.it/bandini/index.html; modest museum to left of Roman Theater entrance; small collection 13-15th Century Florentine paintings by likes of Bernardo Daddi, Taddeo & Agnolo Gaddi, Nardo di Cione, Bicci di Lorenzo, Sandro Botticelli, and Neri di Bicci & Luca Signorelli.
Parco della Rimembranza – Via di San Francesco; resistenzatoscana.it/monumenti/fiesole/parco_della_rimembranza; best views of Florence in distance.
Piazza Mino – restaurants.
San Francisco Church & Convent – Via di San Francesco (off Piazza Mino); 011-39-055-59-175; sacred-destinations.com/italy/assisi-san-francesco; 14th Century church with Neri di Bicci altarpiece; quirky archaeology-ethnology museum attached.
Villa Medici – 35 Via Beato Angelico; 011-39-055-239-8994 (must make prior arrangements); villamedicifiesole.it/introduction.html; must see gardens; designed by Leon Battista Alberti.



FORTE DEI MARMI
Hotels

Grand Hotel Imperiale – 20 Via Mazzini; 011-39-058-478-271; grandhotelimperiale.it; every room has private terrace; beautiful pool; very expensive.



GAVORRANO
Hotels
Conti di San Bonifacio – 1 Localita Casteani; 011-39-056-680-006; contidisanbonifacio.it; in coastal Tuscany, in vineyard; restored farmhouse interiors are pristine with organic colors and textures; enjoy poolside or roaring fire depending on season; cooking and wine courses, yoga on hilltop, horse riding, and night treks.



LUCCA (includes Borgo a Mozzano, Matraia & Valgiano)
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
L’Angolo Dolce di Sandra – 391 Via Borgo Giannotti; 011-39-058-334-2462; pasticceriasandrabianchi.com; great coffee, ice cream & pastries.

Hotels
Hotel Noblesse – 23 Via Santo Anastasio (Angolo Via Santa Croce); 011-39-058-344-0275; hotelnoblesse.it; 1700 palace in Lucca’s heart.

Restaurants
La Bottega dell’Oste – 21 Via della Fratta; 011-39-058-349-3462; facebook.com/LaBottegaDellOsteLucca; best restaurant in town; chef gathers own herbs in wild; try wild boar.
Osteria Il Colle – 112 Via di Casale (Matraia); 011-39-058-340-2415; osteriacollematraia.it; unprepossessing outside conceals excellent restaurant (specializing in salumi) worth special trip.
Pasticceria Taddeucci – 34 Piazza San Michele; 011-39-058-349-4933; taddeucci.com; open since 1881 by Jacopo Taddeucci; most famous product is filoni (loaves) and ciambelle (rings) of bucellato Lucchese, sweet cross between bread and coffee cake; try also treccia (bread cake laced with chocolate).

Services
Abita Immobiliare – 40 Via Vittorio Veneto; 011-39-039-2968-7036, 011-39-033-8843-4952, or lauragaddi@yahoo.it; abitaimmobiliare.biz; rental property locator; ask for Laura Gaddi; one good candidate is apartment in clock tower; another is 563 Via Borgo Giannotti, Apt. Zago 2.

Shopping
Alimentari Giurlani – 239-241 Via Fillungo; 011-39-058-349-6233; bakery & provisions store.
Ceramisti d’Arte – 1 Via Santa Gemma Galgani; 011-39-058-346-7224; ceramistidarte.it; ceramics.

Sights & Sites
Basilica of San Frediano – Piazza San Frediano; 011-39-058-353-576; diocesilucca.it/parrocchie.php?p=diocesi&s=parrocchie&id=360; Romanesque church; Fridianus (Frediano) was Irish bishop of Lucca in 1st half 6th Century, buried in this church; acquired its present appearance 1112-1147; in 13th-14th Centuries façade decorated with huge golden 13th Century mosaic representing Ascension of Christ Savior with apostles below, designed by Berlinghiero Berlinghieri in Byzantine/medieval style; several chapels of nobility added in 14th-16th Centuries, lavishly decorated with paintings; inside, richly carved white marble with arches supported by columns with Roman & Romanesque capitals (some of which recycled from nearby Roman amphitheater); highlight at entrance is huge 12th Century Romanesque baptismal font (Fonte Lustrale), composed of bowl, covered with tempietto, resting on pillars, inside circular basin, decorated with Story of Moses; behind font, high on wall, are 2 15th Century glazed terracotta lunettes, Annunciation & St. Bartholomew, both attributed to Andrea della Robbia school.
City Wall – Passeggiata delle Mura (main office about 200 yards from train station near historic city center); 011-39-058-347-013; luccaportal.it/art-and-culture/the-walls-of-lucca.php; walls around old city have remained intact as city has expanded & modernized; as they have lost their military importance, they have become pedestrian promenade encircling old town; used in early 20th Century for car racing; each of 4 principal sides lined with different tree species.
Piazza dell’Anfiteatro – Via dell’Anfiteatro; amphitheatre, originally built as entertainment center outside town, today is town center; unique elliptical-shaped plaza; when built, was for gladiator games & other spectacles; imposing structure, with 54 arches & cavea able to hold as many as 10K spectators; construction began in 1st Century under Emperor Claudius & concluded in Flavian period, generously financed by rich citizen, as seen from honorary inscription discovered during excavations in 1800s; in Middle Ages, when this area became plaza, called parlascio (believed to come from parlare, meaning “to talk,” as it was popular assembly venue, in reality, however, corruption of paralisium, Latin for “amphitheatre”); during Gothic Wars, under siege by Narsete, fortified & made impenetrable by outside arches’ closure; when this function ended, terraced houses built on surviving ruined structures, also used for construction materials; these then became powder magazine, salt store, prison (dubbed grotte (”caves”) & finally eating places & shops; plaza center divided into portions & in 1 period used for vegetable patches; in 1800s Luca architect, Lorenzo Nottolini, restored ancient space, making amphitheater fundamental structure for town’s urban arrangement; buildings crowding arena demolished & new Via dell’Anfiteatro surrounded ancient building; portions of Roman coliseum included in surrounding structures.
Ponte della Maddalena (Ponte del Diavolo) – Via del Brennero (Borgo a Mozzano); 011-39-0580382-0406; luccaterre.it/it/dettaglio/2902/Ponte-del-Diavolo.html; medieval bridge on Via Francigena, early medieval road to Rome for those coming from France (important medieval pilgrimage route); probably commissioned by Countess Matilda of Tuscany (1080-1100).
San Quirico Church – Petrojo (Valgiano); valledigiano.it/valgiano.html; medieval church dating to 10th Century; dramatic setting.
Torre Delle Ore – Via Fillungo; 011-39-058-331-6846; comune.lucca.it; only medieval tower left in Lucca (out of around 130 that once existed) has contained public clock since 1390.
Torre Guinigi – Via San Andrea; 011-39-058-358-3086; lemuradilucca.it; some would argue most important tower of Lucca; has hanging garden on roof.



MARINA DI GROSSETO
Restaurants

Fuorirotta – Localita la Canova; 011-39-345-325-1813; fuorirottabeach.it; light lunches and dinner by prior arrangement; beach shack with pine trees behind it.



MASSIMA MARITTIMA
Restaurants
Bracali Ristorante – 2 Via de Perolla; 011-39-056-690-2318; bracaliristorante.it; creative, elegant Tuscan cooking.



MONSUMMANO TERME
Hotels
Grotta Giusti Natural Spa Resort – 1411 Via Grotta Giusti; 011-39-057-290-771; grottagiustispa.com; Small Luxury Hotel.



MONTAIONE
Hotels
UNA Palazzo Mannaioni – 2 Via Guglielmo Marconi; 011-39 0571-69277; unahotels.it; lovely; pool.

Shopping
Comune di Montaione – Piazza del Municipio; 011-39-0571-6991; comune.montaione.fi.it; for white truffle salt.



MONTALCINO (Molinello & Sant’Angelo in Colle)
Hotels
Castiglion del Bosco – off SP 103; 011-39-057-191-3001; castigliondelbosco.com; Ferragamo family’s private Tuscan estate; 9 hilltop villas, each with private pool; recommended villas include Sant’Anna, which has vineyard views; main house sleeps 9 and has traditional, woodburning fireplace.

Restaurants
Il Leccio – 3-5 Piazza Castellare (Sant’Angelo in Colle); 011-39-057-784-4174; tratoriailleccio.it; starched tablecloths, crystal wine glasses, amazing wine cellar; try spinach and ricotta ravioli in butter and sage sauce.
Poggio Antico – Montalcino; 011-39-057-784-8044; poggioantico.com; vineyard with restaurant.

Sights & Sites
Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona – Molinello; 011-39-057-783-5616; ciaccipiccolomini.com; vineyard open for tours; visit in fall or winter because too crowded in spring and summer.
Medieval Town Center – central piazza (Sant’Angelo in Colle).
Poggio Antico – Montalcino; 011-39-057-784-8044; poggioantico.com; vineyard tours.
Poggio di Sotto – Castel dell’Abate; 011-39-057-783-5502; poggiodisotto.com; vineyard.
Uccelliera – Castel dell’Abate; 011-39-057-783-5729; uccelliera-montalcino.it; vineyard.



MONTE AMIATA
Restaurants
Osteria Primo Rifugio – Primo Rifugio; 011-39-057-778-9705.

Sights & Sites
Monte Amiata – dormant volcano.



MONTEMERANO
Restaurants
Da Caino – 4 Via Chiesa; 011-39-656-460-2817; dacaino.it; 2 Michelin stars; game.



MONTEPULCIANO
Hotels

Follonico – Montefollonico; 011-39-057-766-9773; follonico.com; affordable; 6 rooms; centuries old farmhouse, lovingly restored; austerely chic; white-washed, stone-walled rooms with weathered beams; in vineyard valley.

Restaurants
Osteria dell’Acquacheta – 22 Via del Teatro; 011-39-057-875-8443; acquacheta.eu; known for steaks; reservations good idea.
Sights & Sites
Medieval Town Center – movie series, Twilight, filmed here and about town.



MONTERIGGIONI
Restaurants
Bar dell’Orso – 23 Via Cassia Nord; 011-39-057-730-5074; bardellorso.com; affordable, delicious panini.
Il Pozzo – 20 Piazza Roma;; 011-39-057-730-4127; ilpozzo.net/monteriggioni/en; on main square.



MONTEVERDI
Hotels
Monteverdi Tuscany – Via di Mezzo (Castiglioncello del Trinoro); 011-39-057-826-8146; monteverdituscany.com; 3 villas, joined together; 7-room hotel, restored 13th Century chapel, and farm-to-table cafe; stone walls, wood-beam ceilings, views galore, surprisingly good WiFi, modern furnishings; bathrooms are nicest part (Carrara marble floors, open-air waterfall showers), some rooms even having big tubs; pool, restaurant on lovely patio; great breakfasts.

Restaurants
Oreade – 8 Via di Mezzo (Castiglioncello del Trinoro, at Monteverdi Tuscany); 011-39-057-826-8146; monteverdituscany.com; classic Tuscan dishes, such as bistecca alla fiorentina.


MONTICCHIELLO
Restaurants
Osteria La Porta – 1 Via del Piano; 011-39-057-875-5163; osterialaporta.it; 1 of few area trattorias that serves homemade pasta; try pici all’aglione (light tomato sauce over pasta with lots of garlic.



PIENELLA
Hotels
Hotel Le Fontanelle – km 14.7, Strada Provinciale 408 (Castelnuovo Berardenga, 20 km from Siena & 80 km from Florence); 011-39-057-735-751; hotelfontanelle.com; overlooks Tuscan countryside; surrounded by olive groves & vineyards, in secluded Chianti valley corner; ancient country estate, central structure dating to 13th Century; renovated to preserve ancient architectural splendor while paying attention to modern amenities; main building is bar, reception, restaurant, small spa & swimming pool (indoor & outdoor (heated)); fireplace & private library; 25 rooms: Classic, Prestige, Deluxe, Junior Suites & Suites (all on 1st & 2nd floors, some overlooking forest, pool, and/or vineyard; wood beam ceilings & terracotta floors; modern comforts include safe, hairdryer, satellite TV with LCD screen, wireless internet & minibar; Vespa rental; free mountain bikes; guided tours to hotel botanical garden; free shuttle service to Siena center (booked in advance).

Restaurants
La Colonna – km 14.7, Strada Provinciale 408 (Castelnuovo Berardenga); 011-39-057-735-751; hotelfontanelle.com; typical Italian & Tuscan dishes; in summer, book on Belvedere Terrace from which can admire breathtaking view over Chianti valley.



PIENZA (includes Camprena)
Hotels

La Bandita – Podere La Bandita; 011-39-333-404-6704; la-bandita.com; 8 guest rooms; infinity pool; jaw-dropping views; excellent restaurant.
Piccolo Hotel La Valle – 7 Via Circonvallazione; 011-39-057-874-9402; piccolohotellavalle.it; modest but comfortable hotel within walking distance of some of area’s best restaurants.
Monastery of Santa Anna – Camprena; 011-39-057-874-8037; camprena.it; English patient filmed here; cheap rooms with private baths, lovely garden.
Relais Il Chiostro di Pienza – 26 Corso Il Rossellino; 011-39-057-874-8400; relaisilchiostrodipienza.com.

Shopping
Officine 904 – 16 Via Dogali; 011-39-057-8190-0817; officine904.it; for soft leather bags.

Sights & Sites
Il Casale – between Montepulciano & Pienza; 011-39-057-875-5109; podereilcasale.com60 hectares; organically run farm; sells cheese, meats, and produce.



PISA (includes San Giuliano Terme)
Hotels
Bagni di Pisa Resort – 18 Largo Percy Shelley; 011-39-050-88-501; bagnidipisa.com.

Sights & Sites
Campanile di Santa Maria (Leaning Tower) – Piazza del Duomo; 011-39-050-560-547; opapisa.it/en; originally construction begun in 1174 CE, intending it be freestanding bell tower for Pisa’s cathedral; located in Field of Miracles (Campo del Miracoli); can climb 186' to top.
Camposanto Monumentale (Cemetery) – Piazza del Duomo; 011-39-050-835-011 or 011-39-050-560-547; opapisa.it; Camposanto means “Holy Field” or “Monumental Cemetery”; constructed in 1278 around sacred dirt brought back from Golgotha during Crusades; later decorated with extensive frescoes; Pisan upper class burial place for centuries; walls decorated with frescoes by Taddeo Gaddi, Spinello Aretino, Benozzo Gozzoli, Andrea Bonaiuti, Antonio Veneziano & Piero di Puccio; tragically, almost completely destroyed by a bombing raid during WWII; since been fully restored; most surviving frescoes, along with preparatory sketches (sinopie) found underneath, moved to Museo delle Sinopie (those remaining are in large room off north gallery, dating from 14th Century & depict Triumph of Death, Last Judgment & Stories of Anchorites); elegant space; cloisters filled with funerary monuments, many of which reuse ancient Roman sarcophagi; despite loss of many tombs during WWII, remarkable 84 Roman sarcophagi, most from 3rd Century CE, still survive; grave effigies, in total, constitute among most important Classical art collections in Europe; huge Pisa port harbor chains, hanging on walls, were taken by Genoese in 1342 & returned in 1860; crenellated walls outside to west date from 12th Century.
Museo delle Sinopie – Piazza dei Miracoli; 011-39-050-835-011; opapisa.it/en/miracles-square/sinopie-museum.html‎; where most of Camposanto Monumentale’s original frescoes are.
Pisa Cathedral Complex – Piazza del Duomo; 011-39-050-560-547; opapisa.it/en; also known as Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square); in addition to cathedral itself, includes baptistry, cemetery, and campanile (bell tower, better known as Leaning Tower); in 16th Century, Galileo inspired by cathedral’s chandelier re isochronism of small oscillations.



POPULONIA
Beaches
Baratti – don’t miss “Buca delle Fate” cove; access by path through wood, reached by taking road that leads Baratti to Populonia.

Sights & Sites
Baratti & Populonia Archaeological Park – Baratti & Populonia Alta; 011-39-056-522-6445; parchivaldicornia.it; San Cerbone Necropolis, Caves Necropolis & Acropolis.
Populonia Archaeological Museum – 8 Piazza della Cittadella; 011-39-056-522-1646; comune.piombino.li.it/index.php?id_sezione=150; only Etruscan city by sea; artifacts range from prehistory to late antiquity; active experimental archaeology department that focuses on ceramics and stone.
Rocca – altamaremma.org/populonia.htm; originally, Etruscan town called Fufluna or Pupluna; fortress.



PORTO ERCOLE (includes Castiglione della Pescaia)
Hotels
Il Pellicano – Localita Sbarcatello Cala dei Santil; 011-39-056-485-8111; pellicanohotel.com.

Sights & Sites
Castiglione della Pescaia – grosseto-info.com/castiglione_della_pescaia.htm; ancient town worth visiting just to see; don’t miss early evening passeggiata on Piazza della Reppublica.



PORTO SANTO STEFANO
Restaurants
Romano – 122 Via Mazzini; 011-39-058-431-382; romanoristorante.it; inland from Trattoria da Orlando but within walking distance; just more elegant version.
Trattoria da Orlando – 3 Via Breschi; 011-39-056-481-2788; at town’s end, in oldest section, dotted with fin de siecle villas perched on cliffs; original restaurant dates from immediately after WWII; seats only 30 indoors; after Easter, moves outdoors where seats 50 on what is perhaps most romantic terrace on promontory; framed by pines and jasmine arbor, diners can contemplate sea and starry sky, while sailboats ply waters headed for Corsica, Elba, Montecristo, and beyond; several steps beyond usual seaside fare; try sea bass souffle, anglerfish strudel, red tuna tartare, seafood carbonara and spaghetti d’Orlando (in which calamari, clams, mussels, and shrimp chopped so fine turn into fine seafood powder coating each pasta string); when it comes to main course, Gisella Bulli follows Italian seafood cuisine’s key rule – do as little as possible to fish, adding just herbs or few slivers garlic; desserts include homemade crostate (fruit pies) and cantucci (thin cookies made with almonds and pine nuts).



PRATO (includes Poggio a Caiano)
Sights & Sites
Catedrale – Piazza del Duomo; 011-39-057-426-234; diocesiprato.it; documented as existing since early 10th Century (as Pieve di Santo Stefano); current structure dates from Romanesque period (12th Century); during 14th Century, acquired important relic, Holy Virgin’s Sacra Cintola (Sacred Belt), which brought about edifice’s enlarging by transept addition (attributed to Giovanni Pisano, but probably by Nicola Pisano’s pupil); Cintola Chapel also built at this time to house relic; in early 15th Century, new International Gothic façade added in front of old one; between 2, narthex or corridor leading to external pulpit built by Michelozzo and decorated by Donatello (1428-1438); in lunette over door is glazed terracotta sculpture by Andrea della Robbia depicting Madonna with Saints Stephen and John; inner west wall decorated with Assumption fresco by David and Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio; in transept right is Renaissance tabernacle by Da Maiano brothers; Assumption Chapel frescoed in 1435-1436 by young Paolo Uccello; in main chapel, or chancel, Filippo Lippi and Fra Diamante painted Histories of Sts. Stephen and John and Obsequies of St. Stephen (on right is Lippi self-portrait); on opposite wall is Herod’s Banquet; 18th Century altar, which encloses Cintola, is crowned by marble Madonna with Child (1301), considered among Giovanni Pisano’s masterpieces.
Gallery of Palazzo degli Alberti – 2 Via degli Alberti; 011-39-057-461-7359; galleriapalazzoalberti.it; Cariprato Bank collection in restored ancient palace; note, see Caravaggio’s Crowning with Thorns (1603); also, Filippo Lippi’s early, small Madonna and Child & Giovanni Bellini’s Crucifixion (with Jewish cemetery).
Villa Medicea – 12 Piazza dei Medici; 011-39-055-877-012; uffizi.firenze.it/en/musei/?m=poggiocaiano; in 1473, ruined fortified house (called Ambra), including land & mill bought by Lorenzo de’ Medici; in 17th & 18th Centuries by Etruria Queen, Maria Luisa of Spain; following Risorgimento, refurbished & used by Vittorio Emanuele II; donated to Italian state in 1919 & became national museum in 1984; main attractions are Pontormo frescoes depicting Vertumnus and Pomona in main salon; formal gardens, now somewhat wild, slope down to Ombrone River at rear.



REGGELLO
Sights & Sites
Sammezzano Castle – Sammezzano; palmerstonhotels.com; 20 minutes south of Florence; set up high on hill with panoramic views; among ornamental trees on 450 acres; each room different; Peacock Room is beautiful, intricate Moorish in design; architectural masterpiece beyond comparison; also worth seeing is White Room, moroccan mosaic tiled floors and wrought iron chandeliers hanging from ceilings.



SATURNIA
Hotels
Terme di Saturnia Spa – Via Follonata; 011-39-056-460-0111; termedisaturnia.it.



SAN GUSME
Hotels
Relais Villa Arceno – Localita Arceno; 011-39-057-735-9292; hotelrelais.it/link.asp?ID_Struttura=82; estate in Siena hills, Chianti area. 1K hectares of lakes, olive groves, vineyards, and woods; acquired in 1504 by del Taja family.



SINALUNGA
Hotels

Locanda Dell’Amorosa – Strada Statale di Rapolano; 011-39-057-767-7211; amorosa.it; beautiful with great restaurant.



TALAMONE (includes Alberese & Orbetello)
Restaurants
Buca di Nonno Ghigo – 1 Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi (Orbetello); 011-39-056-488-7067; bellamaremma.com/talamone/ristorante/4/ristorante-la-buca-di-nonno-ghigo.htm; worth special trip for seafood and pasta; lovely setting.

Sights & Sites
Parco Regionale della Maremma – 7/9 Via Bersagliere (main office); 011-39-056-439-3211; parco-maremma.it; offers everything; right on coast, with incredible panorama (views stretch from park mountains along coastline to Monte Argentario peninsula and out over sea towards Elba, Giglio & Montecristo Islands; walking paths properly signed & in good shape; from Maremma cows and horses to wild boars, foxes & turtles; among most beautiful and unspoiled coastlines in Tuscany; history all around you: on hike A-2, visit Renaissance look-out towers built by Medici to ward off pirate invasions or on A-1, ruins of medieval San Rabano Abbey; 14 walking and trekking routes; park offices in Alberese and Talamone.



VIAREGGIO
Hotels
Hotel President – 5 Viale Carducci; 011-39-058-496-2712; hotelpresident.it/en/default.asp; situated on promenade; English-speaking staff are charming and very helpful; chef is 1st rate; great base for visiting Florence, Pisa, Lucca, and Carrera; in dumpy area, though; very reasonably priced.



VINCI
Sights & Sites
Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci – 2 Via Montalbano; 011-39-057-156-296; museoleonardo.com.



VITERBO
Hotels
Villa La Cerretana – 40 Strada Ortana; 011-39-034-9146-7267 or 011-39-033-1247-1171 (English); villalacerretana.it.

Sights & Sites
Bomarzo Gardens – Giardino; 011-39-076-192-4029; bomarzo.net/index_en.html; founded in 1552 as “Villa of Wonders”; fell into oblivion until 1954 when bought by Giovanni Bettini, who restored it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

BERKSHIRES

(includes Adams, Becket, Charlemont, Clarksburg, Florida, Greenfield, Housatonic, Lanesborough, Lenox, New Ashford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Shelburne & Williamstown)

GENERAL
Services
Berkshire Natural Resources Council – 20 Bank Row (Pittsfield); 413-499-0596; bnrc.net; non-profit land conservation organization to preserve threatened lands; hiking information, maps, etc.



BERKSHIRE COUNTY
Adams
Sights & Sites
Mohawk Trail – 46 Howland Avenue; 413-743-8127; mohawktrail.com; began as Native American trade route connecting Atlantic with Upstate New York tribes (and beyond); followed Millers and Deerfield Rivers and crossed Hoosac Range; today, Massachusetts Route 2 part, following much of original Indian trail, from Orange to Williamstown (about 65 miles); passes through Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Shelburne, Buckland, Charlemont, Florida, and North Adams; Berkshire Mountains clearly visible from several points; scenic attractions include Hail To Sunrise Statue at Mohawk Park and Bridge of Flowers at Shelburne; route crosses Connecticut River via historic French King Bridge; highest elevation is 2272' (Whitcomb Summit), on western side of which is popular hairpin turn and lookout (overlooking North Adams); considerable portion surrounded by Mohawk Trail State Forest; most rewarding miles lie between Greenfield and North Adams.

Becket
Hotels
Canterbury Farm – 1986 Fred Snow Road; 413-623-0100; canterbury-farms.com.

Clarksburg
Restaurants
Golden Eagle Restaurant & Lounge – 1935 Mohawk Trail; 413-663-9834; thegoldeneaglerestaurant.com; located on historic “hairpin turn”; breathtaking panoramic view; casual dining & drinks; also, small gift shop.

Florida
Sights & Sites
Mahican-Mohawk Trail – Route 2 (turnoff just before sign for Florida); 413-586-8706, exts. 19 or 20 (Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation); mass.gov/dcr/stewardship/greenway/mahicanmohawk.htm; 2 trails that access Hoosac Range views; 1 trail is hour-long, mile and half round trip to Sunset Rock; other is 6-mile round trip to Spruce Hill; both form part of Mahican-Mohawk Trail.

Housatonic
Shopping
Berkshire Mountain Bakery – 367 Park Street (Route 183); 413-274-3412; berkshiremountainbakery.com; open since 1986; considered national treasure.

Lanesborough
Hotels
Bascom Lodge – Mt. Greylock summit; 413-743-1591; bascomlodge.net; rustic stone and wood lodge built by Civilian Conservation Corps in 1930s; large dining room with hand-cut oak beams and high ceiling; enclosed porch with wraparound windows overlooks fine views; stone fireplaces create relaxing setting after hiking; open June 1-October 21, 7 days weekly for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and lodging; reservations essential.
Sights & Sites
Mount Greylock State Reservation – 30 Rockwell Road; 413-499-4262; mass.gov/dcr/parks/mtGreylock; at 3,491', Mt. Greylock is Massachusetts highest point, with dramatic views over 60-90 miles; also, Massachusetts’ 1st wilderness state park, acquired by Commonwealth in 1898; Bascom Lodge on summit offers overnight accommodations and meals from late-May through mid/late-October.

Lenox
Hotels
Blantyre – 16 Blantyre Road; 413-637-3556 or 800-735-2478; blantyre.com; Relais & Chateaux member.
Wheatleigh – Hawthorne Road; 413-637-0610 or 800-223-1230; wheatleigh.com; on knoll overlooking mountains and lake; in 22-acre park originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted; near Tanglewood; Leading Hotels World member.
Sights & Sites
Mount (Edith Wharton House) – 2 Plunkett Street (Lenox); 413-551-5111; edithwharton.org; turn-of-century home that Edith Wharton designed and built, with architect Ogden Codman, Jr.; gardens and pet cemetery.
Museum of Gilded Age – 104 Walker Street (at Ventfort Hall); 413-637-3206; gildedage.org.
Shakespeare & Co. – 70 Kemble Street; 413-637-1199; shakespeare.org.
Tanglewood – 297 West Street; 413-637-5180; tanglewood.org.

New Ashford
Hotels
Berkshires Shirakaba Guest House – 20 Mallery Road (New Ashford); 413-458-1800; berkshires-shirakaba.com; Japanese B&B (ryokan) with indoor pool, tatami mats, lovely garden; ask for Pine Suite (Matsu No Ma).
Sights & Sites
Christian Harvest Center – 199 Mallery Road; 413-458-1083; has 5-side of die on steeple, per request financer-gambler’s request in 1828.
New Ashford Town Hall – 188 Mallery Road; 413-458-5461; beginning in 1916, New Ashford had distinction of casting 1st presidential election vote (Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, does today); accordingly, this small rural town is 1st woman cast vote in US national election, November 20, 1920; wooden ballot box used on this historic occasion still sits in town hall and is used today.

North Adams
Sights & Sites
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art – 1040 Mass MoCA Way; 413-662-2111; massmoca.org.

Pittsfield
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Dottie’s Coffee Lounge – 444 North Street; 413-443-1792; dottiescoffeelounge.com; grunge meets vintage vibe; excellent macchiato.
Bars & Nightclubs
Mission Bar + Tapas – 438 North Street; 413-443-1234; missionbarandtapas.com; live music and late-night menu; Spanish, with Barcelona emphasis.
Restaurants
Dottie’s Coffee Lounge – 444 North Street; 413-443-1792; dottiescoffeelounge.com; grunge meets vintage vibe; pancake brunch on Sundays, breakfast menu all other days.
Mission Bar + Tapas – 438 North Street; 413-443-1234; missionbarandtapas.com; live music and late-night menu; Spanish, with Barcelona emphasis.
Shopping
Ferrin Gallery – 437 North Street; 413-442-1622; ferringallery.com; expensive pieces; photography.
Sites & Sights
Arrowhead (Herman Melville House) – 780 Holmes Road; 413-442-1793; mobydick.org; Herman Melville’s home during his most productive years (1850-1863; where wrote major works such as Moby-Dick, Pierre (dedicated to nearby Mount Greylock), Confidence-Man, and Israel Potter, as well as short story collection entitled Piazza Tales, including “Benito Cereno” and “Bartleby the Scrivener”; US National Historic Landmark and museum.
Berkshire Museum – 39 South Street; 413-443-7171; berkshiremuseum.org; child-friendly basement aquarium; open since 1903; also holds art-house film showings.
Colonial Theater – 111 South Street; 413-997-4444; thecolonialtheatre.org; Gilded Age treasure with stage once graced by Rachmaninoff, Will Rogers, and Ziegfield Follies; now home to various arts performances.

Williamstown
Hotels
Guest House at Field Farm – 554 Sloan Road; 413-458-3135; guesthouseatfieldfarm.thetrustees.org; built in 1948; guesthouse containing fine, loaned Williams College art collection; on 296-acre property with 4 miles public hiking trails; guest rooms have large windows with expansive views over grounds; 3 rooms have private decks; 2 have working tile fireplaces; East Room has best Mt. Greylock views, while Gallery Room has best art; prepare own simple meals in pantry; no TV in rooms; closed from January 2nd to April 1st.
Sights & Sites
Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute – 225 South Street; 413-458-2303; clarkart.edu; Winslow Homer collection is extensive and varied.


FRANKLIN COUNTY
Charlemont
Services
Berkshire East – 66 Thunder Mountain Road; 413-339-6618; berkshireeast.com; in winter, ski resort; in summer, canopy tours and zip-lining.
Zoar Outdoor – 7 Main Street; 413-339-4010 or 800-532-7483; zoaroutdoor.com; kayaking, rafting, rock-climbing, and zip-lining adventures.
Sights & Sites
Mohawk Trail State Forest – Route 2; 413-339-5504; mass.gov/dcr/parks/western/mhwk.htm; state’s largest surviving old growth forest portion; also, tallest tree in New England, “Jake Swamp Pine” (171') in Trees of Peace Grove.

Shelburne (includes Buckland & Shelburne Falls)
Shopping
Davenport Maple Farm – 111 Tower Road; 413-625-2866; farmfresh.org/food/farm.php?farm=1215; since 1913, some of country’s best maple syrup.
Nancy L. Dole Books & Ephemera – 20 State Street (Buckland); 413-625-2210; nancydolebooks.com; eclectic collection of used books and postcards; worth special trip.
Little Big House – 323 Patten Road; 413-625-6697; littlebighousegallery.com; brightly-colored, storybook cottage, construction of which creates optical illusion; hand-built home and studio of metalworking artist Glenn Ridler.
Salmon Falls Artisans’ Showroom – 1 Ashfield Street (Buckland); 413-625-9833; salmonfallsgallery.com; over 100 local artists exhibit here, including glassworker Josh Simpson.
Shelburne Arts Cooperative – 26 Bridge Street (Shelburne Falls); 413-625-9324; shelburneartscoop.com; founded in 1998 as 8-artist partnership; area arts & crafts marketed by consignment.
Sights & Sites
Bridge of Flowers – crosses Deerfield River (Shelburne Falls); bridgeofflowersmass.org; pedestrian-only, converted trolley bridge planted with flowers; maintained since 1929.
High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary – Patten Road (Shelburne Falls); 978-464-2712; massaudubon.org/Nature_Connection/Sanctuaries/High_Ledges/index.php; numerous species wildflowers along 4-mile trail system; ledges, for which site named, offer panoramic view over Deerfield River valley and Mt. Greylock, state’s highest mountain; most rewarding path is outermost trail(s), following in large, counterclockwise loop, saving cool breeze and stunning overlook at ledges for end.



HAMPSHIRE COUNTY
Northampton
Bars & Nightclubs
Tunnel Bar – 125A Pleasant Street (at Strong Avenue); 413-586-5366; thetunnelbar.com; built underground in old pedestrian tunnel; arched stone walls, sleek bar & big, comfy chairs; ideal for classy night out.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

LESOTHO

BUTHA-BUTHE DISTRICT
Hotels
Maliba Lodge – Tsehlanyane National Park; 011-266-6-262-5422 or 011-27-31-702-8791; maliba-lodge.com; luxury accommodations in Maloti Mountains.

LERIBE DISTRICT
Sights & Sites
Tsehlanyane National Park – Khabo; beautiful high-altitude, 5.6K-hectare rugged wilderness patch; includes one of Lesotho’s only indigenous forests.

MASERU DISTRICT
Maseru
Hotels
Lesotho Sun Hotel & Casino – Hilton Road; 011-266-2-224-3000; www.suninternational.com.
Maseru Sun Hotel – 12 Orpen Road Maseru; 011-266-2-231-2434; www.suninternational.com.

Morija
Hotels
Morija Guesthouse – Ha Matela; 011-266-22-360-306 or 011-266-22-6306-5093; www.morijaguesthouses.com; spotless clean; on hill above village; tremendous views.

Ramabanta
Hotels
Ramabanta Trading Post – Frontier Post; 011-266-2-234-0202 or 011-266-2-234-0267; www.tradingpost.co.za; idyllic, thatch-roofed, stone huts on lovingly landscaped property.

Roma
Hotels
Roma Trading Post – Ha Baseane; 011-266-2-234-0202, 011-266-2-234-0267, or 011-27-82-773-2180 (cell); www.tradingpost.co.za; intimate, thatch-roofed, stone structures on lovingly landscaped property.

SALZBURG

BAKERIES, COFFEE, ICE CREAM, JUICE & TEA
Afro Cafe – 5 Bürger­spitalplatz; 011-43-66-284-4888; afrocoffee.com; eye-catching African café venture; retro design includes hot-pink walls, butterfly-shaped chairs, plastic palms, and artworks sculpted from junk; coffee.
Café Bazar – 3 Schwarzstrasse; 011-43-66-287-4278; hotel-brandstaetter.com; century old, Viennese coffeehouse with crystal chandeliers, marble tabletops, and wood paneling; guest book (since 1927) includes Marlene Dietrich, Thomas Mann, and Arthur Miller.
Café-Konditorei Fuerst – 5 Mirabellplatz; 011-43-66-288-1077; original-mozartkugel.com; chocolates and coffee since late 1800s.
Café Tomaselli – 9 Alter Markt; 011-43-66-2844-4880; tomaselli.at; open since 1705; 2-level, Biedermeier-style salon.
Fuerst – 47 Getreidegasse; 011-43-66-284-3759; original-mozartkugel.com; chocolates and coffee since late 1800s.
220 Grad – 5 Chiemseegasse; 011-43-66-282-7881; 220grad.com; fairtrade, ultramodern café.



BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Alchimiste Belge – 10 Bergstrasse (Neustadt); 011-43-66-0681-5725; alchimiste-belge.at; Belgian beer bar popular with musicians and/or students.
Steinterrace – 3-5 Giselakai (at Hotel Stein); 011-43-66-2874-3460; hotelstein.at; for evening cocktails; try Cookie in Cup (Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or, Mozart Black, cookie syrup, espresso, rosemary, and vanilla).



HOTELS
Hotel Bristol – 4 Makartplatz; 011-43-66-287-3557; bristol-salzburg.at; 60 rooms in décor ranging from Biedermeier to fin de siècle.
Ganshof Gasthaus – 13 Ganshofstrasse (Maxglan); 011-43-66-283-3630; old bed and breakfast or pensione; featured in Thomas Bernhard’s Loser.
Hotel Goldener Hirsch – 37 Getreidegasse; 011-43-66-280-840; starwoodhotels.com; 15th Century inn; antique-rustic décor.
Hotel Sacher – 5-7 Schwarzstrasse; 011-43-66-288-9770; sacher.com; old-world, 1866 property.
Schloss Fuschl Resort & Spa – 19 Schloss Strasse; 011-43-66-292-5300; luxurycollection.com/schlossfuschl; chateau overlooking lake; “Old Master” collection.
Hotel Schloss Monchstein – 26 Monchsbergpark; 011-43-66-284-8555; monchstein.at; Teutonic-style manor house (really, small castle) on hilltop above Salzburg; panoramic city views; site constructed as fortified tower in 1350 and transformed into hotel in 1950; garden terrace overlooking private park; suites are some of most spectacularly decorated rooms in Salzburg; restaurant and bar, Restaurant Schloss Mönchstein, serves 1st-rate Austrian and international dishes at elegant, candlelit tables; also "Smallest Restaurant in World" holds no more than 4 people in castle tower with panoramic view.
Hotel Stein – 3-5 Giselakai; 011-43-66-2874-3460; hotelstein.at; modern boutique with retro-chic furnishings.



RESTAURANTS
Afro Cafe – 5 Bürger­spitalplatz; 011-43-66-284-4888; afrocoffee.com; eye-catching African café venture; retro design includes hot-pink walls, butterfly-shaped chairs, plastic palms, and artworks sculpted from junk; try sticky ostrich kebabs or coco-nutty Zanzibar salad with Algiers ginger punch.
Andreas Hofer Weinstube Tavern – 65 Steingasse; 011-43-66-287-2769; dieweinstube.at; no frills, regional cuisine; try Knodelgeheimnis (bread dumplings cooked with fried egg and sauerkraut); arched ceiling, candle-lit atmosphere.
Café Bazar – 3 Schwarzstrasse; 011-43-66-287-4278; hotel-brandstaetter.com; century old, Viennese coffeehouse with crystal chandeliers, marble tabletops, and wood paneling; perfect breakfasts; guest book (since 1927) includes Marlene Dietrich, Thomas Mann, and Arthur Miller.
Il Sole – 15 Gstättengasse; 011-43-66-284-3284; salzburgs.com/il-sole; delicious wood-fired pizza; Italian owner once starred on German TV series DasTraumschiff (Love Boat).
M32 – 32 Monchsberg (atop Monchsberg Mountain, at Museum der Moderne); 011-43-66-284-222-0401; museumdermoderne.at; rectangular glass-and-white marble structure that juts from 19th Century water tower); Matteo Thun-designed setting includes 390 antler chandelier; Mediterranean-inflected, Austrian cuisine.
Stadtkrug Hallein – 10 Bayrhamerplatz; 011-43-62-458-3085; stadtkrug-hallein.at; tables fill quickly during midday rush at this bustling, wood-beamed restaurant in city center; weather permitting, sit beside fountain on square for goulash or schnitzel.
Services
Salzburg Panorama Tours – 2 Schrannengasse; 011-43-66-288-3221; Mozart tour, Sound of Music tour (Lake District), or Eagle’s Nest tour (Berchtesgaden and Obersalzburg).



SHOPPING
Periscope – 10 Sterneckstrasse (Neustadt); 011-43-676-704-2566; periscope.at; artist-run gallery and project space.



SIGHTS & SITES
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac – 2 Mirabellplatz; 011-43-66-288-1393; ropac.net; Austria’s most important “gallerist” headquarters, in Villa Kast, overlooking Mirabell gardens; modern art.
Getreidegasse – in Old Town; means “Grain Lane”; Mozart born at #9.
Hangar 7 – Salzburg Airport, Wilhelm-Spazier-Strasse 7A; 011-43-66-22197; hangar-7.com; owned by Red Bull mogul; showcases vintage aircraft; contemporary art exhibits and live music performances; upscale bistro and restaurant on-site.
Hellbrunn Palace – 37 Fürstenweg (Morzg); 011-43-66-2820-3720; hellbrunn.at; early Baroque villa; palatial in size; built in 1613-19 and named for "clear spring" that supplied it; famous for its jeux d'eau ("watergames") in summer months, practical jokes to be performed on spectators (e.g., stone seats around stone dining table through which water conduit sprays water into guests' seat and hidden fountains that surprise and spray guests while they tour; in large park with neighboring zoo, stone theater, and small building known as Monatschlossl ("little month-palace"), housing Carolina Augusteum Museum's ethnographic collection.
Hohensalzburg Fortress & Burgmuseum – 34 Mönchsberg; 011-43-66-2842-43011; salzburg-burgen.at/en/hohensalzburg; former ruling prince-archbishops' stronghold before they moved "downtown" to Residenz; towers 400' above Salzach River on rocky ledge; to get here, hike up lane/paths or walk from Kapitelplatz by way of Festungsgasse or from Mönchsberg via Schartentor; can also take funicular from Festungsgasse (011-43-66-284-2682, at station behind cathedral; can purchase advance ticket to museum, which includes admission and funicular ride (call Festungsgasse or museum in advance for ticket availability.
International Mozarteum Foundation – 26 Schwarzstrasse; 011-43-66-288-9400; mozarteum.at; world-class orchestral and operatic programs.
Mirabell Palace & Gardens – 4 Mirabellplatz; 011-43-66-280-722-406; salzburg.info/en/sights/fortress_palaces/mirabell_palace_gardens.htm; originally constructed in 1606; grand Papagena fountain, Orangerie (housing Bernini and Reubens artworks).
Monchsberg – 13 Gstattengasse; 011-43-66-288-849-750; salzburg.info/en/service/infos/moenchsberg-lift_az-257450; perfect place to spend afternoon, weather permitting; walk to summit not too demanding, though less energetic visitors can take funicular to top (walk highly recommended as path passes through lovely forest and past numerous beautiful, old houses; view from top spectacular.
Mozartplatz – Old Town.
Museum der Moderne – 32 Monchsberg (atop Monchsberg Mountain); 011-43-66-284-222-0401; museumdermoderne.at; rectangular glass-and-white marble structure that juts from 19th Century water tower); 4 floors of modern art; plan visit to stay for dinner onsite (at M32 Restaurant).
Old Town – UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Salzburg Cathedral & Museum and Residenz Palace – Residenzplatz; 011-43-66-284-4189; kirchen.net/dommuseum; 17th Century baroque cathedral; where Mozart baptized; 1st constructed in 774; present Salzburg Cathedral built partially upon old basilica; museum.
Salzburg Landestheater – 22 Schwartzstrasse; 011-43-66-287-151-2222; salzburger-landestheater.at; live performances.
Salzburger Kunstverein – 3 Hellbrunner Strasse; 011-43-66-2842-2940; salzburger-kunstverein.at; contemporary art exhibition space with additional, 21 ateliers for working artists.
Salzwelten Salz­burg – 3 Ramsaustrasse (Hallein); 011-43-61-322-002-400; salzwelten.at; salt show-mine; visitors must don boiler suit to descend on rickety train through claustrophobic passageways and then down 27m slide – don’t break, lift your legs ask guide to add wax for extra speed; after crossing salt lake on wooden raft, after which 42m slide brings you to lowest point.
St. Peter's Abbey – St. Peter Bezirk; 011-43-66-2844-5780; stift-stpeter.at; medieval monastery for over 1K years.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

DRESDEN

BAKERIES, COFFEE, ICE CREAM, JUICE & TEA
Cafe Combo – 66 Louisenstrasse (Auserre Neustadt); facebook.com/CafeCombo; stylish hangout; good for quick breakfast; laid-back 1970s-retro cafe with enormous windows that fold back when hot; airport furniture and cool dudes serving party people; DJs take over after dark.



BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Altes Wettburo – 8 Antonstrasse (Auserre Neustadt); 011-49-351-658-8983; altes-wettbuero.de; former betting parlor; dance club.
Ost-pol – 47 Konigsbrucker Strasser (Auserre Neustadt); ost-pol.de; 1968 decor; live rock music.



HOTELS 
Innside by Melia Dresden – 4 Salzgasse (Allstadt); 011-49-351-795-150; innside.com; 180 well-designed rooms and suites; wellness center; restaurant, VEN, among Dresden’s best restaurants.
Maritim Hotel Dresden – 10-12 Devrientstrasse (Waterfront); 011-49-351-2160; maritim.com; classic hotel in protected architectural monument; 328 rooms and suites; piano bar.
Rothenburger Hof – 15-17 Rothenberger Strasse (Auserre Neustadt); 011-49-351-81260; dresden-hotel.de; affordable, comfortable, family-run; 26 doubles and 13 apartments; sauna and tiled steamroom; small pool.



RESTAURANTS
Kastenmeiers – 3-5 Tzschirnerplatz; 011-49-351-4848-4801; kastenmeiers.de; elegant seafood restaurant in former Rococo palace; worth special trip, if only for aquariums.
Lesage – 1 Lennestrasse (in VW Phaeton Sedan factory); 011-49-351-420-4250; lesage.de; for brunch, especially; reservations recommended; in VW automobile factory (can also take tour, glaesernemanufaktur.de).
Lila Sosse – 70 Alaunstrasse (Aussere Neustadt); 011-49-351-803-6723; lilasosse.de; stylish, dark wood restaurant with dim lighting; German tapas; artist-decorated courtyard; in Kunsthofpassage.
Schloss Wackerbarth – 1 Wackerbarthstrasse (Radebeul); 011-49-351-89550; schloss-wackerbarth.de; open since 1727; Baroque castle and gardens, as well as vineyard; terrific Mediterranean restaurant.
Ven – 4 Salzgasse (Allstadt, at Innside by Melia Dresden); 011-49-351-795-150; innside.com; among Dresden’s best restaurants.
Watzke Ball & Brauhaus – 1 Kotzschenbroder Strasse; 011-49-351-852-920; watzke.de; 114 year-old restaurant; ballroom and brewery; on waterfront; lively beer garden outside, weather permitting.



SHOPPING
Pfunds Molkerei – 79 Bautzner Strasse (Aussere Neustadt); 011-49-351-808-080; pfunds.de; dairy shop covered in hand-painted tiles depicting angels ferrying milking tools and cows.
Spot – 29 Alaunstrasse (Aussere Neustadt); 011-49-351-312-6591; wearethespot.com; accessories and clothing by young European, especially German, designers.



SIGHTS & SITES
Albertinum – 2 Georg-Treu-Platz (Altstadt); 011-49-351-4914-2000; skd.museum/en/museums-institutions/albertinum; 125 year-old modern art museum; renovated in 2010; includes works by Caspar David Friedrch through Gerhard Richter.
Bruhlsche Terrasse – along Elbe River (on Altstadt’s northern edge); among city’s best views.
Frauenkirche – An der Frauenkirche (Altstadt); 011-49-351-6560-6100; frauenkirche-dresden.de; built in 18th Century, destroyed in WWII firebombing, reconstructed completed in 2005.
German Forces Military History Museum – 3 Olbrichtplatz; 011-49-351-823-2803; mhmbw.de; reconceived by Daniel Libeskind in 2011.
Die Gläserne Manufaktur – 1 Lennestrasse; 011-49-180-589-6268; glaesernemanufaktur.de; take tour and also have brunch at Lesage (lesage.de, reservations recommended).
Kunsthofpassage Complex – 21-25 Görlitzer Strasse (Auserre Neustadt); 011-49-351-646-5355; kunsthof-dresden.de; ingenuous turquoise building, pipes of which rigged to play “water music” after rain.
Semperoper – 2 Theaterplatz (Altstadt); 011-49-351-491-1705; semperoper.de; opera house.
Schloss Wackerbarth – 1 Wackerbarthstrasse (Radebeul); 011-49-351-89550; schloss-wackerbarth.de; open since 1727; Baroque castle and gardens, as well as vineyard with tastings.
Zwinger Palace – Sophienstrasse; 011-49-351-4914-6612; skd.museum/de; built in Rococo style; originally, Dresden Court’s exhibition gallery, festival arena, and orangery; location formerly Dresden fortress part (outer wall conserved); name derives from German word Zwinger (concentric circle’s outer ward); Zwinger not enclosed until Neoclassical building by Gottfried Semper (called Semper Gallery) built on northern side; today, museum complex that contains Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery, includes Raphael’s Sistine Madonna and Albrecht Durer’s Dresden Altar, as well as world’s largest Cranach (Older and Younger) collection), Porzellansammlung (Dresden Porcelain Collection), Rüstkammer (Armory), and Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon (Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments).

HAMBURG

BAKERIES, COFFEE, ICE CREAM, JUICE & TEA
Café Gnosa – 93 Lange Reihe (St. George); 011-49-40-243-034; gnosa.de; for breakfast; try “ethereal” cheesecake.
Messmer Momentum – 10 Am Kaiserkai; 011-49-40-7367-9000; messmer-momentum.de; teahouse; sleek; overlooks canal.



BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Le Lion – 3 Rathausstrasse; 011-49-40-3347-5378; lelion.net; cozy, stylish lounge near Colln’s, concealed behind ambiguously marked entrance; contemporary cocktails; make reservation well in advance.
20Up – 97 Bernhard-Nocht-Strasse, 20th Floor (at Empire Riverside Hotel); 011-49-40-311-190; empire-riverside.de; tremendous view overlooking Elbe River; from northeast corner, can see Reeperbahn (city’s redlight district).



HOTELS
Empire Riverside Hotel – 97 Bernhard-Nocht-Strasse; 011-49-40-311-190; empire-riverside.de.
Hotel Atlantic Kempinski – 72-79 An der Alster; 011-49-40-288-8817; kempinski.atlantic.de; short walk from train station; lake views; both contemporary and historic touches.
East Hotel – 31 Simon-von-Utrecht-Strasse; 011-49-40-309-930; east-hamburg.de; colorful style mash-up, making use of former iron foundry; 103 rooms, 4 bars, spa.
Hotel Hafen Hamburg – 9 Seewartenstrasse (St. Pauli); 011-49-40-311-130; hotel-hafen-hamburg.de; prime harborfront location; many rooms; affordable and comfortable.
25 Hours Hotel Hafencity – 5 Uberseeallee (Docklands); 011-49-40-2262-29590; 25hours-hotels.com; affordable; bland, red-brick façade masks quirky interior.



RESTAURANTS
Bullerei – 34b Lagerstrasse; 011-49-40-3344-2110; bullerei.com; festive atmosphere, handsome crowd, meat-heavy menu (some fish); industrial chic atmosphere.
Colln’s – 1-5 Brodschrangen; 011-49-40-364-153; coelln-restaurant.de; Hamburg institution with colorful, tile floors, immaculately painted wainscoting, and timy rooms with only 1-3 tables each and doors that shut tightly between servers’ visits; you have button to buzz help; caviar and vodka are required; old-fashioned dining experience; great oysters and Dover sole.
Nil – 5-6 Neuer Pferdemarkt; 011-49-40-439-7823; restaurant-nil.de; slow-food kitchen serving regional organic produce.
Schanzenstern – 12 Bartelsstrasse; 011-49-40-439-8441; schanzenstern.de; eco-conscious food.



SHOPPING
fairliebt.com – 19b Gauss Strasse; 011-49-40-1814-9236; fairliebt.com; organic cotton tees and fashion.
Kingdrips – 27 Wohlwillstrasse; 011-49-40-5302-2655; kingdrips.com; locally-designed, cotton tees.
Krauterhaus – 70 Lange Reihe; 011-49-40-249-356; kraeuterhaus.net; inadvertantly hilarious, New Age “redoubt”; spices and teas.
So Pure – 58 Schulterblatt; 011-49-40-4145-9383; sopurefashion.com; office wear.
Julia Starp – Stoffsuchtig, 83 Rothenbaumchaussee; 011-49-40-6364-4714; www.juliastarp.de; organic silk dresses.



SIGHTS & SITES
Alsterarkaden – hamburg.de/mellin-passage; Venetian-style café and shops arcade.
Fischmarkt – at Elbe River and Grosse Elbstrasse; open-air, Sunday morning market.
Hafencity – urban construction project; 15 blocks repurposed docklands; now, stunning contemporary architecture; make sure to see shiplike Unilever building (1 Strandkai) and Elbphilharmonie, at Am Kaiserkai’s westernmost point (deliberately lopsided, wavy monument of what seems to be frosted glass).
Jungfernstieg – majestic thoroughfare that faces city’s central lake, Binnenalster.
Lange Reihe – St. George; more ethnically diverse, scruffier, cafe and shopping district.
Messmer Momentum – 10 Am Kaiserkai; 011-49-40-7367-9000; messmer-momentum.de; tea museum; overlooks canal.
Miniatur Wunderland – 2-4 Kehrwieder; 011-49-40-300-6800; miniatur-wunderland.com; eccentric museum; model train scenes.
Neuer Wall – neuerwall-hamburg.de; exclusive shopping street.
Rathaus – Rathausmarkt 1; 011-40-42-831-2409; hamburg.de/rathaus; city’s architectural centerpiece; walk north from here to Jungfernstieg.
St. Michaelis Church – 1 Englische Planke; 011-49-40-376-780; st-michaelis.de; Baroque gem; rebuilt after WWII; colossal pipe organs; make sure to visit viewing platform in tower.

MARSEILLE

BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Bar Beauvau – 4 Rue Beauvau (at Grand Hotel Beauvau Marseille Vieux Port); 011-33-04-9154-9100; facebook.com/GrandHotelBeauvauMarseille; overlooks Vieux Port.
L’Interdit – 9 Rue Moliere; 011-33-6-5077-6758; very dangerous location; insider “real Marseille” place.



BEACHES
La Plage des Corbieres – Route Rove (Les Riaux); where French Riviera starts.



HOTELS
Grand Hotel Beauvau Marseille Vieux Port – 4 Rue Beauvau; 011-33-04-9154-9100; facebook.com/GrandHotelBeauvauMarseille; elegant 4-star establishment in city center; decorated with Provencal fabrics & Empire or Napoleon III furniture.
Hotel Le Corbusier – 280 Boulevard Michelet; 011-33-4-9116-7800; hotellecorbusier.com; not fancy but worth visiting; reservations necessary at restaurant or staff gets snooty.
InterContinental Marseille - Hotel Dieu – 1 Place Daviel; 011-33-04-1342-4242; marseille.intercontinental.com/en; in stately building dating from 18th Century; sleek rooms offer free Wi-Fi & flat-screen TVs with satellite channels, plus minibars & coffeemakers; some upgraded rooms feature terraces & suites add floor-to-ceiling windows & living areas; room service is available; indoor pool, spa & fitness room.
Mama Shelter Marseille – 64 Rue de la Loubiere; 011-33-4-8435-2000; mamashelter.com; 127 room; hotel nestled in charming stone house cluster in Dame-du-Mont neighborhood; short walk to old port and other sights; rooms are either patio view, street view, or roof view; roof views best but rooms, though comfortable, lack warmth; no room service.
New Hotel of Marseille-Le Pharo – 71 Boulevard Charles Livon; 011-33-4-9131-5315; new-hotel.com/lepharo/en/hotel.asp; 100-room hotel with South Beach style; herb gardens supply kitchen; wood-decked pool; quiet residential location; June-July or September-October best weather; Superior Rooms with terraces, like #412, are best.
Le Petit Nice Passedat – 17 Rue des Braves (Anse de Maldorme); 011-33-4-9159-2592; passedat.fr; luxurious residence opened in 1917 when Passédat family joined 2 villas in secluded area below street paralleling beach; rooms in main house are modern and even avant-garde (4 units inspired by Cubism); spacious Marina Wing offers rooms decorated in antique style, opening onto sea views.
La Residence du Vieux Port – 18 Quai du Port; 011-33-04-9191-9122; hotel-residence-marseille.com/en; chic harborside hotel; modern rooms come with free WiFi, flat-screen TVs & minibars; upgraded rooms add vivid, 1950s-era decor & most have balconies with city or water views; some suites have 18th Century furnishings; bright, bistro-style restaurant with terrace.



RESTAURANTS
L’Aromat – 49 Rue Sainte; 011-33-4-9155-0906; laromat.com; makes bouillabaisse burger; worth special trip.
Chez Etienne – 43 Rue de Lorette; 011-33-4-9154-7633; city’s best pizza.
Fonfon – 140 Vallon des Auffes; 011-33-4-9152-1438; chezfonfon.com; seafood, especially bouillabaisse.
Le Grain de Sel – 39 Rue de la Paix-Marcel-Paul; 011-33-4-9154-4730; bistro; inventive.
L’Interdit – 9 Rue Moliere; 011-33-6-5077-6758; very dangerous location; insider “real Marseille” place.
Le Mas – 4 Rue de Lulli (Opera); 011-34-4-9133-2590; Marseille institution; Provencal cooking.
Le Miramar – 12 Quai du Port (Vieux Port); 011-33-4-9191-4109; lemiramar.fr; bouillabaisse aficionados flock to this classic quayside restaurant; Marseille bouillabaisse charter founding member (specifies exactly what goes into dish); actually, 2 dishes: (1) saffron-tinted soup followed by (2) fish poached in soup; eaten with une rouille (cayenne, egg yolk, garlic, olive oil, and red chilies); version served here involves lots of labor and just as much seafood; chef Christian Buffa holds course on how to make every 3rd Thursday.
Paule et Kopa – 42 Place aux Huiles; 011-33-4-9133-2603; excellent calamari, pizza but more inventive fare, as well; try lemon verbena liqueur.
Le Petit Nice Passedat – 17 Rue des Braves (Anse de Maldorme); 011-33-4-9159-2592; passedat.fr; down alley and behind big gate, home of city’s most opulent bouillabaisse; glass-enclosed restaurant has view over coastal rocky islands and shore; Marseille’s 1st restaurant to be awarded 3 Michelin stars; emphasis on freshest seafood, including line-caught bass, bream, and Breton lobster.
Une Table, au Sud – 2 Quai du Port; 011-33-4-9190-6353; unetableausud.com; Michelin-starred chef Lionel Lévy serves some of city’s most creative cuisine in discreet restaurant overlooking Vieux Port; menu changes each month, depending seasonal ingredients; signature dish, Bouille-Abaisse, always available: milkshake-like soup inspired by fish dish.



SIGHTS & SITES
Le Panier – Marseille’s oldest neighborhood.
Notre-Dame de la Garde – Rue Fort du Sanctuaire; 011-33-4-9113-4080; notredamedelagarde.com; basilica.
Old Fisherman’s Market – Quai des Belges (1st Arrondissement); marseille.ca/attractions/fish-market.html; enthralling, small fish market daily; Cours Julien hosts Wednesday-morning organic fruit and vegetable market and Aladdin’s cave bric-a-brac market every 2nd Sunday.
Vallon des Auffes Calanque – Bouches-du-Rhône; small harbor for fishing; picturesque, traditional, and typical.