Just a two-hour drive from jammed-with-tourists Florence, you'll find what is perhaps Italy's most underrated hill town -- Volterra. With rustic vitality and surprising depth, its out-of-the-way location keeps it from being trampled by visitors.
Unlike other famous Tuscan towns, Volterra feels real, vibrant and almost oblivious to the allure of...Read more
Crowds are becoming an increasing nuisance at top European attractions. There's almost no way to experience places like the Sistine Chapel or the Palace of Versailles without a constant and raging commotion of tourists. It's not uncommon to find hour-or-more waits in ticket-buying lines and rooms packed shoulder-to-shoulder with visitors and ...Read more
The land of the Basque people, split between Spain and France, is a "nation without a state" -- left off the map when they drew Europe's national borders. Basque Country is often left out of travel itineraries too, and that's a mistake. With sunny beaches, spectacular modern architecture, tasty tapas, and feisty, free-spirited people, this ...Read more
Warsaw, the capital of Poland, doesn't appear at the top of many European travelers' wish lists. But that's just one reason you may want to visit. With evocative sights, an epic history, and low prices, Warsaw is a diamond in the rough.
If you're looking for Old World quaintness, head for Krakow. If you're tickled by spires and domes, get to ...Read more
Copenhagen, Denmark's capital, is an improbable combination of corny Danish cliches, well-dressed executives having a business lunch amid cutting-edge contemporary architecture and some of the funkiest counterculture in Europe. And yet, it all just works so tidily together.
I like tuning in to the little details of everyday life here. Along ...Read more
In Rome, sunset brings unexpected magic. A stroll in the cool of the evening is made memorable by the romance of the Eternal City. The tourist who retreats at night to an air-conditioned hotel room is missing the best time to plunge into Rome. Once the museums close and the crowds thin, Rome relaxes. The city -- so grand and monumental by day --...Read more
After spending the last 30 springs and summers in Europe, it seems to me that, more and more, the culture is celebrated outdoors. Cities and towns everywhere are competing to attract tourists; there is more than enough music, drink, theater, and fun to keep these concerts and festivals going and growing. Make a point in your travels to enjoy the...Read more
Working on my TV shows and guidebooks in Europe, I try to get the straight story on history, but it can be tricky. I keep remembering Napoleon's quote: "What is history but a myth agreed upon?" With the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, there are a lot of people quoting Napoleon these days.
Napoleon's life ...Read more
Rory: King of PetlaJennifer Zartman
Rory Anderson, an epic-nerd on an ordinary science field trip, is pulled through a portal into Zed, a place outside of time. His perception of reality shifts, and the King of the Fountain of Life commissions him as an ambassador to Petla, a place in another galaxy. He arrives wearing the ...
When you've traveled in Europe as long as I have, you experience changes, big and small. And more and more, I've been noticing that traditional local businesses are being pushed out by the playground economy that comes with modern affluence.
It's one thing to see hotels, restaurants and shops come and go in the normal course of business. But I'...Read more
The rising Riviera sun touches the tip of Vernazza's bell tower and greets a peaceful world. When the bells chime six, I know it's time to get up. Last night's wind is gone. There's a refreshing damp coolness in the air and a rare Italian silence. With my head down and lost in thought, I wander downhill, passing under the tracks. Then, out of ...Read more
With the value of the euro dipping in the past few months, I've been able to experience Europe without as much of a strain on my wallet. I'm enjoying thinking of the euro as being worth a buck. I've done this in the past -- when a euro cost $1.35 -- just to con myself into splurging a bit. But now, with a rate of about $1....Read more
Intriguing Dresden, Germany, winds up on far fewer American itineraries than it deserves to. Don't make that mistake. Since its horrific firebombing in World War I, the city has transitioned to a thriving cultural center that's well worth a visit. Even with only a day to spare, Dresden is a doable side trip from bigger attractions like Berlin or...Read more
St. Petersburg continually amazes me. Once a swamp, then an imperial capital, and now a showpiece of long-ago aristocratic opulence, St. Petersburg is Russia's most accessible and tourist-worthy city.
During the Soviet era, the city was drab and called Leningrad. Its striking beauty today is all the more remarkable given that this place was ...Read more
Uppsala, Sweden's fourth-largest city, is the best side-trip from Stockholm -- just under an hour away by train. This happy town is Sweden's answer to Oxford, offering stately university facilities and museums, the home and garden of botanist Carl Linnaeus, as well as a grand cathedral and the enigmatic burial mounds of Gamla Uppsala on the town...Read more
European train travel is easier and better than ever, thanks to faster trains, new routes, and additional amenities to keep you comfortable and entertained on the journey. For me, there's nothing better than stretching out in a quiet car, blitzing through the European countryside, with hours of uninterrupted time to think and write.
Recently I ...Read more
Whether you're a serious athlete or a weekend warrior, those who like to keep their heart pumping while sightseeing have plenty of great options in Europe. From scenic jogs through Stockholm to paddling a boat in Hyde Park to biking through bustling Amsterdam, active travel can be better travel.
Biking not only provides a workout; it's an ...Read more
A couple of hours north of Lisbon, Coimbra is the Oxford or Cambridge of Portugal -- the home of its most venerable university. It's also the country's easiest-to-enjoy city -- a mini-Lisbon, with everything good about urban Portugal without the intensity of a big metropolis. I couldn't design a more delightful city for a visit.
One of the best...Read more