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AFAR Explorer′s Wishlist
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Piazza San Marco, 1, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
This pink-marble waterfront edifice in Piazza San Marco dates back to the 14th century, when it was the residence and seat of government for the doges (rulers) of Venice. Today the ornate Byzantine- and Moorish-influenced Gothic Palazzo Ducale is...
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The Ponte dell'Accademia is one of four bridges that span the Grand Canal, and will get you quickly from San Marco to the labyrinthine Dorsoduro neighborhood. Originally built in 1854 out of steel, the current wooden bridge was built in the 1930s...
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Campo San Giacometto, 122, 30125 Rialto, Venezia VE, Italy
$$$$
At the ground-floor wine bar, take in the view of the Grand Canal while enjoying such cicchetti as salumi and cheese. In the upstairs dining room, choose from a menu that features intriguing dishes, including cocoa fusilli with boar ragu. Campo...
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Piazza San Marco, 1, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy
The Ponte dei Sospiri was given its English name by part-time Venice resident Lord Byron, who wrote in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: "I stood in Venice on a Bridge of Sighs, a palace and a prison on each hand." Byron's travelogue nails it: When you...
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Campo Santa Sofia, 4198/99, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy
An ornate 15th-century private palazzo has been transformed into a lavish hotel (below) that faces the Rialto market. Artworks from the 1600s meet 21st-century amenities in the 42 rooms and suites, many of which overlook the Grand Canal. Doubles...
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Via di Campestri, 19/22, 50039 Vicchio di Mugello FI, Italy

The olive reigns at Villa Campestri, a Renaissance villa built around a 13th-century fort. Activities include grove tours, oil tastings, seasonal cooking classes, and olive oil massages. The restaurant L’Olivaia serves farm-fresh Tuscan food with...
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Via S. Zanobi, 33, 50129 Firenze FI, Italy
There are many excellent restaurants in Florence, but this one was recommended to me by a local, and I'm so glad it was. Alessandro, the chef, recently returned after working in New York City for eight years. Located on a small street near the...