Escape to the Old City: St. Augustine, Florida

Written by Nicole Brownfield

Asrepparttar temperature climbs,repparttar 143974 mind drifts to thoughts of relaxing days spent byrepparttar 143975 ocean – white sand between your toes, a soothing lullaby created byrepparttar 143976 gentle surf, andrepparttar 143977 tranquil azure-blue water that seems to stretch infinitely before you. The appeal ofrepparttar 143978 ocean is universal and beach vacations have been a favorite of travelers for generations. As pristine beaches become harder to find, St. Augustine remains absolutely beloved by travelers for one very simple reason - here you feel a sense of renewal and peace that can’t be found anywhere else.

St. Augustine was discovered in 1513 when Juan Ponce de Leon, sailing alongrepparttar 143979 Atlantic coast in search ofrepparttar 143980 fabled fountain of youth, came ashore somewhere inrepparttar 143981 vicinity and claimedrepparttar 143982 continent for Spain. Nicknamed “The Old City,” it isrepparttar 143983 oldest continually inhabited settlement in America – that’s right, it was settled beforerepparttar 143984 Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock – and remains one ofrepparttar 143985 most charming and quaint beach towns in America. In addition to its historical ties torepparttar 143986 Spanish Empire,repparttar 143987 town also boasts many remnants fromrepparttar 143988 Flagler Era, when Henry Flagler’s vision of a luxury resort community added marinas, golf courses, and luxury hotels torepparttar 143989 landscape inrepparttar 143990 late 19th century.

Each day,repparttar 143991 area’s delightful historic district, with its cobblestone streets and its quaint cafes, bars, unique shops, and bed-and-breakfast inns, comes alive with locals and tourists setting out on foot to explorerepparttar 143992 multiple landmarks located in St. Augustine. Five you won’t want to miss are:

§The Castillo De San Marcos, a national monument with an elaborate double draw-bridge entrance, has been both a mighty fort and a fearsome prison. An outstanding reminder ofrepparttar 143993 power and might ofrepparttar 143994 early Spanish empire inrepparttar 143995 New World, it is commonly referred to as “The Fort.” The Castillo de San Marcos is entirely made of coquina, a virtually indestructible limestone comprised of seashells and coral, and took more than 23 years to complete. Since its completion in 1695,repparttar 143996 monument has remained impenetrable to both enemy fire and violent pounding by hurricanes. §The Casa Monica is once again a luxurious landmark hotel, blending contemporary pleasures with a legendary past. Built in 1888 and restored in 1999,repparttar 143997 hotel offers visitors an inspired Spanish décor. Both elegant and opulent,repparttar 143998 hotel surrounds guests with jewel-toned velvet, elaborate tapestries, and luminous chandeliers.

A Florence Hills Tour

Written by Suzanne Morrison

Italy, a veritable treasure chest of culture and heritage - with its food, wine, culture and history, is always onrepparttar top of a European tour list. A tour to Italy would not be complete without going to Florence. This city is inrepparttar 143972 heart of Tuscany and is sometimes consideredrepparttar 143973 birthplace ofrepparttar 143974 Italian Renaissance. It is a place that is famous for its abundance of fine art and architecture and inrepparttar 143975 modern day, its fashion and leather goods.

If you are feeling a little tired out after a few days of sightseeing in Florence, a Florence hills tour can be a great way to relax and wind down. With a great ambience and an aura of solituderepparttar 143976 hills of Florence are very popular and ideal for those who wish to take a break fromrepparttar 143977 city.

If you only have a few hours to spare and don't want to venture too far from Florence, then a trip torepparttar 143978 town of Fiesole is highly recommended. Set amongstrepparttar 143979 hills, just 5 miles from Florence, Fiesole makes a pleasant half-day trip from Florence and provides a wonderful view ofrepparttar 143980 city. You can get there by bus fromrepparttar 143981 centre of Florence in around 20 minutes.

If you're feeling more energetic or have a little more time to spare you can walk fromrepparttar 143982 centre of Florence to Fiesole in around 2 hours. Once in Fiesole you can easily spend two or three hours wandering round, taking inrepparttar 143983 sights andrepparttar 143984 views of Florence andrepparttar 143985 valley below. Sights include a Roman Amphitheatre and baths dating from 1 BC,repparttar 143986 Duomo and a few small museums.

If you have a full day to spare there are numerous tour companies that can organise day trips by bus, walking tours or biking trips. Alternatively you can hire a car and use a map to discoverrepparttar 143987 delights ofrepparttar 143988 Tuscan countryside for yourself.

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