Athens has quite a reputation to live up to. Named for Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, the city is credited with being the cradle of European civilization and birthplace of democracy. Ruins and relics of its glory days are scattered throughout the modern city, popping up where you least expect them. Its crowning glory is the Acropolis, perched atop a hillside, and covered in carved and columned temples of varying degrees of antiquity. Not quite so old is the Plaka, an appealing neighborhood for a stroll down cobblestone streets, past old mansions and a plethora of outdoor tavernas ideal for watching the world go by, while munching tasty Greek snacks.
Venice is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, and arguably the most romantic. An independent city-state and major power during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it was a center of commerce in silk, grain, and spices, and home to a wide range of interesting characters from Marco Polo to Casanova. Consisting of more than 100 small islands connected by arched bridges, its thoroughfares are canals, and transportation options are limited to boats and your own two feet. After the requisite gondola ride, do stroll the winding traffic-free streets along the canal sides – prime real estate for the palaces of the aristocracy of old.
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