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This post was edited by Cicci at 2012-2-21 09:28|
High season in popular tourist destinations often dulls the charm of travel. Who can appreciate the charms of Tuscany when it takes 45 minutes just to secure a table near the restroom?
Real cities are real cities 365 days a year. In fall and winter, these seven world-class destinations still offer world-class experiences without the distraction of packs of high school classes and flag-waving tour guides.
1. Florence, Italy
Recommended low season: October
From June to August, the quest for “real Italian cooking” sends pizzas spinning out of Florence ovens like Frisbees tossed at throngs of hungry tourists still high on “Eat Pray Love.”
October is a slower time, harvest month for wine, truffles and olives. That means fresher local delicacies. Numerous fall food and wine festivals make perfect excuses to spend a day or two in the countryside.
Seasonally discounted villas are equipped with kitchens, where you can cook fresh produce. There may be fewer restaurants open in low season, but that just makes it easier to detect authentic local eateries.
•Truffle Fest, Cortile della Maddalena, October 9-November 14, www.fieradeltartufo.org
•Osteria All' Antico Mercato (popular local eatery open year round), Via Nazionale 78/r, Florence, +39 055 284182, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
•San Lorenzo Market, Piazza di San Lorenzo, 7, Farmacia S. Lorenzo, Florence, Italy
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
Recommended low season: Mid-September-October
Castles, fog, head-snapping booze and the most dizzying accents in the English-speaking world -- everything you love about Edinburgh is actually better once the weather turns chilly and the August festival crowds have cleared out of town.
Scotland is famous for its variety of beautiful autumn walks, but we love the way the sun pours through the Glentress Forest in Edinburgh. After a chilly forest stroll, there’s nothing more Scottish than shaking off the rain and slinging back a soul-warming Glenfiddich while slurring in a dimly lit pub filled with locals.
We recommend bringing up the winter haggis hunting season as an ice breaker -- not that you’ll need one.
No one goes to Edinburgh without touring Edinburgh Castle. The summer tourist destination looks even more imposing when it’s shrouded in the mysterious fog of fall.
And don't miss Glentress Forest, where you can find 40 kilometers of nature trails for walking and biking along with 2,500 hectares of vast rolling hills that are sure to provoke an exchange of fearless “Braveheart” quotes (+44 175 072 1120; Peebles is the nearest town. Take the A72 east from Peebles. Follow the signs for Glentress Peel. www.forestry.gov.uk).
•Canny Mans, an atmospheric pub crammed with loony collectibles and local characters. It is also peppered with nooks and crannies in which you can throw back a good selection of local whiskies. 273 Morningside Road, Edinburgh, +44 131 447 1484
•Edinburgh Castle, +44 131 225 9846, www.edinburghcastle.gov.UK, Adult £12.50 (US$20), Child £6.50 (US$10)