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Great Escapes//5 Regional Centers

Cortona Italy

High in the Tuscan hills, Cortona remains the walled city of 400 years past with cobbled streets, soaring views and magenta shutters.

Portland, Oregon
Portland’s natural coastal beauty, verdant gardens, eclectic neighborhoods and hip art scene make for a fine adventure. Explore the funky neighborhood bistros, markets, cooking schools, microbreweries and nearby vineyards. Every local edible, from freshly cracked oysters to the perfect pear, is a source of tremendous pride. The heart of this food scene is the Portland Farmers Market, chocked with lavender jelly, fresh and smoked salmon, dried cherries and heirloom pears. Start here for tips on where to take a cooking class, dine, sip, hike, bike or sail.
Fly into: PDX.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Ethnic, exotic foods abound in this global city whose origins date back to the late 1200s. Grab a gray rental bike (lined along streets throughout the city) and cycle to De Pijp’s outdoor Albert Cuyp Market and eclectic cafés. Come Saturday, the Noordermarkt, Jordaan District, hawks farmstead cheese, fresh fish and glorious breads. Find the best herring or sip world-class beers served in short glasses, equal part head and brew. Pancake houses flip many different tastes of cakes. Fly into: AMS.

Cortona, Italy
High in the Tuscan hills, Cortona remains the walled city of 400 years past with cobbled streets, soaring views and magenta shutters. Little eateries and espresso bars with tables spill into several squares that, come Saturday, bustle with open markets. Here find the world’s best peppery olive oil; crisp white wines; artisan sheep- and goat-milk cheeses and balsamic vinegar, aged for generations. Seasonal festivals of music, food, antiques and old movies fill the square. Picnic in the tree-lined park on the soft grass bordered with banks of flowers. Hike down the hill to the monastery where St. Francis of Assisi sought refuge in silent retreat.
Fly into: FCO (Rome) or FLR (Florence).

Sydney, Australia
Its sparkling harbor, polished historic quarter and gleaming contemporary center are hemmed by craggy hills and sandy coast. Kayak on Sydney Harbor, surf at Bondi Beach and wander The Rocks’ (a historical quarter) outdoor markets, bistros and boutiques. This sun-kissed port serves up the world’s flavors with flair. You’ll find platters of fresh mussels, local John Dory (a fine firm white fish), sprightly rieslings, spicy Asian noodle dishes, crocodile sausages and pavlova (crackly meringue laced with whipped cream and passion fruit).
Fly into: SYD.

Madison, Wisconsin
Madison, the capital of local American food, hosts the Dane County Farmers’ Market, the country’s largest producer-only farmers market. It circles the pristine white Capitol and its lush green lawn, set between Lake Mendota and Lake Menona at the head of energetic State Street. Here, 300-plus artisans sell a wild variety of bandaged cheddars, farm-fresh produce (more than 100 heirloom apple varieties and 200 potato varieties), stone-ground whole-grain breads, freshly fried doughnuts, quirky ostrich sausages and spiced empanadas.
Fly into: MSN.

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