Porto Venere is the perfect jumping-off point for scenic boat rides along the Italian Riviera. Photo by Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli

When it comes to basking in the beauty of Italy's Riviera, the Cinque Terre is tops for me. But there's much more to this region on the Mediterranean coast than those famous five villages.

A handful of charming towns lie within an hour of the Cinque Terre, with posh ports set against rugged mountain backdrops that have drawn poets, authors and romantics over the years, from Lord Byron to Elizabeth Taylor.

To the north of the Cinque Terre is a trio of beach towns...

View of the Mediterranean from the terrace of our apartment “Promenade” in Nice.

The last thing I expected to find in the French Riviera city of Nice was the ruins of a 2,000-year-old Roman city. The Mediterranean, miles of beaches, the famous Promenade des Anglais adjacent to those beaches, yes. Several fabulous art museums, certainly. Cafés, bistros, restaurants, of course. But a Roman city just a few miles from Nice's alluring beachfront was a surprise.

Located in the upscale residential area of Cimiez in Nice, with villas set in lush gardens, what...

Ronda is the birthplace of modern bullfighting and home to a venerable bullring that dates to 1785.

When my travel dreams drift off to Spain, they often include visions of Andalucía, the southern part of the country that feels so quintessentially Spanish. With a string of whitewashed hill towns, sunny skies, vibrant festivals and tempting tapas, Andalucía is the soul of Spain -- almost stereotypically so.

Most tourists hit Andalucía's three great cities -- Granada, Córdoba and Sevilla -- or the Costa del Sol. But for something more authentic, I like...

Guided food tours provide thoughtful explanations of the authentic foods we travel so far to taste.

When I arrive in a new city, I book a private guide straightaway -- someone who can bring the architecture, history and culture to life. Lately, in the spirit of experiential sightseeing, I've been taking specialized tours that highlight unique, local experiences or historical themes. Particularly in big cities, I've found all kinds of focused tours, from guided night walks to musical pub crawls.

One of the most popular sightseeing trends is food tours, which reward travelers...

To imagine you’re one of Bath’s upper crust, cruise along the Circus, stately buildings that evoke the wealth and gentility of the town’s glory days. <i>CREDIT: Cameron Hewitt, Rick Steves’ Europe.</i>

England's best city within easy striking distance of London is Bath -- just a 90-minute train ride from the city center. Bath is popular and expensive, but it's a joy to visit. And rather than deal with London's intensity right off the bat, I like to take the train from the airport to London's Paddington Station and then hop on a connection to this more relaxed and elegant example of urban England.

Bath was a joy even in ancient Roman times, when patricians...

In France, galettes are an important part of the Epiphany celebration.

As it is in so many places, Christmas in France is all about family, friends and food. While it's generally a low-key affair marked by gatherings of relatives and treats for children, it also has the culinary high point of the year: Le Reveillon de Noel (Christmas Eve dinner).

The season officially starts on December 6 with a visit from St. Nicholas -- who arrives with a donkey carrying treat-filled baskets, a tradition still re-enacted in some villages. Over the centuries, the...

Palermo entertains travelers with striking architecture, vivid street life, a cosmopolitan vibe and a fun-loving energy.

One thing I enjoy about my work is getting my outdated impressions back up to date. Europe is always changing -- and recently I discovered that Sicily's capital of Palermo has become a whole new city since my last visit. It's cleaner, safer and more efficient than it was in years past. But it still retains its colorful edge -- and that's why I love it.

Over the last decade, Palermo has revitalized itself with new museums, gentrified neighborhoods,...

A Christmas market scene in Prague, Czechia, with the Old Town Hall in the background.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 514th issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine, where travelers pool their knowledge to help each other out.

Case in point, Linda J. Vogel of Pomona, California, wrote to ITN, "Thank you for printing the readers' letters and Editor's notes about airlines providing compensation to passengers for excessive delays of flights from or within Europe ("Consequences of Rebooking on Own," Oct. '18, pg. 26 & "Know...