Rome, Italy

Walk amid history dating back centuries.

Wander among ruins dating back some 2,000 years -- while in the heart of a thriving metropolis. Long after the Roman empire's fall, landmarks such as the Colosseum (left), the Roman Forum and recently reopened House of the Vestal Virgins remain. Pick up the money-saving Roma Pass, and find fewer crowds at these iconic sites in fall.

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Enjoy views from the greenest parts of Rome.

Find solace from Rome's hustle and bustle in its gorgeous parks and gardens. Autumn highs average in the 70s, ideal for strolls, bike rides and Segway tours through one of its most popular parks, Villa Borghese. At 148 acres, it serves up spectacular views of The Vatican and Piazza del Popolo (above). Bellissimo!

Marvel at masterpieces by Michaelangelo.

Art lovers: It pays to plan ahead. The Vatican Museums, home to Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel (left), now takes reservations online. Avoid the queue and select an entrance time. The Borghese Gallery, home to marble masterpieces by Bernini, actually requires a reservation. Only 360 people are allowed entrance every two hours.

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Taste a rainbow of fresh flavors.

In Rome, gelato is not reserved for summer; it's a year-round obsession. Sample fresh lemon-, pear- or tiramisu-flavored gelato from Il Gelato di San Crispino (near the Trevi Fountain), Giolitti (near the Pantheon) and Della Palma -- which also serves up dairy-free gelato. Tip: Most shops require payment in advance before they'll scoop a tasty treat.

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Visit the smallest country in the world.

It's a country (literally) within the Eternal City, with St. Peter's Basilica as its crowning jewel. One of the largest churches in the world, its artwork -- including the blue dome by Michaelangelo -- can move even the unreligious. Catch the pope (and his red Prada shoes) during the Wednesday papal audience. Tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance.

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