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Lucca, Italy: 69.98 pounds round trip

Fly Ryanair from London Stansted to Pisa.

A weekend vacation to the Tuscany city of Lucca should start at the 16th-century medieval walls, with 11 bastions and six gates that surround the city. The now-paved walls allow visitors to walk or cycle the approximate three miles around the ramparts.

Of particular interest is the Porta San Pietro, built in 1566 and the most southerly gate. It has a working portcullis, or a hanging iron gate that can be lowered over a doorway, and the city’s republican motto “Libertas” carved above its entrance.

Lucca’s many churches worth visiting include the Romanesque Duomo di San Martino with stonework reliefs depicting stories from St. Martin’s life and the holy relic Volto Santo, which is believed to be the face of Christ carved into wood by Nicodemus.

Another stop is the 12th-century San Michele in Faro where “Madame Butterfly” and “La Boheme” composer Giacomo Puccini sang in the choir as a young boy. Around the corner from the church is Puccini’s birth home, now a museum full of the composer’s memorabilia.

Make sure to visit the 144-foot Guinigi tower, with its small forest on top. Visitors can take the stairs up for views of the city below and the Apuane Alps and Garfagnana Mountains.

From there, tourists should be able to see the oval imprint of the Roman amphitheater, whose floor is 10 feet underground, on the medieval buildings of Piazza Anfiteatro. The piazza is home to a few cafes and shops along with apartments where visitors can see arches and other amphitheater remnants in their lobbies.

Three months — April 18-20Zagreb, Croatia: 59.99 pounds round trip

Fly Wizz Air from London Luton to Zagreb.

The city center of Zagreb is divided into two parts: the Gornhi grad and the Donji grad, both offering tourists plenty to see and do.

The Gornhi grad, or upper town, with its gaslamp-lit cobbled streets, is home to the presidential palace, Parliament, many monuments, galleries and St. Mark’s historic church.

Ilica, the main shopping street, is in Donji grad, or lower town, along with many restaurants, cafes and theaters. While in lower town, visit the Museum of Arts and Crafts, where furniture, ceramics, silverware, glassware, textiles and clocks are displayed in chronological order. Another site worth visiting in the lower town is the Zagreb Archaeological Museum. It features the “Zagreb Mummy,” whose bandages were taken from a linen book that is the world’s longest existing Etruscan text.

After all that walking, sit and enjoy an Ozujsko Pivo, a high-quality Croatian beer, at one of the many cafes or restaurants along the city’s main pedestrian-only square, Ban Josip Jelacic.

Airfare prices include estimated taxes and are courtesy of the Web site www.skyscanner.net. Prices were verified as of Monday afternoon when Stripes UK went to press. Deals are not guaranteed to be available; restrictions may apply.


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