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Ask T+L: Agriturismo, Scottish Castles, Flight Delays

Q: Can you recommend a great agriturismo in southern Italy? —Leslie Stone, Austin, Tex.

A: The best agriturismi are in the coastal region of Campania, where dozens of secluded farmhouses double as hotels. About two hours south of Rome, chef-owner Berardino Lombardo runs daily cooking classes at his four-room Terre di Conca (doubles from $129) using ingredients sourced from the hotel’s 100-acre farm, filled with wild chicory, heirloom Annurche apples, and even semi-wild black Casertano pigs. At the eight-room La Vecchia Quercia (doubles from $129), made up of two country-style houses, you can take art classes on the lawn. And 38 miles north, the grounds of the 18th-century Relais Castelcicala (doubles from $129) are perfect for hiking—you’ll explore sprawling apricot groves, a medieval tower, and two nearby Franciscan monasteries.

Q: I’m flying to Europe next month and want to ensure a hassle-free trip. Do you have any tips for avoiding delays and cancellations? —Harris McMann, Raleigh, N.C.

A: There are several ways you can lower your chances of such setbacks. According to Paul Takemoto, spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration, it’s best to take the first flight of the day, but if that isn’t feasible, fly outside of peak hours (roughly between 8–9:30 a.m. and 4–7 p.m.), and in the middle of the week (Tuesday through Thursday). If a peak-hour trip is a must, plan your route through a major airport, which will have more options in case your flight gets canceled; and fly nonstop whenever possible. Also, consider bringing a list of alternative flights to your destination, along with the airline’s customer service number—if there’s a problem, it may be faster to make a reservation on the phone than to wait in line for an agent.

Q: I’ve always wanted to stay at a Scottish castle. Any suggestions? —Lindsey Davis, Medford, Mass.

A: Scotland’s green landscape has a manor for every type of traveler. Set in the western Highlands, Inverlochy Castle (doubles from $572) offers lots of outdoor activities, including fly-fishing, golfing, and white-water rafting. Three miles southeast of Edinburgh, the 13th-century Dalhousie Castle (doubles from $179) is ideal for history buffs: 15 of the 36 rooms are named after famous guests, such as Edward I and Oliver Cromwell. Deep within hill country, the elegant Auchen Castle Hotel (doubles from $143) draws culinary enthusiasts thanks to its traditional restaurant, where chef Paul Gibson serves locally sourced dishes such as Galloway spring lamb stuffed with fresh spinach and garlic.

Ask an Expert: T+L Europe editor Maria Shollenbarger

“I loved the story about affordable restaurants in Western Europe that ran in T+L’s December issue, but I often travel to Northern European cities on business. Where can I find similar options in this region?” —Phil Gordon, Nashville, Tenn.

A: “In Brussels, Viva M’Boma (dinner for two $90) is one of the few modern places in town that does old-school Belgian cooking (make sure to have the speculoos ice cream, made from the famous Belgian ginger cookies). Amsterdam’s Vyne (dinner for two $50) is a sleek wine bar with a small-plates menu (order the dried ham with apple syrup; pâté and farmer’s bread; or smoked Dutch eel—it’s delicious). And in Copenhagen, local favorite Cofoco recently opened a tiny outpost called Cofoco Le Marché (lunch for two $30), where the menu changes daily. Try the Sicilian meatballs with pine nuts, or a classic French onion soup.”

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