I'm planning a trip to Venice. Can you recommend a shop with a great selection of Murano glass?
—M.R., BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y.
Venice is overrun with showrooms that sell kitschy Murano glassware. One that offers a range of finely crafted glass is Galleria Marina Barovier (San Marco 3216; 39-041/523-6748; www.barovier.it), known for vintage pieces such as early-20th-century bubble-glass lamps by architect Carlo Scarpa ($9,245) and candelabras by artist Guido Balsamo Stella ($13,200).But once you're in Venice, you might as well head straight to the source: the island of Murano is just a 20-minute vaporetto ride from the Santa Lucia train station. Seguso Gianni (3 Fondamenta Serenella; 39-041/739-005; www.seguso.it; by appointment only) specializes in ornate decorative vases (from $265) and custom-designed chandeliers (from $1,254). At Murano Collezioni (1CD Fondamenta Manin; 39-041/736-272; www.carlomoretti.com), renowned Italian designer Carlo Moretti's contemporary vases (from $182) and plates (from $422) are available in orange, fire-red, and dark green.
We are looking to rent a house in Alsace-Lorraine. Which upscale agencies have the best properties?
—B.K., ROCHESTER, MINN.
Though many of the top villa-rental companies (Wimco, Barclay International Group) have properties in France, their houses are often in more popular regions like Provence or Normandy. We found two in the Alsatian village of Meuse on Rentvillas.com—one is a modest four-bedroom house with exposed oak beams and modern amenities ($1,704 a week); the other is a lavish 17th-century château with a terrace and an outdoor pool ($8,478 a week, including daily housekeeping and all breakfasts, aperitifs, and four-course dinners with wine and brandy). The Swiss company Interhome (www.interhome.com) has 55 properties in the Alsace area ranging from a two-room chalet ($394 a week) to a luxe 14-room manor house that comes with a tennis court, two pianos, and a library with a billiard table (from $4,100 a week, including light housekeeping).
Three generations of our family want to travel to Europe together. Do you know any good tours?
—L.L., VIA E-MAIL
On Butterfield & Robinson's Homebase vacations in Tuscany and Puglia (800/678-1147; www.butterfieldandrobinson.com; from $4,695 per adult), families stay at the same hotel for all five nights. Activities include wine tasting for adults, terra-cotta art classes for the kids, and cooking lessons, biking trips and swimming outings for everyone. You can also customize a family-centered trip to Ireland, Spain, or any other European destination where B&R already has trips. All tours from Thomson Family Adventures (800/262-6255; www.familyadventures.com; $4,290 per adult, $4,090 per child 12 and under), including an upcoming 16-day trip to Turkey, are scheduled during school breaks, and months before departure kids are assigned pen pals, whom they'll meet on the trip. Though Europe isn't yet on the agenda at Generations Touring Co. (888/415-9100; www.generationstouringcompany.com; tours from $1,399 per adult), its new Take-a-Parent program in the Galápagos, Vietnam, or Mexico allows grown children to plan an adventure with their parents or grandparents.
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