Italy's opulent Palazzo Arzaga hotel was built as a monastery in the 15th century, but there is nothing austere about it now.
Located in the rolling hills just outside Verona, the resort features 84 guest rooms accented with antique furnishings from the 18th and 19th centuries, hand-painted ceilings, fireplaces and marble baths. Two rooms have 16th-century frescoes.
Two championship golf courses flank the resort, one designed by Jack Nicklaus II, and instructors from PGA Europe offer expert advice at the Arzaga's Golf Academy. Other activities include horseback riding, hiking trails and mountain biking. Did we mention the gourmet cooking school?
And don't forget the spa, where therapeutic massage, steam baths and herbal wraps ease tension and pamper the spirit. While relaxing at the spa, you can contemplate which of the hotel's three restaurants to try for dinner.
Room prices range from $270 to $1,200 a night, and packages are available. For reservations and information, call 800-323-7500.
Spring ahead in time
Spring may not come soon enough to Maryland, but at www.ashevillechamber.org/bloom.htm, it's already in full bloom. The Web site of the Asheville, N.C., chamber of commerce is filled with spring bloom reports and recommended scenic drives through the state's western mountains. In addition, the Web site lists spring events, places to stay and a guide to area restaurants. Information is also available by calling 800-280-0005.
The lowdown on Mardi Gras
For the skinny on Fat Tuesday (March 7) and the frenetic week in New Orleans that precedes it, check out Arthur Hardy's 2000 Mardi Gras Guide. More than 150 colorful pages of parade profiles, maps, dining guides and insider tips provide all you need to know to make your visit to the Big Easy big and very easy. To order, send $7 to Arthur Hardy Enterprises, P.O. Box 19500, New Orleans, La. 70179. For credit card orders, call 504-838-6111 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
Where to track down trains
If you've been thinking about riding the rails but don't know where to find them, Coops Maps has a solution. Specializing in unusual and specific tour maps, Coops' current series, "Railroads and Railroad Museums," highlights scenic trains and tracks across the country, including 11 listings in Maryland. Other series include "Dinosaur Sites" and "Coop's Road Map Guide to Microbreweries and Brewpubs." Promised in the future are maps of "Spanish Missions" and the "Rollercoasters of North America." To order, call 800-259-3139 or go to www.coopsmaps.com.