Half-timbered houses cluster around old churches with needle- thin spires. Grassy paths lead into thick pine forests. Jagged, sheer-sided mountains frame peaceful Alpine meadows. Welcome to the Dolomites — 18 peaks rising to more than 10,000 feet in the northern Italian Alps — designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
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Throughout Georgia, streets and squares bear the name of Shota Rustaveli, a medieval Georgian poet and a key figure in the country’s history. Although Georgians take great pride in their long history (founding Tbilisi in the sixth century), they especially savor more recent events when Georgia declared its sovereignty over Soviet laws. Renamed the Republic of Georgia in 1990, it gained independence before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.