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Staying in places is something I prefer much more than rushing through a trip. Travel as the locals do. Avoid the tourist traps, Take strong shoes - especially in Italy or other places with cobbled or otherwise uneven paths. You can grind to a halt without good shoes and socks. Plan to walk lots, take public transport and then walk. We prefer to stay in apartments and buy the local food, ask how to cook it, use the web to learn more, and cook for ourselves much of the time, while keeping the restaurant for special as we would at home, or (again in Italy) going out for that morning breakfast or the after lunch coffee or the after-dinner gelato.