STANDING in the turret of a hilltop castle, leaning with a sigh of bliss against a stone parapet, I took in the old part of the city: curving cobblestone alleys and avenues; a dark river that traced a slender crease between centuries-old buildings; handsome plazas with statues and fountains; a patchwork of red-tiled roofs. I could have been in Italy, or maybe even France.

Looking into the distance, toward the horizon, I saw verdant hills rise into the continent’s most majestic mountains: the stony, vertiginous Alps. I could have been in Austria, or maybe even Switzerland.

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