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Italian-food festivals . . .

. . . Maine madness, and doing London 007-style

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Car and Away
Hotels are always trying to lure guests with economy-minded package deals, offering freebies like breakfast vouchers and complimentary champagne. But the Colonnade, one of London's hottest boutique hotels, has come up with something a little more likely to increase your pulse. Book a four-night stay, and you'll be able to make like James Bond (or at least Austin Powers) in your very own vintage roadster. Options include a '67 Jaguar, a '61 Porsche Speedster, and a '68 Mustang (pictured above). The "Drive on the Other Side" package includes two-day use of the car, a brief lesson on British road rules, and leather driving gloves, plus maps and information for day trips to Oxford, Cambridge, and Windsor Castle. The cost for four nights is $1,534 for a deluxe room, $1,766 for a suite. For reservations, call 44-207-286-1052.

Festival of Bites
Leave it to the Italians to make a holiday out of asparagus. "Most Italian towns host annual food fests, or sagre, showcasing their prized dishes and seasonal ingredients," says Saveur editor-in-chief Colman Andrews, who eats in Italy as often as he can. "They range from 50 people cooking a vegetable to weeklong events with major attractions and thousands of visitors." Thanks to the spring harvest, May and June are the months to go. Among traveling foodies' favorites are Pergine Valsugana's Festival of Cherries (June 29-30), Mezzago's Asparagus Festival (May 12-13), Villimpenta's Rice Festival (June 2), and Marsigliana's Strawberry Festival (May 26-27). Andrews's favorite? The Sagra del Pesce, or Fish Festival, in Camogli (May 13). "They've got an immense frying pan -- twelve feet across -- and they fry fish all day. It's great!" For more details, see Carol Field's Celebrating Italy (HarperCollins, $20) or contact the Italian Tourist Board at 212-245-5618.

Hoist the Maine Sail
There are fantasy baseball camps and fantasy race-car-driving schools, but what about armchair sailors who live for C. S. Forester and Patrick O'Brian novels? The Maine Windjammer Association has the answer: thirteen traditional tall ships -- including an 1871 freighter and a 1922 racing yacht -- which they sail among Maine's 3,000 islands from May to October. The wooden schooners, between 64 and 132 feet in length, carry from 20 to 40 passengers, who feast on chowder and lobster while exploring coastal villages, watching seals, and hoisting sails or taking the helm as they please. Price per passenger ranges from $350 for three days to $625 for six, including meals. Call the MWA at 800-807-wind or visit sailmainecoast.com.

etc.
Northwest Passage JetBlue expands its cut-rate service this spring, offering new flights from New York to Seattle starting May 1, and to Denver May 17; 800-jetblue or www.jetblue.com. Border Tours Next month, the trekking and cycling outfitter Butterfield & Robinson is introducing a hike-and-bike tour of French Catalonia (also known as Languedoc-Roussillon), near France's border with Spain. Eight-day trips cost $4,395 a person, begin in Perpignan, and end in Toulouse; 800-678-1147 or butterfield.com. Boston Uncommon Visitors who want a touch of home while in New England should consider the Soho Suite, debuting next week at Boston's Colonnade Hotel. The $1,200-a-night room is modeled after a Prince Street loft, with a granite martini bar, stainless-steel furnishings, and a 42-inch TV; 800-962-3030. Pole Survivor The 75 participants in the first-ever South Pole marathon (January 5, 2002) must race from 89.5 degrees longitude south to the pole itself, along a course of hard-packed snow in temperatures as low as 50 degrees below zero. To enter, call Adventure Network International at 561-347-7654 by June 30.


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