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Treviso, Veneto, Italy

The centre of Treviso is a little walled city, with medieval gates, narrow, cobbled streets of arcaded rose-red brick and stone that twist and turn like dried-out water courses - which is what some of them originally were. Tiny canals run past handkerchief-sized gardens, glide beneath houses, appear at street corners.

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Portovenere, Liguria, Italy

The five Cinque Terre coastal villages to the north are better known, but are also increasingly overrun, making Portovenere (not unlike a sixth Cinque Terre village – but, crucially, with no railway access) a pretty and far more peaceful option.

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Gabicce Mare, Le Marche, Italy

Italy's Adriatic coast is, on the whole, a very local place: a summer playground for Italian families. Ranks of colour-coded umbrellas mark the progression from one beach concession to another along interminable stretches of flat white sand.

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Marina de Pisciotta, Campania, Italy

Pisciotta is the kind of small, southern Italian coastal town that you have a picture of in your head, but often struggle to match in the real world. The old town sits on a hill just back from its seaside frazione or offshoot, Marina di Pisciotta.

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Caneiros, Algarve, Portugal

Thirty minutes from Faro airport, there is plenty to occupy everyone here – you can rent pedalos and kayaks, explore caves, have a meal at the chic Rei das Praias, on the beach. The beach also hires out generous day beds – and can even organise a massage on the beach, or a bottle of champagne in ice.