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As much as we love lounging poolside, there's something to be said for improving one's mind (as well as one's tan) while on vacation. Here, the newest ways to combine enrichment with European travel:

Italian Cooking Spend a week perfecting your ragu and risotto at Fontana del Papa, a rustic, Etruscan farmhouse surrounded by rows of bountiful olive trees. There are no cookbooks here--locals will teach you the recipes that they learned at their grandmothers' knees, from fresh, rolled pastas to perfect meatballs.

Flamenco Dancing The Sierra Nevada mountains in southern Spain are home to one of the world's most intricate and seductive dances. Learn to flamenco from masters at the La Fuente school in Las Alpujarras, where you can also take Spanish classes and ride horses through the dazzling countryside. Bonus points for running off with your instructor.

Provençal Painting Channel your inner Impressionist with painting classes at Arts in Provençe, a secluded stone house set deep in the South of France. Though all the one-week workshops are taught by skilled instructors and designed to improve your artistic abilities, the ochre sunset, rolling hills and local field trips are extra incentive to get that paintbrush moving.

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