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May 18, 2008|Susan Spano; Vani Rangachar; Jane Engle; Rosemary McClure

A tour of classic Rome

For lovers of art and the Eternal City, a new exhibition has opened on the glories of Rome in the 15th century. "Il 400 a Roma" at the Museo del Corso in Rome until Sept. 7 begins with a digitized map showing the city as it was in the 1400s. The exhibition focuses on building projects such as the Palazzo Venezia, begun in 1455, as well the era's great art patrons, including Pope Sixtus IV, who commissioned the Sistine Chapel. Tickets cost about $13.50, including an audio guide. Go to www.museodelcorso.it.

-- Susan Spano

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Page-turners

New and different guidebooks have arrived in our offices, among them a series for traveling trend-setters and one for kids:

* The fold-out Go2Guides are age specific, laminated to protect against spills and drooling babies, with big pictures. They focus on culture, food and some history of China. Cost: $9.95, www.go2guides.org.

* The unconventional Ideo Eyes Open series of city guides offer finds -- such as where to get art from a vending machine in London -- and out-of-the-way spots like the Community Bookstore in New York. Published by Chronicle Books for $22.95.

* My colleague Susan Spano recommends the little black leather Moleskine city notebooks, which come in a variety of sizes for 40 cities worldwide. They include maps of the Metro systems, time zone and international holiday information and more. Users can update and supplement the guides on corresponding blogs. Cost: $17.95, www.moleskine.com.

* The ultra-slim Luxe City guides have no photos and can fit in your hip pocket. You'll find hotel and restaurant recommendations but also Luxe Loves (Lark Cake Shop in Silver Lake) and Luxe Loathes (LAX). Cost $9.95, luxecityguides.com.

-- Vani Rangachar

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Personal ranger

Call it a pocket park ranger. At Grand Canyon National Park, you can dial up an audio tour on your cellphone along the South Rim (above). At each stop, you call an indicated number, and the recorded voice of a ranger gives a two-minute talk about the scene before you. As of May 12, a dozen stations had been installed. Eventually, up to 25 will operate over a 5-mile stretch of the path between Yaki and Maricopa points, said Judy Hellmich-Bryan, the park's chief of interpretation. The service is free, but you'll owe your usual cellphone charges. At one station, you'll hear a description of the night sky that changes each month, narrated by Tyler Nordgren, University of Redlands associate professor of physics.

-- Jane Engle

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But no Mr. Big

Carrie Bradshaw fans can break out their Manolos and Jimmy Choos on May 29 when the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey offers a package that includes VIP access to the "Sex and the City: The Movie" premiere in Los Angeles. The "Get Carried Away" package, priced at $3,200 for two, includes two nights' lodging in an 850-square-foot executive suite, transportation to the premiere in a chauffeured Mercedes, VIP access to the official premiere after-party and a $600 gift certificate to shop at the Jimmy Choo boutique in Beverly Hills. The movie, which stars Sarah Jessica Parker, above, opens in wide release May 30. Other perks include two hotel spa treatments, dinner for two at Jer-Ne restaurant and bar and a "Sex and the City" collector's edition DVD set. Call (310) 823-1700, (800) 241-3333, or go to www.ritzcarlton.com.

-- Rosemary McClure

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For more news and deals, go to latimes.com/travelblog.

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