by Paul Bowers
In a poll of 27,000 readers of Condé Nast Traveler, Charleston was ranked the top city in America and the third on the planet, coming behind Florence, Italy (No. 2), and Sydney, Australia (No. 1). The cities were graded on ambience, friendliness, lodging, restaurants, culture, sightseeing, and shopping, and apparently Chucktown had what it took to topple major tourist destinations like Cape Town, San Francisco, Barcelona, Bruges, and Rome. TV comedian and native son Stephen Colbert presented the No. 1 U.S. award to the city at a ceremony in New York City, recalling in his speech how as a child he had "earned pocket change helpfully pointing out the house where Rhett Butler grew up." On a more serious note, he added, "I've been all over the world, and Charleston is the most beautiful city I've ever seen." Not bad, Charleston. But let's see if we can't make it to No. 1 next year, OK? Maybe ship in a few wallabies and some 13th-century cathedrals. Do what you've got to do.
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