10 great places to find a lucky charm


By Sarah Sekula, Published in USA Today

Wednesday might be St. Patrick’s Day, but you don’t have to be Irish to be favored by fortune. Whether you smooch them, tickle them or jitterbug around them, good-luck monuments can leave you feeling, well, lucky. Frank Nelson, world traveler and author of All You Need is Luck (iUniverse, $13.95), shares some auspicious getaways with Sarah Sekula for USA TODAY.

Hoover Dam
Boulder City, Nev.
Stop by the Nevada side of the Hoover Dam and you’ll spot two 30-foot-high statues known as the Winged Figures of the Republic. Rumor has it touching the toes of these giants may lead to a prosperous day. Tip: Use all 10 fingers to rub all 10 toes. While you’re there, take in views of Lake Mead, and consider taking a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the dam. 866-730-9097; www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam

Reichsburg Cochem
Cochem, Germany
Peer out the windows of this Middle Age marvel for dreamy vistas of the majestic Mosel Valley. Inside, “there’s a touch of the surreal about an unusual chandelier, which appears to be a mermaid with deer antlers sprouting from her back,” Nelson says. “However, she’s a good luck charm for those who reach up and give her tummy a tickle.” After seeing the sights, leave some time for a medieval banquet, complete with costumes and music. reichsburg-cochem.de

Upwey Wishing Well
Dorset, England
Tradition has it that dropping some coins into a pond or fountain can bring good fortune. In the picturesque village of Upwey (in the county of Dorset), this wishing well is a more literal manifestation of that notion. “After tossing in a coin or two, the luck starts almost at once, with the discovery of nearby tearooms serving traditional Dorset cream teas,” Nelson says. visitengland.com

Casa di Giulietta
Verona, Italy
“Trust those hot-blooded Italians to get a little, um, hot when it comes to good luck charms,” Nelson says. “In Verona is an old house with a balcony, claimed by some to have been the inspiration for the famous balcony scenes in Shakespeare’s tale of the star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.” If you wish to be lucky in love, then be sure to stroke the right breast of the statue of Juliet before you leave. italiantourism.com

Lincoln Tomb
Springfield, Ill.
“A large bronze head of the nation’s 16th president, who served from 1861 until his assassination four years later, has the nose well-polished by thousands of visitors who give it a quick rub for good luck,” Nelson says. 217-782-2717;illinoishistory.gov

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
“Standing on a bull’s testicles might not sound like the luckiest thing you’ve ever done, but it can be — in Milan,” Nelson says. “Visitors to the city’s elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (a shopping arcade on the Piazza del Duomo) tend to seek out an intricate and colorful mosaic of a bull.” That’s where the good-luck antics come into play. People place their heel on the mosaic’s delicate parts and spin around. Some do a quick single spin, some twirl about a few times, while others engage in elaborate dance routines. visitamilano.it

Pike Place Market
“There’s something very appealing about pigs, even pig statues,” Nelson says. “In search of a little extra luck, it seems, we can’t resist rubbing the bronze or brass snouts of pigs as far afield as Florence, Italy, and Sydney, Australia.” Back in the USA, go to Seattle to meet Rachel, a 700-pound swine statue that sits among the crowds in this popular market. Rest assured, any coins you donate to the piggy bank go to local non-profits. 206-682-7453; pikeplacemarket.org

Blarney Castle
Blarney, Ireland
When you arrive on the Emerald Isle, locals will no doubt assure you everything you experience will evoke the luck of the Irish. “It’s all part of their cheeky, charming blarney, that gift of gab,” Nelson says. “But you can win that same silver-tongued gift of eloquence by visiting Blarney Castle and kissing the famous Blarney Stone.” blarneycastle.ie

Wayland’s Smithy
Oxfordshire, England
This ancient burial place dates to the end of the Stone Age, with tomb sites dating to 3700 B.C. “According to legend, if you left your horse here along with a silver coin, when you returned the horse would mysteriously have been shod,” Nelson says. “Not so many people have horses these days, but a silver coin hidden at the site is still said to bring good luck.” visitengland.com

Riviera Hotel
Las Vegas
“What better place to find the gentle caress of Lady Luck than Las Vegas, home to all those casinos and slot machines?” Nelson asks. “It’s easier than you might think. Standing outside the Riviera Hotel is a line-up of seven, bronze showgirls, cheekily showing their bare backsides to the world.” Give them a rub for good luck. 800-634-3420; rivierahotel.com