The home and studio of Oswaldo Guayasamin, whom many consider to be Ecuador's greatest painter, still stands on its privileged hillside perch overlooking Quito.
Shopping in Quito can be a real pleasure, especially in La Mariscal, a neighborhood just northeast of the historic city center.
Lima is South America's food city of the moment, but Quito has started to catch up. On this visit, I discovered two restaurants worthy of note.
There is an irrepressible energy in South America drawing all eyes below the equator. Maybe it's the spark that comes from hosting both the World Cup and the Olympics, as Brazil will be doing in 2014 and 2016, respectively.
Until recently, few sophisticated travelers opted to linger in Quito. But times are changing fast: In recent years, the magnificent Old City has been extensively restored; Quito was designated the 2011 American Capital of Culture; and a new airport is scheduled to open at the end of 2012.
A 90-minute drive south of Quito, the landscape is dominated by the majestic 19,348-foot snow cone of Cotopaxi, one of the world's highest active volcanoes.
Running for 200 miles south of Quito between two parallel cordilleras, Ecuador's "Avenue of the Volcanoes" contains seven peaks more than 17,000 feet high. The tallest, 20,565-foot Chimborazo, was long thought to be the highest mountain in the world.