There are two ways to think about the Texas Hill Country. Physically, it spreads across the undulating Edwards Plateau, with Austin to the east and San Antonio to the south. Near the center is Fredericksburg, which was once the main show in these parts, but no longer. To get a feeling for the Hill Country in the second sense — the state of mind where cool mingles with tradition, and industriousness and idleness are equally esteemed values (depending on the time of day) — head out among the limestone knolls full of live oak groves and cypress-lined creeks, and to the gritty pin-dot towns built largely of native stone. Here you’ll find a delicious tension between rural and refined. Inns and restaurants are bringing a clever touch to Lone Star hospitality and mythology, and with the vineyards and boutique farms (lavender, olives), some people make comparisons to Napa Valley or even Provence. But those assessments ignore something fundamental: the Hill Country — being Texas at its finest — is like nowhere else in the world.