September 10, 2001 12:00 PM

Ready, set…scatter! That seems to be the command in Hollywood as soon as summer sets in. Some stars, like Tom Cruise and Gwyneth Paltrow, beat retreats with their new sweeties; others, such as Mel Gibson and Denzel Washington, relaxed with the wife and kids. A few vacationers even managed to make new friends: When one of George Clooney‘s pals’ motorcycles broke down as they were roaring through Nuova Olonio, Italy, local beekeeper Bonifacio Ferraro, 66, invited the travelers in for dinner. “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” says Ferraro’s daughter Romina, 28, an ER fan who briefed her kin on the identity of the square-jawed Americano.

Sarah Ferguson

In July the Duchess and daughters Eugenie, 11 (left), and Beatrice, 13, made waves in Saint-Tropez, where they bunked at the home of Fergie’s ex-love, former racecar driver Paddy McNally.

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr.

Miss Sarong and her Mr. Right (the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Summer Catch stars got engaged in April) strolled in Hawaii, where they lei’d around in June.

Denzel Washington
Opting for a slightly more nimble craft than their home base—a 130-ft. yacht off the coast of Sardinia, Italy—the star of the fall police drama Training Day gave son Malcolm, 10, a steering lesson in July. Wife Pauletta and kids John David, 17, Katia, 13, and Olivia, Malcolm’s twin, also joined the annual family jaunt.

Minnie Driver and Josh Brolin

Don’t believe the T-shirt: Minnie Driver was visiting Orlando’s Universal Studios with her fiance, Josh Brolin, in June.

George Clooney
Delayed by a breakdown on his European motorbike tour in July, Clooney opted to cringe and bear it. Locals came to the rescue, allowing him to zip off to Saint Moritz, Switzerland, lickety-split.

Mel Gibson

Appearances aside, the actor really had nothing to rail against as he savored filial good times with two of his sons during a Roman holiday.

Shaquille O’Neal

The L.A. Laker took time out in August to go one-on-one with a Dr. Seuss creature at Universal’s Islands of Adventures theme park in Orlando.

Gwyneth Paltrow
The actress opted for minimal coverage while R&R-ing with beau Luke Wilson (Legally Blonde) on a rocky beach on Spain’s Majorca. When a rainstorm brewed, the pair decamped to Barcelona for a few days.

Tom Cruise
As new steady Penélope Cruz boarded his private jet, the shaded star lingered with local fans at the end of their weeklong stay on Fiji’s Wakaya Island in July.

Paul McCartney

On a July visit (with fiancée Heather Mills) to the Malibu beach where Baywatch was shot, the former Beatle struck a positively Hassel-hoffian pose.

Diana Ross

The chanteuse and her baby-loves Evan and Ross, both 13 (Dad is her ex, Arne Naess), sunned in Sardinia in June.

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