Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Lingering Over Lunch in Tivoli, Italy

L'Angolino di Mirko, Tivoli, ItalyA short day trip out of Rome took me to Tivoli, a smaller city of around 55,000 people about 25 miles northeast of the Italian capital. I traveled here specifically to see Villa d’Este, a 16th-century palace famed for the gardens and 51 fountains that spill down the hillside behind it. A full morning spent admiring the villa’s frescoes and climbing up and down some steep paths and staircases to appreciate the property had stirred my appetite. On my way back to the train station, I hunted for a spot for lunch where I could soak in the aura of this place. I found it perfectly captured at Ristorante L’Angolino di Mirko. Read more >

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Delightful Domes That Grace City Skylines

Salta Cathedral, Salta, ArgentinaDomes. They’re one of the world’s most versatile architectural elements. Whether they’re topping iconic buildings like the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, or they’re the buildings themselves, ranging from Eskimo igloos to Central Asian yurts to the geodesic dome in Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, domes add that final splash of panache to our built environments. Found throughout the world, they seem to be appreciated by just about everyone as the perfect way to top off a building in a graceful, elegant style. Read more about the world’s top five domes >


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Dream Bigger: White Is Not Only for Christmas

Church of St. Charles at the Four Fountains, Rome, ItalyAs winter wonderlands start to pop up around the globe, white takes center stage in the form of unique flakes, shiny skating rinks, and Santa’s beard. But snow, ice, and St. Nick’s facial hair don’t hold a monopoly on the pure, unspoiled beauty of white. In fact, some of the world’s best occurrences of white have nothing to do with gelid winters and aren’t seasonal at all. Read more about the world’s top five whites >


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Skeletons and Skulls That Will Keep You Up All Night

St. Peter in Chains, Rome, ItalyAs Halloween approaches, children — and more than a few adults — are deciding on their costume for this spooky holiday of ghosts, goblins, candy, and horror flicks. Skeletons have always been a staple costume, whether it’s a glow-in-the-dark bodysuit variety or a mask or makeup job largely hidden by an oversized hood on a Grim Reaper outfit. As for the other 364 days of the year, real ones have long been put on display for the devout to revere, and fake ones for Mexican communities to celebrate on the Day of the Dead. Skeletons and skulls have been depicted in art or gravestones for centuries as a symbol of our finite time on earth, fighting a guaranteed losing battle against the sand hourglass. They could be positively frightening (say, in the promotional poster for the movie Evil Dead 2) or rather amusing (as in a Scooby-Doo episode). However you react to them, they invariably promise the same denouement: The end is always near. Read more about the top five skeletons and skulls in the world >


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Come Sail Away on the World’s Best Boat Rides

Maligne Lake, Alberta, CanadaWhen the summer heat becomes too oppressive and you’re tired of sitting in enclosed air-conditioned rooms, one of the best ways to cool off is to hop on a boat, whether it’s your own private tricked-out yacht or a workaday municipal water ferry. A refreshing breeze kicks in as the speed increases, cooling your overheated skin and providing a pleasant reprieve. The ride gets more interesting, of course, when you’re traveling and you find yourself on a luzzu in Malta, a paddleboat on the Alabama River, a pletna in Slovenia, or a high-speed catamaran in Saint Martin. Read more about the world’s top five boat rides >


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Ca’ San Rocco: Venice’s Perfect Secret B&B

A substantial number of people who spend more than a day in Venice, Italy, tend to overnight out of town in nearby Mestre — it’s convenient to Venice, and accommodation prices are much more reasonable. But I would not suggest that. If you’ve come all this way to see Venice, stay in Venice. It may cost you more, but the experience and memories will far outweigh your parsimony. And once I decided to forgo a room with a canal view, the financial difference was barely noticeable because I stayed at Ca’ San Rocco, an utterly charming, comfortable, quiet, and affordable bed and breakfast in the heart of Venice. Read more >


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Excellent Roman Cuisine Where Julius Caesar Was Murdered

Da Pancrazio, RomeJust a block or two from where I was staying in Rome, the Hotel Teatro di Pompeo, I spent a couple of hours developing a voracious appetite by strolling through the fantastic farmers market in the Campo de’Fiori. Endless forms of pasta, bottles of limoncello, and the freshest eggplant, tomatoes, strawberries, and olives I’ve ever seen provided visual stimulation for my salivary glands, encouraging thoughts of dinner. The aromas from the cheese stand made me want to change careers and become a fromager, and a generous free tasting of all kinds of spreads, from sage to walnuts with mushrooms to sweet red pepper, prompted me to start searching for the nearest place to dine. The restaurants all around the campo looked appealing but a little touristy, so I exited the square directly into the adjacent little Piazza del Biscione, where I stumbled upon Ristorante da Pancrazio—home of fantastic food, on the site of one of the world’s most infamous assassinations. Read more >