Komiža, Vis: Savoring the Off-Season Charms of One of Croatia’s Most Remote Islands

The enchanting Croatian island of Vis has had many identities over the last few thousand years. For a time, it was an ancient Greek colony known as Issa. Then, from the 1950s until the 1980s, Vis was a secretive Yugoslavian naval base that was off-limits to foreigners. From there, tourists — and filmmakers — started discovering Vis’ many charms, with the Mamma Mia sequel being filmed on Vis (and not Greece) in 2017.

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The Art of Florentine Marquetry: Watching Italian Mosaicists “Painting with Stones”

The arts have long flourished in Florence — the so-called “cradle of the Renaissance.” Hundreds of years ago, there were tens of thousands of artisans in the city, each dedicated to everything from leather goods and hand-decorated paper to jewelry making. Over time, the number of workshops has declined. Nevertheless, Florence still has a sizable amount of artisans and craftspeople, including several master mosaicists who specialize in Florentine marquetry — also sometimes called pietra dura or Florentine mosaics.

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The Windows of Pordenone, Italy

With its pretty palazzi and mountain vistas, the northeastern Italian city of Pordenone offers a superb blend of beautiful architecture and nature. Home to just over 51,000 people, Pordenone is located a mere 90km (55 miles) from Venice. This makes for a delightful day trip. But, Pordenone can also be a great place to base yourself, as I’ve done twice.

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Watching How to Make Kelaghayi Silk Scarves in Sheki, Azerbaijan

Located among the leafy foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, the Azerbaijani town of Sheki is green, tranquil, and artsy. Low-rise buildings feature eye-catching stone and brickwork. People smile easily and are eager to engage in conversation. What’s more, Sheki still bears delightful evidence of its Silk Road past.

Before we got there, I had the distinct feeling that I was going to love Sheki, given its smaller size, its artisanal traditions, and its natural surroundings. My intuition ended up being correct, as Sheki was among my favorite destinations during our four months of travels in the Caucasus.

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Hiking to Georgia’s Gergeti Trinity Church

One of the most iconic images from the country of Georgia features the Gergeti Trinity Church dwarfed by immense mountains. This 14th-century church is crowned with cone-shaped towers and is located in the heart of the Caucasus. It’s just a few kilometers from the Russian border.

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Portugal’s Alluring Azulejos

Portugal is a feast for both the stomach and the eyes. It’s a land of irresistible port wine, trayfuls of crispy and creamy pasteis de nata (custard tarts), and buildings adorned with colorful ceramic tiles called azulejos.

When you visit Portugal, you’ll spot azulejos on the outsides and insides of many different types of buildings, including railway stations, churches, palaces, and even everyday homes.

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An Apiary on Malta’s Xemxija Heritage Trail

Since ancient times, the island of Malta has been renowned for its splendid honey. There’s even some speculation that the country’s name has its origins in honey.

The ancient Greeks referred to Malta as “Melite” (Μελίτη), translating to “honey sweet.”

During the Roman period, the island was called “Melita.” In Latin, “mel” means honey.

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Armenia, a Land of Lavash

We took the night train from Tbilisi to Yerevan. Arriving in Armenia 11 hours later, we were feeling disoriented, groggy, and ravenous.

When Shawn and I chanced upon some ladies baking lavash flatbread inside a restaurant next to our apartment, we immediately perked up. Sensing our curiosity about the baking process, an employee motioned for us to wait at the counter.

She also handed us a plate filled with a bunch of grapes. This was a fitting act of kindness given that wine has been made in Armenia for thousands of years.

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