Rick Steves' Travel Blog

I'm sharing my travel experiences, candid opinions and what's on my mind. If you think it's inappropriate for a travel writer to stir up discussion on his blog with political observations and insights gained from traveling abroad, you may not want to read any further. — Rick

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Here’s a travel tip: Revisit Europe’s great markets after dark. I love the markets of Palermo, where merchants sing their sales pitches and the octopus are squirting-fresh. But at night, it’s an entirely different scene. Join Alfio di Mauro and me on a walk through the Vucciria Market after hours — a kaleidoscope of edgy graffiti, kids with big eyes and gelato, cheap plastic chairs, soccer on the big screen, and people embracing life with Sicilian gusto.

This is Day 4 of my A Hundred Days in Europe series. As I lead tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences all across Europe. I never know exactly what’s next…but it’s always fascinating and inspiring. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.





Something I love about my work is getting my outdated impressions up-to-date. Europe is always changing — and even on the very first night of our Best of Sicily in 11 Days Tour, it’s clear that Palermo is a whole new city since my last visit.

Today’s Palermo has demolished my old, fearful, lingering Mafia images. The city is still colorful…yet it feels safe, youthful, trendy. A theme in my travels all across Europe is traffic-free and people-friendly — and Palermo is a great example. In this video, I’m with my guide, Alfio di Mauro, enjoying Palermo’s venerable Four Corners (Quattro Canti).

This is Day 3 of my A Hundred Days in Europe series. As I lead tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences in Sicily, Naples and the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Portugal, Paris, Ireland, the heart of England, Scotland, Germany’s Black Forest, Alsace, the great cities of Switzerland, and more. I never know exactly what’s next…but it’s always fascinating and inspiring. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.





Palermo, Sicily’s capital city, can seem a bit ramshackle. But behind its gritty walls hide exquisite noble mansions reminding visitors of the rich heritage of this island. I’ve just landed this afternoon and joined the Rick Steves’ Europe Best of Sicily in 11 Days Tour. It’s our first evening, and we’re already digging deep into this culture.

Our guide, Alfio di Mauro, has brought our group into the home of the gracious Contessa (countess) and Conte (count) Federico. After a tour of their mansion, the Contessa’s friends came over and are putting their little ballroom (where Richard Wagner played for an earlier generation of Federicos) to action with some music. Later, after some of the family’s fine wine, Signore Federico will show off his 1935 racecar. (After he flipped it in a Sicilian road race, the Contessa said, “no more racing.”) Most of our group is just off the plane and pretty jet-laggy. But with the experiences Alfio is dishing out…we’re wide awake.

This is Day 2 of my A Hundred Days in Europe series. As I lead tours, research my guidebooks, and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences in Sicily, Naples and the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Portugal, Paris, Ireland, the heart of England, Scotland, Germany’s Black Forest, Alsace, the great cities of Switzerland, and more. I never know exactly what’s next…but it’s always fascinating and inspiring. Thanks for joining me here on my blog and via Facebook.





I just flew to Europe — as I have every year at this time since the 1980s — to kick off another spring of exploring, researching, learning, tasting, and sipping. I’m starting in Sicily, and I’d love to introduce you to some of my new Sicilian buddies.

Rick Steves with Sicilian locals

Starting today, I’ll be posting daily for the next hundred days or so, reporting on my experiences and lessons learned. (Knowing how super-serendipitous Palermo is, I’m sure tomorrow’s post will be a fun one!) On this trip, I’ll be reporting from Sicily, Naples and the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Portugal, Paris, Ireland, the heart of England, Scotland, Germany’s Black Forest, Alsace, the great cities of Switzerland, and more —  spending about a third of that time researching my guidebooks, a third tagging along with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours (in Sicily and Ireland), and a third with my crew making new TV shows.

So, I hope you’ll enjoy stowing away with me — for a hundred posts in a hundred days — here on my blog and via Facebook. And please let your travel companions know, too. 2017 promises to be a great year of travel, and I’d love to have you all come along.

Happy travels!





Over the last few months, millions of Americans have been inspired to, in their own way, celebrate and defend what they believe makes our country so…American. Last Wednesday, I declared that I’d give a donation equaling the sum of every dollar spent over the course of two days at ricksteves.com/shop to Bread for the World, an advocacy organization that’s devoted to giving hungry people a voice in Washington DC.

An impressive 627 of you responded, spending a total of $17,274 on our Rick Steves guidebooks, DVDs, travel accessories, and travel bags. That’s more than double our normal sales. Thanks!

As promised, I’m giving an amount to Bread for the World equal to your collective shopping spree. And — further motivated by our government’s threat to drastically cut domestic and foreign aid programs — I’m tripling the amount and upping my gift to $50,000. Thinking about how this money will help advocate for poor and hungry people in our nation and around the world brings me (and, I hope, all of us) real joy.

Check to Bread for the World

 

Industrialists pay for lobbyists to defend the interests of the extremely wealthy (tax cuts and fewer regulations for corporations) — often at the expense of the poor. But who lobbies for the hungry? With this small fundraiser, collectively we are funding lobbyists to explain to our government what we believe America should be: We are a great and wealthy enough country that we should have no hungry people, and our trade policies should not make the lives of hungry people south of our border more difficult. That’s what advocacy is. And, while I wish our leaders could simply do what they know in their hearts to be right, the reality is that they tend to do what lobbyists encourage them to do. With this $50,000, we are giving hungry people a chance to have their needs heard in Washington DC. That’s why, now more than ever, I prefer advocacy to charity.

For Bread for the World (and other advocacy groups), the work has never been more critical. They are making a huge difference. This donation will empower them to help soften drastic changes in government policy that will make life even more difficult for hungry people in the United States and worldwide. I have friends who are dedicating their lives’ work to the cause at Bread, and what they accomplish truly inspires me. This gift will help them get traction with their hard work.

I’m thankful for your support in this small but exciting initiative. To me, this is helping to make our country the great land we know it can be. Thanks again and happy travels!





Travelers have plenty of chances to learn about how, over the centuries, science has contributed mightily to our world. And even today, when facts are optional for many Americans, science will ultimately prevail. In this clip from the first season of my television show (way back in 1990), I visited Cambridge‘s Trinity College, where Sir Isaac Newton spent 30 years. It was here that Newton measured the speed of sound by clapping his hands and timing the echo as it raced down the side of a cloister and back.

Newton Would Choose Real Science Over Political Agendas

March for Science! Travelers have plenty of chances to learn about how, over the centuries, science has contributed mightily to our world. And even today, when facts are optional for many Americans, science will ultimately prevail. In this clip from the first season of my television show (way back in 1990), I visited Cambridge's Trinity College, where Sir Isaac Newton spent 30 years. It was here that Newton measured the speed of sound by clapping his hands and timing the echo as it raced down the side of a cloister and back. Tomorrow, I will stand in solidarity with all those who are coming together to March for Science. The insatiable curiosity of scientists has made our world a brighter place — and our future depends on us all supporting the continual process of discovery. Please join me in thanking scientists everywhere…and committing ourselves to demand real facts when it comes to policy making in our government.

Posted by Rick Steves on Friday, April 21, 2017

 

Tomorrow, I will stand in solidarity with all those who are coming together to March for Science. The insatiable curiosity of scientists has made our world a brighter place — and our future depends on us all supporting the continual process of discovery. Please join me in thanking scientists everywhere…and committing ourselves to demand real facts when it comes to policy making in our government.





I find that when you travel, you can look back at your own country from a distance and see its challenges in high contrast. And when I look back at America, I see a land with a troubling gap between rich and poor — a gap that’s only growing wider. While I’m inclined to get mad, I’d rather make a difference. You too? Here’s how: from now through Thursday, for every dollar spent at ricksteves.com/shop, I’ll give a dollar to Bread for the World. (This is not just our profit. I’ll match everything you spend on any guidebooks, DVDs, travel accessories, and travel bags between now and midnight on Thursday, April 20, 2017.)

That’s right: if $50,000 is spent at ricksteves.com/shop (and I hope we hit that mark), I’ll send a check for $50,000 to Bread for the World, an advocacy group that lobbies Congress on behalf of hungry people. This video I made recently in D.C. is a little explanation of their work:

I’ve worked side-by-side with Bread’s staff, and I understand how much they accomplish. That’s why I’m so committed to supporting their work.

And today, Bread for the World’s work is more important than ever. One in six children in the United States is “food insecure,” meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. It’s shocking to me that, at the end of each month, hunger surges in America…and lines at food banks grow. Just before the arrival of their next paycheck, millions of Americans simply don’t have enough money to put food on the table.

Our government’s proposed response: Make drastic cuts in programs that help poor and hungry Americans in order to afford tax cuts for “job creators” and a stronger military.

This would have a tragic impact on our nation’s most vulnerable. The impact of government programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps) and school lunches is massive. Sure, private charities are helpful and important. But government programs provide 20 times as much food to needy people as all the churches and charities in the country combined.

When it comes to fighting hunger, Bread for the World’s advocacy work leverages my charitable giving more than any organization I know. You can imagine it’s all-hands-on-deck now, as Bread works expertly and passionately to encourage legislators in Washington DC to spare programs vital to hungry people — both at home and abroad.

As money has become “free speech” in our society, those without money have become silenced. The impact of the money we’ll raise in the next two days is so exciting. Again, for every dollar spent at ricksteves.com/shop from now through tomorrow, I’ll give a dollar to Bread for the World. Please join me in this initiative to give a voice to the voiceless. Thanks.





Happy Easter! All this week, I’ve been sharing daily clips from “Rick Steves’ European Easter,” my one-hour public television special that’s airing now nationwide (check your local listings) and streaming online. And the “He is risen” finale is today’s clip: It’s Easter Sunday, and families in Spain, Italy, Slovenia, and Greece come together to celebrate, just as they have for generations. Enjoy…and thanks for sharing this beautiful holiday season with us.

Want to see more? Watch previous clips and take a peek behind the scenes of my Easter special.





In honor of Easter week, I’m sharing daily clips from Rick Steves’ European Easter, my one-hour public television special that’s airing now nationwide (check your local listings) and streaming online. Today’s clip traces Greek Orthodox Easter celebrations. In the town of Nafplio (two hours south of Athens), we attend the series of packed, candlelit, incense-augmented services that mark the events of Greek Orthodox Holy Week. In Greece, late night on Holy Saturday is a time of community-wide celebration, as the entire town comes together on the main square for fireworks at midnight.

Want to see more? Watch previous clips and take a peek behind the scenes of my Easter special.





In honor of Easter week, I’m sharing daily clips from Rick Steves’ European Easter, my one-hour public television special that’s airing now nationwide (check your local listings) and streaming online. For Good Friday, we attend two of Europe’s most poignant passion plays — re-enactments of the Crucifixion, dating back to the Middle Ages — in Škofja Loka, Slovenia, and in Cantiano, Italy. We also join hooded penitents on their Good Friday processions through Gubbio, Italy.

Want to see more? Watch previous clips and take a peek behind the scenes of my Easter special.