Whenever I'm struggling with Italien pronunciation I count all syllables and then put the stress on the third last. E.g. te-le-fo-no. “telefono“ has 4 syllables. So -le-, being the third last, is the one to be stressed. I'm quite sure that there're exceptions, but it generally works quite nicely.
Col should be accepted. However, according to A Referencer Grammar of Modern Italian by Maiden & Robustelli (2nd, ed., 2007, republished 2013)
"The combined forms with con [+ article] are nowadays little used (con la, con i, etc. being preferred)."
Apparently, col is used in writing years ago but in spoken and more modern writing, "con il", "con la", etc is used much more today.
Other comments appreciated.