Back in 2009 when I first ventured to Italy, the only easy way to communicate with my family back home was via email. And that was dependent upon our already spotty wifi in our giant converted convent in Castiglion Fiorentino that was shared amongst 100+ college students.
I could of course call my family from my cell phone directly but that would result in a ridiculously expensive phone bill as soon as I got home. Skype was just becoming popular but that also had the added expense of buying a plug in camera for my laptop, and my family back home having a Skype account and a similar set up.
Meandering Italian streets was done by paper maps and lots of guesswork. To navigate the trains you had to read the paper schedules at the train stations to check what time you were expected to roll into your stop, and then be listening for the garbled loudspeaker on the train to announce that you were next.
Deciphering menus at restaurants was done by asking the friend in the group that knew the most Italian, or by quickly thumbing through our pocket Italian-English dictionaries under the table. Or just sticking to the words you knew...or thought you knew. I have seen many people order pizza with "peperone" only to have bell peppers on their pizza instead of pepperoni salami!
SO. MUCH. has changed in just 10 years that has transformed traveling in Italy from being a stressful (albeit exciting) adventure to one that's much easier to navigate (of course still with the Italian quirks). These are some of our go-to apps that we recommend all our guests download prior to their departure to the bel paese.
And even better, all of these are FREE to download!
Written by Chelsea Ward, the host and founder of Wanderful Retreats