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!
Fighting the jet lag
It can be tricky landing in a foreign country after a long flight and hitting the ground running. Feeling the need to squeeze everything in such a short span of time while all you want to do is sleep can be a miserable way to start a vacation.
I feel ya, I've been there many times. But I've always found that I'd rather have one really long, tiring day to get over jet lag than have the first week of my trip be disrupted by an unusual sleep schedule and the subsequent exhaustion. Especially when you're in the most wonderful country for a small chunk of time!
This past summer going to Italy was my biggest jet lag battle I've ever had when I landed in Rome a week before our next round of retreats. I think I walked over 10 miles that day to stay awake but I wouldn't have done it any other way...
A day in...Rome
Welcome to the "A Day In..." series! Even if you can't come along on a Wanderful Retreat, I want to share some of my favorite places and spots throughout Italy and other locations around the world!
I remember the early days of my travels through Italy and the frustration I would feel over choosing a place for dinner. Back when my Italian wasn't that good and Trip Adviser or Yelp weren't as popular, this was doubly frustrating trying to find a decently priced place without the tourist crowds with a local stamp of approval. Che palle!
Luckily over the past decade my Italian has improved, and my list of favorite spots around Italy has grown! So, to kick off this first post in the "A Day In" series, let's start with one of the top destinations in Italy and my personal favorite...Rome!
In the summer of 2009, I boarded a plane in Los Angeles, California bound for Rome, Italy. I'd have a few hours to kill at the Toronto airport before boarding my final leg to the Fiumicino Airport outside of Rome. It was nervewracking traveling abroad by myself but I was thrilled by the prospect of what lay ahead...six full weeks in Tuscany. Six weeks for adventures in Italy, exploring famed cities, seeing the art from my textbooks and, most importantly, six weeks to make art.