Guest Blog from Jessica Spiegel – 7 Favorite iPhone Apps for Italy Travel

May 4, 2011
Shine

One of the things about smartphones in general that makes people love them so much is that they’re so much more than phones – there are countless practical applications for which your smartphone can now be called into use. Assuming you’re as much of a travel nut as I am, one of the best ways […]

One of the things about smartphones in general that makes people love them so much is that they’re so much more than phones – there are countless practical applications for which your smartphone can now be called into use. Assuming you’re as much of a travel nut as I am, one of the best ways to use your smartphone is as a travel guide – the fact that your carry-on bag just got lighter because you’re not lugging around a heavy guidebook anymore should be enough to make you rejoice.

The number of travel guide apps in the iTunes App Store is staggering, and even if you narrow it down to Italy travel guide apps you’re still looking at an overwhelming number to sort through. I won’t claim to have tried them all, but here are 7 of my favorite iPhone apps for Italy travel.

Lonely Planet City Guides – $5.99 eachWhile Lonely Planet’s iPhone app versions of their guidebooks have improved since they first debuted, I still think it’s more of a content-dump from the guidebooks into an electronic format, which in turn makes them sometimes cumbersome to navigate. That said, there’s a hefty amount of information in each city guide, so if you’re a fan of LP guidebooks in general you’ll appreciate having all the info at your fingertips without having to haul around a bunch of heavy books. There are LP guide apps for Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan.

Rick Steves Walking Tours – $2.99 eachEveryone’s favorite nerdy travel guide to Europe, Rick Steves, has recorded a few of his most popular walking tours and turned them into iPhone apps. You can listen along and pause to look at the sights included on each walk, letting Rick guide you. The two Italy-related walks in this series are an Ancient Rome Tour and a St. Peter’s Basilica Tour. There’s also a more comprehensive – and completely free – app called Rick Steves’ Audio Europe, which includes (among other things) walking tours of sights and cities throughout Europe. In terms of Italy, the app includes walking tours in Florence, Pompeii, Rome, and Venice.

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DK Top 10 Guides – $6.99 eachI love to look at DK guides – the pages full of huge pictures and graphics – but they’re some of the heaviest guidebooks out there. This is one of the many reasons they’re even more appealing on the iPhone. Despite the name, these apps aren’t just a collection of 10 sights in each city – rather, they’re a collection of top 10 lists of sights, museums, galleries, churches, fountains, etc., complete with maps, descriptions, and photos. The only Italy offerings in this series are Rome DK: Top 10 and a combined one on Florence & Tuscany: DK Top 10, but if either of those are on your vacation list these are apps worth checking out.

Museum-Specific Apps – price variesSometimes museums and galleries in Italy have produced their own apps and they’re actually good. Sometimes it’s an outside company that produced the app, and that’s why it’s good. A couple museum-specific apps that I really like are:

  • Uffizi (Florence) – $3.99 – This app includes a map of the whole gallery with what’s in each room, detailed descriptions and images of more than 30 of the gallery’s most famous works, and visitor’s information for getting tickets.
  • ItalyGuides: Vatican Museums Tour (Rome) – $6.99 – This app features a guided walking tour of the enormous Vatican Museums (not the whole thing, though, that would take weeks) with photos of the artwork, 120 minutes of audio, and maps of the museums.
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GPS Apps for Italy – price variesIf your travels through Italy will require only public transportation, then a GPS app made specifically for Italy may not be useful to you. For just walking around a city, most apps that have city maps included will suffice. If you’re planning to do any driving, however, it’s a very good idea to either get a rental car with a GPS unit in it or to bring an iPhone app that will provide the GPS turn-by-turn directions for you. Here are a couple apps that give you just that GPS capability in Italy.

  • TomTom Italy – $64.99 – Yes, the price of this app will likely make you raise an eyebrow. But it’s made by people who really know GPS, and the app includes not only up-to-date maps but also traffic information that’s constantly being updated and information about how long it takes other TomTom users to travel your route. If you go to Italy often and you drive when you’re there, this is likely to be a purchase you won’t regret.
  • CoPilot Live Italia – $24.99 – An app at a more palatable price point is the CoPilot Live Italia app, which not only provides turn-by-turn navigation it also downloads maps directly to your phone so you don’t need to have a constant internet connection. Because the maps are downloaded to your iPhone, you won’t get the constantly updated traffic information available with TomTom.

View Jessica’s app library: http://www.appolicious.com/users/WhyGoItaly

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