Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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I’ve been playing with my iPhone for over a week now, and I’ve to say that I like it a lot.
I spent some time brainstorming new interesting ways to use this device in preparation for a trip to Italy.
Here are a few ideas that came to my mind:
– Listen to Italian music (get into the Dolce Vita mood)
– Watch an Italian movie converted from a DVD
– Practice your Italian with a language podcast (for your kids there is my daughter Silvia)
– Watch a travel podcast from Rick Steves’ (or one of ours)
– Browse pictures of Italy and dream about your next trip
– Store a photo of your passport (just in case)
– Use the Google mapping feature to study your itinerary (even point to point directions)
– Write some last minute ideas using the note taking feature
Take our eBook with you (yes, the iPhone can view PDF files)
– Store useful contact information of restaurants, hotels, friends, etc.
– Download some audio guides for the key attractions
– Use it as an alarm clock
– Take some pictures of your trip
– Find out what’s the weather like in Rome
– Calculate the conversion rate from Euros in Dollars
– Make your friends jelous by sending them an email / SMS from the airport
– Use the calendar to plan your days
– Browse the internet to find out about the latest train strike
– or just use it as a phone (careful about those international charges!)

Unlike my video iPod, the iPhone doesn’t work as a backup storage for my digital pictures. Oh well…
Did I forget anything else in my list?



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Pharmacy sign
Italian pharmacies are recognizable by a green or red cross displayed outside the store. Pharmacies are privately owned stores and you won’t find them in any big grocery stores as in the USA. The pharmacists, who are all professionally trained, are reliable and many of them speak English, especially in the big cities and tourist areas.
Pharmacies have their own hours and are usually open from Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 1pm and 4pm to 7:30pm. Many of them are open on Saturday, while most are closed on Sunday. Every pharmacy posts a list indicating which pharmacies in the area are open outside of regular business hours, including night shifts.

In Italy, over the counter as well prescription medicines can only be given to you by the pharmacist (farmacista). In Italy what is considered to be over the counter products are only non-drug items such as baby, beauty or personal care products, and many similar others.

(This is just a small excerpt from Chapter 8 – Hospitals & Medical Assistance of our eBook.)

Strikes in Italy


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When you plan internal transfers from various Italian locations, it’s always a good idea to budget some buffer time for unforeseen circumstances. Strikes (scioperi) and delays (ritardi) are normal everyday events.
In my last trip home, the Venice airport personnel announced a couple of hours strike on the spot because some union negotiations weren’t going as they hoped. After traveling for 14 hours from Seattle, that wasn’t necessary the best ‘Welcome home’ news I was expecting. I was lucky to see my luggage showing up on the belt right at the announcement, but I bet the next load of passengers weren’t that happy.
Sometimes friends ask me to review their itineraries. When I see their Italian vacation scheduled by the hour and packed with various transportation from city to city, I warn them that is a recipe for frustration. Trains have gotten better in recent years, but strikes are very common. Be flexible and prepared to cope with some delays and you’ll enjoy your trip even more.