We are writing an e-book about the Italian culture

Francesca is writing an ebook about the Italian culture. She is 90% done and this blog just scratches the surface of its content. This project was inspired by our previous trip to Italy. Given the fact that we have two little kids, we had to take a much more rigorous and organized approach to the plan, because there is very little free time in our life…

Fresh from my Program Manager experience in Microsoft Office 12, I divided the work in the following five phases:

Planning
Francesca spent two months (mainly weekends and nights) researching any available travel guide on the market to make sure that she wouldn’t duplicate efforts. Then we started collecting all our ideas in Microsoft OneNote (a fantastic tool, if you haven’t used it yet). During this exercise, we identified 630 subjects that we wanted to capture in pictures.

Content creation
We then flew to Italy for three weeks. While our parents where busy and delighted to babysit our kids, Francesca and I drove around several cities and took thousands of pictures. With our little MP3 recorder, we also captured a variety of original sounds.

Development
It took several weeks to clean up and organize our digital archive, but now I can proudly say that I can retrieve with a few mouse clicks any of the 2364 pictures by any subject (e.g. parking, food, shopping, etc.). Francesca in the meantime started writing her book.

Testing
After several more months of work (remember, she is still a full time mom), she is close to the end. The ebook is almost complete, we are reviewing it with friends and family and the feedback we are getting is very encouraging.

Shipping
The launch of the ebook is planned in the May ’06 timeframe. Stay tuned for more updates and in the meantime, please enjoy this blogged preview of its content.

Need a ride to Venice?


Venice is like no other city in the world. There are no cars to be found, because it’s build on water and the canali are its streets. Venice airport (Marco Polo) is about 8 miles far from the city. The easiest, fastest and most expensive way to reach downtown is to use a water-taxi (up to 6 people). 30 mins and Euro 100 later you’ll be at your destination.

However, if you want to save some money, you are better off taking the public transportation boat to San Marco square, or take a bus to Mestre train station (and then the train to Venice), or the bus to Venice bus station (Piazzale Roma).

Our suggestion? Take one of the cheaper transportation and save your money for your souvenir shopping. The public boat will still give you a good thrill when you’ll enter the Gran Canal.

Where is my Euro coin?


A year ago, we went back to Italy on vacation with our two kids. We arrived at the Venice airport with plenty of suitcases, strollers and backpacks. After claiming all our baggage, I looked for a cart. To my surprise, carts could only be unlocked from the rack using an Euro coin. But there was no coin dispenser available nor currency change bureau.
How do travelers from other countries get Euro coins before their trips? Banks only dispense paper notes.
While we managed eventually to get an unlocked cart, Francesca was puzzled by this episode and decided that during that trip she would have paid more attention to such details and took note of them. Before not long, we ended up with more than 80 topics that we thought were deserving some sort of explanation to first time travelers to Italy. And that was the time when we decided to create Italy from Inside.