As those who have traveled to my house in the past are well aware, the use of my GPS is a great tool that will help you throughout your travels. At your fingertips, you'll have stored POI's (points of interest) from train stations, towns, airports, wineries and towns to restaurants and everything else. This GPS system has recently been improved and the changes will enhance your experience in Italy. The old system used my physical GPS. The new system uses your cell phone as the GPS, and once signed in to my special account, will allow you access to all the POI's I have set up. This newer GPS system will allow for more flexibility. You use your phone and charging supplies and use it walking around as well - to a museum in Florence or the supermarket in San Quirico.
Most newer phones, both on the Apple and Android platforms, are equipped with their own GPS receiver. Before you leave on your trip, it is essential for you to confirm that your phone does indeed have a GPS receiver. Note: The fact that you may use google maps on your phone to guide you in the U.S. does not indicate you have true GPS. In this case, the maps are loading as you travel via data streaming, and the actual location is determined by cell service towers. In Italy, where I will advise you to be in airplane mode, this system will not work. (But will if you actually turn on your data and cell service ... leading to huge roaming charges). It is imperative that maps are downloaded and stored on your phone in order to use this new system. That way, the GPS on your phone will pinpoint your location on the internal maps of your phone.
A great way to make sure your phone does have a GPS receiver before you leave is to download your state map to your phone using the system described below. Once you have the map downloaded, and with your phone in airplane mode, step outside, and see if your location is pinpointed. If it is, your phone has internal GPS. If not, I will be happy to send you my GPS unit! The system described below also works on most Android tablets if you like a bigger screen. I do not believe IPads have GPS. To get started, download the free 'Here Maps' app.
Once the app is downloaded, and using the menu to the left to guide you, download the map of Italy. This map needs about 800 megs of free space on your phone. If your phone is memory challenged, you can download just the essential provinces you need ... Lazio (Rome), Umbria and Toscana. (Or other provinces, depending on where you plan to travel) Once this step is accomplished, your phone will now have these maps stored internally and will be available whether or not you are online. Once the app is downloaded and you have the necessary maps, sign in using the information below:
Email account: Password: tuscany
In a menu at the top left of the app, you will find 'Collections', what they call POI's. From there, my POI's are fairly straight forward. Tap on the San Quirico parking and start navigating to Casa Elisa. You can also store your own POI's and save them under 'Guest POI's. Many essential POI's have been loaded and will constantly be tweaked. Within the app, you will find a toggle switch that can be toggled to 'use maps offline'. Before getting to Italy, I suggest toggling that on. (At this point, I have not tested whether this is essential or not). Though I have not experienced this, I have read online that sometimes people have problems signing in and that you are forced to go online to sign in from time to time. If this happens upon arrival, I'd suggest using the free WiFi at the airport in Rome to get online and sign in again. This should solve any problem. You may want to play with the app to get used to it, but it's not terribly difficult to use.