I’m getting ready to head to Italy twice next month, first to the Buy Veneto show and then for two weeks of research in Piedmont, Tuscany, and Rome.
Though I’m familiar with Katie Parla’s stunning Rome app (photo above), I’ve never had a chance to look into the increasingly wide world of travel apps. But the landscape has changed significantly from the early Italian travel apps, which were little more than shrunken guidebooks.
Today your phone can ask questions for you in Italian or provide a whole set of situation specific vocabulary all while offline. You can find out if the train is on time and translate menus just by snapping a picture with your phone.
Some of these apps are iPhone only, but many are available for a variety of operating systems, including Android and Windows mobile.
Apps that Help You Navigate Italy
- Word Lens – snap a picture of an Italian word on a sign, menu, or reservation and the app translates it
- Rail Europe – browse schedules, buy train tickets, and find information on luggage storage and other train station services
- Pronto Treno – connecting to the Italian national rail network, this app allows you to check whether your train is on time and whether there’s an upcoming strike scheduled
- Italo Treno - with information on the newest high speed train system that links major cities in Italy
Italian Language Apps
- The Lonely Planet Phrasebook – type in a phrase in English and the app translates and speaks the phrase for you in Italian
- Talking Italian Phrasebook – sponsored by the Fiat 500, this app allows you to search by category to find the vocab for the situation you need, whether shopping, checking into your hotel, or getting directions
- WorldNomads Italian-English Translator – prepared phrases available offline that allow you to practice your budding Italian in any travel situation
City/Region Specific Apps
- Tuscany for Foodies – recommended by SlowItaly, this app catalogs the culinary artisans of Tuscany that keep ancient traditions alive and the restaurants that serve their food
- Rick Steves’ Ancient Rome Tour – an interactive guide with audio and video to help create your own walking tour of Rome’s ancient sites
- Katie Parla’s Rome – an elegant, well-styled compendium of impeccably curated picks for eating, shopping, and exploring Rome
- Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome - highlighting all the good stuff in Italy. Elizabeth has apps for Rome, Florence and Venice, plus her instagram sends are a glimpse of what we are missing daily
Italian Food Apps
- Foodies by Gambero Rosso – from the publisher of the Italian equivalent of the French Michelin guide, Gambero Rosso’s comprehensive listing of the best eateries—from pizzarias to gourmet temples—includes GoogleMaps directions and itineraries
- Italian Menu Decoder – a food-focused dictionary that includes nearly every ingredient, dish, and food festival you’ll come across in Italy, no matter where in the country you are
- Olive Oil IQ – a guide to the differences between olive oil varieties and uses in different parts of Italy, as well as background on olive oil history and production