A Taste of Italy – Post 3: Family Connections and How Tech Transforms Travel

After an exhausting day of sight-seeing, we went home with the relatives for another wonderful meal and evening with them.

The first order of business was taking the family dog, Skoll, to the dog run. There is a surprising amount of space in outer Rome.

The dogs ran around like crazy while the adults stood and talked. The neighbors were curious about us and asked a lot of questions about New York.

But the dog run was just what Skoll needed to settle down. Aurelia’s family is lucky – they have one of the few first-floor apartments in their building so have outside space for Skoll – and them.

Aurelia made Spaghetti Carbonara, and John got into the act – gotta make sure the pasta is al dente!

And then the best part!

We were all getting more comfortable communicating with one another. The family speaks some English, John understands some Italian – and we had our phones. Google Translate turned out to be a great communication tool!

Which brings me to one of the most interesting revelations of the trip: tech has really transformed travel. I hadn’t been out of the country for about 4 years and could not believe how much more we relied on mobile devices than we did in the past. For starters, with the relatives, we used the phone constantly to communicate.

We also used the translation program to figure out parking signs and train information. The navigation program guided us through impossibly narrow, winding streets while walking or driving. The phone camera was used to take photos of receipts or to take photos on social occasions where I didn’t want to carry my camera. Mobile devices loaded with reading material helped us survive tedious travel times. The impressions I wrote on my iPad as we travelled became these blog posts.

There were video chats, too. Aurelia called her parents and sibs in southern Italy to introduce us to them. An upcoming trip will have to include Calabria!

Tech mania has, of course, invaded Italy, as well. From the day we arrived, we heard Claudia pleading constantly with her parents for a new phone. Her mobile had broken recently and she was determined to get a major upgrade – to an iPhone. She won, as persistent teens generally do, and we went to an Italian mall with them (totally the same as a US mall, except for the signs in Italian) where she bought the precious phone.

Reliance on tech had its downside – the biggest problem we encountered was powering the mobile devices on which we had become so reliant. Every country’s plugs were different from each other (including, at times, variations within the same country) and sometimes elaborate adaptations had to be made.

AirBNB is also part of the tech revolution in travel. Travel is so much more affordable through AirBNB than it was in the past. When you can stay in a place like our livable sculpture for $75 a night, life is good!