Travel Tips-What to Pack and Cell Phones




Cell Phones:

Most people today will not need this advice. It is easy to buy a Sim card for your cell phone that will work in Italy. Just call your company and discuss your travel plans with them. It is not that I am a luddite, but I have not bought into a cell phone plan. I use a cell phone only for travel and the Virginmobile phone that I bought years ago with the pay as you go plan works fine for me at under $10 per month. Of course it is expensive per minute, but I use it very seldom. And don’t leave me a message on that cell phone, because I never retrieve the messages. That costs me money.

Before leaving, I told my neighbor that I wanted to rent a cell phone in Italy.  He said – hey, remember the 70’s and those people called hippies? They traveled without cell phones. They survived. Yes, I survived and the lack of a phone made for some adventures. In all of the seventeen days I was in Italy, there were two or three times when a cell phone would have saved me time and hassle. There are few pay phones left in Italy. I still have the phone cards that I bought to use at a pay phone. I never used them.

There are two major cell phone companies in Italy, Vodaphone and Tim. Marissa told me that Vodaphone works in Calascio. She bought a vodaphone track phone at the post office, I think in Rome. You can find Tim and Vodaphone stores in major cities. The National Geographic site has phone rentals for cellular phones abroad.

Packing Tip:

I used Rick Steves’ Packing list for women almost to a T. I packed light and used only my carry on luggage on wheels plus a briefcase.  This worked well as I took buses and trains and hiked up the hill to Rocca Calascio with my luggage. (Well I hiked part way up and then stuck out my thumb.) I packed a light weight nylon duffel bag and filled that with gifts on my last day in Rome. Then I checked one bag on the way home. Note to myself: Next time, check the duffel bag. Fill it with clothes. It is not fun to lug the duffel bag around the airports. Keep the wheeled carry on bag with plenty of room to add gifts as you use up your Euros at the duty free shops in the airport.  Or keep it light and enjoy walking around the airport. There is also a lot of walking at Termini Station to get to the train for Fiumicino Airport. Plan accordingly. Then, rent one of those airport trolleys for luggage when you get into line for U.S. customs. I was in a slow moving line for over an hour.

Bring an extra luggage strap or two to wrap around the duffel bag before you check it. This can keep it tight and strengthen it for the luggage handlers. I also used the luggage straps when my luggage started to bulge a bit or to tie things together when I walked with all of my luggage.

Shoes were the biggest weight. Make sure your shoes work well. Since I was hiking, it would have been nice to bring hiking boots. Instead, I brought old gym sneakers and ditched them after the hiking. They were comfortable and I did not miss them later. I brought two good pairs of sandals and that worked well for summer. Keen and Ecco sandals were my choices. One pair more rugged and one more citified.

I read that you can bring an old pair of jeans and leave them behind. It’s a thought. I found the jeans even too warm for hiking in June. Lightweight pants and capri pants were a good investment before the trip. I bought one pair of pants that you can roll up into capri length and two other very light weight cotton capris. They were all easy to wash and dried quickly. I brought a skirt and some tops that I never wore. I never used the scarf, but I did not get to the Vatican where it would have been handy as a head covering.

Abruzzo Food

Life in Abruzzo shared Porta dei Parchi’s recipe for Shepherd Steak. We ate this wonderful cheese dish at the end of the transhumanza. It is a good way to use day old or dry bread. We were at the shepherd’s hut in the alta plano and ate Shepherd’s Steak and a stew with wild greens. This is truly one of the first times that I had mint and liked it! Maybe I am not allergic after all.