Maps are useful but they can cause dependency. The more time you consult a map the less time you consult a city. Wherever you’re headed there are clues that lead the way and if you fail to spot them you can always ask. Asking for directions is the best way to start a conversation with a stranger. At the very least you’ll be pointed in the right direction and at the most you’ll meet someone new who can provide information about shortcuts, scenic routes and suggestions on what to see.
Not convinced? No problem. If you haven’t already packed one maps of Rome, Florence and Venice are available at tourist offices in all three cities. Maps are also sold at newsstands and bookstores throughout Italy. Make sure to examine the offering carefully and select the one that’s easy to read, folds quickly and small enough to store conveniently. Paper quality varies and some are laminated and come with sight descriptions on the back. Once you’ve got a map try to orient yourself as much as possible and identify major landmarks. Get a sense of where the Tiber, Arno and Grand Canal are and have a rough idea of neighborhoods, key roads and bridges. That should help steer you through Florence, prevent you from getting lost in Rome and do some good in Venice.
When traveling as part of a couple or family it soon becomes clear who has the burden of orienteering and who doesn’t. This isn’t fair and all travelers should share in the challenges of deciphering a map. The first thing to do when unsure which via or calle to follow is identify where you’re standing. Street signs are attached to corner buildings in Rome and made of marble which can be heard to read while Florentine signs are more legible and street names in Venice are painted on walls. Finding the name of a street is simple but finding that same street on a map can be tricky to impossible. It’s therefore quicker to locate a piazza or cathedral, museum or monument, which are often highlighted in different colors. Never lose patience, have fun and when all else fails refer to the first paragraph.
Discover three remarkable cities
in one practical guide:
Moon: Rome, Florence & Venice