T-Mobile in Italy and USA

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NAVIGATING USING MY IPHONE AND T-MOBILE 

 

For my last two trips to Italy I have purchased a TIM SIM card from their web site and brought the printed voucher to a TIM store in Italy. In both cases all went well at the stores and in about 10 minutes my phone was up and running in about 10 minutes.  Cell service with TIM was excellent and never had problems. The plan allowed 15 Gig data and  200 min of cell service.  For some reason the cell minutes seemed to disappear quickly.  The cost was 25 Euros (Now 20 Euros)  and it was good for 30 days.

Down side was you got a new local phone number (Italian 39 country code), The plan is not renewable. 15 Gig of data can go fairly quickly if you do not have access to Wi-Fi. 

 

 

TIM FOR VISITORS

 

T-Mobile plans include 2G data and 25 cents per minute calling.  My wife made many calls relating to her business while we were on a month long trip to Italy.  This was included in our $70 a month plan for two phones. The 2G data plan was adequate for her to send texts with photos, read and send email, but it was noticeably slower than what we were used to hear. Considering that AT&T plans for international use were exorbitant this was not a problem. Service was good from Rome to the Dolomites. No problems.

 

I opted for a 30d high speed package with unlimited calls. We used our cell phones for driving directions on Apple or Google maps every day.   I had great refresh rates on web pages and never lost a signal while driving. The package was worth if for me. It is also renewable for 30 days. You will get a text when you arrive overseas in any of the 210 countries T-Mobile includes in the plan allowing you to choose several options for calling. My $50 and an slower priced plans IF YOU WANT FASTER DATA SPEEDS. Otherwise you are all sent.  From their web site “The Magenta®, Simple Choice™, New Classic, and Select Choice plans provide unlimited 2G data, unlimited texting and calling at $0.25 per minute in 210+ countries and destinations”

International Pass: 512MB of high-speed data at up to LTE speeds and unlimited calling, to be used up to 24 hours, for $5/day.
5GB International Pass: 5GB of high-speed data at up to LTE speeds and unlimited calling, to be used up to 10 days, for $35.
15GB International Pass: 15GB of high-speed data at up to LTE speeds and unlimited calling, to be used up to 30 days, for $50.

 

T-Mobile served us well on our trip. Less problems than TIM.  Check out the various plans, especially the over 55 plan.

 

Hard to believe that AT&T would push their inflated rates on travelers and continually raise the monthly cell plan rates.  Their plans are very restrictive and expensive.

Cost $70 per month. 

Coverage for as long as you need
Unlimited texts to the world
2GB or 6GB of data included
$0.35 per minute for calls
Available in 200+ countries

 

A lot of money for little return.

 

 My T-Mobile bill arrived and there were no surprises.

T-Mobile is owned by Deutsche Telekom. 

 

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GREAT SIGNAL ON LAKE COMO

Lost In Rome, Again

Being lost in Rome is a treat, not a problem.  We dropped our rental car off in Venezia, how amazing  it is to drive to the edge of this cluster of islands. After leaving the car inform of the Hertz office, we walked across the street and closed a bridge to Venezia. IMG 1172

Next we walked to the Santa Lucia station to get our high speed train to Rome. Reserved seats and a great ride. IMG 0982

Italo provides fast and nice transport, It was a pleasure to travel by train.

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Beverage service was provided and restrooms were spotless.

After arriving at our Airbnb on Via Dei  Cappellari i, we head one block to the Campo Dei Fiori. We chose this location as it was near our last Airbnb and enabled us to walk to most of the destinations in Rome we wanted to see. 

 

IMG 1009Campo dei Fiori at night. The market is gone, now it is dinnertime and people watching. A full moon came to welcome us.

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Quick walk to the Vatican 

DSC00444We were located so close to so many wonderful sights ant things to do.

 

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The downtown market was filled with food and wines. 

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A Rome market. 

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This small Filetti di Baccala is a tiny space which specialized in Cod Filets which were delicousIMG 1059

One man runs the kitchen. Everything is prepared while you wait. 

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Find  at Largo dei Labari, near the church of Santa Barbara

 

Some more walking and another wedding. First of several we saw.

 

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A walk across the tiber to a new area of Rome. Trastevere, another jewell.  Trastevere translates to across the Tiber

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An uncrowded street in Trastevere. Via del Moro. 

 

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This post will be continued.

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Caico e Pepe, Osteria da Fortunata , Via  Pelligrino

MILAN, ROME, LAKE COMO AND MORE ONE MONTH FOR TWO $4500

In five days my wife and I leave for a month in Italy. The cost is about $4500 which includes airfare, car rental for fifteen days, Airbnb apartments with wifi, ac, and kitchens, one extra night in Miami on return.  A similar tour from Globus costs $5,400 and does not include airfare. And it  is for 10 days, not 30.    I have not included meals in my trip, and Globus usually does include some meals. Globus states it’s meals as follows “Full buffet breakfast daily; 2 lunches in Gabiano and Vercelli; 2 three-course dinners at a local restaurant in Milan”  So that is two lunches, two dinners, and breakfast each day.   

If we were t compare the Globus tour to mine, it would cost approximately $15.000 plus AIRFARE to get close to mine. PS, I purchased my tickets from AirItaly in February. I flew with them last year and it was a perfect trip. 

The best way to travel so inexpensively is shoulder season,  We fly out of Miami on Sept 19th and got airfare for $780 round trip non stop for two people.  Flying into Milan less expensive than going to Rome. You can get rail or air transit to Rome at very reasonable prices. So why not see more, do more and enjoy more with the $10,000 you can save by doing it on your own.

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Our Airbnb in Milano. Elevator service and lots of windows. 

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Our Airbnb in Vicenza

Each of our reservations has reasonable rates. Rome was the most expensive costing $120 a night for a first floor apartment in the Campo Dei Fiori neighborhood. We like this area as you can walk to the Vatican, the Ghetto, Piazza Navona, and many more locations. Bust stops are just a block away. 

IMG 1714Vicenza, Italy last fall.

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Milano, trams are the best way to travel.

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Prada, Milano

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II , Milano

Prada, Versace, Pasticceria Marchesi, Luisa Spagnoli. Tod’s , Giorgio Armani, Gobbi 1842, all these and more await you at the Galleria 

Follow the blog next week as I report on our trip. Airbnb review, dining, shopping, and doing it on a budget.

VENICE PHOTOS, JUST PHOTOS

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Venice is picture perfect. From laundry to the canals. 

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The Jewish Ghetto on a peaceful Sunday afternoon. 

IMG 2129Tranquil on the canal.

 

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The church of San Giorgio Maggiore. Located on the small island viewed from the across the canals. It has much to offer and is worth the vaporetto trip.

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The campanile viewed from San Georgio Maggiore.

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A large ship disrupts the canal and causes damage to the buildings.  Several were in port on this day.

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A watercolor rendition of the Ghetto.

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The Rialto.

How to find a great Airbnb in Rome

We have visited Rome several times and always enjoyed our visits. Location is one of the most important factors. If you have a favorite neighborhood such as Trastevere, Testaccio, or Campo Dei Fiore base yourself there. Save time and money by being able to walk the areas. In 2017 we stayed near Campo Dei Fiore.  It was a perfect place to explore the neighborhoods and walk to some many places. The Vatican and St. Peters was walkable. Restaurants abounded and shopping for food was close by.

When we booked it, the description looked great. The fact that it was on the Second Floor sounded doable.  Keep in mind the Italian way of numbering floors is quite different from ours. The ground floor or piano terra which is what we in the US would call the first floor. The next floor is the first floor, or primo piano, then on to the second floor which piano second but you are really on the third floor.

Keep this in mind as elevators in the older ( but beautiful) buildings are not prevalent. This is a time lapse of the descent which makes it look easy

52 Steps each time you go in or out

 

 

 

Here are photos from Rome in 2017. Not bad, reasonable space and would return if not for the steps ( 52) 

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This year I began my search by indicating the dates I needed, the number or people and I specifically searched °Campo Dei Fiore°. This reduced the number of locations and I then searched from the map.

 

Airbnb map rome

Viewing each listing VERY carefully, I looked for WIFI, KITCHEN, A/C, and NO SMOKING. When I found all of these I looked at all the photos, and at least the first four pages of reviews. It is important to evaluate a review.  As some one who has stayed in Airbnb in the US and Italy I check carefully and recheck with my wife. One bad review does not make a place unworthy of staying. Keep in mind that the map prices shown do not show what the prices really are if you did not fill in your dates of travel. The time of year makes a big difference.

 

This is a review I posited after a stay in Rome for 18 days in 2017″

“Overall we enjoyed our stay with Marzia. She was very quick to respond to our requests. The location is amazing. Walk out the door to restaurants, shops, a wine bar, and Campo de Fiore. Vatican is about 7-minute walk, save with Piazza Navona. Bus stops on Via Vittorio Emanuele. There is a restaurant on the other side of the building is excellent, Polese, we spent several evenings there. Also,check out the Suplizo on the same street as you head to Campo de Fiore. Great for take out. Kitchen is small but fully stocked with pots pans etc. Small frig but grocery store and the market are so close you will always have fresh food. The bed is comfortable. Hot water works well. WiFi good for browsing and email. AC works, but we arrived in mid September and found building comfortable with out it. The rear has a small terrace which was nice for dinner and wine. It does not have a view, but it was very pleasant. This is an older building and you have 52 steps to get to the room. It was not a bother to me at 74 years old, but my wife took a break going up the stairs. Neighborhood is good and safe. Only problem was major construction going on next to us and loud banging on walls starting at 7 am. I believe this is now finished as far as the wall banging goes. My wife and I enjoyed our stay.”

 

I would add that I was give a refund of 300 Euros to compensate me for the noise.  I would return there again, if I could not find something on a lower floor.

 

For this years trip, we found a great place on the Primo Piano which will make things much easier. Located steps from the Campo Dei Fiore, I look forward to walking to so many sights and attractions. The bus stops are close by and the neighborhood is very safe.

The photos below are of our Airbnb for this year.

 

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This is a decent sized apartment and we are looking forward to it. I will review it in full when we return from Italy in October.

 

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La Bella lingua, or how I learn Italian.

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Learning Italian is an ongoing project of mine, The first time we visited Italy was in the mid 1980’s.  My wife and I spoke little of no Italian. My mother inlaw spoke well, but with a Sicilian dialect which some Romans resented and preceded not to understand, These days my wife and I can manage fairly well. I am better than she, by choice and hard work. She can grasp the language more quickly than I, but has many other interests that keep here occupied.  That said I have used several different methods  to learn Italian.

 

Pimlseur is one of the best methods if you commute or do not have time to sit down and practice writing and reading.  

https://offers.pimsleur.com/free-trial-1401-brand?utm_source=google&utm_term=pimsleur%20italian&utm_campaign=G_Pim_Brand_Italian_Tier%201_Exact&utm_medium=cpc&gclid=Cj0KCQjwov3nBRDFARIsANgsdoEmamrfEcunNu16hAzWBRkNogmzOpMUg9l32B92XosiZ-PvYLZptP8aAj3ZEALw_wcB

Now it is an online subscription, but you can still find lessons as MP3 or audio book on Amazon, Ebay, or Audible.  Levels go from 1 to 5 and do a good job on basic conversation.   Problem with the recordings is that you get no spelling exercises  and that does not help reading comprehension. Their accompanying booklets do not use vocabulary from the lessons. 

 

 

Rosetta Stone never did it for me  I tried and now my DVD is out of date for the next operating systems.  My feeling is do not waste your  money. They are also on a subscription program.

 

DuoLingo is a great way to learn using your tablet, phone, or PC.  It is free, but there are options to learn  without ads or being interrupted because you made too may errors and the program will not allow you to continue (with the exception of practice sessions) until the next day. You learn with written and audible lessons. One listens and is asked to translate as well as read and translate English to Italian and Italian to English.   There is a lot of repetition and that helps learning. Here are some examples from various lessons, 

 

 

https://www.duolingo.com/

 

        

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Yes, I really love DuoLingo.  But there is no one on one with a teacher.  I always have questions and Googling does not always get the correct one,

 

 

Italian Pod 101 has extensive resources for learning.  Hundreds of lessons from beginner to advanced.  It has good grammar instruction and various resources.  Those include Video, Audio, flash cards etc.   

https://www.italianpod101.com/index.php

The differentiating factor is the you can get your own teacher.  I find this very helpful and it has made me renew my membership for another year.

 

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Sample screen shots

The one on one instructions read like a book, You send a message back and forth and it continues so you always have a record of your instruction. You are able to send audio clips, photos, 

 

 

My teacher, Valentina, is very helpful and instructive. She is what makes Italian Pod 101 so effective.

 

Sample correspondence:

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SAT, JUN 01

Teacher
Ciao Greg, come stai? Spero bene! Ecco un nuovo esercizio per te. (Fammi sapere se questo l’hai già fatto in passato, non mi ricordo) youtube.com/watch?v=_hnPAciqG_U&list=PL71wtqaYwBCJXAzxWhq44UQzlHhvw0-Ru&index=3 La casa Feng Shui 1. Perché Laura è stupita quando torna a casa? 2. Cos’è il Feng Shui? Qual è il suo scopo? 3. Fai un elenco dei cambiamenti che ha fatto Marcello, facendo un confronto prima/dopo. Divano: Prima il divano era… Adesso è… Parete: Comodino: Tavolino: Mobile con giradischi: Poltrona della nonna:
01:49
4. Scrivi tutti i commenti positivi che ricordi di Laura sul nuovo arredamento. 5. Perché Laura preferiva il tavolino di plastica? 6. Completa le regole del Feng Shui che spiega Marcello. (1 o più parole) “Il divano deve favorire la ……… e dare un …….. di ………. Per questo non deve trovarsi vicino ad ……… come porte e finestre e deve ……….. a una parete.” “La parete del divano deve essere libera: niente …… , …….. o …….” “I mobili e gli oggetti di plastica bloccano il ……. …. …….. I materiali migliori sono quelli ……. : legno, …… e ……. 7. Secondo te, qual è la vera ragione per cui Marcello ha tolto la poltrona della nonna?
01:49
SUN, JUN 02 My answer to questions 

Ho riso. Lui è come mia moglia]
EDIT
04:12
TUE, JUN 04

Teacher 
Davvero? Ahah
02:22
WED, JUN 05 My answers to questions 
1 1 Laura è stupita quando torna a casa perchè lui ha cambiato I mobili, i quadri, i colori. Niente è lo stesso.
EDIT
02:53
2 Feng Shui è un modo di organizare una stanza e una casa. Il suo obiettivo è massimizzare la vita, l’energia, e il fluso della casa.
EDIT
03:01
La lista di cose cambiati: Il divano era vicino della finestra. Adesso è accanto la parete. la parete era gianca e adesso è roso le mensole mancano anche i libri Adesso sono spostati. Perchè il divano dovrebbe libera. il tavalo di camera da letto è in in sogiorno adesso. Gli incensi è sopra il tavolo (il comodino) il tavolo era plastica adesso é fatto di legno I mobolie con grandischi da il toco vintage. Non sono certo che era li prima. La sedia della nonna no è qui, Sembra che era molto grande. Ma adesso ćè una sedia moderna, senza le bracia

 

 

To sum up, no one method will suit everyone.  I am able to hold a reasonable conversation when in Italy, ask directions and order a pizza without anchovies vorrei una pizza senza acciughe

 

Buona fortuna a tutti. 

Italy Airfares? UP or Down? Plan Ahead

Last year I flew to Milan for a bike tour. Because of all the stuff I needed to bring, I had to have luggage in both directions,

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It was not a bad price, $488.00 from Miami, non stop. I spent about $60 for better seating so I could get off the plane quickly, and that was worth it.

 

This year my wife and I are traveling light, carry on only,

 

Basically the same flight with out the extras.  I purchased these tickets on Sept 20, and $389.00 Non Stop Round Trip from Miami is excellent. 

 

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Today that same ticket is $$$610.14.  That is a $120 increase, still not a bad price to Italy during the shoulder season.

Plan ahead and shop early when you see a good fare.   Use Google Flights, or Google Flight Matrix from ITA. Here is the link http://matrix.itasoftware.com

Keep track of prices and when you see a reasonable price, grab it.  In 2016 we flew to Florence vis Dusseldorf on Air Berlin (now defunct) and tickets were $900 each. Air Italy offers many deisitnations and origins. Miami, New York, San Fransico, Los Angeles. Check it out.  Keep in mind there are VERY low fares in Italy to other cities.  Alitalia is offering €39 one way fares from Milan to Catania, and €46 from Milan to Rome.  Compare a cost of $747 on Air Italy direct vs the $483 plus about $90 for the Milan to Palermo/Catania flights. 

 

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Air Italy and Miami Inewrnational

 

 

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Duomo, Milano

 

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Orvieto, take the Finiculare and bus.

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The Duomo Orvieto

If you plan on visiting Orvieto, that incredible hilltop town, and you are arriving by car, plan ahead. Like many town in Italy, traffic is restricted.  The “zona limitato” means you are subject to a multi or fine. Traffic cameras are present throughout Italy. I can attest to their effectiveness. Orvieto maintains a public parking lot at the bottom of the hill where you can take the funicular to the top and catch a bus for the short tine into the centro. Tickets are 1.30 Euro one way and good for 90 minutes. 

 

Here is a link to the short video of the ride and bus trip.

 

 

 

 

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There is a parking area at the base of the funiculare.  Look for spaces that indicate parking is allowed and there is no charge. 

Leonardo 500 | YesMilano Milan is Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the death of Leonardo

From http://www.yesmilano.it

Thing to do in Milan  Right now airfare to Milan is priced very low from mid September on.  

Vertical Gardens, Milan 2018 Greg Speck

 

 

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Leonardo 500 | YesMilano:

 

LEONARDO 500
19/02/2019
Milan is the city in which Leonardo da Vinci Leonardo da Vinci lived the longest.

Milan is the city in which Leonardo da Vinci lived the longest. Leonardo arrived to Milan in 1482, at the service of the Duke Ludovico Sforza, and his presence left an indelible mark in the history and art of the city and of the whole territory of Lombardy.

For this reason, Milan celebrates the 500th anniversary since his death with a schedule of events that will take place over the course of nine months (May 2019 – January 2020), with the Castello Sforzesco at the heart of the programme. The project will involve institutions and public and private bodies, associations and societies throughout Lombardy that will work together to create a calendar of events that will be constantly updated.

 

 

YESMILANO is the brand dedicated to the promotion of the city of Milan and its calendar of international events

Here is the link to the entire schedule 

https://www.yesmilano.it/eventi/tutti-gli-eventi/leonardo-500

 

 

 

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Photo above from Yes Milano 

 

 

 

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Above photo by Greg Speck 2018 Il Cenacolo

Tickets to view Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper go on sale three months in advance and sell out quickly, although it’s sometimes possible to buy tickets closer to your visit. You may have to combine with a tour of multiple places and the cost will be much higher.  

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