Monday, August 1, 2011

Weather, Security and Communication in Italy

I'm back to planning our trip to Italy. I needed to know the weather conditions while I'm there so I knew what to pack. Also my sister talked me into thinking more about our security while I'm there, so I've been working on that.

Weather: I checked the temperatures in different parts of Italy and I found that they vary about 10 to 15 degrees between northern and southern Italy. It will be in the 60's and low 70's when we are in Montipulciano for 4 weeks. Then as we travel who knows where, the temperatures will drop to the 50's, then 40's. So, I will bring a down jacket, hat, gloves and scarf - and Seymour will have 2 warm sweaters.

Security: I got on the American Embassy website for Italy and found that there are 4 Embassies there - in Rome, Florence, Milan and Naples. They have a one page emergency contact list that I printed out and will carry with me. I plan to get a phone in Italy that I can just use for in-country calls and plan to program these numbers into that phone.

I also found that they have a list of English speaking professionals for different parts of Italy. The list is long, so I will probably only write down a few and then just have the website in my favorites, so I can access the whole list, as needed. The Embassy also has a program called STEP, which is the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, where you give them your info as to when you are going to Italy, where you will be staying, your passport number, email and emergency contacts. This will give them a way to contact you in case of an emergency in the country. I'm sure it will also make it easier for them to help me if I lose my passport. It sounds like something travelers should consider doing consistently.

One problem I found in the STEP application was that there was no place to let them know that I'm traveling with a dog, so I added him as my traveling companion as if he were a person, but then in the comments section, said that he was indeed at least 1/2 dog. (Well, I didn't word it like that, but I was thinking it!)

I also emailed the Embassy to see if they have a list of English-speaking veterinarians or pet care places because if something happened to me, I would want to be sure he is taken care of and not stolen or left alone. I don't know if they deal with that many pet-obsessed travelers! I'll let you know what I find out.

Communication: After talking to many people who had bad experiences with shocking additional costs when using their American cell phones in other countries, I decided not to go that route. I plan to have 3 methods of communication:
1. As I said earlier, I plan to get an Italian phone for the 3 months I'm there so I can call people in Italy to find places to stay, or even to call the American Embassy, if needed.
2. I have a Skype account and have asked some family and friends for their Skype info so I can talk to them from my iPad for free when I have WiFi access. I am also checking into the Skype service where you get a phone number and can call people from your computer to their land line or mobile and leave messages instead of trying to plan for both of you to be available at the same time. Also, people can call me and leave me a message that I will pick up the next time I sign into Skype. I am assuming the number I get with be a USA number, but I have to check. I'll give you more details as ot cost, etc. once I finalize this.
3. As a back-up, I plan to get a pre-paid calling card so I can call when I don't have WiFi or again, in an emergency.

I feel like I'm talking about emergencies alot but I'm being told that it is better to plan ahead and be lucky to not need it than to have an emergency and be floundering around trying to figure out how to deal with it.

Four weeks until we leave -

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