By Lynda Galea
Moving to Italy to teach English, but don't speak a lick of the local language? Don't worry, there's an app for that. Not sure how to get around the new city you'll be living in, or where to grocery shop and find dinner? You guessed it, there's an app for that too! These days, mobile apps are making our lives that much easier; there's virtually an app for almost everything! Whether you're vacationing in Italy for an extended period of time, or teaching English there indefinitely, here are some of the most convenient and useful apps to have on your phone while navigating life in Italy.
Your one-stop-shop for train travel within Italy. Available on both Android and iOS, the Trenitalia App allows you to buy your tickets for national and regional travel, check the status of trains for your specific route, track and plan your journey, and receive any notifications or service updates. If this app isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps try Trenit, another popular app that allows you to search for train schedules, optimal routes, view pricing and purchase tickets, etc.
This Android and iOS app isn’t specific to Italy, but to rail travel throughout all of Europe. It will allow you to visit popular destinations like Rome, Venice, Florence and Milan for a mini weekend getaway, or even venture into France or the rest of Europe! The great thing about the Rail Planner app is that it allows you to look up train information, no matter where you are. It works offline and gives you quick access to departure and arrival times for trains. The app will also allow you to make e-ticket reservations, find train stations near you, and look up departure and arrival information for every station
Missed the last train? No worries, the MyTaxi app can help you book a taxi within minutes from wherever you are. It works very similarly to the Uber app – simply put in your location, and the next available taxi will be notified to pick you up. Like Uber, you can track where the taxi is in real-time on its route. Payments are also accepted directly through the app. Available on Android and iOS.
The MyTaxi app is the preferred ride-sharing app in Italy as Uber only operates throughout Rome.
Kind of like Uber, but not, BlaBlaCar is a long-distance ride-sharing community. The app connects drivers and passengers willing to travel together between cities and share the cost of the journey. Members must register and create an online profile which includes rating and reviews by other members. Profiles will indicate how much experience they have using this service, and also a “BlaBla” measurement which indicates how much they are willing to chat with you during a trip.
Scooterino (Rome Only)
Rome’s scooter ride-sharing app. Works similarly to Uber, only you’ll be picked up by a local driving a scooter that is already on a similar route to where you need to go. The Scooterino app allows you to pick your driver, check pricing before requesting a ride, and if you’re worried about safety and not having a helmet, don’t worry, the driver will even provide you with one!
Romebus (Rome Only)
Apparently, the Rome bus system is no joke, and few people have what it takes to brave it. The Romebus app providers users with updated times, real-time bus locations, a bus stop locator, and a route planner. A news section also provides you with any service changes, route closures, or high-traffic areas and then helps you plan an alternative route.
This is a smart travel content platform that provides city guides for over 100 cities in Italy including Bologna, Rome, Venice, and Tuscany. You can download your guides to your phone from the Triposos app for access to offline maps, local tips, restaurant and nightlight recommendations, once in a lifetime roadtrips to take, and personalized suggestions without the Internet!
ULMON (Rome Only)
This offline city map is extremely detailed, and not only guides you in navigating the streets of Rome, but also offers convenient information like where to eat, drink, shop, and sightsee.
A popular option amongst foreigners living in Italyn because of its simplistic design and ease of use. Google Maps will guide you through any city, town, village or area in Italy, by showing you the most optimal routes available at the moment of your search. Available on both Android and iOS, it can provide anything from walking, biking, public transport, and driving routes, and you can see what routes will look like at a future day and time.
This is one of the leading translation and dictionary apps. iTranslate allows you to translate text, websites, or start voice-to-voice conversations in Italian and over 90 other languages. Other highlights include translations in both male and female voices, and the ability to switch between dialects. iTranslate’s offline mode allows you to use the app without needing WiFi or phone data which will definitely come in handy.
A favorite amongst English-speaking foreigners living in Italy, the Google Translate app allows you to translate Italian words into English by using the Instant Camera Translation feature which is especially useful when shopping or eating out. When using the app to translate from English to Italian, the translations can sometimes be inaccurate, so be cautious to use simple English for a close-to-accurate translation that still helps convey the message. Available for download on both Android and iOS.
Having worked on Italy’s food scene and reporting for newspapers and magazines for years, the Eat Italy app (brought to you by Elizabeth Minchilli) is the perfect guide to help you explore the very best food that Italy has to offer. Minchilli’s recommendations will help you avoid the tourist traps, learn about local dishes, discover the bakeries, wine bars, and food stores that Italy is famous for. These are places are simply what she thinks are the best. In other words, these are places that she would go and would send friends to.
Zomato (Rome & Milan)
Similar to Yelp, Zomato is a much more in-depth restaurant review platform that is only used by the locals, so you don’t have to worry about pesky reviews left by dissatisfied tourists just looking to vent. Search by location, meal type, cuisine, and establishment type, and then filter by price and rating.
Bonappetour (Rome, Milan & Florence)
This is a social dining marketplace that connects travelers and expats alike with local hosts for home-dining experiences including dinner parties, cooking classes, barbecues, picnics and more! The idea behind Bonappetour is to foster deeper interactions with the locals, thereby creating a more immersive cultural experience over great food.
Having a lazy night in, already in your pajamas, and realize your fridge is empty? Don’t worry, the Deliveroo app is here to save the day (or night)! Similar to GrubHub, Seamless, and UberEats, Deliveroo has access to food from thousands of restaurants in Italy. Simply choose which restaurant you want food from, select the menu items you want, and your food will be delivered to your door. Available on both Android and iOS.
Italian Food Decoder
This app is the perfect companion for exploring the world of Italian cuisine. It provides instant translations of all the food names, terms, and phrases commonly used in cooking. The Italian Food Decoder can give you confidence that you’ll get to sample all the local delicacies and never have to worry about ordering blindly at a restaurant again!
This is the most popular communications app in Italy, so popular in fact, that you’ll hear people say “Send me a WhatsApp” instead of “Send me a text”. WhatsApp is a free messaging app that lets you communicate via WiFi or a data plan without the frustration of roaming charges. You can use it to text, make voice calls, send voicemails, and send videos and photos.
KIK, Facetime, Facebook Messenger App
Just like back home, Kik for text/photo messaging and video calling, FaceTime for video and voice calling across iOS devices, and the Facebook Messenger app for text/photo messaging and video calling, will all work from your phone (with a data plan or wifi) while you are teaching English abroad in Italy. These are common apps that your family and friends back home likely already have, so continuing to use them to maintain contact is a good idea.
Want to learn the local language?
Duolingo: This is a clean, basic app that makes learning fun. With its game-like lessons, you will earn points, race against the clock, and move up levels as your Italian improves. Available on Android and iOS, Duolingo is the world’s most popular way to learn Italian online. Whether you’re a beginner starting with the basics, or looking to practice your reading, writing, and speaking, Duolingo is scientifically proven to work.
Not feeling well and need to track down an English-speaking doctor?
MedInAction: Don’t worry, there’s an app for that! The MedInAction app is a medical service that will deliver a qualified doctor right to your doorstep 24/7. You choose where and when you want the doctor to come, and they’ll be there! The app has an in-built chat service that lets you speak with a doctor to determine whether a visit is actually required. Available on iOS.
Feeling lonely and want to make new friends?
Meetup: Meetup helps people do more of what they love by finding and creating communities based around the ideas and activities that matter to them. You can browse a variety of gatherings happening in your new city, from fit bootcamps, sailing crew meetups, and cycling squads, to wine-lover meets and language exchange groups. The Meetup app will let you easily see what is going on around you and join the group to find out more details. Get out there and mingle with the locals, and who knows, you might just find your new BFF.
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