It's getting hot in Rome and I really don't have time to think. To be honest, my brain has been fried for ages. And I blame the internet. I am practically IV'd to my computer, iPhone, iPad or any other device that can give me information on demand.
Lately my demand falls into three categories: food, transport and entertainment, ahem, cultural enlightenment. With Rome having hundreds of restaurants and cultural sights, and a lightly confusing transport etiquette, I rely on a few apps to get me through my days. So here's what's on my phone:Food
- I have a tandem of go-to Food apps to help me eat better in Rome. EatRome by long-time Rome resident and food writer Elizabeth Minchilli beautifully details over 200 food spots which, in Minchilli's own words, are "every single place I know and love". Interface is easy, with simple Browse, Photos, Map and Comments tab. My favourite function is the Filter in Browse and Map which allows you to sort by Name, Distance, Cost and Neighborhood. Gold Star: Minchilli's personal dialogue in the comments section. Minchilli clearly knows what loves and loves to write.
- Katie Parla is a prolific Rome-based food writer with a "no holds barred" style. Debuting in 2011, her Katie Parla's Rome for Foodies was recently upgraded with a new look, more content and more opinions. Her 150+ listings subcategorize into Dining, Drinking, Desserts, Shopping, Tours and Katie's Picks, with each one shareable by email, facebook and twitter. I have fallen in love with "My Rome" function which allows you to star place for your list of favorites. Don't want to do the work? Go to Katie's Picks and follow her stomach.
- Secret Weapon: Cibando. Though most of the content is in Italian, Cibando is the most replete of all Rome food apps, and best when in need of basic information such as contact details and hours. Cibando lists hundreds, if not thousands, of restaurants all over Italy. Cleverly designed, good looking and winningly interactive.
- RomeBus: This could be my favourite app in the world, and not just because it is free. Just enter the bus stop code (found on the bottom left corner of every Roman bus stop sign) and a listing of buses and arrival times appears. Bus paths and ticket resellers are also searchable. Key to the app is familiarization with the city (or having a good physical map) and good spelling of location names. I will admit that I do pass the time watching when buses at my "favourite" stops are coming by. Absolutely useless without wifi, 3g or during transport strike.
- it Taxi: Out of a strong hope for a clever taxi app, I include this one. For the most part, taxi apps are a slight disappointment. it Taxi tries its best to make finding a taxi stand and calling a taxi easy, but it still needs some refinement including an English language option.
- MiBAC 40: The Italian Ministry of Culture's free app which details the top 40 visited sites in Italy, along with 400 additional listings. Descriptions are English and include hours, prices and map. There mobile ticket function is useful, but a little slow.
- Localscope: this was just introduced to me a short time ago. It is like a Swiss Army knife meets Harriet the Spy for social media and geo-tag tourism. With its two choices "Discover" and "Search", I can peruse almost every social network and media sharing service in my proximity. My favourite actions are perusing the vicinity's instagram feed and "Augmented Reality" which views the area through my lens, and signals recognized spots like bars, restaurants and museums.
- White Noise: Nothing beats customizable white noise in a city like Rome where volume is on high, day and night. Sweet dreams.