10 Best Apps for Navigating the Culture of Rome
With the advent of smartphones, old-fashioned paper guidebooks have gone the way of Beta Max and nylon tracksuits. Nowadays, experiencing a city is all about finding the right app for doing so – and nowhere has been more-forcefully put on the ‘app map’ than Italy’s capital. With literally hundreds of choices for enhancing your stay, it can be tough to pick the right one. So we’ve done it for you. Below are our 10 favourite apps for discovering the artistic, architectural and myriad wonders of the eternal city:
City Walks Rome
The City Walks app is designed to send you off in pursuit of… anything you like. From baroque fountains to romantic backstreets to the inevitable ‘tourist’ trail, City Walks will arrange an itinerary to suit you. As an idea, it’s pretty solid. As an alternative to standing on street corners stressing over a pull-out map, it’s unbeatable.
Rome Insider’s Guide
An app by locals, for non-locals, the Insider Guide app is bursting with hints on what to see and where to see it. Including food, tourist spots and much more besides, the Insider’s Guide is a little gem of an app just waiting to be discovered.
An app that does exactly what it says on the tin, Pocket Guide offers free audio tours of the city’s top attractions – from cultural landmarks to galleries and more. Crisp, easy to understand and deeply informative, the app also comes with a selection of other cities: including Prague, Amsterdam, Paris and Brussels.
National Geographic Rome City Guide
If you thrive on in-depth knowledge and little-known facts, walking guides and historical anecdotes, the National Geographic City Guide is for you. Like taking a gentle stroll around the centre with a particularly knowledgeable friend, it will lead you down strange alleyways of thought and into physical locations you’d have never thought to visit.
A network of webcams across Rome’s great monuments power this nifty little app, which allows you a bird’s eye view of some of the city’s most-famous landmarks. Less useful than it is simply intriguing, accessing the cameras to explore hidden corners of the city soon becomes frighteningly addictive – thanks in part to the large range available.
Rome for Foodies
As much so as any gallery or landmark, food is an art form – especially in a city that takes its cuisine as seriously as Rome. Designed and curated by foodie blogger Katie Parla, the app has a dual function, operating either as an in-depth, friendly guide to Rome’s best-eateries; or a means for you to ‘star’ and easily-locate your favourite restaurants. Packed with biting opinion and witty words, Rome for Foodies will ensure you only sample the very best of the best.
Sticking with our food theme for a moment, this Italian-language app is an evening’s entertainment all by itself. Aggregated from reviews by local natives, its speciality is a hilarious no-holds barred approach that sees customers dishing out the sort of insults A.A Gill would be proud of. With a knack for the put-down and an utterly scathing comments section; 2Spaghi does contain at least one ray of optimism: if you come across an eatery that attracts even mild praise all round, you know it must be good!
Dream of Italy
Specialising in the lesser-visited backwaters of this great metropolis, Dream of Italy’s Rome app is something special – a guide edited and narrated with a burning passion almost impossible to conceal. Like looking into the atomic heart of the sun, it fairly radiates a love for the city impossible to imagine in an app for, say, London. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.
Now this is just what the doctor ordered: an app dedicated to exploring and revealing the very best of free activities that Rome can offer. Ironically, Free Rome itself is not, in fact, free – but the initial outlay is a small price to pay for an app that’ll keep your travel budget at an all-time low.
Vatican Museum Tour
A walkthrough guide to the Vatican Museums, complete with suggested routes, information on notable exhibits and plenty more besides. Useful, easy to use and drowning in interesting information – what’s not to like?
Fred Pollock is a travelling writer who never goes anywhere without his gadgets. His travals have currently landed him in Rome, where he’s enjoying a stay in a beautiful rented apartment found through HouseTrip.