GPS for Tuscany?


Jan 28th, 2014, 03:16 PM
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GPS for Tuscany?

We will be renting a car for a week while staying in Tuscany. I have read that people use a GPS when there, and having one is helpful. We are thinking of buying a Garmin here, getting used to using it and then taking it with us to Italy. I understand many people do this. Do we load maps before we go? Is there a Tuscany map, or is it all of Italy? Is one model of Garmin better than another for this? Thanks for any help.
travelcat48 is offline  
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Jan 28th, 2014, 03:55 PM
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You buy one map for Europe. Just take at look at Garmin site to see what they offer

Start using the unit at home first. GPS operation is not necessarily straight forward. Be familiar with the unit: adjusting sound, voice, details, brightness,how to enter POI, how to enter route, etc. before you go.

You want to download the map at home. Why?
1. It is a PITA! You need about a half a day to download a map (on your computer), unpack it, and actually upload the map to the unit.
2. You can upload all POI's at home when you have time.

One feature I would have wanted on my unit is to block out roads I don't want to take before I start. I don't want the unit to insist on taking roads I know are closed.
greg is offline  
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Jan 28th, 2014, 04:23 PM
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Autoeuorope is offering free GPS for rentals of 3 days or more, but jump fast---the promo is temporary.
And, there is no sub for a good map as well. Get the TCI Toscana map at 200K to 1.
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Jan 29th, 2014, 01:23 AM
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We visited Tuscany in 2010 and had a GPS [ TomTom ]. They are all much the same I think. Yes, it is a good idea to get used to using it before you leave home. We find a GPS great for getting through larger places. But we still like to have a map to plan our routes. We often take a less direct route to stop and see something. You need to use some common sense. We have been directed to cross a pedestrian bridge or drive down a one way street in the opposite direction. And if you come across a detour, for road works for example, you just have to ignore the ' turn around where possible ' until you are back on track.
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Jan 29th, 2014, 02:40 AM
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If you have never ever used any GPS devices in your car there is a phrase you need to get used to now: "When possible, make a legal U-turn."

When we drove in Tuscany last we rented a GPS and used it. A nice Garmin which worked in a similar fashion to the Magellan I had used at home.

The GPS was helpful in warning you about speed cameras; it was of no help whatsoever in preventing me from apparently driving through some congestion or no car area (and I was never driving where there weren't other cars) in Siena.

I agree having a paper map helps but what also helps is using the zoom out feature on the GPS.

To "answer" what you have "heard"...sure people use them in Tuscany and a lot more people probably don't.
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Jan 29th, 2014, 11:11 AM
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Thanks for this information...we do have the TCI Toscana map that bobthenavigator recommended. Maybe that is all we need? We won't be driving in Florence or Siena....only from an agriturismo on various daytrips to hill towns. And I guess part of the fun is getting lost. Just wondered how necessary the Garmin was. Maybe not so? Or maybe better along with the map?
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Jan 29th, 2014, 11:16 AM
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Hi tc,

>We are thinking of buying a Garmin here, getting used to using it and then taking it with us to Italy. <


You don't want to learn how to use your Italian-speaking GPS when you get the one from the rental company.

My GPS (a TomTom)has a map for Western Europe that you can download from their website into your device.

The feature for avoiding recognizing speed detectors is very helpful.

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Jan 29th, 2014, 04:13 PM
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I live in central Italy; my husband has a Garmin in his car, but I mostly use Google Navigator in my car. If you have an Android phone, it's probably already on it, but there is also a version for the iPhone. In many ways, it's better than the Garmin, because it's always up-to-date. We've used it more than once to find things in the vicinity, such as a hardware store, or a pharmacy (when I got stung by wasps).

You can download the Google maps in advance so that you won't need to use data services while you're in Italy. You can either do this at home or from your agriturismo the evening before a day trip (assuming they have wifi). The actual GPS satellite connection doesn't cost anything, but make sure you have data roaming turned off.

Many Italian towns have very large territories; even tiny little towns may have a territory of many square mile. This means that a restaurant, for example, that is in a certain town may be very far from the town as you see it on the map. This is where a GPS system is most valuable in Italy.

One drawback of both the Garmin and Google Navigator is that sometimes they send you down tiny roads that are unpaved and very narrow. If you see a road sign pointing to a town, but your GPS system is pointing in a different direction, follow the road sign. However, if the place you're going to isn't in the center of the town, ignore this advice, for the reason I mentioned above. It's always a good idea to look up the address on Google maps before heading off, to see how close it is to the actual town. I also always keep a map handy to see what looks like the best route to me.

I actually prefer the Michelin map for central Italy to the TCI map. I find it easier to read.
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Jan 29th, 2014, 05:43 PM
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Again, thank you for the input. This is helping, I think... in the area around Pienza, Montepulciano, etc.(basically the Val d'Orcia) is the GPS needed, or can we just rely on the maps (thanks bvienci for the Michelin map tip. Will get that one as well.) We have relied on maps in the past, including a week in the Dordogne, but am unsure about Tuscany.
travelcat48 is offline  
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Jan 29th, 2014, 06:27 PM
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be aware when using a phone that charges may or may not apply
Dukey1 is online now  
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Jan 29th, 2014, 06:50 PM
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Michelin maps are invaluable. I never use GPS, but many do and love it. For me, there is no substitute for a great paper map.
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Jan 29th, 2014, 09:24 PM
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We used our Garmin with European maps in Tuscany in 2012 and again this past September in Greece. Traveling down the narrow roads on the way to our destination just added to our memories.
I do agree that sometimes you have follow the signs and let the GPS take it from there
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Jan 30th, 2014, 05:14 PM
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Thanks again...I think we will get the Garmin here and practice using it (!), download the Italy map for the Garmin,and take it with us. But will also have the touring Tuscany map and the Michelin map, so between all of that....well, getting lost is an adventure, too!
Am assuming Garmin just works...doesn't need wifi or cellular connection (I know, silly question...but I really have no idea about them, obviously)
And thanks for your sentiment, StCirq...we love paper maps as well, which is why I think we have been resisting a GPS.
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Jan 30th, 2014, 06:05 PM
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The car we rented in Spain came with a GPS and it was great; except for trying to find locations in a pedestrian zone-- it does not state that such is inaccessible, it just keeps telling you to turn around and turn in 50 feet where there is no road, etc., etc. That was frustrating, just had to finally turn GPS off, park the car temporarily, walk to the hotel, then return to park the car in closest lot -- now we're laughing but.... Granada and Marbella were nuts.
aliced is offline  
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Jan 31st, 2014, 12:22 AM
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We just used our Garmin GPS in Val d'Orcia over New Years. Hubby loves it...but it was a year old and was already out of date.

You need to also be confident enough not to follow it blindly. Trust the numerous road signs and you will be fine. It's very easy to navigate and we always also have a paper map as back up!
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Jan 31st, 2014, 04:44 AM
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I'm always impressed with Tuscany's road signage. I own a Garmin, too, but I don't think I've ever turned it on while driving in Tuscany. Maybe just to test it against my personal experience. Felt more comfortable with it off.

My TCI maps are old (late 80's). Never loved the graphic design. The newest Michelin App is so much easier to read. I just print out the section I need. I'm not familiar with the recent hard copy versions. Back in the day, I didn't think Michelin's printed version was any better than TCI. Things have changed at Michelin, and the changes are good.

I think Google Maps is a pathetic joke, especially in Italy. I spot way too many mistakes. It's been improving, but I find it too unreliable.
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