September 25


Rick’s Italy Blog Tour

By Rick

September 25, 2015

Italy blog tour
Photo Credit: New York Times. “Fiesta Lounge on a Panagra DC-6 bound for South America in the early ’50s.”

Once upon a time, just traveling cross-country was a labor-intensive task and a logistical challenge, to say the least. It required months of planning, tons of equipment, and several strong horses, mules, oxen, or camels. The traveler him/herself needed to be in excellent physical condition, and arriving alive at the destination was not a foregone conclusion. One could expect to encounter illnesses, violent weather, and hostile natives on any given journey.

Then about a half-century ago, commercial aviation ushered in the Golden Age of Travel, where folks “dressed to the nines” and sipped champagne at 35,000 feet on their way from New York to Buenos Aires. Travel itself was exciting and glamorous, and the destination was almost unimportant, as long as it was far, far away.

Travel agents were like magicians, conjuring up epic voyages from a cozy office space lined with posters from exotic locations. Tell them your dreams and they could make them come true. Luxury travel was the new “it” item of conspicuous consumption in the 50s and 60s. A passport stamp from Milan was more prestigious than the designer handbag brought back from the “quadrilatero della moda.”

Traveling in the Information Age

Can a full "body cavity search" be far behind?
Can a full “body cavity search” be far behind?

Well, that’s all over now. What we’ve gained in affordability and access we’ve certainly lost in comfort…and dignity. TSA lines are the height of incivility, herding us barefoot like cattle through the mazes of x-ray scans and metal detectors, often resulting in public humiliation as a complete stranger feels us up from head to toe in front of an audience.

The information glut on such sites as TripAdvisor overloads us with choices, causing temporary moments of paralysis when we fret over every minor decision right down to “Where will I eat breakfast in Florence on day three of my trip? Help! I can’t decide!” (I know this to be true, because I get emails all the time from travelers who are distraught over where they can find “authentic” gelato in the center of Rome, as if their very happiness depends upon it.)

“It is fatal to know too much at the outset: boredom comes quickly to the traveler who knows his route as to the novelist who is over-certain of his plot.”  –Paul Theroux

Furthermore, our addiction to information threatens to extract all the joy and surprise out of every trip, no matter how remote or “off the beaten path” we wander these days. Spontaneity in travel has been dead for quite some time, and yet nobody seems to be mourning the loss.

We all hunger to be someplace other than where we are at the moment. I am certainly no exception to this cliché. But it still pains me to see four people sitting a picture perfect lunch table overlooking the Amalfi Coast, each with their head down pecking away at their Smart Phone, either updating their Facebook status or chatting with friends back in Cleveland. What’s the sense in traveling if your thoughts never leave home?

Technologically Enhanced Italy Blog Tour

This year’s version of my Italy blog tour is an abbreviated itinerary compared to last year’s tour de force, but I’ll still be covering nearly the entire length of the Italian peninsula, from north (Milan) to south (Aeolian Islands, Sicily); and the width, from east (Rimini) to west (Levanto).

Despite every lamentation about technology at the beginning of this post, I’ll be trying out some new equipment on this trip. My excuse is that since I’m a travel blogger/podcaster, it’s my duty to stay up to date with current trends in digital media. (Or else I’m just a hypocrite, which might also be true.)

Here are two new technologies that I’ll be trying out during this year’s Italy blog tour for your voyeuristic pleasure.


rick zullo periscopeThis is the latest “next” thing is social media by the folks who brought you Twitter. In an effort to make the world smaller still, Periscope is a streaming video app that allows you to broadcast live to the entire globe from wherever you are. Going live will instantly notify your followers who can join, comment, and send you “hearts” in real time. The more hearts you get, the higher they flutter on the screen. But while your followers can see you and comment, you cannot see them…only their “hearts” and comments. Hence the exquisite voyeuristic nature of this new platform.

Oh, and broadcasts are available for replay for up to 24 hours. After that, they’re in the wind!

This is totally new for me, but it might be fun. There’s no editing or dubbing, so what you see is what you get! Check it out by downloading the app for iTunes or Android, and then follow me: @RickZullo

Portable Microphone with integrated iPhone app

iRigMicSo yes, it’s all about being mobile and spontaneous. This is an uncomfortable departure for me, as I’m used to taking my time writing blog articles and podcast questions, and then editing them until I’m happy. Not so with these new technologies, which promise for more “authentic” content. Whatever that means.

Towards this end, I’ve purchased a portable microphone that records on my iPhone via an integrated app. My goal with this device is to capture interviews in situ rather than from the quiet comfort of my home. My hope is that these on-location interviews will become future podcast episodes.

For anybody in Rome that wants to participate, I’ll be doing a few impromptu interviews at the weekly Tuesday event with the Expats Living in Rome group on 6 October. Details to follow on Facebook soon.

Travel Blogger Destination Italy

travel blogger destination italy 2015Finally, the highlight of this tour (for me) is my second appearance at TBDI in Rimini. This is actually the third year of the event, which strives to introduce travel bloggers to global travel brands for the purposes of collaboration.

This year I’m honored to be one of the speakers, and I’ll be presenting on the topic of “Podcasting to revitalize your blog, grow your audience, and add authority to your brand.”

If you have a moment, I would really appreciate your support by subscribing to my podcast on iTunes, and downloading a few of the episodes. Here:

The Fatal Charm of Italy

This will help my show gain more attention within the Apple search engine, and expose my podcast to a larger audience.

Grazie, and stay tuned for “LIVE” updates from the travel road in Italy!! Ciao!

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About the author

Living in the Caput Mundi and trying to decipher Italian culture for the English speaking world.

  • Great piece on spontaneity in travel, Rick. Whatever happened to what I believe is the most wonderful word in the English language, serendipity? It’s the art of going with the flow, something very common in pre-Internet travel and now apparently only achieved through various street drugs. The information age has paralyzed travel.

    Travelers text friends so often they don’t have enough time to do anything worth texting about. Travelers also won’t walk out their front door without confirmation from other travelers. I HATE TripAdvisor. The amount of bellyaching from spoiled travelers is embarrassing. I’m going to ignore a hotel because a construction crew outside at noon kept you from sleeping off your hangover in Munich? Yet I have friends whose endorsements of hotels and restaurants are always accompanied by an overall score from TripAdvisor.

    How about this, folks: Go to the town and talk to the waiters, the cab drivers and the butcher. Ask where they eat. Wander through the streets of a town and walk into a hotel lobby that looks nice. Reservations and itineraries ruin travel’s surprises. Come on. Wake up and don’t know where you’re going to spend that night. Don’t be afraid. Serendipity rarely bites.

    John Henderson

    Dog-Eared Passport:
    [email protected]

  • Enjoy your trip. It was nice to read a blog entry since I am not about to listen to podcasts–count me an old curmudgeon who wants to read. And I can promise that when I am in Rome in December and January, I will not be carrying around a cell phone or tablet or using same at lunch or dinner. However, I have to confess that a chapter torn out of a used paperback keeps me company at least part of the time while eating alone. Love my small digital camera though!
    A presto,

    • Thanks Joan! I’m nostalgic for the used paperback, too.

      By the way, don’t know if you’ve noticed, but even when I publish a podcast, there’s always a “mini” post to go with it for folks like you and I who also love the written word! Ciao!!

    • Ha, ha….hi Sharon…you didn’t read the whole article! 😉 Yes, I’ll be there. In fact, I’m one of the speakers! Ci vediamo a Rimini, allora!

  • Nice! Coming to Piemonte?
    I get decision paralysis. It’s a proven fact that the more decisions you make, the more your decision-making abilities get worn out until you start choosing poorly. Don’t ask me where I read that (maybe NYTimes??), but I remember that basically you have a reserve of decision-making abilities each day that gets used up as the day wears on!

    • Hi Diana! I totally believe that theory about decision making… mine’s usually used up by lunch time. 🙂 No, I’m not going to make it to Piemonte on this blog tour, unfortunately. But it’s on my list; I have some friends in the truffle business in Alba. Soon, I hope!!

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