I’ve been in Rome many times before and the main tourist attractions have lost a bit of appeal to me. So I decided to discover some of the more hidden gems on my current trip. Discovery, that is the difficult thing for me, since it’s nice to read something in a tourist guide but quite another to know how far that attraction is from the hotel or the place I am at the time. So I decided to try a Nokia Maps City Guide plugin. For Rome, three were available from different sources. As each is usable for 10 minutes before one has to pay for it, I downloaded all three and finally decided for WCities Guide.
When the plugin is started, one can choose from a number of categories. I was interested in sightseeing so I chose that. Next, a list is presented with the sights closest to the current position on top. They are also shown in normal map mode so one can easily see where the different sights are in relation to the current position and get some first info by clicking on the icons. Very nice! That makes it very simple to decide where to go next and how to get there. There is only little textual information provided for each location but with the help of the Internet, OperaMini and Wikipedia it is quite easy to get full background information and pictures on almost anything.
Here’s an example: I decided to visit San Clemente, a basilika close to the Colosseo which is built on top of a fourth century church which is built on a house dating back to the Roman empire. So after finding the place with the City Guide and Nokia Maps, I started OperaMini and used Google to find the relevant Wikipedia entry on the San Clemente Basilica in Rome. Fantastic, lots of background information in there and since it is all linked you can venture out and discover the life of San Clemens, San Cyril and other people connected to the location. Better than any general tourist guide book! The rest of the day went accordingly.
From the above it is quite obvious that I really liked the experience and I had a great day walking through Rome and discovering things this way I haven’t seen before. Naturally, there are some things that could still be improved. Here are a few:
The WCities Guide doesn’t precisely pinpoint the location of many sights they feature. That made it sometimes a bit difficult to find the place, as in a city, even an inaccuracy of a hundred meters or so puts you into an entirely different place.
I’d really like a clickable link in the City Guide description of a location to Wikipedia or another encyclopedia for further information. Ideally, this would open up the web browser. I could also live with a copy/paste feature for the URL, that is much better in combination with OperaMini anyway.
Price: 8 euros for a guide to a single city is a bit steep. After all, no book has to be printed, there are no shipping and storage cost, so I don’t quite see why I should pay almost as much as for a book.
Altogether, a great solution for a different sightseeing experience and I will surely use it again. Also nice to see where things could go with this in the future. Lots of potential!