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Report 873: Geocaching, Italian Style

By Suzanne Ferrio from United States, Fall 2005

Trip Description: Our First Italian Geocaching Adventure

Destinations: Countries - France, Italy; Regions/Cities - Provence, Cinque Terre, Liguria, Tuscany

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Attended GTG; Sightseeing; Wine Trip; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 14: February, 2005 - Deciding to Go

photo by Suzanne Ferrio

Have GPS, Will Travel

Tom and I had been talking for several years about our next trip to Europe – Tuscany. We had originally talked about going in 2004, but things just didn’t seem to be working out. Then in February of 2005, Tom all of a sudden declared “Let’s just do it.” That’s all it took. Within hours I had our flights booked.

Since we were using frequent flyer miles, our choices were somewhat limited. Ideally, we wanted to fly in and out of Florence. You know that “NO” commercial; well, that’s exactly what I got – NO FLO. The helpful person then suggested Pisa. Well, that worked flying in, but not out. Neither did Rome, Milan, Venice etc. We checked multiple date/time combinations – no can do. Then Tom, who happened to be listening to this whole conversation, suggested flying back from Nice (we have some friends there who we’ve been promising to visit). Bingo! Reservations made! Leaving Dallas on September 28th, arriving Pisa on the 29th. Heading for home from Nice on October 12th.

GEOCACHING

Tom and I participate in an activity know as geocaching. What the heck is that you might ask? Well, the easiest explanation is that it is a high-tech treasure hunt. Using a hand-held GPS device, you set out to find a “cache” that has been placed by a fellow participant and logged on a website: geocaching.com. As of this writing, there are 216,979 geocaches in 219 countries and 593 are in Italy. Since this is a fairly new activity for us, we’ve never participated outside the US.

The beauty of geocaching is that the cache is usually placed by someone local and they try to find the “hidden gems” in their area that many people would either pass by or ignore. For example, I’m sure there is no way we would have visited the trash and recycling transfer station on the Big Island of Hawaii during our trip last year. But that’s exactly where we found the Bathing Beauty cache which was set up by some middle school students. Hey, we’ll do anything to support education!

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Italy has a very active group of geocachers. In fact, they were having a get together, known as a geocaching event, the Sunday prior to our arrival. I was so disappointed that we would miss it.

The first thing I did was get the latitude and longitude of Pisa, the city of our arrival. Once I had that information I fanned out finding other geocaches in areas we were planning to visit – sort of the “concentric circle” theory. I printed them all out, located them on my road atlas of Italy. I had also purchased a map of Italy to download on our GPS, so I was able to input all the information on our GPS as well.

Packed our geocaching bag with our usual paper towels, pens, zip-lock baggies then added extra batteries, some coins to leave behind in caches found and we were ready to roll!

Want to find out how popular geocaching is? Go to geocaching.com and in the upper right-hand corner put in your zip code and execute the search. You’ll probably be surprised at how many there are right under your nose!!!

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