We love GPS, but not always. We love it when we need to get to a specific destination, within a deadline, without getting lost, often at night or in fog or in heavy rain. I can’t tell you how often I’ve gone out to dinner at a friend’s house in Rome, and I couldn’t find my way home. Without GPS to help me, I would have had to wait til dawn, or stop to ask directions of people on the street. I’ve done it in the past, and I could do it again. But GPS is great.
But it’s not great for touring. For that, I demand a paper map. Let’s say you want to take an excursion through the countryside south of Siena. Yes, you know the names of some of the towns and villages on the way, but what are you going to “insert” as your destination on a GPS? And what good would it do? Isn’t the whole purpose of the thing to do a kind of aimless wandering, allow for serendipity, be spontaneous? Looking at a paper map allows you to say, “Oh, look, I see that that garden isn’t far away from that abbey. Let’s take that road that we hadn’t planned to take.” GPS doesn’t allow for that.
When we plan an excursion, we do it the old-fashioned way. We get the map and the guidebook out the night before, and we plan a tentative outline to give us a base. And we take it from there.