FAQs

Select any question to see the answer.

How do I find the activation code required to download your GPS coordinates?

The activation code is listed in each of our books.  

To locate it, using your Kindle or iPad, search for the word “activation” (do not use quotation marks when searching) and then enter the nine-digit code (including the hyphen) when requested on our Downloads page.

You must purchase one of our books in order to download our GPS coordinate files.

For your convenience, here are links to our Downloads pages:

Tuscany by Car downloads page

Ireland by Car downloads page

GPS installation instructions page

How do I download your GPS coordinates?

Go to our Downloads page and enter the activation code when requested.

Our books are provided with an activation code which enables the reader to download from our website a proprietary set of GPS coordinates in one of three different file formats:

  1. For use with Garmin GPS devices (a GPX file)
  2. For use with TomTom GPS devices (an OV2 file)
  3. For use with the Google Maps app on an iPhone or an Android phone (a KML file)

To locate the activation code, using your Kindle or iPad, search for the word “activation” (do not use quotation marks when searching).

In each eBook there is a chapter called, “The Convenience of GPS.”

FOR GARMIN AND TOM-TOM GPS DEVICES, open the book on your iPad or Kindle, then go to the subchapter, “Loading the Coordinates Onto Your GPS Device,” where you will find complete instructions for downloading the appropriate set of GPS coordinates and for locating the activation code required to complete the download.  Using a Windows PC or Mac computer, go to our Downloads page, enter the nine-digit activation code (including the hyphen) and then download the coordinates. Once downloaded, simply attach your GPS device to your desktop or laptop computer using a USB cable and then “copy and paste” (Windows PC) or “drag-and-drop” (Mac) the coordinates to the folder location we specify for your device. Our GPS Installation Instructions explain the process in detail. If you encounter difficulties, please contact us for assistance.

Important note: The downloadable GPS coordinate files we provide for use with Garmin or TomTom GPS devices are not intended to be opened or used by your computer (a PC or a Mac). Instead, the computer is simply a way of transferring the GPS coordinate files onto your separate Garmin or TomTom GPS device.  We provide complete GPS installation instructions here; also see the FAQ below, “I’ve downloaded the GPX files on my computer but I can’t open them. Why not?

FOR SMARTPHONES, open the book on your iPad or Kindle, then go to the subchapter, “Navigating with the Google Maps App on Your Smartphone,” where we discuss the option of downloading our GPS coordinates in KML format for use with the Google Maps app on an iPhone or an Android phone.  Further information is provided here for Tuscany, and here for Ireland.

I can't download the GPS coordinate files. What's wrong?

An activation code is required in order to download any of our GPS coordinate files.

The activation code is listed in each of our books.  To locate it, using your Kindle or iPad, search for “activation” and then enter the nine-digit code (including the hyphen) when requested on our Downloads page.

For your convenience, here are links to our Downloads pages:

Tuscany by Car downloads page

Ireland by Car downloads page

GPS installation instructions page

I've downloaded the GPX files on my computer but I can't open them. Why not?

It is not necessary to use an application on your PC or Mac to open the GPS coordinate file you just downloaded.

We supply our GPS coordinate files in three different formats – for use with Garmin GPS devices (a GPX file), for use with TomTom GPS devices (an OV2 file) and for use with the Google Maps app on an iPhone or an Android phone (a KML file).

One of the most common inquiries we receive from readers who encounter difficulties loading our GPS coordinates onto their Garmin devices is that they cannot open the GPX file on their Windows PC or Mac computer after downloading it.

The GPX file is intended to be loaded onto your Garmin GPS device using your Windows PC or Mac computer.  Your computer is a way of transferring the GPX files onto your Garmin so that when you are in Italy or Ireland the coordinates will be loaded onto your Garmin, enabling the Garmin to navigate you to the various locations covered in our books.

Thus, it is not necessary to use an application on your PC or Mac to open the GPS coordinate file you just downloaded. When using a Mac, if you see a message asking you which application to use to open the file, click on Save (and not “Choose Application”):

Mac inquiry, save file

This topic is covered in more detail in our GPS installation instructions:

Instructions for installing our GPS coordinate file onto a Garmin using a Windows PC

Instructions for installing our GPS coordinate file onto a Garmin using a Mac (see especially Step 9A)

How do I extract your GPS coordinate file from the ZIP download?

We provide complete instructions for extracting files from a ZIP download.

Click here.

How do I know whether everything has loaded properly onto my Garmin? There are no entries in Favorites on my Garmin!

Best to check whether everything has loaded properly onto your Garmin – before leaving on your trip!

We recommend that you load our coordinates onto your separate GPS device before you leave on your trip, using the directions supplied in the book. Then, after arriving, turn on the GPS device once you are in your rental car, let it “spool up” (it takes a few minutes for the device to locate and lock onto satellites in a different continent), select your destination from the list of Favorites and away you go!

It is easy to check whether everything has loaded properly onto your Garmin. While still at home and after loading the coordinate files onto your GPS device, simply turn it on, go to Favorites, and scroll down the list. There should be hundreds of them. Once you have loaded the coordinate file(s) onto your device they reside in the “Favorites” area and are ready to go. There is no need to reload any of the coordinates after you arrive.

If you do NOT see anything in your Favorites location, it is doubtful that any of the coordinates loaded onto your Garmin, so be sure to repeat the installation process.  If you still don’t see anything in your Favorites location, check out the troubleshooting tip below.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In newer (2013 and later) Garmin devices the “Favorites” menu category has been renamed to “Saved.”  Please see pages 10 through 14 of our installation instructions (links provided below) for information about how to verify that you have properly loaded our GPS coordinates onto a Garmin that uses “Saved” instead of “Favorites”:

Instructions for using a Windows PC to install GPS coordinates onto a Garmin

Instructions for using a Mac to install GPS coordinates onto a Garmin

TROUBLESHOOTING TIP: Sometimes a reader will inadvertently download and try to install a KML file onto a Garmin GPS device.  That will not work!

Although GPS data is expressed in various file format configurations and the data contained within the different file formats is virtually identical, Garmin devices work only with “GPX” files.  Please re-download the correct GPX file using one of these links:

Garmin download for Tuscany by Car

Garmin download for Ireland by Car

Can I use my smartphone instead of a Garmin or TomTom?

Yes (but be sure to read the caveats noted below) –

Updated in February 2017, both Tuscany by Car and Ireland by Car now come with complete instructions for using your smartphone to navigate to almost 800 destinations in Tuscany and more than 1000 destinations throughout Ireland.

Perhaps the most significant recent development in navigation has been the integration of GPS chips into smartphones. High-quality smartphones, like the latest iPhone mobile digital devices and Android phones, include Assisted GPS (A-GPS) technology, which provides a fast initial satellite connection and enhanced accuracy using a built-in GPS receiver.

A-GPS receivers on smartphones not only receive GPS signals from the constellation of 24 satellites orbiting the earth, but also download data about the GPS satellite constellation from a cellular network, allowing the phone to lock in on a ground position much more quickly than it could otherwise. Positional accuracy is further enhanced by turning to indoor Wi-Fi networks when available, and the combination of all three sources – A-GPS, Wi-Fi and a cellular network – results in a level of accuracy (typically, within 5-8 meters) that is suitable for in-car navigation. Further, the most recent phones, which cache subsets of data about nearby cellular networks, towers and Wi-Fi, are able to shift some positional computations onto the device itself, which provides extremely valuable information to the device when no network connection is available.

This means that in-car navigation is now possible in Italy and Ireland using your smartphone (assuming you have an affordable data plan). Google Maps works as well in Europe as in the rest of the world.

We cover this subject in detail in each of our books. Further information on the KML files we provide for use with the Google Maps app on a smartphone can be found here for Tuscany, and here for Ireland.

IMPORTANT – PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING!

  • If you plan to use the Google Maps app on your smartphone to navigate while in Italy or Ireland, it is critical you understand the charges that may apply.
  • It is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that you have a data plan with a sufficient amount of data to avoid roaming charges. (Roaming is any wireless phone (or tablet) activity that you do when you’re outside your carrier’s own network. So if you’re out of the country and send text messages for example, or call someone in that country, you’ll be using a foreign network that has an agreement with your service provider. These services are not included in your regular monthly fees and can be very high.)
  • Check with your carrier before departing on your trip, as many carriers are now expanding their data plans to provide unlimited data and texting while traveling internationally. For example, T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan, offered in the US, provides unlimited data and texting in every European country. We have found this coverage, offered at no extra charge, to be completely sufficient for purposes of navigating in Europe using the Google Maps app on an iPhone or Android phone.
  • Also realize that signal strength and coverage can be an issue.

Please bear in mind that given the great number and variety of smartphones, not to mention the plethora of cell phone providers worldwide, we cannot guarantee that your particular smartphone will work properly with your particular car. We can advise our readers, though, that using these instructions and the Google Maps app we have been able to navigate successfully, without incident, for many thousands of miles/kilometers in Italy and Ireland, even in very remote mountain locations where there is no continuous cellular coverage.

If you have any concerns, please be sure to bring along a dedicated GPS device from Garmin or TomTom, preloaded with European maps and our GPS coordinates, if only as a backup.

Can’t I get GPS coordinates from the internet?

The ONLY way to obtain our GPS coordinates to hundreds of locations throughout Tuscany and Ireland is to buy Tuscany by Car or Ireland by Car through Apple’s iTunes or Amazon’s Kindle Store.

A true story

During a recent trip to Maremma in Tuscany, I was provided three different GPS coordinates for the same exact hotel, including a set of coordinates from the hotel itself. Each and every one of these coordinates was wrong. They got me within a few miles of my destination, but in a hilly location that is not good enough, especially at night.

As human beings we tend to place great credence in numerical formulations. But in the case of GPS coordinates, “close” is not good enough. Virtually all our coordinates have been tested and confirmed on site and at the location. No one else provides GPS information for Tuscany or Ireland with this level of precision.

A vacation abroad is an expensive proposition, and time is money. Why risk your hard-earned cash with GPS coordinates pulled off the Internet when you can use our confirmed coordinates instead?

Another true story

We met a couple from New Jersey who traveled to Florence and experienced the vacation of a lifetime. Their travel agent astutely suggested that they take a few days in the countryside to experience the real Tuscany, and guided them to one of the villas we feature in our book, not far from San Casciano. They were having a terrific time and wanted to visit the famous butcher shop in Panzano. Directions from the hotel staff in hand, they set off for Panzano, only a 12-mile drive away.

Later that day I asked them about their visit and what they thought of Dario, the famous butcher. It turns out they were not able to find his shop even though they were within 50 yards of it. In frustration they left for Lucca because they knew they could find that well-known destination using main roads. They departed from the beauty of rural Chianti to spend two hours on a highway, all because they could not find their destination, even with directions in hand.

There is no better illustration of the value of our GPS coordinates than this true story.

Are there any issues when reading your book on a tablet device?

In a word, yes.

Our books contain a large number of hyperlinks to locations, hotels, restaurants, attractions and other sites throughout Tuscany and Ireland. These hyperlinks are coded to Google Maps and work perfectly on an iPad or Kindle Fire.

We have received isolated reports, however, from a few of our readers who have encountered difficulties opening map hyperlinks when reading the books on a tablet device using the Kindle reader app.  So far as we can tell, this issue is limited to one or two brands of tablet devices.

A workaround for these devices is to right-click (or the equivalent) on one of the map hyperlinks (for example, one of the parking locations in Siena), and select “Copy” from the drop-down menu that should appear. Then open the internet browser on your tablet and paste the URL you just copied into the browser and hit “Enter.” This should open the map’s hyperlink in your tablet’s browser and it should show the correct location in, for example, Siena.

Also, when reading the books using the Kindle reader app on some tablet devices, the background coloration does not always render properly in the “callout” boxes we use to summarize information about featured locations. This issue likewise seems limited to one or two brands of tablet devices, as we have never received any report of this issue from readers who use an iPad, Kindle, iPhone or Android phone to read our books.

Our books are best read on an iPad or Kindle Fire.

Why focus on driving in Tuscany or Ireland?

The countryside is the best part of both Tuscany and Ireland, and the best way to visit the countryside is by car.

Tuscany and Ireland are essentially rural and agrarian areas. Train service in both countries is excellent but typically limited to larger towns and cities. The best that Tuscany and Ireland have to offer is found in the countryside and, realistically, the only way to visit the countryside is by car.

We do offer many hiking and bicycling options for both Tuscany and Ireland as well as helpful information in Tuscany by Car about hiking from Lucca to Siena on the Via Francigena.

I’ve never driven in Italy; should I be concerned?

Driving in Italy can (and should) be a lot of fun!

The scenery is terrific, most of the roads are excellent and a car gives you a wonderful freedom to visit new and unique places on your own schedule and at your own pace. We have driven literally tens of thousands of kilometers in Italy without incident of any kind. So can you. trees-car Our eBook provides detailed information to help you drive in Italy, safely and without getting lost. We tell you about the types of roads, advise as to speed limits and speed camera enforcement, explain the toll system used on the autostrada, and point out the intricacies of restricted traffic zones (ZTL). We even tell you how to fuel up your vehicle! In terms of driving safety, five European countries are thought to have the lowest rate in the world of traffic fatalities per capita: Sweden, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. Japan, New York State, Germany, Canada, Australia and Connecticut are not far behind. Italy ranks slightly worse than New Zealand and slightly better than California, Austria, France, Spain and Belgium. When comparing the road fatality rate in all of Italy with the road fatality rates in all of the 50 states on an overall basis, the per capita road fatality toll in Italy is lower than in the United States.

What are the different regions within Tuscany?

There are three distinct regions within Tuscany.

The three separate regions of Tuscany are:

  • Chianti (includes Florence)
  • Central Hilltop Towns
  • Maremma

Chianti
Chianti is the most celebrated region in Tuscany, encompassing Florence in the north and Siena in the south. The most famous and beautiful area of Chianti is “Chianti Classico,” which is essentially the area between Florence and Siena. Chianti Classico is where you will find medieval villages, glorious vineyards, delightful restaurants and easy-to-navigate roadways.

Chianti is hilly and heavily wooded, and is the most developed tourist region of Tuscany. Some of the towns and villages you might wish to visit in Chianti (all of which are covered in our Chianti eBook) include:

  • MonteriggioniTuscany Map -- Regions
  • San Casciano in Val di Pesa
  • Greve in Chianti
  • Panzano in Chianti
  • Castellina in Chianti
  • Colle di Val d’Elsa
  • Siena
  • Radda in Chianti
  • Volpaia
  • Gaiole
  • Badia a Coltibuono
  • Montebenichi
  • Castell’in Villa
  • San Gimignano
  • Volterra
  • Pisa
  • Lucca

Central Hilltop Towns
The hilltop towns of central Tuscany are located south of Siena in the area lying between the provinces of Arezzo (to the east) and Pisa (to the west). CortonaMontepulcianoPienza and Montalcino are the major towns within this area.

We think this area is the most beautiful and picturesque area in Tuscany. The most commonly evoked images of Tuscany abound: ancient walled villages high above green and gold pastures, a double strand of cypress trees winding up a white road amidst golden fields to a stunning old stone farmhouse, and gorgeous abbeys and ancient churches high on the hillsides seeming to float above the mist.

The central hilltop towns region of Tuscany is dominated by the Val d’Orcia, an agrarian area about 25 km southeast of Siena and just east of Montalcino that today is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Some of the towns and villages you might wish to visit in this area include:

  • Cortona
  • Montepulciano
  • Pienza
  • Montalcino
  • Monticchiello
  • Montisi
  • San Giovanni d’Asso
  • Asciano
  • Bagno Vignoni
  • San Quirico d’Orcia
  • Monte Amiata

Maremma
Maremma, located in the southernmost corner of Tuscany, is the least well-known and least traveled part of Tuscany. This is a wild area, sparsely populated and less touristy than the other two areas of Tuscany. It is stunningly beautiful, with all of the features one expects from Tuscany: great food, wonderful wine, spectacular landscapes, fabulous art (albeit less than other areas) and friendly people. Even better, Maremma has miles and miles of beautiful scenic coastline with sandy beaches, craggy cliffs and sparkling aquamarine water.

Maremma is also home to some of the most celebrated vineyards in Tuscany.  Know to the local vintners as “La Piccola Bourdeaux dell’Italia,” Maremma’s famous wine estates include Tenuta dell’Ornellia, Tenuta San Guido, Castello del Terriccio and Petra.

Some of the towns and villages you might wish to visit in Maremma include:

  • Pitigliano
  • Bolgheri
  • Sovana
  • Montemerano
  • Saturnia
  • Marina di Bibbona
  • San Vincenzo
  • Populonia
  • Pisa
  • Lucca
  • Volterra

We provide comprehensive information about all of these locations, and many more, in our book.

What about the photography in your books?

I really like the photography in your books. Who took the pictures and what camera equipment do you use?

Thanks!

We’re received quite a few inquiries about the images in our books from fellow photographers. Virtually all of the pictures were shot and produced by Bob using Nikon DSLR or Leica digital cameras. A fair number were also shot with Panasonic Micro 4/3 gear.  We also use some stock images including many from London’s world-famous Robert Harding. Almost all of the images were produced using Adobe’s Creative Suite of software applications including Lightroom and Photoshop. Some images were created in HDR (high dynamic range) and processed using Photomatix Pro.

Bob has photographed professionally on and off since high school. His first business was Communic-Art Services, and his advertising photography appeared in Billboard magazine at the age of 17 (many years ago!). He paid his way through college working in camera sales, and paid his way through graduate school selling (with his math professor) collectible Leica cameras to Japanese enthusiasts. He loves photography!

Here are a few links if you’d like more information:

The website dpreview is a great place to get started if you’re interested in learning about the best cameras to use for travel photography.

The LFI Gallery (by Leica Fotographie International) features a gallery of outstanding images, and is definitely worth visiting. Leica Camera’s website is here.

Information about Nikon Digital SLR Cameras can be found here.

Canon Digital SLR Cameras are featured here.

Information about the entire Micro 4/3 System can be found at this website.

Click here to find out more about Sony’s line of Cyber-shot cameras, each capable of producing professional results.  In our opinion their line of RX100 cameras are perhaps the best travel cameras; see dpreview here.

Canon’s PowerShot S120, a pocket marvel, is described here.

For serious digital photographers, this link takes you to the website of a great new book by acclaimed Chicago photographer Jeff Schewe.

And here is a link to information about Adobe’s Lightroom, an essential tool for serious digital photography.

The iPhone is also capable of great results!

And finally, the DxO One is worth seriously considering.  This tiny marvel uses a 20.2 megapixel 1″ sensor to produce professional results. Amazingly, it easily fits into pocket or purse, making it the ideal travel companion. If you use one, consider this water-resistant case, available from Amazon.com.

What does Wanaka mean in the name of your company?

Wanaka, New Zealand, Alpine Queen of the South Island!

Our company is named after the small town of Wanaka, which is located in the Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand. A place of stunning natural beauty, Wanaka is home to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, surrounded by the spectacular backdrop of the South Island’s Southern Alps and set against the pristine backdrop of Mount Aspiring National Park.

We take inspiration from the natural beauty of this extraordinary place when writing our books.

How do I contact you if I have a question?

We’re here to help!

Feel free to send us an e-mail at info@tuscanybycar.com.

We try our best to reply to all e-mail inquiries promptly.