Tomorrow’s Mother’s Day, and if you’re short on cash but are at least a little computer savvy, I may have a gift idea for you: Take Mom on a virtual tour of her past. Ask relatives (or Mom) for addresses of places she used to live, sit her down at a computer and show her what those places look like now. Or if she’s always wanted to visit a particular place in the world, take her there virtually. (Click here for ideas.)
I got the idea from my own experiences using Google’s Street View and how fun it is to look at places where I used to live or would like to visit someday. If your mom isn’t particularly tech-friendly, this will come as big revelation to her. I plan to surprise my very low-tech mom Sunday by showing her what I found about where our family lived more than 50 years ago.
For many years I’ve debated whether to go back to Northern Italy and visit the area where we lived for four years when I was a kid – the longest our Air Force family was in one place. I was always afraid that it has changed so much that my sweet memories of it would be forever altered. But Street View has changed that. It’s given me a look at the two houses we lived in between 1959 and 1963 and allowed me to take a virtual tour of the area.
I didn’t remember our exact address, so I just entered the name of the street we lived on in Pordenone – Via Liberta – into the Google search box and up popped a map. I remembered that we lived near where the street ended in a traffic circle. By dragging the little orange man (he’s called Pegman) to that spot on the map, a street scene showing our old house came into view. I was even able to spot the little stone grotto across the street where people placed flowers at a statue of Mary.
I also found the second house we lived in in the adjacent town of Cordenons, on Via Sclavons. I had fun touring up and down the streets. The area looked a lot more prosperous than when we lived there.
Yes, things have changed quite a bit – not always for the better. The poppy field and vineyards that used to be across the street from our second house are gone, replaced by houses. But I noticed that there’s still a bakery where we used to ride our bikes to buy fresh bread – the best I’ve ever tasted. And I found a hotel nearby that looks pretty nice.
So maybe I’ll take a real trip after all – and make new memories. Guess I should start brushing up on my Italian.