Rick Steves’s web site, books and podcasts are excellent resources for first-time travelers. Mr. Steves has been all over Italy, returns often and publishes a lot of useful material that you will undoubtedly find useful and especially indispensable on your first visits to Italy.
I ran across his Italy Audio Tour series last year but just never got around to blogging about it. There are currently sixteen episodes that hit some of the highlights of Italy from Rome to Venice. If you subscribe to the podcast, you can even download the his hand-drawn maps in the form of accompanying pdf files that make great resources for printing out or downloading to your portable handheld device. The maps can be useful, especially since Rick Steves points out useful landmarks that are often not included on maps as well helping to orientate the reader.
The audio tour menu can be located by clicking on this link (use the first URL below if you do not use Itunes and want to download only certain episodes or just the maps):
The Audio Tour menu, which also features podcasts for the UK and France, can be accessed here:
After listening to the podcasts, leave a comment and let me know if how useful you found them and any other comments/suggestions you might have. I am always curious to know how others use guidebooks and travel resources.