What can you do from here in California even before you go to the country?
Here are some of the materials I have found helpful in trying to keep up with my Italian:

A. Wikipedia and Google in Italian



B. Bibles and Devotional material.
Read your Bible in Italian.

Thru the Bible in Italian

C. Department store website


D. News: sample websites

Kidon Media Link

ITALIAN--News and Newspapers (MIT Libraries)

ITALIAN--Google News

ITALIAN--Corriere della Sera

ITALIAN--La Repubblica


E. Television: sample website


F. LibriVox Audio books in Italian

G. Books I have found useful:
Barron's Italian Vocabulary
Teach Yourself Italian
Cassell's Colloquial Italian
Berlitz Italian Phrase Book and Dictionary
Berlitz Italian Vocabulary Handbook.
Mastering Italian Vocabulary: A Thematic Approach
501 Italian Verbs
2001 Italian and English Idioms
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Learning Italian
Harper Collins Italian Concise Dictionary