Communications in Italy


Phones and other gadgets at your fingertips

In the past, staying connected to those back home seemed a daunting task. Prices were high and the coverage in Italy was poor. Nowadays there are options that not only are very inexpensive but are also easy to take advantage of and extremely functional.

Cell phones

First and foremost, in Italy, incoming cell phone calls are free. Also, since you can pre-pay your calls, you can control how much money you want to invest in the outgoing call time without worrying about receiving unexpectedly high bills. You can also continue to receive incoming calls with zero remaining credit.

Network operators are Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM,, Vodafone Omnitel (, Wind (, and H3G ( If you want to use your cell phone in Italy, it must be a GSM tri-band. Check with your cellular carrier to make arrangements before departure. The major nationwide carriers - AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless, Nextel, Sprint PCS,T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless - offer international roaming service. This means the companies have partnered with carriers in other countries to provide expanded service to U.S. customers. Please keep in mind that roaming charges can be costly. A cheaper option is to buy a prepaid SIM card at your destination, then swapping it with the card inside your phone. The tiny SIM card is the phone's life-support system: without it, the handset won't work. The card is usually located one layer beneath the battery. Pop the battery out and you should see the SIM card seated in a slot. Prepaid SIM cards typically come in per-minute increments. Costs vary, so shop around. Depending on the country you visit, you should be able to find a few phone operators selling prepaid SIM cards. When the amount of money on the card runs out, you have to purchase more time. You can add more time on the phone using your credit card, but in Italy most people buy more time with a "Ricaricard" that can be purchased at a tobacco shop, phone store or media store. These cards come in denominations of 25 or 50 Euro (sometimes they are available in smaller amounts). The card costs 5 Euro more than it is worth (service charge).


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