Chances are that you own a cell phone. So your question might be, will it work in Italy? First you need to find out if your phone is GSM (Global System for Mobile – some 50% of cell phones sold in the U.S. are), which means it will work in Europe. If it is you’re in luck and can use it in Italy. Call your service provider and find out what the per-minute charge will be abroad. It will likely be about $1 per minute if you pay a small monthly fee for an international plan. This will get your cell phone working abroad, but is not really an affordable option for much talk time. A better option is to purchase an Italian SIM card to use in your GSM phone. This will allow you free incoming calls from anywhere in the world and outgoing calls at about .35€ per minute. In order to use an Italian SIM card, you need to make sure your phone is “unlocked.” You can go online to find out how to do this.
CellularAbroad.com offers Italian SIM cards for sale online so you can get one before you hit the ground in Italy. This company, among many others, also offers cell phone rentals in case you don’t have a GSM phone. Whether or not you bring a cell phone to Italy, you’ll probably want to buy a prepaid international telephone card once you’re in the country. You can buy them at any local tobacco shops (tabacchi) — out front you’ll see a dark brown sign with a white capital T. The card costs 5€ and entitles you to hundreds of minutes of international calling time from any landline. You simply dial a toll-free number (numero verde) and the code provided on the card.
Whatever you do, don’t make direct international calls from your hotel room phone. Your telephone bill might exceed the nightly cost of your room!
If you’re bringing your laptop computer with you to Italy, you can sign up for a free account at www.skype.com Skype allows you to make free international phone calls through your computer to anyone else in the world who also has the free software on his/her computer. For a small fee, you can set it up to make calls from your computer to any phone — cell or landline — in the world.
Wireless access is prevalent in restaurants and hotels and most hotels no longer charge for you to use WiFi. You can access it with your phone or laptop computer. If you choose not to bring a device with you, most hotels make a desktop computer available for guests to use or have a business center available.