We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Smart phone use in Italy

Kearney, Nebraska
Level Contributor
2 posts
20 reviews
Save Topic
Smart phone use in Italy

1. I'm so used to using my Android smart phone here in the U.S. to access Google plus to text pictures.

I'm not finding any reasonably priced solution for having the same options while in Italy.

2. We are traveling with two other couples and wonder about buying cell phones when we get to Italy to use to communicate between the three couples while we are there for 18 days.

Mentioned in this post
Italy
Italy
Europe
Likely To Sell Out
Skip the Line: Vatican Museums, St...
23,576 Reviews
from US$74.40*
Likely To Sell Out
Viator VIP: Sistine Chapel Private...
542 Reviews
from US$395.80*
Skip the Line: Ancient Rome and...
11,879 Reviews
from US$58.80*
Rome, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome
Level Contributor
6,298 posts
674 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Smart phone use in Italy

Yes, you can do it for about 20-50 euros per phone (total for your stay), depending on the model you buy and how much you plan to use them. Vodafone, Tim, and Wind are the big three service providers in Italy. You'll see their stores in a lot of places near the sites you're likely to visit. Don't bother with the cell phone kiosks at the arrivals section of the airport: in case you need customer service or to add add'l credit, you'll have a better time with the big 3.

If any of your U.S. phones have a swappable SIM card, then you could use the same phone in Italy--you'd just end up with an Italian phone number. Use the same service providers I mentioned. Money spent would be less since you wouldn't need extra hardware.

If you're going to use data, make sure to ask at whichever store you use. They may charge a flat fee for up to X MB per day. (4 euros for 500 MB per day can be expected.) Otherwise, make sure to turn off data usage on you phone asap.

Edited: 13 November 2013, 04:30
Mentioned in this post
Italy
Italy
Europe
Kearney, Nebraska
Level Contributor
2 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Smart phone use in Italy

Thank you for taking the time to answer me!

san diego...
Level Contributor
597 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Smart phone use in Italy

If you have tmobile they just started free international data and texting

Le Marche, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome, Marche
Level Contributor
37,725 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Smart phone use in Italy

The kiosks at the airport selling "international SIM cards" are a colossal rip-off. Don't even consider buying from them. In spite of the very high cost, many people have reported that these SIM cards never worked properly.

Of the "big three", TIM and Vodafone now sell monthly package deals that include talk, text, and data. The cheapest plans should be plenty for 90% of visitors, and the cost is quite reasonable, although there is usually an activation charge that will be more than the cost of the first month. TIM waives the activation charge if you're changing providers (from another Italian provider).

For those who want only talk and text, the following TIM plan, available only to foreigners, is a good deal, and also allows you to call home at very reasonable rates:

international.tim.it/en/tim-international-xl…

The €5 monthly cost covers all calls within Italy, up to 250 minutes per month. The activation fee is waived for new customers.

If you want data, you really have to get one of the other plans, which are not explained in English:

www.tim.it/tariffe/ricaricabile?tab=1&sez=1

The top section (TIM Special Full) are the plans that include data; I think the Italian can be understood by English speakers. In addition to the monthly cost, there is a 19-euro activation charge. I'm not sure if the SIM card costs extra, or if it's included in the activation charge. If not, that would be another 10 euros.

In the small print, TIM says that these plans are available only through the end of November, even though they just began offering them. I don't know what happens then, but I'll try to keep you posted.

Vodafone has similar costs for its packages. For international customers, and only through November 23rd, 2013, this plan looks very good:

eshop.vodafone.it/tutti-250-international-1

This includes 250 minutes to both Italian and international numbers, plus 1 gb of data, for €9.90 per month, (PAYGO, or prepaid). If they continue to offer something similar after the end of November, this would probably be the most attractive prepaid (no contract) plan available for visitors to Italy. It doesn't include text messages, but I think most people could live with that.

WIND seems to be still selling pay-for-what-you-consume plans, along with package plans like those of TIM and Vodafone. They also have a "Call your country" option that allows you to call internationally at reduced rates. However, WIND doesn't have good coverage nationwide, although it's probably fine in the major cities.

All of these phone providers are constantly changing their plans, so please don't assume that what I say today will still be true in the future. If you want to get one of the plans I've mentioned above, I suggest you print the page for which I've provided links and bring it with you to the phone store to make it easier to explain what you want.

Mentioned in this post
Italy
Italy
Europe
New York
Level Contributor
867 posts
81 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Smart phone use in Italy

Bvlenci What are your suggestions for Verizon. I have an Android Phone and I am exploring what my option

are since I will be Bologna, Firenze, and Roma. Getting a SIM card. I am considering the phone to check in at home no testing or pictures. Perhaps just buying a phone card. How difficult is it to call home using a phone card from Hotel ( is this blocked ) or finding a place locally. Thanks again.

Mentioned in this post
Bologna
Bologna
Province of Bologna, Italy
Roma Boutique Hotel
Roma Boutique Hotel
651 Reviews
Rome, Italy
Le Marche, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome, Marche
Level Contributor
37,725 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Smart phone use in Italy

Brenna, I'm having a little difficulty understanding your question. First of all, since I live in Italy, I know nothing about Verizon.

You can buy international calling cards at tobacco shops or newsstands. I've used these in hotels and don't see any reason why they should be blocked. Italian hotels aren't allowed to inflate the cost of phone calls; they have to charge the client what the call costs them. Some hotels try to get around this by using expensive providers themselves, which I suspect give kickbacks, but still, they should block anything.

The calling cards usually have instructions in Italian and English. They normally have a selection of numbers you can call. You get more minutes if you call a local number, but then you have to pay for the local call, so I think your best option is to call the 800 number, which will still give you lots of minutes, maybe more than you will need. The calling cards are available in amounts of 5 euros and up; I think 5 euros would be sufficient unless you're planning to make long calls.

One brand of calling card I used to use a lot (before I got Skype) was the Sisal Edicard Europa & USA. This is sold at any bar or shop that has a Sisal terminal, which is normally used to sell lotto tickets, specifically SuperEnaLotto, and to pay bills. You'll usually see a SuperEnaLotto sign on the door of places that have these terminals. You might want to write down the following:

"Sisal Edicard Europa & USA (carta telefonica) €5 "

I don't understand at all what you mean by this:

"I am considering the phone to check in at home no testing or pictures."

Edited: 14 November 2013, 09:59
Mentioned in this post
Italy
Italy
Europe
Reading UK
Level Contributor
141 posts
70 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Smart phone use in Italy

Can't you just upload your pictures to Google+ when you have access to wifi?

We have a two phone solution to phone use abroad, both in Europe and the US. We keep our smart phones on airplane mode except when we can access wifi, such as in the hotel. We use our old (non smart) pay as you go phones on the rare occasions we need to text, make a phone call or contact each other.

To check in at home we would text on our non smart phones, or email when on wifi.

It works for us but we are not prolific communicators by phone or text!

Mentioned in this post
Europe
Europe
World
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
87 posts
140 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Smart phone use in Italy

Hi Bvlenci, thanks for your explanation. I will be arriving in Milan on 3 Dec, and I am interested in the TIM Special Full package. However, I do know that this offer ends by 1 Dec, so I guess I will have to keep checking the website.

Anyway, how do I go about doing this? Just enter a TIM shop and talk to a sales person? I am using iPhone 5. First I have to find a TIM shop in Milan...

Anyway thanks! Keep us updated on the latest plan! Cheers!

Mentioned in this post
Milan
Milan
Lombardy, Italy
New Jersey
Level Contributor
551 posts
100 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Smart phone use in Italy

Good topic. I did something similar while I was in France. I know two different services etc. Both my wife and my phone was unlocked( she has Iphone4 & I have Galaxy). I went to the Orange store, bought two sim cards for our phones. I added 500mb of data for two weeks (which was more than enough). We had unlimited calling and text in France. I added 1hour of international calling for 15 Euro. The service was amazing on Orange network. So with this all being said and the above advice being very good. I would go to one of the recommend store and purchase a limited plan. At the store you will get the help you may need if things dont work correctly at first. My wife and I now have the cards when we go back to France. All we have to do is re-charge for the time we need to spend there.

Mentioned in this post
France
France
Europe
Orange Hotel
Orange Hotel
558 Reviews
Rome, Italy
Le Marche, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome, Marche
Level Contributor
37,725 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Smart phone use in Italy

I'll try to remember to update information about available plans at the beginning of December. If I forget, just post a reminder on this topic!