There are various free Wi-Fi hotspots around the city through DigitRoma (digitroma.nuvolaitpeoplelinked.it), Romawireless (www.romawireless.com), and Provincia Wifi (www.mappawifi.provincia.roma.it), the latter of which also accepts a credit card for identity verification if you don’t have an Italian phone number. After you register with one of these providers, your phone should recognize the company’s free Wi-Fi hotspots, but you will be required to enter a login and password each time. However these public systems are often a bit hit-or-miss in terms of quality, so usually the easiest thing to do is take advantage of the Wi-Fi at bars and cafés, for the price of a beer or a cup of coffee.
Cafés with Wi-Fi
Friends Café. Piazza Trilussa 34, Trastevere, Rome, Latium, 00153. 06/5816111.
The Library. Vicolo della Cancelleria 7, Piazza Navona, Rome, Latium, 00186. 333/3517581; 06/97275442; www.thelibrary.it.
The good news is that you can now make a direct-dial telephone call from virtually any point on earth. The bad news? You can't always do so cheaply. Calling from a hotel is almost always the most expensive option; hotels usually add huge surcharges to all calls, particularly international ones. Calling cards usually keep costs to a minimum, but only if you purchase them locally. In Italy, you can also place international calls from call centers. And then there are mobile phones —as expensive as mobile calls can be, they are still usually a much cheaper option than calling from your hotel.
The country code for Italy is 39. The area code for Rome is 06. When dialing an Italian number from abroad, do not drop the initial 0 from the local area code.
The country code is 1 for the United States and Canada, 61 for Australia, 64 for New Zealand, and 44 for the United Kingdom.
Calling Within Italy
When calling within Italy to an Italian number, always include the city dialing code such as 06 for Rome, 02 for Milan, and 055 for Florence.
You'll notice that only mobile phones have a set number of digits, whereas landlines can range from 6 to 10 digits. Calls within Rome are preceded by the city code 06, with the exception of three-digit numbers (113 is for general emergencies) and mobile phone numbers. Emergency numbers can be called for free from pay phones. Calling to cities outside of Rome follows the same procedure: city dialing code plus number.
Calling Outside Italy
Avoid making international and long-distance calls from hotels as they tend to overcharge. If you do not have a mobile-phone with international mobile plan, purchase an international phone card, which supplies a local number to call and offers a low rate. You can make collect calls from any phone by dialing 800/172444, which will get you an English-speaking AT&T operator. To make an international call, you must dial 00 and then the country code.
AT&T Direct. 800/172444.
MCI WorldPhone. 800/905825.
The few surviving payphones now only accept schede telefoniche (phone cards), not coins. You can buy cards of varying values (€5, €10, and so forth) at post offices, newsstands (called edicole), and tobacconists. Tear off the corner of the card and insert it in the slot. When you dial, its value appears in the window. After you hang up, the card is returned so you can use it until its value runs out.
Depending on how much you want to use your phone, it may be best to add an international package with some combination of calls, texts, and data—consult your service provider before your trip. Otherwise, roaming fees can be steep. For those with unlocked phones, consider buying an Italian SIM card and prepaid service plan. Or else rent an Italian phone (via a domestic provider) with an unlimited plan. Look into rentals carefully though—there are often hidden fees, and if you’re not planning to make a lot of calls, it may be cheaper and simpler to stick with your own mobile phone.
Cellular Abroad. Cellular Abroad rents and sells phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287–5072; 800/3623–3333; www.cellularabroad.com.
Mobal. Mobal rents mobiles and sells phones that will operate in 140 countries. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. 888/888–9162; www.mobalrental.com.