Communications

Internet

Getting online in Venice: Wi-Fi is widely available in hotels and restaurants, and there are still a few Internet cafés in operation. Many business-oriented hotels also offer in-room broadband, though some (ironically, often the more expensive ones) charge for broadband and Wi-Fi access. Note that chargers and power supplies may need plug adapters to fit European-style electric sockets (a converter probably won’t be necessary).

Venice is continuing to develop citywide Internet and expand services at a daily or weekly rate for temporary access. However, coverage is still quite limited and progress in extending coverage has been quite slow.

Paid and free Wi-Fi hot spots can be found in major airports and train stations and shopping centers; they will most likely be free in bars or cafés that want your business.

Phones

Calling Italy from Abroad

When telephoning Italy from North America, dial 011 (to get an international line), followed by Italy's country code, 39, and the phone number, including any leading 0. Note that Italian cell numbers have 10 digits and always begin with a 3; Italian landline numbers will contain from 4 to 10 digits and always begin with a 0. So, for example, when calling Venice, where local numbers start with 041, dial 011 + 39 + 041 + phone number; for a cell phone, dial 011 + 39 + cell number.

Calling Within Italy

For all calls within Italy, whether local or long-distance, you'll dial the entire phone number that starts with 0, or 3 for cell phone numbers. Calling a cell phone may cost significantly more than calling a landline, depending on the calling plan. Italy uses the prefix "800" for toll-free or numero verde (green) numbers.

Making International Calls

The country code for the U.S. and Canada is 1 (dial 00 + 1 + area code and number).

Because of the high rates charged by most hotels for long-distance and international calls, you're better off making such calls from your mobile phone and/or using an international calling card .

With the advent of mobile phones, public pay phones are becoming increasingly scarce in Venice. You can use your U.S. mobile phone in Italy, but to avoid exorbitant roaming costs, even if you are doing only a moderate amount of calling, it is best to purchase a prepaid Italian SIM card from any tobacconist or mobile phone service provider shop. You will pay only for outgoing calls.

Make sure, however, that your phone uses the GSM system (not all U.S. phones do) and is unlocked (that you can use it with SIM cards from any service provider). If your phone is not GSM, or permanently locked, consider buying an inexpensive mobile phone outfitted with a prepaid SIM card.

If you’re carrying a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, investigate apps and services such as Skype, Viber, and Whatsapp, which offer free or low-cost calling and texting services.

Access Codes

AT&T Direct. 800/172444; www.shop.att.com.

World Access. 800/905825; www.worldaccessnumbers.com.

Calling Cards

If you will be making frequent calls to North America or other overseas locations from Venice, you may want to consider getting an international calling card; you call a toll-free number from any phone, including your cell phone, entering the access code found on the back of the card followed by the destination number. A reliable prepaid card for calling North America and elsewhere in Europe is the TIM Welcome card, which comes in two denominations, €5 and €10, and is available at tobacco shops and newsstands. When purchasing, specify your calling destination (the United States, or the country you prefer).

If you’re a frequent international traveler, save your old mobile phone (ask your cell phone company to unlock it for you) or buy an unlocked, multiband phone online. Use it as a travel phone, buying a new SIM card with pay-as-you-go service in each destination.

Contacts

Cellular Abroad. This is a good source for SIM cards that work in many countries; travel-friendly phones can also be purchased or rented. 800/287–5072; www.cellularabroad.com.

Mobal. GSM phones that will operate in 190 countries are available for purchase (starting at $29) and rent. An international SIM card costs $9. Per-call rates in Italy are $.99 per minute; sending a text costs $.80. 888/888–9162; 212/785–5800; www.mobal.com.

Planet Fone. Rental cell phones, with per-minute rates costing $.99–$1.99, are available. 888/988–4777; www.planetfone.com.

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