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Cell phone in italy??

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Oct 5th, 2014, 05:33 AM
  #1
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Cell phone in italy??

my wife and i travel quite extensively but we never take our cell phones. too expensive. we have planned a 5 week trip to italy and nearly all of the villas that we have booked want to be contacted by mobile an hour or two before we arrive. most inexpensive solution?

thanks
toledodd is offline  
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Oct 5th, 2014, 05:52 AM
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buy a pre-paid E10 SIPP as you arrive in Italy, make sure your phone is unlocked. Swap SIPPs.
bilboburgler is offline  
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Oct 5th, 2014, 08:46 AM
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I never heard of a SIPP in this context. Do you mean a SIM card? Or is it a synonym? I thought a SIPP was a circuit board.

It depends. You don't say where your home base is. Most cellular providers in the US now have reasonable plans for *voice* roaming service, although not for data. If all you want to do is call half a dozen villas to confirm your arrival, it would usually cost less than buying a local SIM card.

So the first thing I would do is talk to your provider to see what sort of European calling plan they can offer you. You also have to make sure that the phone is GSM compatible and, that if it's not unlocked already, that your provider is willing to unlock it for the trip.

If you want to do more than make a few calls, then buying a local SIM card might make sense. They're supposed to cost €10, which includes 5 euros of credit. That would be enough for about 20 minutes of talk time. However, some vendors are pushing (or insisting on selling) SIM cards that already have one or more top-ups included, for example, they'll only sell you a €20 SIM with €15 of initial credit.

You have to choose a basic calling plan; for people making mostly short calls, the best option is a plan with no connection charge. The top two providers are TIM and Vodafone, and both have such plans, which really charge you by the second rather than the minute. So if, for example, your plan charges 20 cents a minute and you talk for only 30 seconds, the call will cost you 10 cents. TIM's plan is called TIM Zero Scatti, and Vodafone's is called Vodafone al Secondo.
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Oct 5th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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We travelled three weeks in Italy and just used free wifi to text the next hotel with time of arrival. We never had to call them "an hour or two before' Does this happen only with villas?
snowgirls is offline  
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Oct 5th, 2014, 09:04 AM
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"Most cellular providers in the US now have reasonable plans for *voice* roaming service, although not for data." - Well, T-Mobile has FREE data in 200 countries and very inexpensive voice.
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Oct 5th, 2014, 09:06 AM
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bvl, yepp confused the two
bilboburgler is offline  
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Oct 5th, 2014, 09:32 AM
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Snowgirl: Apartment and villa rentals, unlike hotels, usually need a confirming phone call shortly before you arrive. They don't have personnel on site all the time as a hotel does.

Kathie, I don't think most people want to change phone providers just for a few phone calls on vacation.

My daughter travels to Italy often, both to visit her mom (me), and for work. She got T-Mobile for the cheap calls and free data, but she's dropped it because of poor coverage at home. Now she has a local Italian SIM card, and tries to keep it operational.
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Oct 6th, 2014, 12:22 PM
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This is good to know because I have never rented a villa or apartment in Italy ( or anywhere) but may consider it in the future. I suppose they need the "heads up" to get someone there to open up and hand keys over etc.
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Oct 6th, 2014, 12:47 PM
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snowgirls: We are phoneless yet we rent frequently in Europe -- perhaps twice a year -- and have generally managed successfully around the tyranny of the rental agencies RE phoning.

We arrange a rendezvous time in advance. I have never missed the rendezvous. The agent in Barcelona did, however -- he had an "emergency" appointment (yeah, right) to meet other clients.

He just expected me to call his number when he did not show up at the property.

Payphones are RARE in Barcelona and no one in bars or restaurants would let me use their phone for a cash payment. I finally found someone in a take out shop who helped me.

RE Italy: There are approximately 2 cell phones for every Italian (100M+ "telefonini") so anyone without a cellphone is considered a rather suspicious character, like someone with no fixed address.
tedgale is offline  
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Oct 6th, 2014, 01:07 PM
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If you have a smart phone, download the free apps Whatsapp and Viber. Whatsapp (for texting) uses data (but minimal) and Viber (for voice calls) uses wifi. Everyone we communicated with about accommodations, tours, etc. in Europe used these almost exclusively for communication. The rest of the world thinks Americans are crazy for not using Whatsapp.
crosscheck is offline  
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Oct 6th, 2014, 04:46 PM
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"Kathie, I don't think most people want to change phone providers just for a few phone calls on vacation."

Maybe not. But we opted to change providers as we have just retired and are going to be doing even more international travel than usual. We used the free data all the time in Paris.
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Oct 7th, 2014, 02:34 AM
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What's App will use either wifi or data. I think Viber will also use either one. However, when you're driving to meet your agent at a villa in Tuscany, you're not likely to have access to wifi. If you use even a tiny bit of data, you need some sort of data plan, either with your US provider or a local one. And a data plan costs more money than call roaming if you're only going to make a few calls.
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Oct 7th, 2014, 07:29 AM
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bvienci - You're right about the wifi/data, but we found plenty of wifi in Tuscany and most places in Europe.

toledodd -

-If you're a Verizon customer, you can sign up for their intl. data plan - 100mb for $25. Or if you're only going to make a few calls or use Whatapsp a few times, even at several dollars a minute, it will be less of an an expense/hassle than changing your SIM and not being reachable on your US number.

-You can rent a 'cellomobile' phone in advance (so you'll know your number) for $2 a day, delivered to your home before you leave. I used a similar rental (but not this one) on a business trip to Rome - reception was remarkably good.

http://www.cellomobile.com/italy-cel...mq9BoCq_fw_wcB
crosscheck is offline  
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Oct 7th, 2014, 08:54 AM
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toledodd,
You will probably get additional relevant options if you post the name of your current carrier and the phone model. Depending on what you already have, other options mentioned here can be even more expensive.
greg is offline  
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Oct 7th, 2014, 02:14 PM
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Agreed greg. We have AT&T at home in the States. Toledodd, If you only need to make a few phone calls nothing special is needed and quite inexpensive for the odd call or two, probably no more than $2 USD per minute. Nothing needs to be done, just know how to dial an international number. If you also have AT&T there are several international calling plans at various rates for calls or data roaming.

We have Skype downloaded on our smartphone and can call for next to nothing however you do need wi-fi, like Viber.
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Oct 7th, 2014, 03:07 PM
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If you really only want to make a few calls, there's no point in paying $25 for a skimpy data plan. Verizon's normal call rate in Italy is $1.29 per minute. If you pay $4.99 for their roaming plan, it would be only $0.99 per minute. It costs $0.50 to send an SMS, which would probably be fine with your agent. In any case, it won't come to $25.

If you don't get a data plan, make sure you keep data services turned off when you're away from the US.
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