Phone Service

Aug 7th, 2008, 07:02 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 11
Phone Service

Looking for best way to be in touch by phone between USA and Italy (both directions) during an extended stay (3 months) in Italy
ricky1234 is offline  
Aug 7th, 2008, 08:18 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
The key word is both directions....if it were just for calling out, the cheapest is a phone card purchased at most any tabachi.

But if you want to be reachable, I doubt if you can establish residential service for such a short period without any sort of cancellation penalties.

Therefore, we come around to the prepaid cell some research...get a local Italian sim card...the most popular seems to be TIM...look over their plans...don't know without establishing residence that you can get a contract....prepaid will always have free reception of calls and minutes on most Italian plans to call within Italy are relatively cheap....calling back to home (USA?) you can use a phone card either from a public phone or from the cell phone using a local Italian number.

There are also voip plans if you want to lug around a lap top and can get a free or cheap connection.
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 7th, 2008, 08:19 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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The absolute best way is to take along a computer equipped with software and stay in a place (such as an apartment) that has high-speed internet included in the rent. You can also load Skype on a thumb drive and rent a computer by the hour at an internet cafe.

You can even load Skype on a Pocket PC and use free wireless networks (like McDonald's around Paris - I don't know what's in Italy).

To hook up with someone in the US, use SMS on your cell phones "SKYPE ME @1300 MST" for less than a dollar.
Robespierre is offline  
Aug 7th, 2008, 10:56 AM
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I'm personally a fan of taking an unlocked cell phone (get one on ebay) and buying an Italian SIM card when you arrive. Incoming calls will be free to your Italian cell phone number.
Aug 7th, 2008, 12:49 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
True enough - but if you also pay the bill of the calling phone (in the US), you could be bankrupted by a single chat.
Robespierre is offline  
Aug 7th, 2008, 01:00 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
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You might ask this question over on the Expats in Italy forum, or Slow Travel. I go with computer-based Skype and give out my Italian cell number just as an emergency contact in the US, but that might not work for you.

To purchase a cell phone contract in Italy you are supposed to have a number that is knows as a "codice fiscale" (it's for tax purposes) from the Italian government. However, some phone vendors will create a number for you, because it's based on a standard formula using your initials, your passport number and something else like eye of newt or boiling rigatoni or something.

Like I said, you might ask over on those other websites.
zeppole is offline  
Aug 7th, 2008, 01:03 PM
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Ah. Occhio del Newt Alfredo. Benissimo!
Robespierre is offline  
Aug 7th, 2008, 02:24 PM
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True enough - but if you also pay the bill of the calling phone (in the US), you could be bankrupted by a single chat.

Easily solved - I have a phone card from called Flying Colors. I've called overseas often for 17 cents a minute or less with no connection charge. (Italy, Dominican Republic, Uganda)

To purchase a cell phone contract in Italy you are supposed to have a number that is knows as a "codice fiscale

I don't know what this refers to, but I don't think it refers to purchasing a SIM card, does it?
Aug 7th, 2008, 06:15 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 9,422
Si, si, Robespietro, e una punta di rana!


You do actually. I just pulled this from this website (scroll to bottom)

"Codice Fiscale, what's that?"

In Italy you cannot buy any prepaid mobile sim-card without having a "codice fiscale". What's that? In English it sounds like "fiscal code", it's a unique code for each person in Italy (and in theory in the World), which identifies that person for the Italian Fiscal department. You need the CF for any registration in Italy, and it's the same for sim-cards, both pre and postpaid. How can a foreign person buy a sim-card, so? There are 2 way a "perfectly legal one" (and I'm not sure it works) and a "fast one". If you speak Italian and are ready for some bureocracy go here and look for the closest "Agenzia delle entrate" in Italy, then go there with your passport and you should (not sure about it) get a "legal" Codice Fiscale.

The "fast way" is much easier: go to this site, it's in Italian, but don't worry, it's not difficult to understand, since I'll translate that for you! ;-)

Cognome: surname
Nome: name
Sesso: sex (m=male, f=female)
Comune di nascita (o Stato estero): this is the hardest thing to do! You have to write the name of your country, but you have to do it in Italian! i.e. United States is Stati Uniti, New Zealand is Nuova Zelanda, Germany is Germania, Greece is Grecia, and so on. You can use Babelfish to translate your country's name into Italian, it should work.
Prov.: if you are not Italian just write EE
Data di Nascita: birthdate (giorno=day, mese=month, anno=year)

At this point you just have to click on "Calcola il tuo Codice Fiscale" and you finally have your own CF! I suggest you to print the page and keep it with you, you shouldn't have any problem to buy a prepaid card now, and if you have, it's not your fault, but it's some Italian dealer that cannot do his/her job well! And it happens...
zeppole is offline  
Aug 7th, 2008, 06:21 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,212
I agree with using Skype. Easy to download and install. Easy to place phone calls. Both parties need to have it installed on their computer/laptop. If you don't have a built in microphone then you need a headset. I believe the headsets with USB port connectors work better than the prong connectors.
adrienne is offline  
Aug 7th, 2008, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
A couple of points...

1. If you go to and I believe you look through the operator's portion under Italy, there will probably be a link to produce your own c.f. I know I got one from there easily enough.

2. However, I purchased a bargain priced TIM sim on Ebay a year or two ago, no registration was necessary and it functioins perfectly. Things, though, may have changed.

3. While I disagree with Robespierre that calling an Italian mobile will break the bank, one should be aware when one looks at ld rates using various US ld operators, that the price for a call to a landline in Europe is somewhat cheaper tha calling a European mobile as the European mobile networks operate on the principle that caller pays the freight. That being said, my current plan with AT&T, which I use to have calls forwarded to various mobile numbers I have, run about 27 US/minute....not dirt cheap but not terribly expensive either.

There are cheaper alternatives.
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 7th, 2008, 06:31 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,130

Same question for France. Although I'll have my laptop with me, I dont think the apt I rented has connection.

I have an ATT Blackberry phone unlocked currently with a T Mobile Sim card in it.

What Sim card would I buy in France for calls in France, Paris and Nice, and perhaps a call to or from the states for emergency or to check on the house..etc. ?
Mahya2 is offline  

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