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Prepurchasing an Italy SIM

Old Mar 19th, 2017, 08:43 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 305
Prepurchasing an Italy SIM

Hi, husband and I are planning a trip to Rome and Florence. I'd like to buy our SIMs before we go (we have Verizon phones), because the last time we bought them on-site in England and it was a lot more complicated than we expected, both in the initial purchase and in topping them up which we were never able to do successfully. I figure if it was complicated when we speak the language, having a language barrier will make it pretty much impossible.

I understand that arriving international flights can't buy SIM cards at FCO, and we won't be hubbing through Termini upon arrival. I also understand that it would be less expensive to buy them at a tobacco shop once we're in Rome --> but I'm willing to pay a bit more to NOT have to make that transaction with our poor Italian skills. If we have even half the problems we did getting our SIM cards through Virgin, we'll end up with no phone service at all.

We don't plan to use our phones for a lot of calls - likely just texts or calls to each other, plus data to access maps as we navigate the cities, and probably Facebook at night to check in with the family back in the states. Our hotel room has WiFi access.

So, with that preamble, what do you think of these?

Cellhire Mifi
- this price isn't bad for two phones, but what happens if we go different places or one of us (ahem, husband) gets lots?


Verizon - rent an international phone and add data beyond the initial 100MB|51811

Tim purchase voucher in advance, present in person at a shop (I'm skeptical of this - it sounds complicated for someone who won't be a native Italian speaker - plus we'll be in the Ripa/Testaccio area, and I don't see any Tim shops in that area)

As always, many thanks for your feedback!
Kandace_York is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2017, 08:56 AM
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 9
You can buy a TIM sim at FCO. I bought the TIM for Visitors plan in April 2016. The TIM booth is in Terminal 3 near baggage claim.

The person who helped me spoke excellent English and the plan worked very well.

One disadvantage is that TIM for Visitors doesn't include texts but I downloaded the WhatsApp for text messages.

Make sure you have your passport handy, they need to make a copy of it for security reasons.
Burrata is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2017, 09:03 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 305
Thanks, Burrata. Were you arriving from the US or from a Schengen country? Did you need to go through security to get there?
Kandace_York is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2017, 09:10 AM
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 9
From the US on Alitalia and you don't need to go through security to get to the TIM booth. So if your flight did arrive at another terminal you can easily get to T3 and purchase the plan.

Have you checked Verizon to see if they have an international plan?

I have a pay as you go plan so buying an Italian SIM made sense for me.
Burrata is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2017, 04:14 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 305
Thanks, Burrata, that helps! Verizon's plan is awful - it would cost me and my husband $20 each DAY. I think we'll try the TIM card and hope that there aren't problems activating it; I've read accounts of them "forgetting" to activate tourists' phones and the tourists are forced to return to the airport and straighten things out in person. Ugh!
Kandace_York is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2017, 02:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 48,538
You do have to register/activate the TIM. It requires your passport and maybe 10 minutes of your time. I cannot imagine having to return to the airport to do so, though - that's ridiculous. Any TIM or phone store, or even a tabacco shop, can do that for you.
StCirq is online now  
Old Mar 20th, 2017, 04:51 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 305
Thanks, StCirq. We'll give it a try and hope for the best, though I'm admittedly skeptical after our UK experience. I've read that the TIM stores are individually owned/operated, so if you buy a SIM from one store and it doesn't activate within the 24 hours or whatever, other stores won't look at it -- you need to go back to the store where you originally got it, and they won't handle it over the phone or by email.

It's tough separating the wheat from the chaff on this one.
Kandace_York is offline  
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