Rent or buy a cell phone in Italy?

Old Feb 4th, 2006, 01:47 PM
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Rent or buy a cell phone in Italy?

My husband and I will be going to Italy for the first time. I am renting a car in Florence for four days in Tuscany. I am a bit nervous about being in the countryside without a cell phone. Anyone with advice about buying or renting an international cell phone?
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Old Feb 4th, 2006, 02:22 PM
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There is more advice on this forum for cell phone issues than you can imagine. I think just putting "cell phone" in the search function will help.

As I generally follow those discussions, it seems to me that most people feel that the most efficient thing to have is a phone that works in your home country as well as in Europe.
That doesn't work for me, because I am on a family cell phone thing, controlled by another family member, and I just go along with what they have bought.

As far as renting or buying goes, if, like me, a phone that works in both places isn't an option for you, only you can know if buying one will pay for you.

I go to Italy once, or sometimes twice, a year, and so buying a phone to use there was the best choice for me. I bought my phone on Ebay, and the person who sold it to me was a one time visitor to Italy. They used the phone there, then sold it on Ebay. That could be an option for you.

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Old Feb 4th, 2006, 02:52 PM
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eurotravlr
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You can rent a cell phone from cells4rent.com for 15e and your incoming calls from the US is free. Their rates are posted at their website. They are located in Florence.
 
Old Feb 5th, 2006, 01:55 PM
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Also, look at the Context Rome website. In addition to tours that they offer i saw that they offer cell phones to rent for $7 eur. a day. Min. 3 day rental.They even drop off at your hotel.
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Old Feb 5th, 2006, 02:02 PM
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ira
 
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Hi S,

>I am a bit nervous about being in the countryside without a cell phone.<

If you only want a phone for emergency use and/or the occasional call, buy the $49 phone from www.mobal.com.

Their per minute rates are high, but you are only charged for the time you spend on the phone.

It is good anywhere in Europe.

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Old Feb 5th, 2006, 08:21 PM
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I lived in Europe and would suggest you consider the following if you are going to go expense of having a cell phone for "emergencies":

1. You will need to know how to reach emergency services by phone. In most EU countries the numbers are as below, but this is not always the case. Keep a list handy (I tape them to the back of my phone.)

Ambulance 118
Fire 15
Police 112

2. In my unfortunate experience, you will rarely find English-speaking personnel at the other end of the line, even at emergency numbers. Hence, the phone may not be helpful in a really life-threatening emergency. Do not place false reliance on it; get out of the car and find a person to help.

3. In order to get emergency help to reach you, you will need to know your precise location, i.e. what town you are in our outside of, the name of the road, local landmarks etc. Again, in my experience, you will not always know the street name or town name, nor how many kilometers you are from the nearest town. For example, there are hundreds of no-name lanes in the countryside of Tuscany, I don't think anyone but a local could give adequate location or direction information to emergency personnel. In addition a person whose first language is not English may not understand your Anglo pronunciation of streets and towns.

Given the above, I have concluded that its is faster and better to just get out of the car and either flag down a passing car (hopefully containing a local) or walk for help.


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Old Feb 5th, 2006, 08:24 PM
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One thing, I see you are renting a car. There is often a number you can call for the rental company. They may have English speaking operators. This is a plus. AGain, however, unless you know your precise location, even an English-speaking operator will not be able to send an ambulance or police car to you. It is better to find a local person rather than use the phone if it is a real emergency. In a breakdown situation, it is a toss up as to whether they can find you if you cannot give a precise street address.
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Old Feb 6th, 2006, 09:19 AM
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ttt
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Old Feb 6th, 2006, 11:07 AM
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You sound exactly like I did on my first trip to Italy. I insisted we rent a phone -we did the Verizon one despite the cost. Then we got there- and the first day our rental car blew a tire on one of those scenic "white roads." Funny now. But the jack had no instructions and the pieces were quite different from US ones. I called Avis-and sat on hold for a terribly long time-and finally got through but no one at the number could speak English or German or Spanish, and at that point we spoke no Italian-such a waste of time. Those phrasebooks only help if you understand what people are saying in response. Finally a boy on a bike stopped and after a while was able to figure it out. So we got to a repair shop-and I called again with the repairman-not sure what to do-and spent another long time on hold. Then over two weeks, there was something about going in and out of different service areas-everytime we did-we would get another incoming call and could never figure out how to stop them.I had given the number to folks at home "just in case" so had to check the messages. We paid for each of those calls.I think the whole cell phone thing is overrated. It ended up costing us a fortune. Have not done it on any trip after that. Guess if I absolutely needed a phone-would buy one. I think our rental with all the costs of the calls would have bought us two phones. or three.
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Old Feb 6th, 2006, 11:35 AM
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When I use my Italian cell phone: to occasionally call home and check on the family.

To occasionally make reservations for museums and restaurants.

Once, to call a hotel and ask if we could come a day early.

In rental situations, I've used it a few times for questions about the operation of appliances or furnace in the place we were staying.

I guess I would use it in an emergency, but my Italian is only good enough to ask for things, and hardly ever good enough to understand fast spoken responses.
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Old Feb 7th, 2006, 01:04 AM
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tuscanlifeedit-I know what you mean,I have said before it it easier to speak a language that to hear it, glad it's not just me!
I am curious, however, about readers opinions about a rental phone, so our grown kids (one of which is babysitting our dogs) could contact us, and visa versa, to check in or for emergencies. We are with cingular, if that helps with info. thanks
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Old Feb 7th, 2006, 01:52 AM
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In the olden days before cell phones, there was something called a hotel telephone. One left an itinerary with one's family and work colleagues, which included a telephone number for each hotel on one's itinerary. Then if necessary, the people at home could call the hotel. A call to you at your hotel will not cost you anything on the receiving end, and hopefully will be made by your kids on a cheap calling plan they already have in the US. Also, the itinerary would show the time difference, which would help to avoid those calls to you when it is 3 am in Florence but only 7 pm in San Francisco.

I would add that most hotels these days also have faxes and e-mail addresses which can also be used by loved ones to contact you or send messages.

You can also make calls from your hotel using an AT&T or similar calling card. (Note that some hotels now charge for accessing the local toll free number.)

Finally, there are numerous cybercafés in every European city where for a pittance or even for free you could access your e-mail while enjoying a fine cup of Italian coffee or a glass of wine. Go to cybercafe.com for a list by country and city. Your hotel may also offer free internet.

If you get a rental phone, you will have a local number, which you will then have to get to your friends and family so they can reach you. This may cost you more in phone calls to disseminate than it is worth. . .. or you will go to a cybercafé to send an e-mail with your number and voila! you can see how much easier it would be to just to communicate by e-mail.

I think the "need" for a rental phone is very, very negligible and the money could be better spent elsewhere. Your hotel can make dinner reservations for you and they are better off doing it IMO unless your Italian/French/German is very good. I don't know why anyone would spend precious vacation time in a store buying or renting a mobile phone. I carry a tri-band because I have one for work but can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have used it on vacation for anything related to the trip or any emergency, including road accidents in Europe where I got out of the car and found locals with cell phones to help, no time wasted on my mobile. It is a nice convenience to have strictly because I don't pay for it, and I certainly would not pay for to rent one or go through the whole circus of buying an unlocked phone. If you need a new phone, and if you plan to be in Europe or Asia a lot, and can buy a dual or tri-bad cell phone cheaply with Cingular and can add international calling to your plan then mabye this is worth it, as all that would not take much time (and certainly not much vacation time).

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