Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   TIM in FCO - update (

Centralparkgirl May 21st, 2017 10:22 PM

TIM in FCO - update
We arrived in FCO yesterday (Sunday) and this might be helpful to others.

We asked someone who worked in the airport where the shop was and we were told it was in another terminal. While heading to retrieve luggage, I decided to ask another person and that individual gave us accurate information. After exiting luggage, while walking toward trains, etc., there is a small TIM kiosk (near others that sell shuttle tickets) on the right side, opposite a large bagel place.

We bought two SIM's: 100 minutes (anywhere), 4 GB, for 30 days at 35 euros each.

I had read here that some people had trouble with activation. I was told, they're activated in the order they are purchased. In any case, the phones were up and running in 30 minutes and other than some issues with Imessage, they work perfectly. You're given a little card with phone number on it which I immediately put in contacts in case we need to call each other.

I hope this help others. I also reset my phone so I can monitor the amount of data I use even though I will not go through 4GB on this trip.

bvlenci May 22nd, 2017 10:34 AM

Thanks so much for the update. I had heard that there was a TIM kiosk near the baggage carousels in Terminal 3. Would that be the one you visited?

One thing that perplexes me is that the plan you describe sounds like the TIM for Visitors plan, but it's supposed to cost €30, not €35.

Centralparkgirl May 22nd, 2017 01:05 PM

It is, but after you leave the luggage area. As you walk to transportation (including Leonardo Express), you walk right past it.

I was very tired and I can't recall if the plan was posted on the back wall of the kiosk or not, but 35 euros was what we were quoted and paid.

kybourbon May 24th, 2017 01:57 AM

Good to know. It used to be smaller kiosks only offered services to add to your existing TIM service and you had to go to a larger store for visitor type of services. Do they still require your passport?

I got a TIM sim at a small store in Matera last fall. It was across from Piazza Vittorio Veneto.

Burrata May 27th, 2017 04:04 AM

re: paying €35 at FCO kiosk. I read on another travel forum (TA) that the TIM kiosk is a franchise and can ask that price without informing the customer of the true price.

I was staying at the airport and had an early flight to Bari. I was not planning to go into Rome and the closest TIM store was at the nearby mall. It would have cost more to go to the mall then pay the additional €5.

Centralparkgirl May 27th, 2017 08:47 AM

Yes. They did require our passports.

Whether 30 or 35 euro - after a 9 hour flight, I was happy to get the sim quickly right in the airport on a Sunday. In general, I like to get the best price, but there wasn't any way for me to know prices at other TIM shops. Also, I think when someone wrote about 30 euros on an earlier post, it was for less data. I'm not really sure.

indyhiker May 27th, 2017 09:02 AM

When you think of the overall cost of a trip abroad, 5 Euros is pretty insignificant. We've twice purchased SIM cards at the TIM store in Termini. The pricing they offered for tourist plans never quite matched what TIM's website said. It took us well over 2 hours (which is super fun after a long flight) to get the first SIM card in 2015. Long lines, malfunctioning computers and a staff that didn't seem very efficient. When we went back the following year, the process went quicker but there was still a long line. I will gladly paid more to avoid that shop.

In contrast, we recently bought a SIM card for 10 Euros in Seville at a Vodaphone shop in about five minutes. I wish it was always that cheap and easy.

bvlenci May 27th, 2017 11:47 AM

I wouldn't mind paying the €5 extra, it just confused me because CentralParkGirl didn't mention the name of the plan.

There's a plan that's cheaper although a little more complicated. Foreigners (defined as people born outside Italy, even if naturalized citizens) can get an option called TIM International Super 1000 <b> if they're new clients of TIM </b>. In other words, you can't add it to an existing SIM card.

TIM International Super 1000 is intended for immigrants to Italy, or for people studying or working in Italy, not tourists, although nothing forbids its sale to tourists. It's a monthly plan that gets renewed automatically, either from your credit card or from your reserve credit. For this reason, I would be sure to pay cash for the plan, otherwise, with the language difference and all, the salesperson may think you want to renew it using your credit card, and then you might have trouble canceling the plan from overseas.

This plan costs €9.99 a month, plus the €10 cost of the SIM card. It includes 1000 minutes for calls, including 300 minutes to a limited number of foreign countries, none of which are European or English speaking countries. It also has 10 gb of fast data. Calls to the rest of Europe and to Australia, Canada and the USA cost €0.15 a minute, payable from your reserve credit. Text messages are not included, and would be paid from your reserve credit.

(I can only get this in Italian, probably because I chose Italian long ago, and they have that on a cookie. I hope you'll be asked what language you want to use.)

The TIM for Vistors plan includes 100 minutes and 4 gb of fast internet, and, again, no text messages. It costs €30 including the SIM card, which is €10 more than the TIM International Super 1000. The main benefits it has over the TIM International Super 1000 is that 1) the minutes can be used for calls to many other countries, including all European countries, Australia, Canada, and the USA. This is handy if you need to check in with people at home, although 100 minutes don't go that far; and 2) this plan expires at the end of one month, so you don't have to worry about cancelling or incurring other charges.

Centralparkgirl May 29th, 2017 02:35 PM

We were offered one plan for tourists and since it more than met our needs, I never inquired about other options. Frankly, I was relieved to find the kiosk, find it open, and with no line. I hate dealing with this stuff especially after a long flight.

panecott May 29th, 2017 03:29 PM

Hi, CPG, long time no speak! Nice to "see" you. This is a timely topic for me, so thank you!

This question is for anyone. At the risk of sounding stupid, what is a TIM, and what is a SIM card? Those familiar with me may know that I'm a technoramus and I still have a flip phone - altho' I'm on the verge of getting an Iphone or a Smart Phone, as soon as I figure out the difference.

But I'm heading to Italy in September for a month and want to be able to check emails and post pictures to FB. So what do I need to get? You can explain it to me like I'm a 6 year old. TIA

Andrew May 29th, 2017 03:47 PM

TIM is a mobile company like T-Mobile or Verizon. They have stores (and kiosks) in Italy like T-Mobile and Verizon have stores in the US. You can walk in/walk up and buy a SIM card or even a phone from a TIM store or kiosk.

A SIM card is a little microchip card about the size of a fingernail that controls the identity of a cell phone (or smart phone). The SIM card is provided by a mobile company like TIM. If I take my US phone to Europe, it might have a US SIM card in it, e.g. from T-Mobile, so the phone will be connected to T-Mobile. If I by a SIM card from a company like TIM, then the phone will identify with TIM mobile networks in Italy, I'll get an Italian phone number, etc.

If you use Sprint or Verizon in the US, your flip phone doesn't have a SIM card (most likely). If your phone is a T-Mobile or AT&T flip phone, it probably does have a SIM card. That's because, in the US, T-Mobile and AT&T have used SIM cards and Verizon and Sprint have not. But newer smart phones to be used with Verizon and Sprint do have SIM cards, too, so they can roam on mobile networks in other countries.

An iPhone is one brand of smart phone, sold by Apple. Android (another type of smart phone) is the chief competitor of the iPhone, though Android is created by Google, and Google licenses Android to numerous other companies like Samsung. But there is only one maker of iPhones: Apple.

panecott May 29th, 2017 04:22 PM

Thank you so much, Andrew!

So if I buy a smart phone in the US that has a SIM card, it will work in Italy and I don't have to buy anything else?

But if it doesn't have a SIM card, I'd have to buy one when I arrive?

While we're on the subject, can you recommend a phone to buy? I was browsing this weekend and came across this one:

But as you probably know, I don't know one from another. I like that one b/c of the relatively inexpensive price, but if it's not a good deal, I will spring for a better one. And how many GB's do you recommend? And any particular service provider? My flip phone is an AT&T GoPhone and I've been pleased with the service.

I currently use my flip phone only for emergencies, and occasional texting, but I actually think it has a lot more capabilities than I use.
I'd like a smart phone mainly b/c of the camera as I'd like to post more photos to FB. Thanks again for your help.

Andrew May 29th, 2017 04:42 PM

Your cell phone is connected to a cell phone company like AT&T. The SIM card is from them and is what identifies your phone to AT&T's network. (If you had a T-Mobile SIM, it would identify with T-Mobile's network.) Just having a SIM in your phone doesn't mean it will work anywhere.

People who have monthly AT&T plans - not prepaid service for occasional use like your GoPhone, which does have a SIM card inside by the way - could use their phones in Europe, but AT&T charges you a lot to use the phone ("roam") in Europe. That's the main reason people buy SIM cards in Europe: to save money. They buy a SIM card from TIM in Italy and replace their AT&T SIM card while they are in Italy with the TIM SIM card, so they can use TIM's mobile network in Italy and not have to pay expensive AT&T roaming charges while on vacation.

I can't really recommend a smart phone for you - that's much too big of a discussion, and I'm not familiar with current smart phones for sale. It might actually make more sense for you to buy a smart phone in Italy from a mobile store like a TIM store. Then they will set up the phone for you and it will just work, and you can use it the next time you go to Italy, too.

However, if you haven't already used a smart phone, getting one ahead of time in the US to start using it so you aren't completely lost could make sense. It's not necessarily simple for someone not used to a smart phone to pick one up and feel comfortable using one in ten minutes. My Mom could not get used to her Android phone - she could use it to take pictures, but otherwise she found it far too confusing to use. She eventually went back to her flip phone for calls. It sounds like you are not particularly tech-savvy either, by your own admission. Not to say you can't use a smart phone, just that it might take you a while to get used to using one. Taking pictures with one is pretty easy; actually using it to make calls and/or post your pictures on Facebook while traveling may not be simple for you.

panecott May 30th, 2017 03:08 AM

Thanks again, Andrew. I wouldn't buy one in Italy without first learning how to use it here.

I keep telling myself that almost everyone in the world knows how to use one so it shouldn't be that hard for me. I'll just have to take the time to learn and that's why I was looking into buying one now.

Now that I know the difference between a smart phone and an Iphone, I'll have to find out the difference between a smart phone and an android. ;-)

rs899 May 30th, 2017 03:55 AM

"Now that I know the difference between a smart phone and an Iphone, I'll have to find out the difference between a smart phone and an android. ;-)"

Both iPhone and android are smartphones. Androids can be bought for as little as $50, whereas Apple wants far more, like $4-600.

For most people, either will do your business. Iphones are perhaps a bit more user friendly, but I find them frustratingly locked down to the apple ecosystem.

panecott May 30th, 2017 07:10 AM

Thanks, rs899. That's quite a difference in price!

What do you mean by their being locked down to the apple ecosystem? Is it a matter of compatibility that limits their usage in some way?

rs899 May 30th, 2017 08:12 AM

"What do you mean by their being locked down to the apple ecosystem? Is it a matter of compatibility that limits their usage in some way?"

For most people, it probably doesn't matter. For the enthusiasts (Like me and and possibly Andrew and xyz123) Apple is very picky about the proprietary nature of their software and apps. Android is much more "open architecture" and more able to be tinkered with by the developer community.

kybourbon May 30th, 2017 09:41 AM

Panecott - Do you have a tablet you are taking? You could use it for a camera and not need a smart phone at all. If your hotel has wifi, you can use that for internet with your tablet to post pics.

Smart phones are phone that you can surf the net, download apps, etc. While you can get internet access with old flip phones, you can't really d/l things like you can on smart phones.

FWIW, I've been using an old unlocked (AT&T - they gave me the code to unlock it years ago) in Italy for years. I just get a TIM sim with some minutes to make calls which costs about 10€. I always take a tablet so I use that for internet at the hotel instead of the phone. I did have a camera issue last trip and had to use my tablet to take pics. Mine is a Samsung with very few options on the camera. It was much better taking videos with it than pics. It will depend on your tablet or phone if it will take decent pics or not. Some are much better than others.

panecott May 30th, 2017 11:45 AM

Thanks for the responses, rs and kybourbon.

I don't have a tablet, ky, altho' I've been thinking about getting one. I need a new laptop and I was thinking of just getting a tablet instead, b/c I really only use it for internet browsing and organizing photos and a tablet might be more practical.

I never travel with my laptop - unless it's a road trip - but I might consider doing so with a tablet.

Meanwhile, I'll do a survey of some friends on what type of phones they have and what they like/dislike about them.

Andrew May 30th, 2017 12:06 PM

While you're surveying your friends about their phones, ask them if they have a spare phone they'd be willing to give or loan to you. Lots of people have old smart phones laying around that they don't use anymore, after an upgrade. Most of them will work just fine on WiFi without any phone service. But this would give you the opportunity to play with a phone at home and see how you like it, if not use this actual phone in Italy. (Not all smart phones are ideal for use in Italy, though.)

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:50 PM.