Smartphones have become faithful companions for the tourist wanting to snap pictures, take videos, and do a number of things that can make your trip more efficient, comfortable and that can make you keep in touch with your loved ones even thousands of miles away from home. But of course, not all data plans are created equal and if you don’t prepare yourself properly, your smartphone can become your enemy, eating up your data traffic, or leaving you hanging at the worst of times.
Of course Italian is not a language that can be grasped on the go, so that might make it all the more difficult to prepare or activate a mobile plan once you’ve arrived in Italy. Which is why it’s recommended you prepare yourself for any possibility before departure. But just in case, here’s some vocabulary: “sim card” or “carta sim”, “mobile plan” is “contratto telefonico” and if you need to charge the amount available for your mobile usage you can say “mi serve una ricarica” (I need a charge card).
Which phone plan?
Italian telecommunications provider’s shops allow you to choose from a wide range of phone plans, which might or might not include a data plan, but there are so many of them that you might waste a consistent part of your day just locked up with a salesperson looking at complex information. Most of the phone plans are not tailored after tourists who will stay in Italy for a few weeks, and deleting your subscription afterwards will be an even more bothersome process. Not to mention that these shops might have long queues and that’s more time you’ll have to waste as you try to choose the right option for your smartphone usage.
Many providers and a bit of bureaucracy.
The major companies providing mobile services in Italy are Vodafone, Wind, Tim and 3 (Tre). You will find the help desk or shop for each of them in all of the major cities in Italy and even in most minor cities and towns. As mentioned, there is a great number of options and most if not all of them will require you settle your phone plan with a clerk using at least some basic Italian terms. But if doing as much seems easy enough, you have to know that’s not all. To start a mobile plan, you’ll need some documents. A document certifying your identity (passports or Italian IDs – carta d’identità – are the only ones accepted) and the codice fiscale (a code similar to an American social security number) are the most important ones needed but of course tourists won’t have the codice fiscale, for instance. Moreover, once you’ve worked out a way to activate a mobile contract, there’s paperwork to fill out, and that’s another obstacle for those who just want to enjoy their vacation and upload photos to social media as they go.
Your best option would be to start a prepaid plan that can be charged at certain locations, such as tobacconist shops, at certain bars and cafés, and charge cards can also be purchased by the cash registers in most supermarkets or shopping centers. You can either use such charge cards with your phone, tell your phone number to the salesperson who will then charge your number with the desired amount in the locations where this option is available or, according to your plan, you might also be able to charge your phone with the provider’s smartphone app, using your credit card or
But when it comes down to which option to choose, remember: if you can plan out your flights and hotel stays from the comfort of your home, why not choose the right mobile plan for you before departure as well? If you are going to Italy this summer more tips and travel advice can be found on EmiliaDelizia travel blog.