Using the phone

Making and Receiving Calls

Telecom Italia is Italy’s most commonly used telephone company and operates one of the most expensive phone systems in Europe, particularly for international calls. Tariffs are higher if you are calling from a public phone and usually still higher if you are within a hotel. Public telephones are marked with a logo of a red telephone, and will usually take both pre-paid phone cards (a scheda telefonica – on sale at bars and newsagents or tabacchi) and credit cards and the ones accepting coins are becoming rarer and rarer. The most economic way to call home though is to use one of many international phone cards.
Use small change when calling so that if you do put too much credit in for the call, at least you will get some of your money back.

When using a prepaid card either insert the card or dial in the pin code and follow the instructions. You automatically reach an operator in the country of destination, avoiding all language difficulty. The credit left on the card should be given to you at the beginning of each call. Calling from a phone centre costs the same as calling from a normal public phone, but is obviously more convenient.

Calling abroad

The international dialing code for Italy is +39, and to dial in from other countries, preface it with the exit code. From the UK that is 00 and from USA and Canada 001. In Italy, the full city code must be used all the time, even if you are calling a number within the same area. So, if you wanted to call Florence from the UK you would dial: For example: 00 39 055 + rest of number (UK- Florence)

For example: 001 39 055 + rest of number (USA/Canada – Florence)

To call abroad from Italy you need to put in the international dialing code (00 44 UK, 001 America and Canada) and omit the initial ’0′ from the person’s number. To call Italy from the rest of the world, insert the international dialing code +39 but leave in all ’0′s. The same pattern works to mobile numbers.

For example: Italy – England: 00 44 (0) 20 87….. (London)
For example: Italy- USA/Canada 001

All numbers beginning with 800 are free (numero verde). For numbers that begin with 840 and 848, you will be charged just one unit, regardless of where you are calling or how long the call lasts. These numbers can only be called from within Italy.

Long distance Calls within Italy (Interurbana)

Both local and long distance call require the proper area code before dialling the number. Ex: to place a call within Florence you must dial 055 + phone number. To call Rome from Florence : 06 + phone number; to call Florence from Rome : 055 + phone number for example. When calling a cellular phone, drop the zero of the area code, ex: 397 + phone number of the cellular. To call USA or Canada from Italy: 001+area code+ phone number.

Mobile Phones

All mobiles in Italy all start with a 3 (no zero). Pay as you go mobiles can be bought from any of the main phone shops from €80 and up, including the SIM card and most generally include about € 5 calling credit. The main phone providers are Tim , Wind and Vodafone. Top up sim cards (ricarica) are available from most tabacchi and some newstands. If you buy a simcard in Italy, make sure your phone has been unlocked first, otherwise the new Italian SIM card will not be accepted. However, if you buy a phone in Italy, they are already unlocked so you can put in your original SIM card without any problem or unlocking process.

As calling from your domestic phone is very expensive in Italy (because two networks are used when calling overseas), it is worth renting an Italian mobile for the period you are in the country. You are most likely to rent a phone from most internet points. Internet Train and IntotheWeb offer this service as well as:

Area Code (Prefisso Telefonico)

Following are the area code numbers for some of the principal cities of Italy

  • Ancona 071
  • Aosta 0165
  • L’Aquila 0862
  • Bari 080
  • Bergamo 035
  • Bologna 051
  • Bolzano 0471
  • Brescia 030
  • Brindisi 0831
  • Cagliari 070
  • Campobasso 0874
  • Catania 095
  • Catanzaro 0961
  • Florence 055
  • Genoa 010
  • Livorno 0586
  • Messina 090
  • Milan 02
  • Naples 081
  • Palermo 091
  • Perugia 075
  • Pisa 050
  • Potenza 0971
  • Reggio C. 0965
  • Rome 06
  • Siena 0577
  • Trento 0461
  • Trieste 040
  • Turin 011
  • Venice 041
  • Verona 045

    Operator Services

    To make a reverse charge (collect) call, dial 170 for the international operator in Italy. To be connected to the operator in the country you want to call, dial 172 followed by a four digit code for the country hence 172 00 44 for the UK, and 172 ’00 1 for America and Canada. If you are calling from a phonebox, you will need to insert a coin, which will be refunded at the end of the call.
    The following services operate 24 hours daily (calls are charged).

    Operator and Italian Directory Enquiries: 12
    International Operator: 170
    International Directory Enquiries: 176
    Problems on National calls: 182
    Problems on International calls: 176
    Wake-up calls: 114; an automatic message will ask you to dial in the time you want your call, with four digits on a 24 hour clock, followed by your phone number.
    Tourist Information: 110

    Phone Centres

    Telecom Italia
    Via Cavour 21r
    Open: daily 8am- 9.45pm

    At this Telecom Italia office, you are allocated a booth and can use either a phone card or pay at the desk after you have finished making all your calls. It also has phone books for all Europe, information on phoning charges and phone cards. At other telephone offices or telefoni your call will be metered and then you pay at the desk according to how many units (scatti) you have used.

    Telephone Directories

    All hotels and most bars and restaurants have phone books and Yellow Pages. If they are not on display ask to see the elenco telefonico or pagine gialle.

    Emergency Telephone Numbers

    112: Carabinieri (type of police force)
    113: for Emergency Police Help
    115: for the Fire Department
    116: A.C.I. (Italian Automobile Club) – for road side assistance
    118: for Medical Emergencies

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