AARP MEMBER DISCOUNTS SEE MORE

Internet

Getting online in Rome isn't difficult: public Internet stations and Internet cafés are common. Prices differ from place to place, so spend some time to find the best deal. This isn't always readily apparent: a place might have higher rates, but because it belongs to a chain you won't be charged an initial flat fee again when you go to a different location of the same chain.

If you have a phone with an Italian SIM card, you can access various free Wi-Fi hotspots around the city through DigitRoma (www.digitroma.it), Romawireless (www.romawireless.com), and Provincia Wifi (www.mappawifi.provincia.roma.it, which also accepts a credit card for identity verification if you don’t have an Italian phone number. After you register with one of these providers, your phone should recognize the company’s free Wi-Fi hotspots, but you will be required to enter login and password.

Many hotels have free Wi-Fi or in-room modem lines, but, as with phones, using the hotel's line is relatively expensive. Always check modem rates before plugging in. You may need an adapter for your computer for the European-style plugs. As always, if you're traveling with a laptop, carry an adapter. Never plug your computer into any socket before asking about surge protection. IBM sells a pea-size modem tester that plugs into a telephone jack to check whether the line is safe to use.

Internet Cafés

Cybercafes. Cybercafes lists more than 4,000 Internet cafés worldwide. www.cybercafes.com.

Mail Office (Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 274/a, Piazza Navona, Rome, Latium, 00186. 06/68192051.)

Pantheon Internet Point (Via di Santa Caterina da Siena 40, Piazza Navona, Rome, Latium, 00186. 06/69200501.)

Cafés with Wi-Fi

Friends Café (Piazza Trilussa 34, Trastevere, Rome, Latium, 00153. 06/5816111. www.cafefriends.it.)

The Library (Vicolo della Cancelleria 7, Piazza Navona, Rome, Latium, 00186. 333/3517581 or 06/97275442. www.thelibrary.it.)

Phones

The good news is that you can now make a direct-dial telephone call from virtually any point on earth. The bad news? You can't always do so cheaply. Calling from a hotel is almost always the most expensive option; hotels usually add huge surcharges to all calls, particularly international ones. Calling cards usually keep costs to a minimum, but only if you purchase them locally. In Italy, you can also place international calls from call centers. And then there are mobile phones —as expensive as mobile phone calls can be, they are still usually a much cheaper option than calling from your hotel.

The country code for Italy is 39. The area code for Rome is 06. When dialing an Italian number from abroad, do not drop the initial 0 from the local area code.

The country code is 1 for the United States and Canada, 61 for Australia, 64 for New Zealand, and 44 for the United Kingdom.

Calling Within Italy

When calling within Italy to an Italian number, always include city dialing code such as 06 for Rome, 02 for Milan, and 055 for Florence. If you need help, dial 176 for general information in English. To place international telephone calls via operator-assisted service (or for information), dial 170.

You will notice that only cell phones have a set number of digits, whereas landlines can range from 6 to 10. Calls within Rome are preceded by the city code 06, with the exception of three-digit numbers (113 is for general emergencies) and cell phone numbers. Emergency numbers can be called for free from pay phones. Calling to cities outside of Rome follows the same procedure: city dialing code plus number.

Calling Outside Italy

Avoid making international and long-distance calls from hotels as they tend to overcharge. If you do not have a cell-phone with international cell plan, purchase an international phone card, which supplies a local number to call and offers a low rate. You can make collect calls from any phone by dialing 800/172444, which will get you an English-speaking AT&T operator. To make an international call, you must dial 00 and then the country code.

Access Codes

AT&T Direct (800/172444.)

MCI WorldPhone (800/905825.)

Sprint International Access. From cell phones call 892–176. 800/172–405 or.

Calling Cards

Most payphones now only accept schede telefoniche (phone cards), not coins. You can buy cards of varying values (€5, €10, and so forth) at post offices, newsstands (called edicole), and tobacconists. Tear off the corner of the card and insert it in the slot. When you dial, its value appears in the window. After you hang up, the card is returned so you can use it until its value runs out.

Mobile Phones

If you have a multiband phone (some countries use different frequencies from those used in the United States) and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (as do T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon), you can probably use your phone abroad. Depending on how much you want to use your phone, it may be best to add an international package with some combination of calls, texts, and data—consult your service provider before your trip. Otherwise, roaming fees can be steep. For those with unlocked phones, consider buying an Italian SIM card and prepaid service plan. Or else rent an Italian phone (via a domestic provider) with an unlimited plan. Look into rentals carefully though—there are often hidden fees, and if you’re not planning to make a lot of calls, it may be cheaper and simpler to stick with your own cell phone.

Contacts

Cellular Abroad. Cellular Abroad rents and sells GMS phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287–5072; 310/862-7100; 800/3623-3333 toll-free within Italy. www.cellularabroad.com.

Mobal. Mobal rents mobiles and sells GSM phones (starting at $29) that will operate in 140 countries. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. 888/888–9162. www.mobalrental.com.

Planet Fone. Planet Fone rents cell phones, but the per-minute rates are expensive. 888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.