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Phones and phone cards

We will need to make some phone calls within Italy during our stay there -- to hotels , etc. Can we buy a phone card and count on there being public telephones on which to use it? Thank you.

Michael in Seattle

Posted by
3551 posts

you can buy phone cards at diff denominations at Tabac shops everywhere. And yes there still are public phones avail. If you are staying at B&B's you could ask owner to lend you their phone and use your phone card. It definately would be cleaner, quieter and more convenient though.

Posted by
486 posts

Be sure to read Rick's Italy book where it describes how to dial ... sloooowwwwllllyyy

Also consider a cell phone. Check the cell phone information at

Think of the major advantages of being reachable in case of an emergency and the convenience of making calls (and getting called back).

Posted by
31303 posts


You shouldn't have any trouble finding Phone cards, but I beleive there are two versions - one primarily for in-country calls and the other for international calls. Public telephones in Europe (as in North America) are not as common these days, due to the fact that useage has decreased because of cell phones.

I normally travel with a Cell phone so haven't really paid much attention to phone cards. In addition to the link in the previous post, you might also have a look at for further information.

Good luck!

Posted by
45 posts

Like the other post stated, always ask for an international phone card (Carta telefonica al estero..USA). Make sure they give you one with a pin code (in Italian codice) so that you can call from hotel, b&b phone etc. My mom asked to buy a phone card and they gave her a "recharge" card for a pay-per-use cell phone. Another time, she forgot to ask for one with a code and she got a phone card that you insert into the public phones. You can call out to the states, but are stuck always using public phones. The pin code international cards are the most flexible,and tend to give you thebest rate, only afew cents per minute. Check the card they give you before you pay for it. Cell phones are a bit more complicated. One you need a gsm phone, and if you have one you need to unlock it if you want an Italian number. I only recommend it for trips longer than 10 days, if you have people who need to contact you 24/7 or if you rent a car. Send me a message if you need more details on using a cell phone in Italy.

Posted by
49 posts

I'm confused... I saw in one of those links that it may be difficult to get a pre-paid mobile phone in Italy because you have to have a valid address in Italy to make the purchase. I was planning on just buying one when we got there. I can't do this?

Also, is there cell coverage in the Cinque Terre area?

Posted by
36 posts


While in Verona this summer, I purchased an inernational phone card to make calls home to Canada from my hotel rooms. Found one at the local tabacchi for 5 Euros, and when I asked how many minutes it had on it, the clerk told me he thought it was 300! Although I couldn't get the instructions to work in English, they worked perfectly in Italian, and I had no trouble calling both Canada and the US from my room. Unfortunately, as my Italian is very bad, I was unable to tell how many minutes were actually left on the card, but I do know that I used 1 1/2 to 2 hours of "talk time" while there. Can't give you the name on the card though, as I gave it to friends who departed yesterday for Italy so they could use up the balance. It was a great deal for 5 Euros.

Posted by
29 posts

We just bought a Mobal World Phone for $49 for our upcoming trip to Germany. It's good for life, no activation or monthly fees. You just pay for all calls billed to your credit card. Seemed like the most convenient way to go for us!

Posted by
1449 posts

Mobal is convenient. One easy purchase and you're done. The catch is the rate you pay. Convenience comes with a price; $1.50/min to call the US from Italy. Even using my stock AT&T phone I'd only pay $1.29/min and my friends in the US would be able to call me at my normal number and not have to pay int'l rates.

Posted by
43 posts

We just returned from two weeks in Italy and one day when we were at a public internet point, checking email, we asked about a phone card. For 5 euros we bought a card (international, usa) that the guy said would work in a pay phone or from our hotel. HE said if you used a pay /public phone you got less minutes than from your hotel room. So we went back and from our hotel all we had to do was get an outside line, by dialing 9, I think. Then we called the 800 number, etc....and dialed home. We had about 3 hours of talk time!!! We called home every other day while we were in Italy, just to use up our minutes! It was great!! There was no surcharge from any of our 5 was so easy!!! And we couldn't believe how many minutes we got to talk!!
I think you can buy the cards in lots of places!
Tom & Sherry - Steger, IL