- Italian telephone area codes all begin with 0 and consist of up to four digits. The area code is followed by a number of anything from four to nine digits. The area code is an integral part of the telephone number and must always be dialled, even when calling from next door.
- Mobile-phone numbers begin with a three-digit prefix such as 330.
- Toll-free (free-phone) numbers are known as numeri verdi and usually start with 800.
- Nongeographical numbers start with 840, 841, 848, 892, 899, 163, 166 or 199.
- Some six-digit national rate numbers are also in use (such as those for Alitalia and rail and postal information).
As elsewhere in Europe, Italians choose from a host of providers of phone plans and rates, making it difficult to make generalisations about costs.
- The cheapest options for calling internationally are free or low-cost computer programs such as Skype or Viber.
- Cut-price call centres can be found in all of the main cities; rates can be considerably lower than from Telecom Italia pay phones for international calls. Place your call from a private booth inside the centre and pay when you've finished.
- International calling cards, sold at newsstands and tabacchi (tobacconists), also offer cheaper rates. They can be used at public telephones.
- To call another country from Italy, first dial 00, then the relevant country and area codes, followed by the telephone number.
- To call Italy from abroad, call the international access number (011 in the USA, 00 from most other countries), Italy's country code (39) and then the area code of the location you want, including the leading 0.
Local SIM cards can be used in European and Australian phones. Other phones must be set to roaming.
- Italy uses GSM 900/1800, which is compatible with the rest of Europe and Australia but not with North American GSM 1900 or the totally different Japanese system.
- Many modern smartphones are multiband, meaning they are compatible with a number of international networks – check with your service provider about using your phone in Italy.
- Beware of mobile calls being routed internationally; it can be very expensive for a 'local' call.
- You can get a temporary or prepaid account from several companies if you already own a GSM, dual- or multiband mobile phone.
- Always check with your provider in your home country to see whether your handset allows use of another SIM card. If yours does, it can cost as little as €20 to activate a local prepaid SIM card (sometimes with €10 worth of calls on the card). You'll need to register with a mobile-phone shop, bring your passport and wait for about 24 hours for your account to be activated.
- You can easily top up an Italian account with ricarica (prepaid minutes) from your selected mobile company at tabacchi, supermarkets and banks.
- TIM (www.tim.it), Vodafone (www.vodafone.it) and Wind (www.wind.it) have the densest networks of outlets across the country.
- If you have an internet-enabled phone, turn off data roaming when you're not using it, otherwise it devours credit.
Pay Phones & Phonecards
- Telecom Italia public phones can be found on the streets, in train stations and in Telecom offices.
- Most pay phones accept only carte/schede telefoniche (phonecards), although some also accept credit cards. Prepaid phonecards (costing €1, €2.50, €3, €5 and €7.50) are sold at post offices, tabacchi and newsstands.
- Telecom offers a wide range of prepaid cards for both domestic and international use.