Cell Phone Service When Traveling in Italy

A woman using a cellphone an at observation point on the sea.
Veronica Holsting / EyeEm / Getty Images

Cell phones are handy to have when traveling in Italy. Whether you want to stay in touch with people at home, phone ahead for reservations, or just have a phone for emergencies, taking a cell phone with you when you travel is a good idea.

Buy an International Phone Plan or a GSM Cell Phone

Cell phone plans can be confusing and using your own U.S. or Canadian cell phone can be expensive. Unless you’ve set up an international package with your provider, it's expensive to use your phone (either making calls or using data to browse the web) in Italy. It's important to call and check with your provider before you go to figure out how to arrange more affordable cell phone usage while abroad. Using hotel phones to call home is expensive and relying on pay phones can be difficult. For more information about the kind of phone you'll need, read more about buying the right GSM cell phone for Europe.

Buy a SIM Card

One easy solution is to purchase a SIM card for use with an unlocked GSM cell phone or renting and buying an unlocked GSM cell phone and prepaid SIM card from Cellular Abroad. You'll have a local Italian number for calls in Italy, free incoming calls, and a fixed low rate for calls to the United States or Canada. All the menus are in English and there's 24 hour a day service in English as well. They even include foreign adapters for the charger.

Phone cards come with a small prepaid initial credit. If you know you'll be using the phone a lot, you can buy additional prepaid time directly from Cellular Abroad when you place your order. You can also easily add time when you're in Italy. If you're traveling to other countries, you can purchase SIM cards for them as well.

Cellular Abroad phones use UNO Mobile service. Service is available everywhere, even in some surprisingly remote areas. International calls and calls to the US are usually very clear, sometimes clearer than landlines.

Learn more information about purchasing Italian SIM cards and cellular phones from Cellular Abroad.

How to Call People While Abroad

If you're trying to call a restaurant, hotel, or person in Italy (from the U.S. or any non-Italian phone), dial +39 and then the rest of the number as usual. On the flip side, let's say you bought an Italian phone or SIM card and want to make a call back to family and friends in America or a country outside of Italy. First, dial 00 then for the U.S., dial 1 (the U.S. country code) and the rest of the number. If you're calling a different country, dial 00 then that country's code (44 for England, for example).