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|10-12-2012 08:20 PM|
I bought a phone from Telestial (available on Amazon as well with Prime 2-day delivery). You get a US number and a UK number. In UK, Spain, France and Italy, incoming calls on the UK number are FREE. Calls on the US number are 30 cents per minute. Outgoing calls are 99 cents per minute. Data is $0.39 per Mb (about 1/100th of that ATT/Verizon/Sprint charge). No connection fees. You can buy a phone with a SIM card with $5 credit for $19. Phone is a piece of junk, but it makes calls. You can also just buy a SIM and use your unlocked phone.
The only small downside, is that for outgoing calls, you place the call, the phone disconnects and then you get called back. A minor annoyance if you ask me.
|10-01-2012 11:12 AM|
Thanks! If I pay for a tour I'll make sure it has that access into St. Peters.
|10-01-2012 08:45 AM|
You can put the iphone in airplane mode, but then turn wifi "on" that should leave anything cellular "off"
It'd be fine as a camera, just again, have situational awareness of what's around you
As to the vatican- there's usually pretty long lines there... you can buy tickets online in advance which will let you skip the LONG ticket lines... you'll still have to go through security screening though.... with advance tickets I think it was only maybe 10-20 minutes or so to get in... as opposed to the folks who looked like they'd be there an hour or more standing in the line to buy tickets that day.
There's an INSANE amount to see there though, we spent probably 6 hours and only saw the highlights... so try and find some maps/info online and plan your visit ahead of time... if you can find a tour that doesn't put a significant markup on stuff and fits your schedule it might get you past certain lines quicker, but on the other hand it might hinder you- having to move at the pace of a group, and wait for there to be room for a group in whatever next area you're going to.
The one place it might really help- after getting through a bunch of the museum stuff and then the sistine chapel, there's a door there that gets you 'direct' into St. Peters without having to go through security again... they no longer let regular people through that, so you have to go outside and through security lines (different ones than the initial entry), this can slow you down.... it's possible some of the tours might still get access this way though (I'd check first- that'd probably be worth paying a little extra for if you are in a hurry)
|10-01-2012 08:30 AM|
Thanks all so much.
I bought a cheap cell for europe. I don't think it has data capabilities.
I was reconsidering bringing my iphone to use as a camera and at wifi hotspots. I'm not sure how to turn off data so I don't get charged for roaming, etc.
Do you think it would be dangerous to have the phone out to use as a camera?
Unfortunately, I will be meeting a friend for second week in Italy and she booked naples as a base for the amalfi region. It sounds like your use of Sorrento as a base was a much smarter way to go.
Did you use any tour companies along the way? In Rome I will only have a few hours to see the sights of Vatican city. Do you think a tour is worth the money there?
Thanks again and again!
|09-28-2012 11:06 PM|
|Harrington102||You can buy any kind of good Nokia phone for you in very reasonable price.|
|09-28-2012 06:26 AM|
FWIW the only place on the whole Italy trip I felt like there was any decent shot at being pickpocketed was the train station in Naples.... Naples in general is a complete crap-hole that I only suggest stopping in for a few reasons:
1) The one museum where they took most of the 'good' stuff from Pompei that was movable
2) The pizza really is fantastic- handily enough there's an outstanding >100 year old pizza place right down the block from the museum in item 1
3)I It's where you switch to the regional trains for Pompeii and Sorrento (which is really nice)
So I only recommend stopping there for half a day on your way through to hit the museum and pizza place then get the hell out... but in the meantime the train station was the by far most "crimey" feeling place on the trip, with any number of folks aggressively begging, trying to high-pressure-sales you on hiring them for a private car, or otherwise shady looking folks walking around.
I mean, don't flash expensive stuff, and keep situational awareness, no matter where you go... but apart from the Naples train station at no point on the trip did any place seem more likely to harbor a pickpocket than anywhere else in other countries.
|09-27-2012 08:41 PM|
Crime happens everywhere. If you flash expensive stuff and you look like you're not paying attention to your stuff, you might get robbed. Otherwise, Italy isn't any more dangerous than anywhere else. There aren't any more pickpockets in Italy than there are in New York or Chicago or anywhere else.
I'm not arguing with a decision to bring a cheap phone or leave your valuables at home.......that's fine, but I wouldn't be overly worried, either. I've traveled in 35 countries and lived on 3 different continents in addition to traveling to 38 states in the USA. I've only been robbed once and it was completely my own fault. And it wasn't on a train and it wasn't in Europe.
As for the phone issue, you can buy any unlocked GSM cell phone (get one used on Ebay or used from Cowboom or Amazon or something) and then just buy a local chip in Italy -- or just buy a prepaid phone cheaply there. Cell phone service is MUCH less expensive pretty much everyone else in the world.
|09-27-2012 09:19 AM|
I spent about 10 total minutes "on cellphones" in Italy... 2 to find the cell store at the train station, another 2 to explain what I wanted to the clerk who spoke English decently, a minute to pay, then the remaining 5 to swap the sim card in, boot the phone, and insure it worked.
Not really all that onerous, or time consuming, or requiring much energy.
Not to say you can't possibly run into a bad experience, but mine certainly wasn't one.
Now, if the ONLY thing you were gonna use it for was a once-a-day call back to the US, sure, skip the cell, just get a cheap calling card from one of the news/tobacco places and use a public or hotel phone with it.
But the 10 minutes invested in the cell was very useful for us for other reasons... in rough order of value:
1) Data, for local map/directions/hours of businesses stuff- also nice to have data in places that didn't have wifi available like during a train ride between cities
2) A handful of local calls to make a reservation or confirm or inquire about details not found on their website, etc
3) Calling EACH OTHER if doing anything where we were apart, as we had both a smartphone for the #1 item and a cheap "dumb" phone to stay in touch (and thus bought one data/voice sim, and one just voice)
4) Being reachable from the US just in case some emergency came up
that's apart from the tremendous value having my smart phone on the trip added regardless of having service or not... (ebooks, games, music, etc)
|09-27-2012 08:41 AM|
If all you want to do is keep in touch with someone back home, a cellphone on the ground doesn't make much sense. Its not like she will need to contact you on demand, you just want to be able to speak from time to time. There are internet cafes everywhere in countries like Italy; on the streets and in most hotels. And if you are considering the phone for emergencies as well, consider how well you could communicate an emergency in Italian, and how often every person in your surrounding area has a cellphone for emergencies. The only reason to have a cell in another country is if you need a local number, in order to receive or make calls in country. (And if you think it is fun dealing with staff at a cellphone store, your gonna love dealing with the staff at an Italian cellphone store!. Finally, this will be time consuming. Consider how much energy you want to waste on a cellphone during your trip.....you will probably waste twice as much time as you think!)
My favorite tip on pickpockets (not sure if you are a man/woman) is to take a big thick rubber band (like the one you find around a head of broccoli) and then wrap it around you wallet once. The friction the rubber band makes when someone is trying to take it out of your pocket alerts you nicely. Also, don't ever let your guard down in train stations or in crowded areas.
Enjoy trip either way!
|09-26-2012 11:18 AM|
The employee question- this will be hit and miss... if buying a SIM from a phone store they'll probably know how for most common phones- if buying from a newstand, not so much... it should be pretty easy to google up the manual for whatever phone you buy though and find the directions yourself before the trip- it's usually very easy to do on all the phones I've had.
On the charger- that depends too... check the voltage on the charger that comes with it, if it says something like 100-240 then you only need a plug adapter (a pretty cheap item, like 10-20 bucks online or radio shack) that changes the shape of the prongs on the power plug so it will fit in the wall there... I'd expect most (but probably not all) newer world-capable phone chargers to be this type.
If it doesn't list anything but 110 (100-120v type range, nothing in the 200s) then you would probably need an actual full charger that handles the 220v Europe uses and has the appropriate plug-end as well.
You're quite welcome on the trip info, hope you have a terrific time and let us know how it goes!
|09-26-2012 11:10 AM|
Do you think the train station employee will know how to put the SIM card in? Or is it something I can do myself?
Also, I guess I need to buy a charger that will work in Italy?
I'm taking your itinerary/restaurant posts along. It is all so helpful -- Thank you!
|09-22-2012 08:51 PM|
To test a given phone you think might be unlocked already, well, easiest would probably be if you have a friend who has service on the other GSM carrier in the US (ie if it's an unlocked AT&T phone put his t-mobile sim in it, or vice versa, if it works, it's unlocked)
if you just want something basic you ought be able to find an unlocked GSM phone on craigslist or ebay pretty cheap...for example-
|09-22-2012 08:18 PM|
I have a tracphone lg800 and the minutes expired in August. Would that work in Italy? Is there a way to know if it is an unlocked gsm phone?
Otherwise, would appreciate it if you might have a specific recommendation for a model of phone to take.
Would like a phone/sim card that will let me text or call home to the US once per day just to check in. Then to use as needed in Italy.
Thanks again for all your help!!
|07-27-2012 04:40 AM|
|skate876||I think GMS phone with prepaid sim is best for using in Italy.Last year I along with my friend visited Italy and used this phone.It was done a great job for me.|
|07-23-2012 07:02 PM|
|Bargunhnter||My wife and I went to Italy last year, and our cell phone carrier is Verizon. I simply called the Wireless Dept. and spoke with a rep about wanting a phone for our trip. They sent us a simple flip phone for @ $6.00 to take on the trip and all incoming calls we're free with outgoing calls costing .06/min. I simply called family at any time and had them call us right back. Once we returned we packaged the phone and sent it back, the total was simply added to our montly cell phone bill. I want to say the entire cost for the phone "rental" plus minutes used only cost us around $23 for a 12 day trip. Not bad for security and convenience, plus not having to deal with phone cards etc. although at night we did use Skype to see our little boy!!|
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