Staying in Touch whilst you're away
The international dial code in Italy is '00' to get out, followed by the country code, area code (with or without the '0' depending on your countries requirement) then the telephone number. For international directories or assistance, an English speaking operator can be reached on 170 which is a free call from a public telephone. Many of the properties let by Meridian Villas have fixed telephones installed, and calls will be charged based on metered use at the time of departure. The description of each villa notes whether a telephone is included or not. Public telephones in Italy charge according to time. There are three different types of public telephones available:
Credit card phone. The credit card is inserted and the call made directly
Telephone card ('scheda telefonica') whereby you insert the card and call direct. Telephone cards can be bought from tobacconists ('tabaccaio') or news stands ('giornalaio')
Coin operated ('moneta') telephones. These use standard Italian coins including 500, 200,100,50 lire. Please note that some telephones will not accept the new 100 lire coin.
Cellular telephones from most countries except the United States will function on 'roaming' within Italy, and services will be provided under an agreement with the local providers. Prior to leaving home, travellers should ensure that their cellular phones are activated for roaming, and that their carrier has an agreement in Italy. GSM reception is available in all major centres and most populated areas.
Your agreement should be checked, however the normal arrangements are that calls made from a roaming telephone attract a normal charge in the area that you are calling from (ie italian rates from Italy) plus a surcharge (about 15%) by your carrier. Local calls do not require the country code, but do require the area code and number. SMS services are available and are much cheaper than call costs (for sending or receiving)
Calls received are a different issue, and usually cost a lot for both the caller and the receiver, ie. a caller in Italy who wants to call an Australian friend on a mobile friend in the same town in Italy will pay for the call from Italy to Australia plus surcharge (he must call using the '00' and Australian prefix). The receiver will pay the call charges from Australia to Italy to receive the call.
A way around this is to buy a local prepaid SIM and number ('scheda prepagata') if a large amount of local communicating between foreign cellular phones is envisaged. These can be purchased for as little as €50 from telephone outlets and concessions (advertised under the names 'TIM', 'Vodafone' or 'Wind') and will provide a new Italian telephone number. A passport or identity card will be required to register the number). Travellers from the US are not able to use their cell phones in Italy (at the time of writing) although telephones with prepaid cards can be hired from Meridian Villas. Guests wishing to use this service are advised to pre-advise their needs so that the telephone number can be provided in advance and given out to contacts prior to leaving home.
Internet services are available at a few villas via ADSL connection. Villas with telephones can also achieve low volume internet connections via dial up modem. Otherwise, there is a diffusion of internet cafes in all major centres and most smaller centres where internet access can be achieved. Prior to leaving home, ensure that you have set up your email for remote access via a browser and note down the login and passwords.
For those who find it hard to break with the habit, Meridian Villas will arrange, on request to have a facsimile placed in your villa for the duration of your stay. (providing the villa has a telephone - refer to villa detailed description to determine this). Simply enter your requirements on the villa booking form, or forward an email to Customer Service stating your requirements and booking reference. We will get straight back to you with prices, conditions and your number so that you can communicate it before you leave.