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Buying a cell phone in Florence

Level Contributor
191 posts
25 reviews
Buying a cell phone in Florence

My college student daughter will be studying for three months in Florence, and needs a cell phone to communicate with friends in Florence and also to call home in the U.S. We have Skype, so when she is connected to the internet with her laptop she will be able to do both for free. Her cell phone & plan here in the US (Verizon) is not appropriate for unlocking and taking to Europe, so the best option appears to be to purchase a cheap cell phone in Florence and buy a Sim card with pre-paid minutes, re-loading as necessary with pre-paid cards purchased at tabachi. Here are my questions:

1. Of the various services (TIM, Wind, Vodafone, etc) which has the best signal/coverage in Florence and the surrounding areas?

2. Where are their phone stores located in Florence?

3. Does anyone have advice as to the type of device she might purchase and what she should expect to pay for it?

4. At the conclusion of the three months, is there a used cell market amongst students so that she could re-sell it? Might she make her initial purchase there?

Thanks for your input.

washington, dc
Level Contributor
4,022 posts
1 review
1. Re: Buying a cell phone in Florence

I have no answer for question number four.

As for the others:

1) I have been using Vodafone for about seven years. I have used a couple of cheap, recycled AT&T Nokias with GSM simcards and a purpose-bought, cheapo Sony-Ericson. I have used both pre-paid minutes and a regular subscription. The pre-paid minutes definitely make the most sense for somebody who is there for a fixed-time only, as opposed to a frequent visitor.

I have never, ever had any coverage problems anywhere in Europe. They seem to have done a much better job of coverage than we have. In my experience, Vodafone simply works everywhere. You can also buy additional time for it all over the place, including many tabacchi. I once had problems adding minutes in Austria, but I think that was the Austrians' fault.

2)Vodafone has a shop on the Via dei Martelli, just a block north of the cathedral.

3)Based on my experience, I would recommend whatever is cheapest. I bought my Sony-Ericson for 50 euros with a bunch of pre-paid minutes.

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
10 posts
7 reviews
2. Re: Buying a cell phone in Florence

A couple of years back, I bought an unlocked Motorola that I always take with me to Europe. You can rent a SIM card for Italy from Cellhire very reasonably - www.cellhire.com

St. Catharines...
Level Contributor
2,672 posts
32 reviews
3. Re: Buying a cell phone in Florence

Any phone bought in the U.S. shpuld be tri-band or preferably quad-band (worldphone). There are 2 bands that are used in the u>s. which are not compatible with the 2 bands in the rest of the world. A quad band covers all 4.

Naperville, Illinois
Level Contributor
933 posts
27 reviews
4. Re: Buying a cell phone in Florence

If you can buy an unlocked quad band cell phone on the internet or elsewhere, you can buy almost any sim card for it in Italy. TIM or Vodaphone or others. I would just be sure to buy a quad band phone. My tri-band cell phone worked in Florence and other big cities, but not in the Tuscany countryside. The bands you need are 1800 and 900 for Italy.

5. Re: Buying a cell phone in Florence

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