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Cellphones/Mobile Phones

Italians are probably the biggest users of cellphones in Europe, and Sicily is no exception. It is not unusual for someone to own two or three. Cellphones in Italy operate on a 900/1800 GSM frequency, so make sure your phone falls into this category if you intend on using your phone here. Except for remote areas reception is good. Check the international roaming rates (the rates charged by your company when you use your phone in another country) with your company before leaving, otherwise your phone bill might cost you more than your entire trip. Most U.K. mobile handsets work in Sicily. For cheaper calls: See buying a SIM card below.

For U.S./Canadian visitors there are, however, ways to save on cellphone use. Renting a phone is an option. You can arrange rental from the U.S. and pickup upon arrival in Sicily. U.S. or Canadian citizens can rent one before leaving home from InTouch USA (tel. 800/872-7626 or 703/222-7161; www.intouchglobal.com) or RoadPost (tel. 888/290-1616 or 905/272-5665; www.roadpost.com).

Buying an unlocked cellphone and SIM card when in Italy may sound like a good and simple alternative, but in order to buy an unlocked SIM you must have valid ID and a Codice Fiscale (Italian VAT number). To request one go to an Agenzia delle Entrate (you can find all the offices listed at www.agenziaentrate.gov.it) tax office with your passport. If you intend on staying for a while it would make sense to get one, otherwise for very brief stays it's not worth going through all the bureaucratic red tape. SIM cards are available at the major carrier shops -- TIM, Vodafone, Wind, and 3. The Post Office also has SIM cards, called Posta Mobile.

Internet & E-mail

With Your Own Computer -- More and more hotels, cafes, and retailers are signing on as Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) hotspots. Many outdoor places in large cities are also hotspots; your computer or smartphone will pick up the signal immediately. For broadband or ADSL access, most hotels offer such connections in rooms. Make sure to have a connection kit, phone adapters, a spare phone cord, and a spare Ethernet network cable. A smart alternative is to buy an unlocked SIM and an Internet Key that goes into the USB port. All the major mobile phone companies offer diverse plans based on pricing and usage. Note that international roaming charges will apply.

Without Your Own Computer -- To find the cybercafe nearest you visit www.cybercaptive.com and www.cybercafe.com. Cybercafes are found in large Sicilian cities, especially Catania and Palermo. Aside from formal cybercafes, most youth hostels and public libraries have Internet access. Avoid hotel business centers unless you're willing to pay exorbitant rates.

Telephones

To call Sicily from the United States, dial the international prefix, tel. 011; then Italy's country code, 39; and then the area code (for example, 091 for Palermo or 095 for Catania), which is now built into every number. Then dial the actual phone number. To call the United States and Canada from Sicily, dial tel. 001, then the area code, then the number. To place a local call, the number must always be preceded by the area code.

Public phones are becoming a thing of the past in Italy, where everyone has a cellphone, making them nearly obsolete. For those rare few that are still found, they accept coins, prepaid phone cards (scheda or carta telefonica), or both. You can buy a carta telefonica at any tabacchi (tobacco shop; most display a sign with a white T on a brown background) in increments of 5.00€ and 10.00€. To make a call, pick up the receiver and insert .50€ or your card (break off the corner first). Dial the number, at the tone, and after the call wait a few seconds for the card to eject.

To call from one area code to another, dial the area code, then dial the number. To dial direct internationally, dial tel. 00 and then the country code, the area code, and the number. Country codes are as follows: The United States and Canada, 1; the United Kingdom, 44; Ireland, 353; Australia, 61; New Zealand, 64. Italy offers various international prepaid phone cards (carta telefonica internazionale) which offer dirt-cheap rates. They cost either 5€ or 10€. A toll-free access phone number (some have instructions in English) is printed on the card; you must first scratch the space where the personal identification number (PIN) is printed in order to make the call. To make a phone call, dial the access number and then enter the PIN. An automated voice will ask you to enter the phone number you are calling and will tell you how much time you have left on your card.

For national telephone information in Italy, dial tel. 1254; for international information call tel. 892412. Both services cost 3€ per minute.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.