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using your computer
in italy - part three

 

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pizzas
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problems
public services
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residency
restaurants
rubbish
schools
scooters
search
shopping
souvenirs
spending
sports facilities
subway routes
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Getting an Italian
Internet Service Provider

Okay, so you're in Rome, your computer’s plugged in and running, and your modem can dial up a number and connect – (or click here for advice if your modem in fact does not seem to work)
So now, who the heck do you connect to get onto the Internet or pick up your email in Italy?

If you’re only here for a few days, and can afford it, the easiest (but ridiculously expensive) way is to simply connect to your existing ISP (Internet service provider) in the States, or England or wherever home is. Just reset your dialup with the national prefix code for the phone number. That’ll get you surfing okay, but of course at international phone rates. You don’t want that of course. (Unless your home ISP has local international Point of Presence Dialup numbers in Italy, or you have one of those deals that allows you to do this).

Alternatively you can forget about your own computer and just go to an Internet café in Rome (there are a few) to pick up your email (having first opened a Hotmail, or similar account. Do it before you leave home, and tell all your usual contacts what your new, temporary Hotmail address will be, it’ll save time later on).

But if you’ll be in Italy for anything longer than a couple of weeks, it’s best to get your own ISP. There’s a few free providers in Italy . They’re mostly rather oversubscribed and sometimes slow to connect, but in fact they’re a heck of a lot better than they were two or three years ago. Italy is a bit behind with Internet and computers in general, but they are now catching up fast with the latest technology and culture.

Run a web-search for any of the following Italian free ISP companies, and just pick one:

Tin.it
Virgilio
Libero
Infostrada
Italian Online (IOL)
Jumpy
Wind

Some of these are merged with each other at the same portal now, ie Virgilio/Tin.it is all the same thing now I think, though they may have different corporate domain indexes. By the way, ‘.it’ is the domain suffix for Italy, the equivalent of ‘.com’ in the US or ‘.co.uk’ in England. Instead of pronouncing ‘.it’ as ‘dot it’, as we would say it, the Italians pronounce it something like ‘poontoh eat’, so listen out for that.

You can either sign up with these providers by using a free CD Rom, as normal in our country, and these come free on magazine covers or the usual junk sources, as we are used to seeing at home.

If you can’t get hold of a CD, just do it online from the provider’s website that you found after searching on the names given above. Signing up can be tricky of course, because the forms are mostly all in Italian, but if you’ve done this before at home, you can generally figure most of it out. The word you should look for on their sites is ‘abbonato’ or some conjugation of it – It means ‘subscribe’, or ‘sign up’. Follow the links from that word. Some Italian sites use a few English words which can be a big help.

One annoyance you might come across is that they won’t let you sign up with the online form unless you quote them an Italian ‘Codice Fiscale’ number, which of course, as a non resident, you won’t have yet. If this happens, screw them and try another provider.

If you can’t get round it, try borrowing an Italian friend’s Codice Fiscale number, but the problem with that is that you’ll have to sign up in the same name as the legitimate Codice Fiscale number-holder. Ah, Italy – They even managed to balls up the new freedom of the Internet with their insidious old bureaucracy.
If you still can’t get round it, try emailing them a letter explaining that you don’t have a Codice Fiscale nuber because you just plain ain’t Italian, and see if you can persuade them to manually build you an account and just mail you back with the POP and SMTP server addresses, and DNS numbers and stuff.

The advantage of signing up with these companies online is that you can do it at home in the States or wherever before you leave for Italy, and have your computer’s dialup connection and email and Internet applications already configured and ready to just plug in and surf as soon as you hit Italy. Saves time later. Even if you don’t want to pre-configure, you can at least have all the new configurations written down or printed out, ready to tap them in when you arrive.

Some of these free service providers allow you to upgrade to a pay service with more webspace, or broadband. Actually Tin.it is part of the old national telephone company in Italy, while Wind and Infostrada are newer competitors in the now open telephone provision market here, so if you also have them as your phone company, they also sometimes have tie-in deals for ISDN or broadband provision. Look into it.

Some of the free providers here don’t allow you to do anything commercial with their free webspace. It’s part of the deep-seated Italian culture here, never to give anything away for free unless you’re a friend of the family.
If you’d prefer to go straight to a commercial ISP for a better service and oodles of web-space to do what you please with, I can recommend a company called ‘Pronet’. Other commercial providers here are Flashnet, Isinet or Tiscali, who also have an Italian operation. There’s others. Try the phone book or check ads and reviews in any Italian computing magazine.

Final alternative to all this is to just buy a whole new computer in Italy and ask the dealer to configure an Internet account on it with an Italian ISP for you. That’s an expensive option of course, but time may be money to you, and the hours saved in frustrating failure to get your old computer online in Italy may be worth it to you.

It all depends on your circumstances, how long you intend to stay in Italy, how old your computer is and how much you think you’ll be using it etc...

...click for more about using   
your computer in italy
 

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