You can also purchase an international calling card at some tobacco shops. Ask for una scheda telefonica internazionale (pronounced OOna SKEda teleFONica interNAZionale). Make sure you specify which country or countries you'll want to call. Remember that these cards are a real bargain if you use them from a fixed phone. If used with a cell phone, the minutes cost much more and you'll run out of time very quickly.
Italian telephone numbers can include 4, 5, 6, 7, or even 8 digits, so don't automatically assume you have the wrong number if it looks strange. Also, a great many Italian phone exchanges have added a digit during the past few years, so you may get a message advising you of this or, more likely, the number simply won't work. If you're lucky, the new number will be listed with information (dial 12).
It is mandatory to dial the area code (see below) EVEN IF you are dialing a local number. All area codes start with "0" except those for cell phones, which never have a "0" and usually start with "3".
Emergency calls. The Italian equivalent of 911 is 113. Theoretically, there should be an English-speaking person available whenever you dial this number. But remember, it's for emergencies, not for information.
Long distance calls (Interurbano) between major cities can be dialed directly on the public telephone by using the proper area code number. Calls to almost all foreign countries can be dialed directly (dial 0 + country code + area code + phone number).
Area Code (Prefisso Telefonico): Click here for the area code number of every town in Italy. For instance, a call to Rome would be dialed as follows: 06 + phone number.
To use your own long-distance carrier's phone card: By dialing 172-1011 via AT&T or 172-1022 via MCI or 172-1877 via US SPRINT from any phone in Rome - Milan - Florence - Naples - Venezia - Torino - Catania - Vicenza - Livorno - Olbia - Bologna - Brindisi - Cosenza - Formia - Genova - Latina - Padova - Palermo - Perugia - Pescara - Pordenone - Pisa - Trieste, and almost all hotel phones elsewhere, you can place a direct call to the U.S. by reversing the charges or using your own long-distance carrier's phone card. When calling from pay telephones, just insert your phone card. You automatically reach an operator in the country of destination, thus avoiding all language problems. If you have another long-distance carrier, be sure to call them before leaving home and get your access number for Italy and any other countries you may be visiting. Canada can be reached by dialing 172-1001.
Here is a very useful tip we received from one of our readers:
In your "Phone Services" section you might want to also add a paragraph about the "800" numbers posted at the public phones for international calls to the US and Canada. These phone numbers look legitimate and are usually under plastic along with the regular phone instructions, making it look like an actual phone company service. Calling these numbers can cost a pretty penny, $50.00 per call or more. Get an international phone card at the tobacco shop. We bought a card for only 5 euros for 90 minutes...what a deal.