Telephones in Italy
Public telephones in Italy have been pretty much supplanted by mobile phones (called telefonini, literally “little phones”). But in the rare cases you’ll need one (and can find one), they are easy enough to use. First, go to any newsstand and ask for a “carta telefonica” while holding up a E5 or E10 bill. You’ll get a small card. Tear off the perforated corner and insert it into the slot on the telephone. You’re set; dial away, always dialing in the area code first (including the initial 0), even for local calls.
You can also use your MCI, Sprint, etc. phone card to make international calls by dialing the numbers provided by your company.
If you need to find the phone number and don’t have access to a phone book, then dial 170 for English directory assistance. If you want to make a collect call, dial 176. The operators all speak English adequately well, so not to worry.
If you want to use a phone book, you’ll need a quick lesson on Italian phone books. The phone book is typically for an entire province, not just the city or town you’re in. That means you’ll need to know exactly which town the number you’re looking for is in. Phone books are arranged such that numbers for the provincial capital are the first listed, with the rest of the towns in that province listed in alphabetical order. So if you’re in the province of Macerata, and you want to find a number in the town of Serrapetrona, then get the Macerata province phone book and thumb through it until you find the section of listings for Serrapetrona (just after Sefro, just before Serravalle).