Communicating in Italy
How to call Italy, talk to Italians (with words and gestures), stay in touch on the road, find WiFi, understand the metric system, and other communications issues
To speak Italian properly, you gotta use your hands, like this couple in Cefalù, Sicily.How will you reach out and touch your loved ones, friends, and co-workers while you're on the road in Italy? (Well, you can't reach out and touch the co-workers; they have rules against that.)
We have the answers—though first let's deal with how to call Italy from another country (so you can make your travel arrangements).
When it comes to contacting folks from the road (and calling home from Italy), it all depends on your preference and your funding.
Some American cellphones will work in Italy, but using your U.S. one will be mightily expensive (solution: use an Italian mobile). Calling cards make phoning the States easy, but they're not cheap. Skype is incredibly cheap, but you'll need a computer at at least one end.
The Internet explosion means home is just a mouse click away in a cybercafe or, increasingly, at a kiosk or spare PC at your hotel's front desk or from a WiFi hotspot. Some people prefer dashing off the old "Wish you were here!" postcard, and others practice the dying art of letter writing.
This section will take you through the basics of them all. Then I'll tackle that myth known as the "language barrier" and give you a few simple keys to unlocking any foreign language and getting your message across no matter what the circumstance or local dialect—and, yes, that includes a cheat sheet of essential phrases in Italian (along with recommendations for full-length phrase books, and a treatise on the polite use of English while traveling).
Also, there's a guide to which gestures are appropriate at which times, and which just might get you a punch in the jaw.
Oh, and since it doesn't really fit anywhere else, here's where you'll find an overview of Italian business hours (when shops, sights, and offices will be open and when they'll be taking the national daily nap called riposo), and a handy-dandy guide to converting between the Metric System and the various American measurements.
Tips & links
Useful links & resources
PHONES & INTERNET
Cellphone/Smart Phone/Sat phone rentals: Cellularabroad.com, Mobal.com
WiFi portable hotspot rentals: Cellularabroad.com
WiFi hotspot finders:Wififreespot.com
Calling cards: Speedypin.com
Phrase books: Barnesandnoble.com
Online translators: translate.google.com
Electronic translators: Magellans.com
Translator apps: World Nomads
, 24/7 Tutor
, Lonely Planet
, Odyssey Translator
Language learning: Barnesandnoble.com
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