There are several cell phone providers covering the city and beyond.
Many of them also provide an additional service of being able to login to wifi networks throughout the city. The wifi networks are shared from peoples homes around the city. It’s a great option because you can avoid using up your own data. It’ll automatically connect to a network closest to you.
How to Signup
You’ll need to bring your passport when signing up for any of these cell phone providers in person. If you do not have residency and an Italian bank account, the providers will sign you up for a pre-paid plan which is what most tourists get. There’s usually a sign-up fee associated with this of about 10€ – 20€. If you do have residency and an Italian bank account, you may want to consider signing a contract as it’s significantly cheaper and takes away the hassle of having to top up whenever you’re out.
It’s best to visit the stores in person so you can receive the SIM card right away. Many of the stores have someone that knows English.
The EU has ended roaming surcharges for all people who travel periodically within the EU. Since 2017, people pay only domestic charges.
Vodafone is the largest carrier in the area. You may have heard of them already because they serve many countries. You’re likely to receive the most coverage throughout Italy and Europe with Vodafone. They also happen to be the most expensive carrier compared to the others.
Only visit the one on Via Ugo Bassi, 21, 40121 Bologna BO as the others are unofficial stores and can be more aggressive in their sales.
Fastweb is one of the largest carriers in the area. There’s no English on the website but it’s significantly easier to navigate and pay bills. Fastweb was founded in Italy and is now owned by Swisscom.
There’s a plan of around 30€ that will get you unlimited calls to the United States and several other countries plus 30gigs of data.
I’ve had the best experience at Via D’Azeglio, 28, 40123 Bologna BO.