Whoever said the “easy-going” Italy lifestyle is “easy” was pazzo (crazy). Take for example our experience in obtaining cell phones.
We thought it would have been simple. We both have unlocked iPhones that only required a TIM card (the same as a SIM card in the U.S., you just have to slide it in… batta-bing, batta-boom). We had been briefed that there are no cell phone plans; you simply pre-pay for the week, month or year. We had decided to get plans with voice, data and text – just enough to help us find each other if separated and maybe find a good trattoria (restaurant) if we were in a new city.
So one nice day (maybe 3 days into our trip), we decided to walk across the street to the local TIM store. The woman did not speak any English and we didn’t feel comfortable picking a plan blindly. So we did what we always do… we asked Jen’s uncle Franco (who lives upstairs) for his help.
His reaction surprised us a bit – he told us we should not have gone to that TIM store. Why… oh, because it’s mafioso! I kid you not… we are now going to have to consider whether or not to give mafia-runned businesses our patronage. Incidentally, the bakery and restaurant in that strip mall are also mafioso and should be avoided!
We were instructed to go to Como, to a nice reputable TIM shop. So the next day, we packed Julia up and parked in a lot that gave me exactly 1″ clearance on each side of our vehicle. When we walked into the store, we were relieved to discover the young lady spoke a little English (enough to get by). So when we settled on a plan, we prepared to commit to our new plans. Until she asked for our passports. Ohhhhh… we need passports for phones?? Of course we do!
|Our reputable TIM Store – Franco Approved!|
So, the next day – we tried again, this time with Passports in hand and a plan picked out. So we went to another local TIM store in our favorite grocery store (Bennet). This time, a cranky baby refused to wait the 30 minutes it was taking to help the previous customer and we tabled the task once again. We later discovered that TIM store was ALSO Mafioso and should be avoided too (but the grocery store that it’s in is perfectly fine).
By now, everyone seems a bit shocked that we still don’t have phones – but what more can we do?!! We decided to go back to the Bennet a day or two later (despite the Mafioso tag) and get it done. We waited and waited and waited, but finally found someone that can help us and GOT OUR PHONES ACTIVATED!!
A little bonus… cell phone plans are super cheap! For just six euros a week, we have more than enough voice, data and texting capabilities. Unfortunately the salesman couldn’t explain to us how expensive it was to call the U.S. Judging by his shocked expression and hand gestures, we gathered it is not cheap! Good thing there’s FaceTime!