Trying to figure whether I should use the virtual SIM and buy 50 gigs of data, or tether to my phone which will have the Verizon international roaming ($10/day) plan. Anyone here from Italy who can steer me in the right direction? Thanks!!
I go there but once a year these days, but historically and generally, TIM is the provider with the most coverage. Vodafone is meh/ok in terms of coverage and the 3rd and 4th tier options change every few years and are generally not recommended if you’re going anywhere other than main urban centers.
I know that you can get great deals on data only physical SIMs (like the kind of prices that make us in the US very jealous —eg 20GB for 5 euros) but I think that to get a physical sim you have to show your ID and register it. so it’s a bit more involved than buying it through the iPad itself, if it gives you such an option. For me, whenever I go I need to get to a physical store to get them to resuscitate my old SIM card which apparently hibernates after 12 months of non use, and it’s always a bit of a pain. Probably when buying through the iPad interface you get a slightly worse deal, but you may save 30 min in a cell phone shop.
You don’t have to twist my arm to get me to select TIM.
Well one of the alternatives used to be called Wind, so…
I was in Italy last year for two weeks and I went through this as well. If you’re for more than a few days I would recommend getting a local SIM card. Two reasons. One, 10 USD a day is an atrocious rate by European standards. Two, it seems that due to the way roaming works, you’re still connecting to your operator’s (Verizon in this case) infrastructure. Which has two implications. One, it’s not nearly as fast as a local SIM. Two, there’s more points of failure. If either Verizon’s or Italian network craps out you’re without Internet. I know 1) because I have used roaming in EU frequently and with different operators 2) I have once (three years ago I think) had a situation where during roaming the internet stopped working (in Italy, coincidentally). Which was weird because I was on a basically unlimited plan back then. Turned out the Irish Vodafone had a big meltdown on that day and I couldn’t use my phone in Italy even though I had signal and plenty of data.
For choosing the best offer, I would refer you to the invaluable Prepaid Data SIM Card Wiki. It’s a good resource for both choosing a plan and preparing for any sort of formalities.
Last year was the first year I was buying a prepaid SIM just for holidays (because it was a fairly long stay) and I have chosen a plan called “Call your Country” (CyC) from WindTre. I have picked the highest, variant called “One”, with Easy Pay enabled (Call Your Country One Easy Pay - Offerte estero | WINDTRE). It was a bit more than €20 they advertise (store added some surcharges because I needed a SIM or something like that) but I remember it was still reasonable. And it seemingly was truly unlimited (I have used well over 200 GB during the stay). Easy Pay is a system of recurring payments – it’s fine though as you can disable it through the app as soon as you leave Italy.
The configuration was really easy – the WindTre app automatically detected the SIM (even though it’s technically a phone SIM, with calls and texts) and it was generally without any hiccups. It didn’t take that much time either – if you have already chosen a plan you can pop into an operator store, show them the plan on their website and it’ll take 15 minutes at most (if there aren’t other customers). For me it was less than 10 minutes and it was in Bari (and southern Italy isn’t known for speed).
You’d better check the coverage though. WindTre wasn’t too shabby most of the time. It may depend on your area though. And in some places, it just doesn’t matter as there is simply no coverage period (eg. Gargano Peninsula outside human settlements).
I’m from Italy, but have no experience with virtual sims.
I’d say it depends on where you will go and how long you’re planning to stay.
As far as I understand the instructions on buying an eSim form one of Italy mobile operator, you still have to give them your ID and identity, so you could just follow @winmaciek advice and get a prepaid physical sim, which look far more simple…
I’m afraid I’m not that helpful
I would agree on that one. While one of the promised advantages of eSIM was that the user would be able to quickly change plans, it turned out that eSIM works best for the “home” carrier and a local physical SIM is actually a better option when travelling. Although I suspect that if you were to buy the plan in a store then it shouldn’t be a problem to get an eSIM instead of a physical card (for convenience sake or something). It is pure speculation on my part as I had no need to get an eSIM (my 10.5-inch iPad Pro only supports so-called Apple SIM which is not really useful).
last time I asked about the eSIM at the TIM store in the small town where I grew up, they had no idea what I was talking about. But it was a couple of years ago.
I’m in the same situation; that’s why I never looked into it.
I think it’d definitely be more widespread now. You could always try showing the staff a description from operator’s website.