The best way to deal with money is with a debit card on your US account. If you want, do the research to see which bank has the lowest or no service charge on foreign withdrawals.
Do not bring or carry large amounts of cash! Do not get your US bank to give you large Euro bills, like 200 and 500 euro notes, as they are rather hard to use here.
Some students bring travelers’ checks as a backup, but these are no longer such a good idea. Please do not plan to use them as your normal means of obtaining funds because they are more expensive to use, and require effort and time to exchange, particularly if you are traveling. The debit card is the best way to go, and a backup credit card is a good idea.
Cash is what most stores in Italy use, and debit and credit cards are generally not used in small stores and in some restaurants. Just don’t expect to use them for all of your everyday exchanges as you may be accustomed. Plan to withdraw from an ATM a reasonable amount to reduce the service charge, and then use it over several days.
The apartments will have wifi internet access. However, do not expect internet service in the apartments (or in Italy) to be as fast or as continuous as in the United States.
With the ongoing renovation of the convent, we do not have internet access there at the moment.
There are a couple of good options for cellphones. One option is to purchase a cheap Italian phone with a sim card.
If you plan on using your own phone, please contact your service provider and ask about international rates.
T-Mobile Users: T-Mobile offers a very good international plan with unlimited data.
IPhone Users: Unlock your IPhone and purchase an Italian SIM card. A good cell plan with sufficient text and talk along with 2gb of data is about 25 EUR/month with Vodafone.
**tip: It’s a good idea to have a smart phone with data. You will find Google Maps and Google Translate to be very helpful
We would like as many students as possible to have a cell phone. On the day after your arrival we will go as a group to a phone store and you may buy a phone with a SIM card and some time already on it for about 25-40 euros. There is no contract, and you can buy additional time for it by going into any tabaccheria (tobacco shop, but really a kind of universal service store) and doing it online (they do it for you) or by buying a ricaricard at a newsstand and doing it yourself on your phone.
If you already have a smart phone or quad- or tri-band phone and can replace the SIM card, you still must have it unlocked in the US BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE US. Speak to your cell phone company to get the code to have it unlocked. If this is done, you can buy a new SIM card here for around 10-20 euros.
If you are calling the US, it is more economical to use your cell phone along with an international calling card.
As you will have internet access in your apartment, you also can use Skype.