Bologna Inside - Second Edition

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Now that the state telephone company Telecom Italia no longer enjoys a monopoly, the choice of telephone, telefonino and internet services can be overwhelming. Although Telecom Italia still has a stronghold over the telefono fisso (landline), you now have an extensive choice of providers.

Since phone and internet are closely linked, you may want to investigate the package of overall services that best meets your needs. See this chapter under ‘Internet’.

Telecom Italia

Via Oberdan, 20
Tel. 187


Pre-paid international calling cards are a good option for making cheap long-distance calls, especially to other continents. These cards include the Europa and EDICARD, available at the post office and at some tabaccherie and grocery stores. Instead of buying an actual card you purchase minutes and are given a receipt with an access number to dial and a PIN code. Calling costs depend if you connect via a local city access number or a toll-free number, both of which are provided to you on the receipt. Calling from a cell phone costs more. This service is offered by SISAL and EUTELIA Updated per-minute price lists are available online. There are also a number of international calling centers around town.


Just about anyone over the age of 10 has a telefonino in Italy and cell coverage is reliable throughout most of the country. Check the yellow pages under TELEFONI CELLULARI E RADIOTELEFONI or TELEFONIA E TELECOMUNICAZIONI for cell phone resellers. Although you can sign up for a cellular service contract, most people use prepaid, rechargeable plans. You can recharge your credit at most Bancomat (automatic teller machines) or buy a scheda (telephone card) at any tabaccheria, phone store or bar where you see signs advertising ricarica (recharge).


If you want ISDN, ADSL, fiber optic broadband or wireless service, you will need to sign up for a monthly plan with a telephone/internet provider and pay to have the connection installed. If a dial-up connection fits the bill, then you may instead dial into a public service provider such as Iperbole, through the city of Bologna.

Commuting to Florence from Bologna is not as bad or expensive as it seems. There are at least two fast trains(Eurostar or Intercity) running every hour in either direction daily. And if you travel to Florence at least twice weekly, tickets are much cheaper if you buy a weekly or monthly personal pass. These passes are valid on all Intercity and Eurostar trains without a reservation. However, before boarding a Eurostar train you must validate a separate upgrade ticket called a “Ticket di Ammissione ES per Abbonati IC.” Buon viaggio!

Molly Bourne

A selection of service providers is listed below: (service offered by Telecom Italia) (portal includes ADSL service called Libero and cellular service called Wind)


There are numerous places where you can connect to the internet, either for free or in pay-by-the-hour internet points. Be sure to bring a valid photo ID with you. The URP in Piazza Maggiore offers its Iperbole internet service on a first-come, first-serve sign-up basis. Often you have to reserve a space in advance and your time on the net is limited to an hour. The URP internet point is open Monday-Friday 9-18:30 and Saturday 9-13:30. There is also an internet point and wireless service at the nearby city library, Biblioteca Sala Borsa. The internet point is open Monday 14:30-21:30, Tuesday-Friday 9-21:30 and Saturday 9-19. To use the computers, you must first possess a library card and sign up for a username and password. See this chapter under ‘Libraries.’

If you are a member of the Sala Borsa, a university student or university personnel, you may also use the free internet point at the Palazzo Paleotti Sala Borsa extension on Via Zamboni, 25, Monday-Saturday 9-22.

The Biblioteca Italiana delle Donne (Italian Women’s Library) also offers free internet access, computer training and e-mail accounts to women at its Internet Tea Room. The Internet Tea Room is open to the public Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9:30-13:30 and Tuesday and Thursday 14-18. See this chapter under ‘Libraries.’

If you need computer assistance in English, visit Net.Arena, a fee-for-service internet point where you can use your own laptop and also fax and copy. The Net.Arena owners will even make house calls for computer assistance.


Via dè Guidei, 3b
Open 10:30-21:30


There are three state-controlled television channels in Italy, run by the Rai Group (Rai 1, Rai 2, Rai 3). The Mediaset group, owned by business mogul/politician Silvio Berlusconi, controls most of the nation’s private television channels. Theoretically, everyone who owns a television is supposed to pay an annual tax called the canone RAI. This goes towards supporting the state-run television system. You will get notice of how to pay the tax when you buy a new television; otherwise, wait for them to track you down. If you decide you want to buy a satellite dish, look for dealers in the yellow pages under ANTENNE RADIO-TELEVISIONE. While satellite television will bring you programs in English, you will also receive 24-hour calcio (soccer) and commentary. Note: public, private or satellite, you can’t escape the scantily-clad Italian veline (dancing girls).


Bologna has dozens of wonderful bookstores and libraries, with no shortage of reading material available in English. Newspapers are rarely delivered to your doorstep here. Rather, most people read the paper at the bar as they drink their morning coffee or pick up a copy of their preferred paper at a local newsstand. The International Herald Tribune, a subsidiary of The New York Times, is printed in English right here in Bologna. The IHT also has a website:


The Bologna city library, Biblioteca Sala Borsa, carries magazines, newspapers and books from all over the world. With its public spaces, unique architecture (underground Roman ruins are visible beneath the transparent floor), cafès, book shop and a wonderful children’s library, the Sala Borsa is a valuable resource and important must-see. The Biblioteca Italiana delle Donne has more than 30,000 volumes, including a large English-language section of books and periodicals related to women. The reading room of the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Bologna Center library has a good selection of foreign and Italian newspapers for browsing.

Biblioteca Sala Borsa

Piazza Nettuno, 3/b
Tel. 051.2194400

Biblioteca Italiana delle Donne

Sala da Tè Internet
Ex-Convento di Santa Cristina
Via del Piombo, 5
Tel. 051.4299411

Johns Hopkins University

Via Belmeloro, 11

Most bookstores in Bologna have an original language section, the biggest is Feltrinelli International in Via Zamboni. Alternatively, there are plenty of UK-based websites delivering to Italy - and are two that I use. Comparison shop on the sites as prices can differ substantially and there is no difference in service. Newspapers and magazines are widely available at the edicole and most are happy to order international magazines and newspapers, just ask! The Sala Borsa in Piazza Maggiore stocks plenty of international press, as well as a wide range of English and other foreign language books and media for all ages.

Emily Heurlin


Bologna La Dotta (Bologna the Learned) is also home to countless bookstores, many of which are highly specialized.

Libreria Feltrinelli

Via dei Mille, 12/a/b/c
Tel. 051.240302
Books are in Italian, but newsstand is international. Open past midnight.

Feltrinelli International

Via Zamboni, 7/b
Tel. 051.268070
Well-stocked with foreign language books and magazines. You can also special order.

Modo Infoshop

Via Mascarella, 24/a
Tel. 051.5871012
Easy in-store catalogue searching, books in English available on order.

Mondadori Multicenter

Via D’Azeglio, 34/a
Tel. 051.275611
Books are mostly in Italian, with a small foreign language section. Contains a multimedia
department and is also a licensed Apple reseller.