Italian in Italy

Using the Telephone

A person using an indoor pay phone

The telephone is a large part of Italian life, particularly with the advent of the cell phone. Most Italians, including many children, now have cell phones, which are relatively inexpensive. In addition, there are public phones everywhere, which are activated solely by telephone cards (purchased from a card dispenser, a newsstand or a tabacchi ). All coin-operated public phones have disappeared since the advent of the Euro.

Visitors should be aware that calls made from traditional home phones can be quite expensive, and the home phone bill is not delineated call by call, so reimbursement is difficult. Although a host will politely allow a visitor to use the home phone, the visitor should do so rarely and then should keep the call as short as possible. A visitor should chat on cell phones or from a pay phone and not from a host's home.

One answers the telephone by saying Pronto , which literally means "ready". After saying hello, one should introduce oneself by name before asking for the person to whom one wishes to speak. It is appropriate to use the formal "you" form of address (third person singular or plural) when speaking with either parents or someone at the end of the phone who is a stranger. One frequently uses terms of formal address even when one knows the adult answering the phone