How to access free WiFi in Rome

Anyone who has ever tried to access free WiFi in Rome probably won’t be surprised by a recent Business Insider headline proclaiming that Italians Don’t Care About the Internet.

According to a report released by ISTAT, Italy‘s official statistics bureau, only 54.5% of Italians have access to the Internet, and 26.7% of Italians think the Internet is “useless” and “uninteresting”.

It follows, then, that it’s damn near impossible for tourists to access the Internet in Italy’s capital city. Though cafes are ubiquitous, there are few with free WiFi, fewer with available electrical outlets, and only a handful with baristas that don’t give you dirty looks after thirty minutes of web surfing.

Thankfully, the city is taking steps toward a more connected capital with its Roma Wireless program, which offers free WiFi hotspots throughout Rome. There’s a catch, though: the free WiFi service is only available to individuals with a valid Italian cellular phone number. It’s well worth the effort to obtain an Italian SIM card if connectivity is important and your stay is longer than a few days.

The first step is to visit a local mobile provider. TIM, Italy’s largest, has offices throughout central Rome, including one on Via del Corso and one in Piazza dei Cinquecento near the Termini main train station. A new SIM card costs 10 euro, with 5 euro of included credit, and you’ll need your passport to register for a TIM account.

Once you have your new number, just visit a hotspot, plug your number into the registration page that pops up, wait for a confirmation text message, and get one hour of free WiFi per day. Any more, and you’ll have to face the wrath of the barista.