WIND Italy – Great Deal for Travelers

WIND LogoMy wife and I spent last week vacationing in Florence (Firenze), Italy. A truly incredible place for art and architecture. Naturally I wanted to have mobile web access while on vacation. The only affordable way to do this is with a local SIM card. Because I was arriving late the Saturday before Easter and knew the mobile shops were going to be closed until at least Monday, I decided to go the eBay route. There’s always a bit of risk buying anything on eBay although I’ve never had a problem including buying a couple of SIMS in the past.

Palazzo Vecchio, FirenzeI found a WIND SIM from a British seller for 9 pounds plus 4 for shipping. The SIM arrived promptly and was still attached to its card with the PIN and PUK codes covered with scratch off paint so it was obviously unused. I figured I was all set.

When I landed in Pisa I fired up my Nokia N95 with the WIND SIM ready to go. Except that I didn’t go anywhere being greeted with the ominous message “SIM registration failed” I made sure the card was seated properly and retried with no success. The SIM was either bad or unactivated. I spent Sunday soaking in the renaissance watching the Easter festivities around the Duomo.

Easter Parade of the Guildsmen, FirenzeI discovered that Easter Monday is a holiday in Italy too but several of the museums and all the historic churches were open so I had plenty to do. Tuesday morning we had a reservation for Uffizi Galleries, so after absorbing the greatest collection of Renaissance paintings in the world, I was ready to hunt down a mobile shop to see if I could get my SIM working, or if not buy a new one. Just a couple of blocks from the Uffizi I chanced upon an independent mobile dealer with a little paper sign, in English no less, advertising WIND prepaid SIM’s. I told the proprietor my story and he punched my SIM number into some sort of WIND online system for dealers. The verdict; my SIM was really old, had never been activated and the number assigned to it had been recycled and given to another customer. My SIM was now expired and ineligible for activation. I purchased a new SIM for 10 Euros. The only documentation I needed to buy the SIM was my passport. The dealer activated it but warned that it wouldn’t be functional for a couple of hours.

The shop was:
Porta Rossa Telefonia
Via Tavolini 3/R

That’s just a block off the big pedestrian-only Via Calzaiuoli that runs between the Duomo and the Uffizi. I didn’t get the proprietors name but he spoke English and was friendly and helpful. If you need to buy a SIM in Florence I highly recommend Porta Rossa Telefonia

Baptistry Dome, FirenzeThe next step was getting a data package working. From reading Martin Sauter’s Wireless News blog and the forums at the excellent site I concluded that the two Italian operators with the best data rates seem to be WIND and TIM. Martin’s reported problems with WIND’s 3G network but it’s the cheaper of the two and my US model N95-3 doesn’t have the European 3G frequency anyway. So how cheap is it? WIND normally normally charges a fairly high € .003 /KB (€ 3.00/MB) for GPRS, Edge or 3G data but they currently have several deals that are much less expensive. The cheapest called “Wap No Limit” gets you €750.00 worth of data each month for a mere € 3.00. That’s about 244 MB which I figured would be more than enough for a week of web surfing and email checking.

When I put the WIND SIM in the phone it setup the access points and added a browser link to the WIND mobile portal automatically. Pretty slick, I wish every operator did that. This feature may not work on all handsets so if you need to set up the data access point manually it’s very easy. The only thing you really need to set up is APN name of internet.wind. No proxy, login, password or DNS settings are required.

Setting up the Wap No Limit deal is somewhat involved but not hard. Here’s how.

  1. Enable GPRS by sending an SMS to 4533 containing the words, gprs si. This is a free message. The first few times I tried this the message failed. I think that was because my service wasn’t active yet. It was a good 3 hours before I was able to send the SMS. Once the SMS went through I received several text massages in Italian with what seemed to be special offers on text and MMS bundles. I surfed a couple of pages to verify that it was working. Don’t get carried away at this point because the SIM only comes with € 5.00 on it and you need to have at least € 4.00 remaining credit to activate the € 3.00 Wap No Limit deal.
  2. Send another message to 4533 with the text: WIND NO LIMIT SI. It took a long time, about15 hours, for this to take effect. You can tell when it does because you will get a text message mentioning 3 Euro and WIND NO LIMIT. You can also check and your balance by dialing *123# to see if the 3 Euros has been deducted yet.

Using WIND in Florence worked very well. I had a strong Edge signal everywhere outdoors and in my hotel room. The signal held up pretty well in other buildings too. No glitches and the EDGE was fast enough to pull down a Google or Nokia map in about 10 seconds.

I only managed to use about 30 Euros worth of data out of the 750 surfing the web a couple of hours a day in the remaining 4 days I was in Italy. Not bad for 10 Euros total. The WIND NO LIMIT offer can only be used once a month and automatically renews every month. When it runs out you pay the regular rate the rest of the month. If your cash balance drops to zero, data stops working until you refill, even if you haven’t used all the data funny money yet.

If you think you will need more than 244 MB/month WIND has other packages. The following table lists all the WIND data offers with their Euro value in “funny money” and in MB, actual cost in Euros and the text string to send to 4533 to activate. Only one of these offers can be applied per month.

Package Name € Value MB € Cost Text to 4533 to activate
Wap No Limit 750 244 3.00 WIND NO LIMIT SI
i-mode NO LIMIT 50% 1000 325 6.00 WIND NO LIMIT 50 SI
Mega 1500 1500 488 8.00 MEGA 1500 SI
Mega No Limit 8000 2600 20.00 MEGA SI
Mega 15000 15000 4882 30.00 MEGA 15000 SI

Here are a few WIND short codes and tips culled from the net. I tried all of these and they work and are free:

*123# – Balance (for texting and talking only, not data) in Euros.

SMS the word Saldo to 4155 – gets a text listing your data “funny money” balance in Euros.

How to change the voice response system to English

  1. call 4242
  2. When it starts with the menu in Italian press 6
  3. At the next prompt press 2 for English
  4. The menu will repeat in English: Info 0, Recharge 1, Balance 2 … You can hear your data “money” balance by pressing 5.

WIND’s rates for calls are pretty good too; € 0.17/minute for all calls to Italian numbers, € 0.50/minute to the US, Canada, India, the UK and most of Europe. All SMS including international are €0.12. There are all sorts of add-on packages for lower international rates, SMS bundles, cheaper calls to one number or to all WIND numbers, etc. See this page at for the details.

My prepaid WIND SIM even roams on ATT in the US although the voice rates are pretty bad, 2.00/minute to the US or Europe and 1.50/minute for incoming calls. Data is €0.0125 KB (12.50/MB), only a little higher than the $0.01/KB that ATT charges for casual data use.

We had a great time in Florence. It’s a city you must visit for the art, wine, Cappuccino and gelato. And while you are there you can enjoy great prepaid data for a mere 10 Euros.

As for the bum SIM I picked up on eBay? I emailed the seller but he hasn’t responded, I guess I’ll have file an eBay and/or PayPal claim although I don’t have much hope of getting my money back.

35 thoughts on “WIND Italy – Great Deal for Travelers

  1. I bought the WIND SIM card in Italy 5/9/2013.Activation occurred the next day and I got a SMS that I have 120 minutes, 120 SMS and 2GB card internet.Really this SIM is not working! When I came in the WIND office on Via Del Martelli in Florence,nice girl checked my phone about 10 minutes and said that I did not have enough on the 1 EURO.I said that I agreed to pay 1 euro if my phone will start work immediately.She checked again my phone and said that I should pay another 10 EURO.Of course,I said that I can’t pay twice for service and left their office.
    I actually threw out 10 EURO and not received any service from WIND company!

  2. Thank… you helped me a lot… even the italian i asked don’t understand how to recharge the credit.

  3. I have found Wind (Pass a Wind as a slogan in a country where a large percentage speak English? come on!) in Bologna to be a tiring and extremely frustrating experience. Not only were the two young women, named Serena and Gabriella respectively, who sold me the SIM cards in Piazza Mercanzia to be amongst the rudest people I have met in the service industry on six continents, but they were also incompetent and refused to activate my cards until after working hours “when they would be less busy”. Despite the fact that I speak fluent Italian, they insisted in treating me like some kind of congenital idiot, and refused to assist in the activation of my WiFi which, they insisted, had to be purchased from them to work in Italy. Apart from the fact that this is arrant nonsense, they gave the impression while there that we were “stranieri”, who do not purchase long-term contracts, and therefore do not give them the kind of commission they expect from a local client. Not so from another gentleman who runs a WIND agency in Via San Vitale who, acting in another matter with totally inept staff at the WIND call centre, went out of his way to assist in all ways possible. And now, of course, try to get an address where you can lodge complaints such as this? I could not find one on this website (unless this is it!), and the staff at Piazza Mercanzia refused point blank to supply an address I could contact their management. “Speak to Serena”, they suggested. Ha!

    • I totally agree with you. The wind staff are terribly rude, i bought a sim of them and they had said it will be activated in a couple of hours. 16-18 hours later, it wasnt activated, and i went to speak to them, they were so rude and unhelpful, and later pretended not to understand a word of english. I was so upset with them considering i had spent €20, and the day before they spoke to me in english when they convinced me to buy the sim.

  4. My boyfriend has a WIND phone right now but is currently in germany and his phone still works, but he has run out of minutes and there is no place to buy wind minutes there and we both tried online and it won’t let us do it. I was wondering if you knew the number to call to put more minutes on his phone, a number that does not require minutes to call.

    • I’m having a similar problem and can’t find the number to call in
      Italy for Wind prepaid pay as you go. If you get the number please send it to pumalina. ..Please…lina

  5. It’s been two years since I was Italy and was in Italy and I haven’t keep up prepaid data pricing there. But far as I know WIND is still the best deal for data in Italy. You can buy a SIM in a shop in Italy, in fact as I described in the post that’s what I did after the SIM I got on eBay turned out to be no good.

    Incidentally this article is two years old and WIND’s prepaid data offers have apparently changed (see Rob Moore’s comment above). I’ve found ( ) to be a good site for checking current rates.

    • I have an unlocked Blackberry 9700 – If I get a prepaid data plan such as “Internet No Stop” or “Mega NoLimit” as shown on … will I be able to use Blackberry Messenger since it just uses data? And for these types of plans – do they need a subscription/contract?

    • globalgirl, BlackBerry Messenger requires the Blackberry Internet Service BIS) which is generally an extra cost item.

      According to a Google translation of this Italian page: WIND normally charges 12 Euros/month for BIS but is currently running a promotion where the first 3 months are free. To activate BIS send an SMS to 4033 with the text BLACK SI

  6. I am so technically challenged…I am really confused now! Bottom line…I will be in Italy (and a few days in France and Switzerland) for 3 weeks in June. I have an unlocked Google Nexus One (T Mobile – no contract). I want to use my phone for my aps, google maps and directions, email, web browser, etc… I want to be able to call locally (reservations for excursions mostly) but do not need to call the states…that’s what email(and Skype) is for!! So, I will need pretty much unlimited data and some local international calling. Please suggest. Also, my main base will be in Milan. Can I get whatever you suggest there so they can set it up for me in my phone rather than have it mailed to me here in the states? Thanks so much!

  7. Hi. I just wanted to let you know that some parts of your site are difficult to read for me, as I’m color blind. I am afflicted by deuteranopia, however there are more varieties of color blindness which will also get issues. I can understand the largest part of the website Okay, and the areas I have problems with I am able to read by using a special browser. All the same, it’d be cool if you would remember us color-blind folk when doing the next site revamp. Thank you.

  8. Brendan, That’s not a dumb question at all. To use the BlackBerry Messenger and many other things on the BlackBerry (the BlackBerry browser, BlackBerry Mail, the IM apps, the latest FaceBook app, etc.) you need an operator which provides a BIS (BlackBerry Internet Server).

    BIS is extremely rare on prepaid, but it looks like WIND provides it and according to this: the first three months are free!

    Incidentally, this post you are commenting on is quite old and WIND data plans have changed. For current data packages on all the Italian operators see this:

  9. I don’t want this to sound like a dumb question but if I use this WIND data plan in an unlocked blackberry will I be able to use blackberry messenger to contacts back in the US? I am traveling to italy next month and will be there until june.

  10. Just returned from Italy. It appears the “WIND NO LIMIT” offer no longer is active. There is a “INTERNET MOBILE PHONE” offer that seems similar but is € 3/week. I found out about the later offer only at the end of my trip and was using the “MEGA ORE” offer (which is 50 hours/month at 9 €) at first. I quickly ran out of time so attempted the “INTERNET MOBILE PHONE” offer. I was charged for the offer but then continued to be billed as if I had no offer (which means I quickly burned through my prepaid amount). I use an iPhone so maybe that explains what happened or perhaps once you’ve taken advantage of one offer you’re not able to enable another offer (although I was charged the 3 € so it would seem it was valid). At any rate, I ended up spending much more than I’d thought I’d need to and was very frustrated by the experience but I imagine it’s my not understanding the subtleties of Wind’s plans and my own fault.

  11. a-mac,

    I haven’t been to Italy in over a year so I have no personal information on the current data pricing picture there. I recommend you vist where the current offers for each Italian opperator are listed .

    Also look at the forums on and post your question there.

    The prices from are obsence, BTW. A SIM purchased in Italy for any of the major operators costs € 10 in italy with € 5 credit on it.

  12. Hi folks. Have been reading the posts with interest as I am off to Sardinia for a week in September and have been exploring cheaper ways of surfing than via by roaming with either of my 3-Mobile or T-Mobile dongles.

    I got the 3-Mobile dongle for occasions such as this but now they have stopped ‘free like home’ (usable in Italy) which would have enabled me to use the 3 SIM in Italy at UK rates, so it is not so useful to me now. Doh!

    I contacted but the only WIND sim they are offering is one for €79 (+ P&P) which has €30 of airtime on it. (What’s the other €49 for I wonder!) and then you have to spend another €12 or €13 to get a data package activated on the SIM and that lasts 30 days.

    For all that money, when I don’t need calls or texts, I’m as well using T-Mobile roaming as 3 weeks in Spain cost me £80 in June 09 so 1 week in Sardinia will cost one third of that.

    HOWEVER, reading this thread, it seems that data only SIMs are available.

    If that is correct, then can anyone advise me the best for Sardinia (Cagliari area) – WIND or TIM? Would appreciate input from someone on this.

  13. hi Dennis,
    Thanks for the info on WIND. I’m going to be in Rome in a month and am debating between getting a sim from TIM or WIND. Sounds like WIND is a little better on the rates and options, so I’m going to go with them.
    Steve Booth

  14. I am palnning to visit Rome next week. Can I buy one of theses WIND sims at the airport

  15. thanks for sharing this. i’m in italy now and have a generation 1 iphone. i unlocked it using pwnage tool and popped in a WIND SIM card. i’ve been using it as just a phone for a while, so lame. i tried following the steps you mentioned. one thing, the WAP plan is now longer available. but you can find alternatives on the WIND site (and google does a decent job translating it if you need). i signed up for a data plan, upped my credits to be able to pay for the data. no dice. i see the edge network E but i can’t connect. i dug around and found that you need to update the APN settings (General > Network > Cellular Data. for WIND, the APN is internet.wind, username and password are both blank. after making that change, i was able to connect at long last!

  16. An intrusion from Italy :) I can explain because they are not just called “funny money”! … it’s a “bonus” of internet credit, as you can see on (PS: Internet connection (free;) .. also voip (fring for example is better for lowest use of rate, good in case of only GPRS and not EDGE, if possible to using a phone that recognize the “oldest”:=p European 3G.. it’s more of 7 years that in Italy the 3G – UMTS Network exist) go which good is a pleasure! Example: With MEGA 1500 have an equivalent of €1500 at rate of €0.003 (0.3ct) Wind in kbytes, of Internet (Web… not limited proxyzed NATed Wap!) connection :) … More than “fun money” would be more correct to call it “data connection bonus”!… the validity is 30 calendar days, if activated on January 10, will be renewed February 9, March 7 .. etc … remember to disable it via SMS, if not stay in Italy for over a month! If you are “demanding” and therefore also with higher costs, TIM is excellent but more expensive compared to WIND, but have the EDGE mode on 100% of your GSM network and a more capillary 3G-UMTS (2100MHz) network compared to WIND, if you having to work very often with your laptop connected via mobile internet in a secondary areas, not in big cities, etc.., if you do not have these needs over, Wind is perfect. :) …a curiosity.. am I that good or don’t understand well but the U.S. prepaid cards if you don’t always biiigrefill-callcallcaaaall-biiigrefill-callcallcallcallcaaaaall… expire after … immediately? O_o …doh! :=p If I don’t use that card, that number, for a period that don’t can, don’t want.. if charging a credit with the minimum refill allowable (using or a scratch refill card, from ATM of Bank and Post, with the terminal that play Lotto and betting, with a GSM Portable similar POS terminal then make refill and if enabled and not only similar! paying in cash or with atmcard or creditcard and all possible methods) should be at least 6 – 9 months! …i can’t make death for 12 or 13 month (according to various national operators, in other European nation, after 5 years from last refill!) refillin with 5euros if i want! …and if my sim is dead for not refill after 1 year, if having 20euros of credit lost, but i can having that in other (always same my -personal) sim, oldest or newest activation..! and sooo.. incredibly limited at all as services, etc. .. subscriptions are also many restrictions and limitations from mobile operators! ..or not? :)

    —– [email protected] *KB-99* —–
    —– AKA *RepRaZenTiN78Bi* —–
    — AKA alittlekrayziecubbear —
    ——- … always me!:=p ——-

  17. A quick correction to my note above… It looks like the word order is actually the same for the deactivating ‘NO’ messages as the initial activating ‘SI’ messages.

    To Tom: Unfortunate about the ‘not-quite-unlocked’ unlocked iPhone. Mine was a standard locked UK O2 3G iPhone. I have jailbroken mine and used the Yellowsn0w unlocking utility from the Dev Team – and all works perfectly abroad. So if you haven’t tried it yet – give it a go.

  18. Thanks for the tips on Wind Italy Dennis.

    Here my experience:

    1) arrived on boxing day in Rome… shops at airport open but apparently can’t activate a pre-paid sim in a public holiday

    2) go to shop on the 27th and buy a pre-paid card with $10 credit… only requirement is a copy of my passport, guy in shop says it will be active in 90 minutes

    3) waited till the afternoon nothing… go back the next morning only to find out they screwed up my activation, they try again and 10 minutes later I have it active, I am planning to share my web connection from my iPhone using NetShare so decide to get the unlimited plan, try to get a 30 Euro recharge but find out the shops selling the sim cards don’t usually sell the recharge… go figure

    4) Day 3 I am on the hunt for a re-charge and finally find a shop that sells them… done. send the code to Wind and the unlimited plan is active within 30 minutes, I did all the activating with my “old iMate JasJam 3G” phone. No I swap the sim over to my iPhone which is an officially unlocked 3G iPhone. The phone tells me I need to reactivate the phone by plugging the phone into iTunes which in return needs a net connection… WTF.

    5) Lucky have a laptop with me and find an open Wifi hotspot down the road, activate the phone… it works! Do a restart of the phone to make sure it all works… now the iPhone tells me I have to reactivate again… WTF.

    6) I reactivate and walk back to our apartment… for some reason the sim came loose on the way, I reinsert the sim… the bloody phone tells me again I have to reactivate… WTF to the power of two.

    7) I go back and reactivate at the WIFI hotspot… all works now great… I share the phones web connection with my laptop for about two hours… everything is super fast and works a treat… then the application crashes and with it the phone… restart… you guessed it. “Please connect to iTunes for re-activation”. I am starting to hate this…

    8) Travel from Rome via Umbria and Tuscany to Florenze… bloody phone keeps locking up in need of reactivation everytime I actually want to use it…

    In summary:
    – Everything Dennis describes works a treat and is actually pretty good value

    – While Wind doesn’t have proper 3G coverage in rural areas, where it does have 3G coverage is usually pretty fast (seen speeds up to 3 Mbit/sec down and 1 Mbit/ sec up)

    – Can anyone tell my Apple doesn’t seem to understand what unlocking a phone means? No it doesn’t mean you limit this to operators from one country… come on guys! Unlocking means unlocking!

    – Decided to Jailbreak my iPhone simply because I had enough of Apples paranoia.

    Wind good… Apple pretty stupid!

  19. If you are in Italy for only a week or two say, then you can ‘freeze’ the 30-day period and save any remaining credit until your next visit.
    Just send the ‘NO’ text message that corresponds with your package to 4533. E.g. “MEGA NO 1500”. Note that the word order in the ‘NO’ message is not the same as the corresponding ‘SI’ message.

  20. i’m still in italy and using Mega 1500 for gprs connection through my HTC mobile phone and using HTC as a modem to connect my notebook to internet. I guess this is the best way. But also there is UMTS connection type for some mobile phones which is faster. also you can buy “Call Your Contry” which is ideal to call your home country with ideal cheap prices. all with wind. but wait for activation message before using any packet or you’ll be charged with high prices which in my condition only took 2 hours…

  21. Jake,

    You have should have validity for 30 days, not a calendar month. I had a similar fear the first time I checked my data balance as it seemed to say that the validity ended the same day that I activated. But it was alright, every day that I checked my data balance it said “Valido fino al ” plus that day’s date.

    I activated NO LIMIT 26-Mar-2008 and the package was definitely active into April, I remember checking my NO LIMIT balance in the first or second week of April while roaming on ATT in the US and it still showed NO LIMIT as active with over 700 Euro’s of data “funny money” still available. Unfortunately you can’t use the NO LIMIT balance while roaming internationally.

  22. When you say E750 of data per month, is that calendar month? Or do you have 30ish days from the day you activate the data option? Today is the 30th of August and I just activated my mega 1500. When I check my balance via SMS, it replies:

    Mega 1500 1494,80 euro Valido fino al 30/08/2008.

    Looks like I’ll get charged the 8 euro for only a few hours and then it will probably try to charge me again? Small price to pay, but am I translating that right? If it is calendar year, then why not until 31/08/2008. Ugh

  23. This was excellent info and worked like a charm.. i was in italy for 6 weeks and paid 6 euro for virtually unlimited data.. i cant tell you how thankful i am for this article.

    Another good tip for iphone users, download biteSMS through installer, flat fee SMS messaging, usually about 10 cents (american dollars), to anywhere in the world through data.

    Thanks again!

  24. Thank you so much for sharing. I will be in italy next month, and with this I can check my email every day!

  25. I brought these instructions to Italy last month, and they worked like a charm. I had internet on my iPhone the whole week I was there (from Rome all the way down to Palermo in Siciliy) all for 10 euro! Thanks much for the information.


  26. Very interesting!

    I am going to France soon and looking for data options.
    Do anyone have similar feedback from France?

Comments are closed.