The project aims to eventually provide wifi coverage to some 7,000 of Italy's central piazzas, according to Italy's Ministries for Economic Development and for Culture.
Every hotspot in the network will be accessible via the same smartphone app, requiring users to log in only once. It will not require any further details after the initial authentication process.
And rather than starting with the country's biggest tourist hotspots, the project's organisers say priority is being given to small towns with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants, particularly those in areas affected by earthquakes.
“Piazza WiFi Italia is a strategic project to support the digitalization effort of the country through the provision of free wifi connections, starting from the smallest communities,” stated Marco Bellezza, Legal Advisor for Communications and Digital Innovation, in a press release
However the new network has also been introduced in some major cities, including Rome, Milan, Bologna, Florence and Bari.
A map showing the locations of the free wifi hotspots around Italy so far. Screenshot: Piazza WiFi Italia.
Most of the first 100 hotspots are in central-northern Italy, though ministers say the network will cover the whole country.
After reporting a successful launch, the ministries say they're now preparing to expand the scheme, which has 45 mllion euros in new funding at its disposal.
Contracts to run the networks in various parts of the country were put out for tender at the beginning of July, and residents were invited to fill out a form, available online, to request free wifi for their town.
Towns that are still rebuilding after being hit by earthquakes and other disasters have been automatically added to the list, officials said.
Italian media described it as “version 2.0” of a previous free wifi project, which was called “a flop” by the Repubblica daily after reporters found they were unable to connect to several supposed wifi hotspots in Rome and Milan.