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No wifi, no parcels: What to expect if you live in the Italian countryside

Silvia Marchetti
Silvia Marchetti - [email protected]
No wifi, no parcels: What to expect if you live in the Italian countryside
Life in the Italian countryside isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Photo by Gabriel Tamblin on Unsplash

Many people move to rural Italy looking for a quiet life, but just how disconnected will things be? From phone lines to waste collection, Silvia Marchetti tells us what to expect.

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Everyone loves the idea of living the Italian rural idyll, in a cosy country house with a garden, far from the city crowds. But often, this lifestyle comes with disadvantages to be aware of. 

If you happen to be in the countryside, public services in general can be poor compared to those in the nearest village. Transport, waste pick-up, mail delivery, mobile and broadband coverage are all lacking in certain areas, especially if your house is located far out in an isolated spot surrounded by meadows and forests. 

I happen to have the misfortune of living right at the border between two very small towns in Rome’s countryside, and lately services have been getting worse.

READ ALSO: Nine things to expect if you move to rural Italy

Given I’m far from the central piazza of my comune of residence, letters sent to me tend to pile up at the post office; only once a month the postman remembers and delivers a heap of envelopes that spill out of my mailbox. I read letters with a two-month delay at times, so I regularly stop by the post office to check if there is anything pending with my address. A letter from Milan once arrived in Rome within two days but was delivered at my place a month later.

If you’re expecting an important letter or package, the best thing to do is to track it on the postal operator’s website, using the shipping number given to you. 

My town recently launched waste sorting, and again, because I live on the outskirts of the area, my house is the last one, the truck stops by at 2pm for pick-up. My rubbish bags just lie at the gate for half a day, with cats regularly opening them and scattering banana peels all over. 

Delays with waste collection can be an issue if you live in a rural part of Italy. Delays with waste collection can be an issue if you live in a rural part of Italy. Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

These rural hassles are due to “long” distances and low population density, or so I have been told several times by the comune authorities. Services tend to be wanting if there are few residents, aka taxpayers, living in a specific street or area. 

Postal couriers can never find my house, so if I make an online order or I’m waiting for wine from Sicily, I have to guide the driver by phone till he gets to my place, even though I live on a provincial road.

READ ALSO: Seven things to know before moving to Italy's Puglia region

Rural areas also come with many phone operator traps, which are often impossible to avoid without turning your house into an off-grid monastery. Cable coverage is poor, and you only find this out once it’s too late.

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From personal experience, this can be hell. All phone operators have the same rules: 

You can easily agree to a ‘linea’ (contract) by phone by sending your ID card, and that’s when the contract kicks in - even if the phone line and wifi don’t work even after the technician has come to check. 

If you terminate the contract before the end of a two-year period, you pay a fine of up to €350. Nobody tells you that in your rural area infrastructure won’t be upgraded due to the low number of clients, or that the centralina (control unit) is five kilometers from your house so the signal will forever stay poor. 

READ ALSO: 'Hellish odyssey': Why cancelling my Italian phone contract took six months

Forget broadband. No matter how many times you call the operator or ask for a technician (who seldom shows up) to fix your landline that is not working, you’ll keep receiving bills, and if you don’t pay them you end up in a list of ‘morosi’ (defaulters). 

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I’ve had to cancel my pay-per view TV subscriptions, change my heating unit from wifi to manual and stick to working with mobile internet, using my iPhone as a hotspot. When I called the operator, I was told it would be better if I moved house.

I tried switching to radio wifi signal to capture internet coming from the opposite hillside, but the dish fell at each gust of wind.

It’s always best to check coverage before signing a contract, ask the neighbors or just stick with a mobile connection.

Internet and digital infrastructure is one area targeted for improvement under the new Recovery Fund investments - but I doubt services in rural areas will improve.

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Enjoying the bucolic ‘arcadia’ comes at a price; you just need to know what exactly you’re signing up for. Actually, I know many people who crave an off-grid, isolated spot, so it could be exactly what you want. In my case, not really.

If you live in the Italian countryside, how does your experience compare? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Comments (2)

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Shauna 2023/04/17 09:45
Recommend finding an apartment building in town that has a porter and for a small fee have parcels and important documents sent there. People in our apartment do it all the time
Shelli Joye, PhD 2023/04/13 10:58
That review was way too negative! We live in remote small valley in the Umbrian hills. Our road is a rutted dirt road, but we receive regular mail. We also receive deliveries of Amazon packages and other shipments. Our rifiuti is collected at trash bins that are several km away. For wifi, we have Telecom Italian wifi that comes from an antenna on a nearby mountain. The TIM wifi is about 4 Mbps. But we recently got a Starlink dish that costs 50 euro per month, the speeds are 160 Mbps!

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