Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Rome Goes WiFi: Italy's Capital Puts Free Wireless Internet Access In Its Best Spots

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Rome, just like New York, Philadelphia and a growing number of other cities around the world has just opened up a series of free wi-fi hotspots in the most beautiful and publicly accessible parts of the city.

Since this week anyone carrying a laptop can sit and freely connect to the Internet from the greens of Piazza di Siena, the nearby Cinema Home (La Casa del Cinema), the Casina Valadier or from anyone of 20 other hot spot locations enabled within Rome's own Central Park, called Villa Borghese.


Alerted via email from my own brother yesterday morning, I had no hesitation in mounting my small motorbike and head off to Villa Borghese beautiful public park to see if the news had some meat to it.

Anyone with a portable computer, PDA, smartphone or mobile phone equipped with Wi-Fi capabilities (all new computer models come now equipped with this technology built-in) can easily connect to the Internet from a vast area inside Villa Borghese's huge public park, without needing to pay or subscribe to any marketing promotion.

The service is offered for free to everyone for the first year. It is yet unclear how much it will cost when it goes commercial in a year from now. Too bad also that nonetheless the apparent open-mindedness toward the adoption of these new technologies, the authorities in charge have failed to understand the leverage the true potential of this technology as a driver for people to live the city and for localized public and commercial services to thrive on it.

It seems that for now Italians can only see the business side of Wi-Fi (I guess they are not alone), attracting users with glamorous and innovative promotions only to try to squeeze out every last cent from naive and yet uncritical users at the first possible opportunity.

Would you put a fountain in a great public square only to start charging for it after some time?

I have seen this sad story happen in Milan as well, where great meeting places like the Diana Sheraton have sold themselves to partnerships with commercial Wi-Fi providers asking 3EU or more for a one hour connection. The point is not about how high that price is for the service provided, but how blinded business entrepreneurs are in not seeing that this a money-making flywheel for all the businesses that you can build around Wi-Fi, and not directly on it.

The Wi-Fi service inaugurated in Rome this week is called Wireless Rome and it requires a simple registration the first time you hook up to the Internet with it. Once you have setup your username and password, you can start navigating the Web as if you were at home, and freely connect through your instant messaging, VoIP and video applications to anyone around the world while sitting under the fresh air of a typical maritime pine.

For now, the 22 hot spots can serve up to over 1000 of concurrent users logging in from the park.

Here is the map of Wireless Rome that can also be downloaded as a fully zoomable PDF.
Click the above map to access/download the PDF version

Connection speed is not that great for now, though my tests were somehow limited, due to the vast coverage area to be scanned. I was not able to get beyond a few megabits/per second during my test connections and signal strength was always somewhat limited. Nonetheless the above I was able to navigate any site with no apparent slowdown compared to what I am used to from my office and even to conduct voice conversations via Skype with different people around the world with the best possible audio quality.

I was in fact so enthusiastic of being able to connect from such a beautiful open space in my city that I decided to call up my friend Howard Rheingold in Mill Valley, California and to share firsthand with him the announcement.

Here is both the audio recording and a mini video clip of this event.
In the audio recording you can hear the clarity of the conversation between me and Howard (the echo of my voice is due to Howard having his speakers on at his end - a typical consequence of VoIP small delay when headsets are not used), while in the video clip you can see me "a torso nudo" connecting via Skype from the side of Piazza di Siena.

Click play to listen to my short test Skype call from Villa Borghese to San Francisco - (59")

Video clip of the 1 minute Skype test.

Windows Media .wmv

Quicktime .mov
Wireless Rome is planned to grow over the coming months by integrating many other sites and beautiful public locations in the city. Among these some of the most popular Roman piazzas and villas, such as the Trevi fountain, Campo de´ Fiori, the Campidoglio, the Circo Massimo, and also non-historical areas of the city such the new Music Auditorium and the modern residential area called Eur.

The project has been realized by the Rome Municipality in partnership with the Distretto dell´audiovisivo e dell´Ict, which is a consortium of small and large sized companies interested in commercializing technologies and services connected to telecommunication, media and networking services.

According to the consortium Rome will be the first Italian and European city to start a urban wi-fi plan focused on serving both local citizens, businessmen and the many tourists coming to visit.

If you are coming to Rome, bring also your laptop this time!

Readers' Comments    
2008-12-25 07:57:37

Robin Good

And if you are in Rome, make sure you Twitter me a message!

Check out and message me directly by following me at -slash- RobinGood


2008-07-26 14:36:14


Thanks, Robin. I used http://www.comuni.itservizicodfisc

Got the number in about 4 micro-seconds once I figured out that "town of birth" had to be stati uniti.

Thanks, John

2008-07-26 13:40:58

Robin Good

everything is still functioning. The official info is still gere and it seems that it is still all OK: http://www.romawireless.comindex_eng.htm

The hassles are 1-hour per day free and you need to register with your codice fiscale. Some foreign friends have taught me that there are a number of free web services online to generate a valid codice fiscale for anyone, so make use of those if you need.

I also would recommend registering with FON and checking out their Rome map for hotspots AT

Let me know if I can help more.

2008-07-26 13:29:55


I'm with you, Alee. Can't seem to find out if the Rome free wireless (circa 2005 for "one year") is still active. Hope someone can help us out on this.


2008-07-26 01:03:07



I was wondering how things are now,will be in October 2008?

What's the best waylocation to be online free, in Rome?

And how is Internet access btw in the country side, say a 15 min drive out from the Vatican city???

Many thanks for your reply

2007-09-28 16:21:25


I don't know much about the parks but I am an aficionado of Agave, somewhere between Termini and the Colosseum.

They don't advertise it much as an access point, but it's a really chilled out place where you can have a nice cappuccino, read a book and get online. Pity I am moving to Milan soon :-(

2007-02-06 17:22:23

Marcelo botti

I had a problem with DHCP connecting in V.borgesse.

There is very FAST free internet connection - near piazza navona - Via del teatro pace 34 - in RUST restaurant.
It is fast DHCP and without WEP - see the website on how to arrive

2006-01-30 09:34:09


Good news for Rome users. The Commune should look at the Silicon Valley "Smart Valley" Initative to see how to run a no-cost Wifi project.,1895,1916102,00.asp

I should go to the park to work instead of trying to get Telecom Italia to activate my Internet Access after two months of waiting for the service.

Perhaps you should do an article about the poor services offered by the Internet Service providers in Rome and the surrouding area. As I know I am not alone in having to deal with the complete lack of support from ISPs in Rome.


2005-08-23 12:44:51


sir pls send me a good project. i m seeking to project pls help me

2005-08-19 10:24:28

Muhammad Sohail Zafar

I want to read it.

posted by Robin Good on Wednesday, August 3 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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