The Joys of Being a Foreigner – Cittadinanza Digitale

The Cittadinanza Digitale – digital citizenship – is a very laudable project of the City of Venice with the scope of bringing fast wireless internet to all citizens for free.

As far as I have understood, the project started when the city got the chance to buy a optic fiber network which covered most of the area of the municipality, both Venice proper, the Lido, the islands, and Mestre and Marghera on the mainland. This optic fiber network has been used to set up a series of wifi hotspots around the municipality, mostly in public libraries, squares, parks and beaches.

In Venice most major campi, and many smaller ones, are covered, as are the few public parks (Giardini Reali, Sant’Elena, Garibaldi), and the entire length of the Canal Grande, from P.le Roma to S.Marco.

On the Lido the coverage includes two large swathes of public beach, an area around the Palazzo del Cinema (a few hundred metres from my home), the public library near my rowing club (1.3km away), and, from next February, the entire length of the Gran Viale (1km away).

Needless to say, I’ve been quite eager to get my hands on some access codes for this network ever since it went operative in the summer.

Initially it was only available for residents of the municipality, and I still haven’t that formality in order, or for tourists who can buy access to the network on the Venice Connected web site, but that’s too expensive for long term usage.

In late November the service was finally opened up for “city users”, people who work or study in Venice, but without being residents of the municipality. They require you to have a “carta imob” which is the electronic card you must have to be able to buy tickets at subsidised prices for public transport in Venice, which is otherwise very expensive.

The registration for the service was not without problems, though, and probably for the usual reason, that is, the failure to recognise a codice fiscale for somebody born outside Italy, but that is my guess, because I never got any kind of explanation, and the registration still doesn’t work for people born abroad.

When I entered my codice fiscale, the number of my carta imob and my phone number, besides all the other information they wanted, I just got a generic message stating that “There was a problem with your data. Please check them better and try again”. This happened no matter what I tried.

Fortunately, I tried this on a Monday, and the municipal office on the Lido would take requests about the Cittadinanza Digitale only on Tuesdays, so I headed down there the next morning. The poor women in the office had no idea about what to do about my problem and just wanted me to go home and try again, but as I insisted they called somebody more technical, which didn’t help either. In the end I left all the information needed on a note, in return for a promise that a technician would call me later to help.

Later the same day the lady from the city office called me to say everything was working, that my access had been activated. I received the text message on the phone with the access code that allowed me to finish the registration and get my login and password for the service.

I have used it a few times, for calling Denmark via a VoIP service, and it works OK, even if not perfectly. I not sure the hotspot at the Palazzo del Cinema is fully operational, as the place is a huge building site at this time.

The registration issue still haven’t been fixed completely. I have tried to do the process for my flat mate who is an Italian citizen but born abroad, and the result was very similar. There were an error message for a mistyped codice fiscale, but in the end I still got the same message, so she too will have to go to the office and have them do it manually somehow.


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