Going wireless in Rome is not a problem if you stay in our apartment. Included in the rent we offer 24/7 4Mb ADSL internet connection.
Our contract says 4Mb/sec, but you could experience a slower connection. Admittedly, Italian providers are not the best in the world. No problems for email, surfing, Skype, etc., but if you absolutely need to send very large files (over 10MB) it might become a bit boring affair. A faster connection would have implied much higher costs and this would inevitably influence our rates. A choice we decided not to take, of course.
Joe Brancatelli of www.joesentme.com has sponsored the flat with a lovely little WI-FI modem/router, giving all our guests the possibility to hook up their laptop/iPhone/iPad/Blackberry etc. in no time and with no wires around.
By the way, when you have some time, do visit Joe's website. Even if aimed to the business traveller, it's a great reference for travelling in general, and you can find lots of up-to-date informations about airlines, special deals etc. Thank you again, Joe!
OK, back to wireles, now...
If you are outside of the house the situation is very different at each step you take in any direction.
In theory, there should be a couple of public open WI-FI networks covering good part of the city.
One is Roma Wireless Network, a public service which should allow you to freely connect to the internet from several hotspots placed around the city and eventually anywhere in town.
Another one is the ProvinciaWIFI network, provided by Rome's Province public service. Basically similar and more or less present at the same locations of Roma Wireless.
These services are free of charge, require a registration procedure (often in Italian), they are quite slow and definitely not ubiquitous. Their webpages boast great promises and fantastic innovative technologies, but when everything comes down to a simple reality check, they are simply very poor solutions compared to what you can find in most cities around the world.
You can of course wonder why there are two state founded networks doing the same (poor) job in the same city, but this is just one of the many questions you will ask yourself while living in Italy, together with the gender of the Angels, the location of the lost city of Atlantis, Mona Lisa's real name, and so on.
Fortunately, quite a few cafés and public places are now starting offering wi-fi connectivity either for a small charge or even for free. If you are lucky enough, while walking around in the streets, you might even still find a few private open WI-FI connections from which you can quickly check your mail. It's not that nice, true, but if you are not sending threatening letters to the White House, it's still not the most horrible crime you can commit nowadays.
A pretty good page to search for hotspots can be found here.
Logically the major mobile providers offer wi-fi connectivity around at a (not) small price. Just connect to Tin.it or LINKEM and give a look at their offers.
If you are planning to travel throughout Italy and, specially, if you conider to stay a bit removed in the countryside be prepared to big difficulties.
Believe it or not, no matter what the media say, in Italy there are still (many) places not connected with an ADSL service, and people still relies on ancient dial-up lines or to otherwise extinct ISDN connections. In this case, your only solution is to consider purchasing a USB mobile modem, praying with all your mights that your area is going to be covered by a decent mobile reception.
Lastly, remember that a very good page with up-to-date technical information is the one from Slow travel. Don't hesitate to visit it!
In Rome, you can buy a USB mobile modem, SIM card and a prepaid card at the TIM CENTRO store on Via Vittorio Emanuele, about 100 metres from Largo Argentina, and just a 5 minutes walk from our flat. All the staff are very helpful and speak reasonable English.
So, going wireless in Rome is not too easy, often strictly in Italian, but still doable.
Hope this helps you getting a wireless internet connection in the Eternal City! :-)