Cell phones are handy to have when traveling in Italy. Whether you want to stay in touch with people at home, phone ahead for reservations, or just have a phone for emergencies, taking a cell phone with you when you travel is a good idea.
Cellular phone plans can be confusing and using your own US or Canadian cell phone can be expensive. Using hotel phones to call home is expensive and relying on pay phones can be difficult.
For more information about the kind of phone you'll need, see this article, Buying the Right GSM Cellular Phone for Europe.
One easy solution is to purchase a SIM card for use with an unlocked GSM cell phone or renting and buying an unlocked GSM cell phone and prepaid SIM card from Cellular Abroad. You'll have a local Italian number for calls in Italy, free incoming calls, and a fixed low rate for calls to the United States or Canada. All the menus are in English and there's 24 hour a day service in English as well. They even include foreign adapters for the charger.
Phone cards come with a small prepaid initial credit. If you know you'll be using the phone a lot, you can buy additional prepaid time directly from Cellular Abroad when you place your order. You can also easily add time when you're in Italy. If you're traveling to other countries, you can purchase SIM cards for them as well.
Cellular Abroad phones use UNO Mobile service. Service is available everywhere, even in some surprisingly remote areas. International calls and calls to the US are usually very clear, sometimes clearer than landlines.