An easy way to stay in touch with friends back home, is to buy a local sim card. It is necessary that you have an unlocked phone, or you can purchase a simple inexpensive cell mobile phone. Several of my friends have bought cell mobile phones. I usually purchase my sim cards from the local Tabacci however the last one I purchased was from a phone shop at Roma Termini. It cost me 5 euro and came with 5 euro of credit. It was easy to top it up at different Tabacci stores around italy. Often too, you can top them up online.
This is much more affordable than using your sim card from back home and just so easy. You may need to re set your message centre in you phone settings. If you have trouble with this the people where you purchase the sim card will be able to help you.
My friend bought a travel sim card for her phone from the post office in Australia which cost her $50 AUD. She just tops it up when ever she needs to and it is cheaper than global roaming. This sim card can be used anywhere
If you are travelling with an ipad or tablet it is easy enough to also purchase a sim card for these. Many places in Italy offer wi fi, which they call wiffy, but do be careful not to use your sim card from your home country. You may have worked out a special deal but do make sure you understand what you are doing. So many people travel overseas and use their phones and tablets and then come home to huge bills. This will spoil your holiday. So, be careful.
More on sim cards for tablets yet to come.