Originally Posted by accbgb
you buy a SIM card for a one-time fee (somewhere around €25 or so) that comes with xx number of minutes plus yy MB data. Then, you simply top it off the way you would a prepaid credit card. You can go into most tabacchi and many other locations and purchase a "ricaricard"; it used to be that you would actually get a card with a code hidden under a scratch-off (like a lotto scartch off card), but you may just as likely receive a simple printed receipt with the code visible. You then send a text including that code to actually top off your account.
Just a SIM is €10 including €5 of credit. It'll come with the base plan that is fairly expensive per minute or MB but no fixed monthly fee.
Or you can activate one of the many monthly offers. Much better if you actually use the phone but you're locked into a certain fee every month. OTOH €10 a month will seem like nothing compared to North American rates.
Most of the plans can be billed straight to your Italian bank account these days. Saves the hassle of getting a top up card. Obviously you'd need a bank account