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Cheapest, easiest phone/SIM for Western Europe

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I was in Italy two years ago and did not take a phone, Just got phone card from a tabacchi for the couple of calls I needed to make. I will be travelling to either Spain or France this year and Italy next year.

I need advice on the easiest and most cost effective phone to use as my Verizon iPhone 5 doesn't work in those locations.
I would like to take my iPad (also Verizon) and assume i can use it with WIFI only. I could alternately take my Macbook AIr for downloading photos and internet WIFI searches while in those locations.

I would prefer one stop shopping. I am somewhat tech savvy but simplicity would be great.
Any advice would greatly appreciated.

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