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old iPhone in Europe

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When I upgraded to the iPhone 4s (AT&T), I kept my iPhone 3g. I have heard that I could "unlock" it, take it to Europe, and buy a new SIM card and sign up for a local plan for a short period and this would be a lot cheaper than paying AT&T international rates with my new phone. I will be arriving in Rome, proceeding to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, then making my way to Belgium and Germany.
Is this really possible with one card and one plan for multiple countries?
I am also concerned that since I don't speak Italian or German, I will sign up for a long term plan that I won't be able to get out of.
Any advice from someone who has done this?

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