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Cell phone purchase and use in Europe

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My husband and I are traveling to Europe this Sept. 2010. We will be spending time in Italy and Germany. For one of our lodging destinations, we will need a phone to contact the owners to meet up and be shown to our accomodations. We have traveled many times to Europe but have never gone with a phone. I have been told to get an unlocked quad-band phone and purchase a sim card. I've seen some phones on Ebay, but the prices vary greatly. Can anyone give me some more detailed info on what to look for, where to buy, etc....???
Also, info. I've found online about sim cards seems to vary greatly also. I don't know if I should buy here in the U.S. or in Italy when we get there and where? Do I need different sim cards for Italy and Germany?
Any help would be greatly appreciated...we are leaving in less than 2 months and I'm starting to stress over it!!

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