Can you speak Italian ?
Im just wondering if any radio operator in Italy can / will respond should you use your radio while there.
As for which one, I recently spent some time looking for mine. In the end I could see no real difference between Icom and Standard Horizon.
Both did the same things and seemed of the same quality. They have a range to suit needs and pockets.
But dont forget, not all aerials are the same. I did as much research on that as I did radios. In the end your radio is only as good as the aerial. I used this chap for advice and aerials : Salty John: fine boat and yacht chandlery products.
You will need to do a VHF course to use a radio as well.