Not everyone can afford to stay at 5-star hotels or glorious spacious villas when traveling to the Bel Paese. And though at this point, I think everyone knows enough to surf on-line for discount hotels or hostels- there are some other options out there that might just have you ignoring the dollar's all-time-low– and pressing on to plan that next vacation to Italy!
So, let's think outside the box this Travel Tip Tuesday, as we discuss some options that may or may not be for everyone.
Convents. They are not just for die-hard catholics anymore. And though some of them may have an early curfew that could cramp your style, often you get a lovely, inexpensive, clean room, with polite staff and generally , peace and quiet. Convents and monasteries can be a bit harder to find, so while staying in one may save you financially, you'll no doubt have to put in some extra time up front with research. Try Monastery Stays on-line, or read through Lodging in Italy's Monastaries or Bed and Blessings.
Couchsurfing. A friend introduced me to this. I had heard of it conceptually, but never realized that it had materialized into an actual and "popular" activity. Said friend managed to stay in Italy for 10 days, without laying out a Euro for accommodation, thanks to this option. Generous folks from all over the world offer up couches (or beds) in their homes, for free. If you are lucky, maybe you'll get your own bedroom. If not, perhaps you'll wake up on the living room couch, with your roomy slaughtering a pig in the kitchen, while a rooster pecks at your leg. Use caution, but check out the 21,000 available couches in Italy.
Home Exchange. Don't fancy staying in a house, when your newly found friends (read, strangers) are sharing it with you? Well, perhaps a home swap , or home exchange is more your style. And if the movie, 'The Holiday' is any indication of the result, I'd have no hesitation saying yes- especially if the houses looked those and Jude Law came with the property! To visit the source featured in the movie, use HomeExchange.com. Another option is HomeForExchange.com. Many sites have a membership fee, but if you use the service regularly, it's really a mere pittance compared to what you'll save in the long run!
Agriturismo. This is a great option for those who don't mind doing a little work. In the field, that is. The rewards can be great though- being treated like a member of the family, and eating meals prepared with the fruits of your labor. Keep in mind, since most of these are considered, 'farm holiday's' it's unlikely you'll find one in the center of Rome. Agriturismi are best for those wanting to say in the countryside, or at least a short drive from town.
And though some of the more upscale agriturismi may never have your lifting a finger (and therefore costing more!), the options where you do work, are likely to be an authentic stay you won't forget. To qualify as an agriturismo, the property must be a working farm, that generates more than half its income from its own agriculture. Fruits, veggies, milk, cheese, olive oil, wine and the like. It's hard for Italy to regulate these farms, so they vary widely in quality. Make sure you do your homework, so that you are not sleeping in the chicken coop. Agriturismo Italy is a good place to start. And if you'd rather have an agency do the work for you, try Farm Holidays.
And speaking of Italy, let's head over there now and see what tips Cherrye is offering up today!