Volunteer Your Way Through Italy With Workaway

Updated 2018.

A site that will truly help you do as the Romans do, Workaway is an interesting option for adventurous travelers looking to experience Italian life and culture – hands on! Workaway facilitates the exchange of work for room and board. The site lets hosts post their unique labor needs while workers can search for work that suits them within the country where they plan to travel.

With more than 1,500 hosts in Italy looking to exchange a few hours of work a day for room and board, the exchange is a unique way to interact with Italian locals, experience an authentic Italian lifestyle and perhaps learn a new skill! While this might be an ideal experience for travelers who have more time, like retirees or those on sabbatical, travelers who have at least two weeks’ vacation may find this to be an option as well.

You can browse the listings for free to get an ideas of what is offered. To get started with a serious search, you have to sign up for a yearlong membership on the website. You can either sign up as a single person at $29 per year, or as a couple at $38 per year. Set up an approachable profile that shows what you’re passionate about, speaks to your hobbies and gives potential hosts a personable and honest look at who you are. Once you’re ready to look for hosts, simply go to the Host List and filter the results to Italy. If there’s a specific region that you’ve been wanting to check out, you can even narrow your search to that location.

As you look through hosts, make sure to read their entire profiles, their reviews, what kind of work they’re looking for and what they are willing to give in exchange. Most hosts are looking for three to four hours of work for five days a week in exchange for a private room and meals. While some hosts are looking for travelers to stay for as little as three days, most hosts prefer guests who can commit to longer stays of two weeks to a couple of months.

Not sure if Workaway is right for you yet? Take a look through these truly Italian listings up on the site right now:

Agriturismo Horseback Riding Camp: Set in the Chianti countryside in sun-drenched Tuscany, this horseback riding academy needs someone with equestrian experience to help out! In exchange for meals and a small apartment, the owners would like you to work five hours a day for five days a week either teaching young children English or tending to the horses on their farm. They are looking for someone who can stay for at least a month to help with the summer camps that they host.

Organic Family Farm in Eastern Sicily: Located on three acres and nestled between the mountains and the sea, this organic family farm in the town of Giarre in Sicily would like you to help them plant, prune and harvest their crops – depending on the season. In exchange for five hours of work for five days a week, you will be provided with an apartment three miles away from the farm. Not to worry, they also provide you with bikes! If biking to work on a hazy fruit farm sounds idyllic to you, this one might be the right listing for you.

Help With a Language School in Paglieta: A small town in the region of Abruzzo, Paglieta is near to both the sea and the mountains. It is here that an English Language Club needs an energetic native English speaker to teach children their language through storytelling and fun games and activities. They would prefer that workers have prior experience with teaching or leading children and are looking for workers who can stay for at least a month. In exchange for a private bedroom and meals, the hosts request five hours of work for five days a week. Paglieta is nine miles away from Lanciano, a larger city that offers sightseeing, a theater and restaurants to explore on your time off.

Work on a Vineyard in Piedmont: This organic vineyard and B&B (pictured above) is surrounded by gently rolling hills and relaxed nature. An American and her Italian husband run the place in a renovated villa where they need help with general harvest needs, website work, guest handling and brochure translation. In exchange for three to five hours of work a day for five days a week, the hosts offer private accommodations and meals. Oh, and did we mention there’s a pool?

If you’re looking for five-star hotels and glamorous meals, Workaway may not be the right travel experience for you. But if you desire to truly live like the locals, apply old skills and pick up some new ones, Workaway might make your next Italian vacation magical…and unique. — Mary Zakheim