Italy on a budget: “Affittacamere” private home lodging

Photo via Affittacamere “Giannetti”.

Think you’re on too much of a budget to be able to travel to Italy? Think again. There are so many ways that you can shave euros off of your day to day expenses, and they will add up to big savings.

Let’s start with the biggest expense by far — lodging.

Traveling on a budget does not have to mean staying in a youth hostel. As this is a fantastic option when you’re 21, the lack of privacy and stifling curfews can far outweigh the benefit of the low price. The next best option is to find an affittacamere.

Affittacamere is the Italian term meaning rooms for rent, but not just any rooms. They are defined by law as “structures composed of no more than 6 rooms, located in no more than two furnished apartments where lodging is furnished .” So basically, they are rooms for rent (sometimes in private homes) that are not part of a hotel. A private bathroom may not be included, but you are always guaranteed the privacy of your own bedroom.

The best places to take advantage of an affittacamere are small towns that have become suddenly touristy (think Cinqueterre) without the infrastructure to support the throngs of visitors demanding beds. Many locals in such areas own small apartments or rooms here and there, and have jumped on the touristic bandwagon to make a little extra money. (Large cities like Rome have an abundance of cheap hotels, you just have to stay in the seedier parts of town to find them.)

Many guidebooks provide phone numbers to little old ladies renting rooms. They often fill up quickly but don’t be afraid to ask these initial contacts if they know of another person with an affittacamere available. Often, a brother or cousin just might own an extra room or two as well. Train and bus stations in small towns can also be a place to meet a local recruiting newly arriving visitors. There’s NO guarantee that you’ll find someone waiting, but if you feel adventurous (and lucky), winging it could bring results. This approach is not for the faint of heart!

Another option in university towns is to stay in dormitories. When the students are in Feria, many open their doors to visitors needing beds at a reduced cost. Again, you might have to use a community bathroom, but the room is usually clean and cheap.

So what can you expect to pay? In high season, you can find rooms that could be as low as 30% of the cost of a basic albergo. There is a wide range of prices that changes from city to city, so start looking. A great travel adventure is never out of reach.

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