The Goolge.com/flights matrix can show you in a glance how to save big just by tweaking your travel dates, For students, Italy, Italy (Photo courtesy of Google)
The Google.com/flights matrix can show you in a glance how to save big just by tweaking your travel dates, Be flexible, General

Advice, resources, & tours for student travelers in Italy

First of all: I envy you. One of the best year of my life was the one I spent studying abroad in Italy. Learned a lot. Traveled a lot. Met the love of my life. Yep: good times. (Also, my parents were footing the travel bill. Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

Student IDs - The ISIC

The only international-accepted student ID is the International Student Identity Card, or ISIC (www.isic.org), a $20 investment that can save you hundreds of dollars on your travels.

Always ask "Student?" when you have to pay for anything from a plane or rail ticket to museum admission. You'll often find anywhere from five to fifty percent lopped off the price.

Yes, the ISIC card works much better than your own student ID. Not only is it instantly recognized everywhere, it also gets you all sorts of other perks, including discounts on buses; Eurail tickets; at hostels and hostel-booking sites; some tours, sights (eg: Eiffel Tower tour, Tour Montparnasse), and restaurants; bike rentals;24-hour help line emergency service; access to flexible airfares; discounts at the Apple Store and Target.com; and (for $5 more) basic travel accident and sickness insurance. 

Technically, only EEC residents aged 18–26 get the standard free or reduced admission (it's a reciprocity thing), but in practice not every ticket-taker bothers asking, so you might get the deal even if you don't happen to have a European passport. And yes, the ISIC card works much better than your own student ID (especially as pertains to the tip below about arcane state museum rules).

Just beyond student-hood
If you're no longer a student but are still under 26 you can get an International Youth Identity Card from the same people, which will get you the insurance and some of the discounts (but not student admission prices in museums).

Teacher ID cards - The ITIC

By the way, the ISIC folks also provide the standard and widely accepted International Teacher Identity Card, or ITIC. This, too, is good for all sorts of discounts.

Like a student, announce to museum ticket desks (and anywhere else) that you are a teacher or professor and watch the discounts materialize—sometimes you even get in for free (though sometimes only if you have a class in tow).

Student airfares

Important point to understand from the outset: there's no guarantee that a "student fare" will be the cheapest one available.

Seriously. In these days of deep discounting and fire-sale prices, you'll often fare better just searching out a cheap ticket the way the rest of us who can no longer pass for the picture of the guy on our old college ID cards do. (Start here to do that.)

Why bother with a student fare? The flexibility.

But here's where student fares come in real handy. Most cheap fares have a maximum stay of 30 days.

That just ain't long enough, whether you're studying abroad or simply taking a few months to bum around Europe. (Though sometimes you'll find a cheap fare with a return window of nine months, which might be plenty.) Other fares are only good for travel from a certain date to a certain date, and that "to" date falls well before you plan to come home again.

However, there are special air tickets designed for student needs that might be worth the extra expense.

I'm talkin' long-term or open-ended airfares that'll let you traipse around the Continent for three or four months, or study abroad for a year (yes, go for a full year; don't bother signing up for this namby-pamby single semester stuff—you'll thank me later) without having to know yet what date you'll finally drag your sorry ass back Stateside for the fall semester.

(Hint: try for three days before classes start again; that should be enough time to do laundry, get in some quality time with the folks, and make your way back to campus.)

Those kind of open-ended tickets are available to anyone, of course, but usually they come at a premium—and when I say "premium" I mean four figures, and the first one ain't necessarily a "1." For students, you can get the same open-ended deal for much less.

Where to find student airfares

Your friendly neighborhood travel agent (if you can find one not put out of business by the Internet) should be able to help.

But for real bargains, go straight to the student travel experts. Since such outfits as Aussie-born STA and Massachusetts-based Student Universe specialize in backpacking students, they're adept at finding rock-bottom rates for all folks in high school, college, grad school—just about anyone under age 26, as well as teachers, though they'll search great deals for anyone.

 

More on Free things

☆☆☆
Beata Ludovica Alberoni (1671-75) by Gianlorenzo Bernini (Photo by Sailko)
Free
San Francesco a Ripa
Rome: Trastevere

This Trastevere church contains one of the raciest religious sculptures in the world, Bernini's Beata Ludovica in Ecstasy

 
☆☆☆
 (Photo by Didier Descouens)
Free
Giardini Papadopoli
Venice: Santa Croce

A small park near Piazzale Roma in the Santa Croce neighborhood

 
☆☆☆
The facade (Photo by Luca Aless)
Free
San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno
Pisa: Along the Arno

The oldest church in Pisa with a lovely Romanesque chapel

 
☆☆☆
Transept (Photo by Fczarnowski)
Free
Santa Maria degli Angeli
Rome: Termini train station

Rome's Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri is a church designed by Michelangelo to inhabit the remains of an ancient Roman bathhouse...you'd think it'd be more famous

 
☆☆☆
The facade (Photo by Martin Falbisoner)
Free
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
Rome: Termini train station

The grand basilica of St. Mary Major is a wonderland of mosaics in a crummy neighborhood

 
☆☆☆
 (Photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta)
Free
Castel dell'Ovo
Naples: Chiaia

The castle out to sea in Naples

 
☆☆☆
The Forum Boarium, with the round Temple of Hercules Victor on the left and the rectangular Temple of Portunus on the right (Photo by Carole Raddato)
Free
Foro Boario
Rome: Downtown Ancient Rome

Fraternal twin temples and the world's first sewer on lovely little "Cow Forum" by the Mouth of Truth

 
☆☆☆
 (Photo by Ethan Doyle White)
Free
San Simeon Piccolo
Venice: Santa Croce

The church of San Simeon Piccolo (a.k.a. San Simeone e Giuda) across the train station

 
The nave (Photo by Giuseppe Guida)
Free
San Gregorio Armeno
Naples: Centro Storico

A fine baroque church in Naples

 
Museo Civico Gaetano Filangieri (Palazzo Como) (Photo by IlSistemone)
Free
Museo Civico G. Filangeri
Naples: Centro Storico

Some nice paintings in a free (!) small private museum set in a lovely 18C palazzo

 
★★★
The inquisition room (Photo courtesy of ItalyGuides)
Free

A tour that gets you—quite literally—behind the scenes, into the rooms and chambers hidden behind those lavishly decorated walls where the actual governing of the Venetian Republic happened

 
★★★
A street in the outdoor market (Photo by Sergio S.C.)
Free
San Lorenzo leather market
Florence: San Lorenzo / San Marco

Florence's outdoor San Lorenzo leather market is a great place to bargain for a classic Florentine souvenir

 
★★☆
Pope Francis I greeting the flocks at a papal audience in Rome's St. Peter's Square (Photo courtesy of SMCS Music Office)
Free
Papal Audience
Rome: Vatican

How to get tickets to hang with his Holiness on St. Peter's Square in Rome

 
 (Photo courtesy of Paris Greeters)

Free greeter programs around the world encourage locals to welcome you to their hometown

 
★★☆
Whenever the yellow signs point to some major tourist destination, go the other way instead. Put away the map. Discover the real Venice. (Photo by FTS-Ro)
Free

The fine art of getting lost in the backstreets of Venice and learning to love it

 
★☆☆
The central market is a great place to get fresh food (Photo by Renato Torii)
Free
Mercato Centrale
Florence: San Lorenzo / San Marco

Florence's central covered food market

 
★★☆

A more rugged hike to see the eastern, wilder side of Capri (though you can cut it short as well)

 
★★☆
Bagni di Tiberio
Near Capri Town

The beach where the emperor used to bathe

 
★☆☆

A short hike to some pretty gardens with a classic view

 
★☆☆
 
★☆☆
transport
Free
Il Faro
Near Anacapri

A swimming cove by the lighthouse

 
★☆☆
Scoglio delle Sirene
Near Capri Town

Rocky sunbathing and swimming with Homeric connections

 
★☆☆
Via Vecchia Fiesolana (Photo courtesy of the Comune di Fiesole)
Free
Hiking from Fiesole
Florence: Fiesole

Hiking a narrow path past lovely villas from Fiesole back down into Florence

 
☆☆☆

Given enough time, you can simply walk around the island of Capri rather than waiting for the tiny buses or cramming into a taxi

 
☆☆☆
Marina Piccola
Near Capri Town

Small beaches at the ferry harbor

 
☆☆☆
 (Photo by Gianfranco)
Free

The puppet theater on the Janiculum Hill

 
★★☆
The Palagetto Guest House in Florence will give you a room in exchange for: Installing mosquito screens, professional photographs of the rooms, printing brochures for them, gently used bikes, installation of a shower by a professional plumber, or origami (Photo courtesy of the property)

Free lodgings in Italy: Hospitality networks (couchsurfing), home swaps, and house sitting services

 

Ways to sleep for free in Italy

 
 (Photo courtesy of Europosters)

Couchsurfing and other hospitality networks allow you to sleep for free in other member's homes

 
Getting to know some locals is a bit part of staying with a fellow hospitality club member (Photo courtesy of The Affordable Travel Club)

Hospitality networks gather folks who are willing to put up fellow members in their homes for free or for a small fee

 
This luxurious Tuscan apartment is in Pietrasanta, by the Forte dei Marmi seaside resort, halfway between Pisa and the Cinque Terre (Photo courtesy of Homeexchange)

Trading spaces isn't just a show on basic cable anymore. It's a way to live life like a local on your travels absolutely for free—so long as you let the local borrow your life (and home) in return.

 
This house in the Tuscan hills needs someone to house-sit and watch their dog for three weeks this spring... (Photo courtesy of mindmyhouse.com)

Sleep for free on vacation in Italy by watching someone's house (and, often, watering their plants and feeding their cat)

 
The Palagetto Guest House in Florence will give you a room in exchange for: Installing mosquito screens, professional photographs of the rooms, printing brochures for them, gently used bikes, installation of a shower by a professional plumber, or origami lessons by a Japanese artist. (Photo courtesy of the property)

Programs like WWOOF and Helpx let you barter your services for a free place to stay

 
Sailboats (Photo by plb06)

If you love sailing, or just have an unquenchable taste for adventure and new experiences, you can sign on to help crew a boat just about anywhere in the world, including Italy

 
Many Italian bars lay our free snacks in the evenings (Photo © Reid Bramblett)
Free

Yes, there are a couple of ways to enjoy excellent Italian food absolutely free

 
Aperitivi at Meo Pinelli (Photo courtesy of Meo Pinelli)

Bar hopping for free stuzzichini (snacks) and canapés during the aperitivo Happy Hour

 
Skype is the cheapest way to make international calls (Photo by Skype)

Use Skype (and an internet connection) to make and receive free voice and video calls—or have your friends and family Skype your cell in Italy for 10¢ per minute or $3 per month.

 

Typical prices and costs in Rome faced by visitors and tourists

 

Typical prices and costs in Venice faced by visitors and tourists

 
 (Photo courtesy of Campania Artecard)

Enjoy free admission to various Naples sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), free public transit, plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Rome sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Paestum sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Pompeii sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges)

 

Enjoy free admission to various Herculaneum sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Caserta sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 
Sightseeing passes
Santa Maria Capua Vetere

Enjoy free admission to various Santa Maria Capua Vetere sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 
Sightseeing passes
Campi Flegrei—The Phlegrean Fields

Enjoy free admission to various Campi Flegrei—The Phlegrean Fields sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 
 (Photo courtesy of FirenzeCard)

Enjoy free admission to various Florence sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Venice sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 
The Cinque Terre Card (left) and the trains-included Cinque Terre Treno MS Card (right) (Photo courtesy of the Parco Nazionale Cinque Terre)
Cinque Terre Card
Cinque Terre

Enjoy admission to the trail system and various Cinque Terre sights and monuments

 

Enjoy free admission to various Milan sights and monuments—and free transit—with the Milano Pass, Milan Card, or Milan Tourist Museum Card

 

More on Students

An 8-bed dorm room at the Hiphophostel Le Village Montmartre hostel (Photo )
Hostels
Naples

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Naples from €19 per person

 
An 8-bed dorm room at the Hiphophostel Le Village Montmartre hostel (Photo )
Hostels
Amalfi Coast

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Amalfi Coast from €19 per person

 
An 8-bed dorm room at the Hiphophostel Le Village Montmartre hostel (Photo )
Hostels
Sorrento

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Sorrento from €19 per person

 
A six-bed dormitory room in Rome's Des Artistes hostel (Photo courtesy of the property)

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Rome from €19 per person

 
An 8-bed dorm room at the Hiphophostel Le Village Montmartre hostel (Photo )
Hostels
Florence

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Florence from €19 per person

 
An 8-bed dorm room at the Hiphophostel Le Village Montmartre hostel (Photo )
Hostels
Venice

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Venice from €19 per person

 
A typical hostel dorm (Photo )

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Pisa from €19 per person

 
An 8-bed dorm room at the Hiphophostel Le Village Montmartre hostel (Photo )
Hostels
Milan

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Milan from €19 per person

 
 (Photo )

Where to find inexpensive hotels in Rome

 
 (Photo )
Cheap hotels
Florence

Where to find inexpensive hotels in Florence

 
The Lista di Spagna, the main street leading from the train station towards the heart of Venice, is lined with cheap hotels (Photo © Reid Bramblett)

Where to find inexpensive hotels in Venice

 
 (Photo Public Domain)

Sightseeing discounts for children, students, seniors, families, and teachers

 
 (Photo courtesy of Campania Artecard)

Enjoy free admission to various Naples sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), free public transit, plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Rome sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Paestum sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Pompeii sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges)

 

Enjoy free admission to various Herculaneum sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Caserta sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 
Sightseeing passes
Santa Maria Capua Vetere

Enjoy free admission to various Santa Maria Capua Vetere sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 
Sightseeing passes
Campi Flegrei—The Phlegrean Fields

Enjoy free admission to various Campi Flegrei—The Phlegrean Fields sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 
 (Photo courtesy of FirenzeCard)

Enjoy free admission to various Florence sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Venice sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 
The Cinque Terre Card (left) and the trains-included Cinque Terre Treno MS Card (right) (Photo courtesy of the Parco Nazionale Cinque Terre)
Cinque Terre Card
Cinque Terre

Enjoy admission to the trail system and various Cinque Terre sights and monuments

 

Enjoy free admission to various Milan sights and monuments—and free transit—with the Milano Pass, Milan Card, or Milan Tourist Museum Card

 
 (Photo courtesy of STA Travel)

Student and youth tours of Italy

 

More on Sleeping for free

★★☆
The Palagetto Guest House in Florence will give you a room in exchange for: Installing mosquito screens, professional photographs of the rooms, printing brochures for them, gently used bikes, installation of a shower by a professional plumber, or origami (Photo courtesy of the property)

Free lodgings in Italy: Hospitality networks (couchsurfing), home swaps, and house sitting services

 

Ways to sleep for free in Italy

 
 (Photo courtesy of Europosters)

Couchsurfing and other hospitality networks allow you to sleep for free in other member's homes

 
Getting to know some locals is a bit part of staying with a fellow hospitality club member (Photo courtesy of The Affordable Travel Club)

Hospitality networks gather folks who are willing to put up fellow members in their homes for free or for a small fee

 
This luxurious Tuscan apartment is in Pietrasanta, by the Forte dei Marmi seaside resort, halfway between Pisa and the Cinque Terre (Photo courtesy of Homeexchange)

Trading spaces isn't just a show on basic cable anymore. It's a way to live life like a local on your travels absolutely for free—so long as you let the local borrow your life (and home) in return.

 
This house in the Tuscan hills needs someone to house-sit and watch their dog for three weeks this spring... (Photo courtesy of mindmyhouse.com)

Sleep for free on vacation in Italy by watching someone's house (and, often, watering their plants and feeding their cat)

 
You can stay at the medieval Tuscan Santuario della Verna, where St. Francis received the stigmata (Photo courtesy of La Verna)

Sleep in a religious guesthouse or retreat at monasteries abbeys across Italy from just €17

 
A frescoed room at Venice's Foresteria Valdese, a religious hospice (Photo courtesy of the property)

You don't have to take vows of chastity and poverty or wear those itchy woolen robes to shack up in an Italian convent for as little as $30. You don't even have to be particularly religious.

 
The Palagetto Guest House in Florence will give you a room in exchange for: Installing mosquito screens, professional photographs of the rooms, printing brochures for them, gently used bikes, installation of a shower by a professional plumber, or origami lessons by a Japanese artist. (Photo courtesy of the property)

Programs like WWOOF and Helpx let you barter your services for a free place to stay

 
Sailboats (Photo by plb06)

If you love sailing, or just have an unquenchable taste for adventure and new experiences, you can sign on to help crew a boat just about anywhere in the world, including Italy

 
I think we've all been this sleepy guy at some point in an airport (Photo by fergusfleming)

Tips on having the most comfortable air travel experience possible, from getting to and from the airport to picking the right seat on the plane

 

More on Saving money

Skype is the cheapest way to make international calls

Sights and experiences you can get for free in Italy

 
 (Photo )

Be a sightseeing V.I.P.—Sightseeing passes grant admission to dozens of sights, avoiding the lines and saving money

 
 (Photo )

The Early Bird gets the Last Supper—yes, there are some museums, monuments, and sights in Italy for which you really need to reserve admission tickets ahead of time<

 

Tips and advice for how to get the most out of seeing the sights, museums, and monuments during your Italy vacation

 

Don't use the most famous booking engines; use the ones with the largest selection and lowest rates

 
This Italian hotel is officially five stars deluxe (the &quot;lusso&quot; part). Sounds great, but that doesn&#039;t mean it&#039;s the best place in town—or the right one for you. (Photo © Reid Bramblett)

Hotels' official star ratings have nothing to do with how clean, central, comfortable, or charming a hotel is—just how many (often pointless) amenities it offers

 
Those peanuts in the minibar don&#039;t cost just peanuts—they cost €7! And since when was a bottle of water worth €4.25? (Photo by Rick)

Avoid the scandalously high prices of the hotel minbar

 
 (Photo courtesy of Trivago.com)

Comparison-shop dozens of booking engines at once

 
Beware the hotel in-room telephone (Photo by Mark Hills)

Avoid the scandalously high cost of making a phone call from your hotel room

 
★★★
Frescoed rooms in the 16C Palazzo Antellesi overlooking Piazza Santa Croce in Florence (Photo courtesy of the property)

How to find and rent a vacation appartamento (apartment) from $40 in Italy

 
Many hotels will guarantee the lowest rate if you book directly with them, or an advance-booking discount (Photo )

Hotel sites often feature special sales and promotions you won't find on the booking engines and aggregators

 
★★★
La Cascina del Monastero in Piemonte&#039;w wine district is one of my favorite Italian farm stays (scroll to the bottom for a link to a story about it) (Photo courtesy of La Cascina del Monastero)

Stay on a working farm agritourismo and experience the best of Italian hospitality and countryside tradition

 
★★★
Farm stays
Cinque Terre

Stay on a working farm agriturismo near Cinque Terre and experience the best of Italian hospitality and countryside tradition

 
 (Photo by Reid Bramblett, created with Wordclouds.com)

From B&Bs and farm stays to cottages, castles, and campgrounds, here are Italian lodging alternatives to the traditional hotel

 
 (Photo by Dave Dugdale)

Shop around, ask lots of questions, even haggle, and you can often get a room for much less

 
No, the hotel breakfast isn&#039;t terrible—but it&#039;s not worth $15–$20, either (Photo by Karen Bryan)

Breakfast at a B&B can be lovely—but at a standard hotel, you probably won't be getting your money's worth

 
★★☆
Residences—like the Arethusa in Siracusa, Sicily—offer apartment amenities and hotel services (Photo courtesy of Residence Arethusa)

Serviced flats, residence hotels, Aparthotels, and other townhouse suite lodging in Italy

 
★★★
Farm stays
Sorrento

Stay on a working farm agriturismo near Sorrento and experience the best of Italian hospitality and countryside tradition

 
★★★

Stay on a working farm agriturismo near Capri and experience the best of Italian hospitality and countryside tradition

 
★★★
Farm stays
Pompeii

Stay on a working farm agriturismo near Pompeii and experience the best of Italian hospitality and countryside tradition

 
★★★
Farm stays
Campi Flegrei—The Phlegrean Fields

Stay on a working farm agriturismo near Campi Flegrei—The Phlegrean Fields and experience the best of Italian hospitality and countryside tradition

 
★★★
Farm stays
Florence

Stay on a working farm agriturismo near Florence and experience the best of Italian hospitality and countryside tradition

 
★★★
A room

Stay on a working farm agriturismo near Tivoli and experience the best of Italian hospitality and countryside tradition

 
★★★
A room
Farm stays
Lazio lake district

Stay on a working farm agriturismo near Lazio lake district and experience the best of Italian hospitality and countryside tradition

 
★★★

Stay on a working farm agriturismo near Pisa and experience the best of Italian hospitality and countryside tradition

 
Botticelli's Birth of Venus is among the masterpieces in the Uffizi Galleries, where a small booking fee will save you potentially hours in line

A dozen ways to lower your hotel costs in Italy

 
Hotels make it easy to drop off your laundry—and then charge an arm and a leg to wash your shirts and pants (Photo by ERiKA)

Hotel laundry services are obscenely overpriced

 
An 8-bed dorm room at the Hiphophostel Le Village Montmartre hostel (Photo )
Hostels
Naples

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Naples from €19 per person

 
An 8-bed dorm room at the Hiphophostel Le Village Montmartre hostel (Photo )
Hostels
Amalfi Coast

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Amalfi Coast from €19 per person

 
An 8-bed dorm room at the Hiphophostel Le Village Montmartre hostel (Photo )
Hostels
Sorrento

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Sorrento from €19 per person

 
A six-bed dormitory room in Rome&#039;s Des Artistes hostel (Photo courtesy of the property)

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Rome from €19 per person

 
An 8-bed dorm room at the Hiphophostel Le Village Montmartre hostel (Photo )
Hostels
Florence

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Florence from €19 per person

 
An 8-bed dorm room at the Hiphophostel Le Village Montmartre hostel (Photo )
Hostels
Venice

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Venice from €19 per person

 
Rental rooms
Cinque Terre

Rental rooms in the Cinque Terre are called affittacamere, and they can be remarkably cheap

 
A typical hostel dorm (Photo )

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Pisa from €19 per person

 
★★☆
Villa Greve in the heart of Tuscany&#039;s Chianti wine region sleeps 12 (Photo courtesy of the property)

An Italian villa to call your own for the night or the week—renting a villa, house, or cottage in Italy

 
 (Photo by Thomas Hawk)

All the steps you can take to find the lowest price on the perfect place to stay in Italy

 
A basic continental breakfast is not worth the added expense (Photo by Karen Bryan)

I don't mean don't eat breakfast—just try to avoid overpaying the hotel for it

 
An 8-bed dorm room at the Hiphophostel Le Village Montmartre hostel (Photo )
Hostels
Milan

Ostelli (hostels) and other fun, cheap shared dorm lodgings in Milan from €19 per person

 
Hotels make it easy to drop off your laundry—and then charge an arm and a leg to wash your shirts and pants

Hotels try to pad your bill with overpriced extras and ancillary fees; here's how to avoid them

 
 (Photo )

A room with "external facilities" (shared bath down the hall) always costs less for this minor inconvenience

 
★☆☆
A six-bedroom dorm at Rome&#039;s Des Artistes hostel (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Cheap bunks in shared dorms and a backpackers-of-the-world-unite atmosphere

 
A family room can house the whole clan (Photo by John Hickey-Fry)

Crowd the clan into one room rather than renting two

 
Staying in a nearby, smaller city—lovely Prato is just a 20-train ride from Florence—can be cheaper (and more interesting) than in the big city (Photo courtesy of Trivago.com)

Get a hotel in the suburbs or next town over to save money

 
 (Photo courtesy of Priceline and Hotwire.com)

Opaque rates can save you up to 60% if you book a bit blindly

 
★★☆
The Palagetto Guest House in Florence will give you a room in exchange for: Installing mosquito screens, professional photographs of the rooms, printing brochures for them, gently used bikes, installation of a shower by a professional plumber, or origami (Photo courtesy of the property)

Free lodgings in Italy: Hospitality networks (couchsurfing), home swaps, and house sitting services

 
 (Photo by Images Money)

Offer euros rather than Visa, and sometimes you can get a slight discount

 
 (Photo courtesy of Europosters)

Couchsurfing and other hospitality networks allow you to sleep for free in other member's homes

 
Getting to know some locals is a bit part of staying with a fellow hospitality club member (Photo courtesy of The Affordable Travel Club)

Hospitality networks gather folks who are willing to put up fellow members in their homes for free or for a small fee

 
This luxurious Tuscan apartment is in Pietrasanta, by the Forte dei Marmi seaside resort, halfway between Pisa and the Cinque Terre (Photo courtesy of Homeexchange)

Trading spaces isn't just a show on basic cable anymore. It's a way to live life like a local on your travels absolutely for free—so long as you let the local borrow your life (and home) in return.

 
This house in the Tuscan hills needs someone to house-sit and watch their dog for three weeks this spring... (Photo courtesy of mindmyhouse.com)

Sleep for free on vacation in Italy by watching someone's house (and, often, watering their plants and feeding their cat)

 
Camping Panoramico Fiesole is in an Etruscan town in the hills right above Florence (Photo courtesy of Camping Panoramico Fiesole)

Camping and campgrounds (campeggi) are a cheap way to spend the night while traveling

 
A classic train couchette sleeping six (Photo by DB Autozug GmbH)

Sleeping in couchettes on overnight trains

 
You can stay at the medieval Tuscan Santuario della Verna, where St. Francis received the stigmata (Photo courtesy of La Verna)

Sleep in a religious guesthouse or retreat at monasteries abbeys across Italy from just €17

 
A frescoed room at Venice&#039;s Foresteria Valdese, a religious hospice (Photo courtesy of the property)

You don't have to take vows of chastity and poverty or wear those itchy woolen robes to shack up in an Italian convent for as little as $30. You don't even have to be particularly religious.

 
The Palagetto Guest House in Florence will give you a room in exchange for: Installing mosquito screens, professional photographs of the rooms, printing brochures for them, gently used bikes, installation of a shower by a professional plumber, or origami lessons by a Japanese artist. (Photo courtesy of the property)

Programs like WWOOF and Helpx let you barter your services for a free place to stay

 
Sailboats (Photo by plb06)

If you love sailing, or just have an unquenchable taste for adventure and new experiences, you can sign on to help crew a boat just about anywhere in the world, including Italy

 
 (Photo )

Where to find inexpensive hotels in Rome

 
 (Photo )
Cheap hotels
Florence

Where to find inexpensive hotels in Florence

 
The Lista di Spagna, the main street leading from the train station towards the heart of Venice, is lined with cheap hotels (Photo © Reid Bramblett)

Where to find inexpensive hotels in Venice

 
 (Photo by Pete the painter)

Picnic like a king on the budget of a pauper in Italy

 
A cheap menu turistico (Photo © Reid Bramblett)

Menu à prezzo fisso, tourist menu, lunch menu—a fixed-price or set tourist menu may not be the best meal you could have at that restaurant, but it's certainly often the best budget option

 
Quick bites
Sorrento

Where to grab a quick, cheap meal—Pizza rustica, street food, and fast food in Sorrento

 
Focaccia panini (sandwiches) (Photo by Marco Verch)

Where to grab a quick, cheap meal—Pizza rustica, street food, and fast food in Rome

 
Quick bites
Florence

Where to grab a quick, cheap meal—Wine bars, street food, and fast food in Florence

 
Cicchetti

Where to grab a quick, cheap meal—Pizza rustica, street food, and fast food in Venice

 
I Fratellini is a classic Florentine fischetteria, a hole in the wall selling excellent panini along with glasses of wine

Tips to save money on dining in Italy and eat better for it

 
Don&#039;t tip is the service is already included (Photo © Reid Bramblett)

Do not leave 15% when the gratuity is already included

 
 (Photo by Nate BW)

If you cannot avoid the breakfast charge, make the most of it

 
Many Italian bars lay our free snacks in the evenings (Photo © Reid Bramblett)
Free

Yes, there are a couple of ways to enjoy excellent Italian food absolutely free

 
 (Photo by Unknown)

Be your own chef and you can save money and add an extra cultural experience to your trip

 

Lunch at a fancy restaurant will often cost less than dinner

 
Tripe sandwiches are a classic Florentine street food (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Become a street food gourmet

 
I Fratellini is a classic Florentine fischetteria, a hole in the wall selling excellent panini along with glasses of wine (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

From tavole calde( mini-cafeterias)_ to pizza rustica (by the slice) to tripe sandwiches, there are many excellent (and inexpensive) Italian versions of fast food to try

 
Go for an appetizer sampler, a first course, and a dessert—skipping the steak—and you&#039;ll have a much more filling and interesting meal (Photo by Quinn Dombrowski)

Skip the big slab of meat and order two starters instead—more variety, lower cost

 
A sampler gets you lots of variety and a full meal for the price of a single dish (Photo by Foodie Buddha)

Eat less; save more

 
 (Photo by Unknown)

Bottled water costs $2–$10. Aqua dal rubinetto (tap water) does not.

 
 (Photo by Didriks)

Pick the Chianti My-Brother-In-Law, last-year's vintage

 
★★★
T-Mobile offers great plans for travelers (Photo courtesy of T-Mobile)

T-mobile offers the cheapest international roaming—it works in 140 countries and costs as little as $10–20 per month for voice and data.

 
An aggregator/consolidator like Auto Europe can let you compare car rental rates side by side (Photo courtesy of AutoEurope.com)

How to find the lowest rates on a rental car in Italy

 
Speed limits in Italy (Photo by Gigillo83)

Obey the speed limits of pay the (high) price

 

How to get the best deal on plane tickets to Italy

 
A good aggregator, like Skyscanner.net, goes right to the best deals, even if they&#039;re from a non-traditional source like Norwegian or Aeroflot (Photo courtesy of Skyscanner.net)

Aggregators search all the booking engines, airline sites, travel agencies, and airfare discounters in the blink of an eye

 
 (Photo )

Oh, waiter! There's a scam in my soup!

 
The Goolge.com/flights matrix can show you in a glance how to save big just by tweaking your travel dates (Photo courtesy of Google)

Some flexibility on your travel dates can save you up to 50%

 
 (Photo courtesy of FlyInternational.com)

Why pay retail when wholesale airfares to Italy are available?

 
Skype is the cheapest way to make international calls (Photo by Skype)

Use Skype (and an internet connection) to make and receive free voice and video calls—or have your friends and family Skype your cell in Italy for 10¢ per minute or $3 per month.

 
Credit Cards (Photo by Frankieleon)

Using credit cards in Italy

 
You can book a shore excursion via a third party for much less than the ship charges (Photo courtesy of Viator.com)

Book your own cruise excursions for up to 40% less than the cruise ships charge

 
 (Photo )

How to decide if a rental car is the best choice for your Italy vacation

 
Italian ticketing machines in the Venezia-Santa Lucia train station (Photo by Richard, enjoy my life!)

How to get the cheapest fares on Italian trains

 
 (Photo © Reid Bramblett)

Timing is the key to saving a bundle on airfare to Italy from North America

 
 (Photo )

Buy at the right time - The sweet spot is 6–12 weeks out

 
 (Photo logos courtesy of Priceline and Hotwire)

How opaque fares work—"Express Deals" on Priceline and "Hot Rates" on Hotwire

 
A bancomat (ATM) in Italy (Photo Public Domain)

Using debit cards to get cash at an ATM (bancomat) in Italy

 
You&#039;d pay a 3% foreign transaction fee on all purchases with this Chase Visa card (and many others) (Photo courtesy of Chase Bank)

What are foreign transaction fees and how can I avoid them?

 
 (Photo by Zhanyanguange)

Just what are Duty Free Stores in airports and when is Duty Free shopping a savings?

 
Hotel garages are expensive in every country (Photo )

The hotel garage will often be far costlier than a nearby public garage or other parking option

 
Explore all of Italy-or all of Europe—with a rail pass (Photo by Akwa)

Unlimited train travel in Italy, or Italy and some neighboring countries, or even all of Europe—Is a Eurail pass worth it?

 
EasyJet, one of the oldest and best low-cost carriers in Europe (Photo by Rob Mitchell)

Fly across Europe for as little as $25—welcome to the wonderful age of no-frills airlines, the little jet engines that could

 
There are better credit cards for travel out—there some you can even design yourself (I just thought this one was funny) (Photo by Ross Angus)

Where to get a low-fee credit card for traveling

 

Typical prices and costs in Rome faced by visitors and tourists

 

Typical prices and costs in Venice faced by visitors and tourists

 
 (Photo courtesy of Drivethedales.com)

How to get the most out of renting a car in Italy with the lowest cost and least hassle

 
Fare alerts courtesy of Airfarewatchdog

From fare alerts to e-savers, deals newsletters to price predictors

 
Changing money (Photo © Reid Bramblett)

How to exchange your dollars for euros at the best rates (and lowest fees) possible in Italy

 
Credit card safety measures mean it will often be declined abroad if you don&#039;t warn the bank first (Photo Ruhow)

Call ahead to notify your credit card issuer of you travel plans

 
Shopping advice (Photo )

Top shopping tips for a trip to Italy to help you bring home the best gifts and souvenirs from your Italian travels at the best price

 
 (Photo by Peter Linke)

Not all local advice is honest advice

 
 (Photo Public Domain)

Sightseeing discounts for children, students, seniors, families, and teachers

 
 (Photo by Geoff Collins)

Get your airfare to Italy and rental car together and save on both

 
Discounts on Italian trains (Photo courtesy of FS)

Young adults, families, seniors, and couples can get 25%–50% off all trains

 
You&#039;d pay either $10 or 5%, whichever is greater, on each cash advance with this Wells Fargo Visa (and many others) (Photo courtesy of Wells Fargo Bank)

How to avoid the high fees and charges for credit card cash advances

 
 (Photo courtesy of Europe by Car)

How to arrange for a short-term lease on a brand-new car in Italy—cheaper than a rental for longer periods, and far better insured

 
Gas in Europe is expensive (Photo by Images Money)

Prepare for REALLY expensive gas—like $7 per gallon—in Italy

 
Fly into London cheaply, and then elsewhere on a low-cost carrier (Photo © Reid Bramblett)

London is the cheap airfares turnstile of Europe, so fly cheaply into here and then elsewhere in Europe or North Africa on a no-frills airline for far less

 
 (Photo courtesy of Campania Artecard)

Enjoy free admission to various Naples sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), free public transit, plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Rome sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Paestum sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Pompeii sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges)

 

Enjoy free admission to various Herculaneum sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Caserta sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 
Sightseeing passes
Santa Maria Capua Vetere

Enjoy free admission to various Santa Maria Capua Vetere sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 
Sightseeing passes
Campi Flegrei—The Phlegrean Fields

Enjoy free admission to various Campi Flegrei—The Phlegrean Fields sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 
 (Photo courtesy of FirenzeCard)

Enjoy free admission to various Florence sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 

Enjoy free admission to various Venice sights and monuments (along with skip-the-line privileges), plus discounts at other attractions

 
The Cinque Terre Card (left) and the trains-included Cinque Terre Treno MS Card (right) (Photo courtesy of the Parco Nazionale Cinque Terre)
Cinque Terre Card
Cinque Terre

Enjoy admission to the trail system and various Cinque Terre sights and monuments

 

Enjoy free admission to various Milan sights and monuments—and free transit—with the Milano Pass, Milan Card, or Milan Tourist Museum Card

 
★★☆

Covers 11 civic museums and sights. Worth it.

 
★☆☆

Covers 18 churches. Must visit at least 5 to make it a savings.

 
☆☆☆

Pre-booking service for sights, transit, and services offering minor discounts

 
transport
 

Roundups of deals and sales from many sources

 
Fare alerts courtesy of Airfarewatchdog (Photo courtesy of Airfarewatchdog)

Get automated updates on low fares and dropping plane ticket prices

 
Tuscany is lovely in every season (Photo clockwise from upper left: courtesy of Massimo Telò, Visittuscany, Camerone, KoenM)

The best time to go to Italy — Seasons, weather, and other considerations