Work for your lodging

Whether getting a farmhand gig through WWOOF, a short-term job through Helpx, or just swapping handyman skills for a B&B room, there are plenty of ways to work off a stay in Italy

If an agriturismo farm stay sounds too tame for you and you really want to get your hands dirty, you might want to sign up with one of two organizations—Helpx or WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms)—that provide longer-term free housing (and sometimes meals) in exchange for you pitching in a few hours of work each day.

Then there's, an Italy-only network of B&Bs swapping rooms for handyman work, professional help—web design, photos, etc.—and other odd jobs. » more

(Another, slightly more radical work-for-your-lodging option: Crewing a boat. » more)

The major differences between Helpx, WWOOF, and Barrato B&B

Which is best? That depends on whom you ask—but many who have used both WWOOF and Helpx (including both workers and hosts) seem to prefer the upstart Helpx.

Barrato B&B is a bit different, in that it's more for ad-hoc, short stays—but it's still working for your room (and, sometiems, board). Here are some key differences:

  WWOOF Helpx
Cost $24 per year Basic: Free
Premier: €20 ($28) for 2 years
What membership covers You must join the WWOOF chapter in the country to which you want to travel. Planning a volunteering trip to more than one country? You have to join each chapter separately. Covers the whole world with one membership.
Opportunities in Italy 468 4376 757
Global reach There are WWOOFing chapters in 54 countries, plus a "WWOOF Independents" chapter representing limited numbers of opportunites in 39 more countries (though not too limited; some countries offer only a handful of farms, but Belgium, South Africa, Norway, and Kenya each offer 30–50).
Total: 102
Helpex features at least 100 farms in each of 11 countries (strongest in Australia, New Zealand, U.S., Canada, and Western Europe) with a smattering (50 farms or fewer in most cases) in 78 others.
Total: 89
Just Italy
Types of work WWOOF is pretty much restricted to just farmwork, and these days almost always on certified organic farms. Helpx has a bit looser rules, and many times the type of work offered is not restricted just to typical farmhand jobs but also odd jobs around the house or farm (painting, carpentry, gardening, etc). A lot of handyman jobs (painting especially, but also construction, carpentry, plumbing, etc.), gardening/landscaping, plus helping B&Bs with marekting materials (designing websites, taking photos, etc.). Also open to physical item swaps.
Reviews WWOOF is pretty much still a basic catalog, with little user feedback. Helpx offers fuller profiles of both volunteers and of hosts, allowing hosts to seek out or choose good matches, and potential workers to read reviews that other Helpxers have written about working for a particular host. None
Age Founded 1971 Founded 2001 Founded 2012

Helpx (

Helpx was founded in New Zealand in 2001 by an Englishman who worked his way across Australia and New Zealand. The idea is to offer to work for an average of four hours per day in exchange for free accommodation (and, sometimes, meals).

You can sign up for free, but if you pay for Premier membership (€20 for two years), you are able to contact all hosts and read all host reviews. Being "Premier" also allows hosts to read your own profile, where you can list special skills, and they might reach out to you to offer a gig.

Some hosts only ask for two hours of work a day, but requrie you to provide and cook yoru own food. Other might ask for a full six hours, but cook for you and feed you.


WWOOF is a collection of volunteer organizations in 97 countries around the world, from Australia to Korea, Ghana to the U.S., Italy to Nepal (plus "independent" members—countries with only a handful of opportunities).

Each chapter is devoted to supporting and helping teach about organic and environmentally sound farming techniques—though many joek that the funny acronym WWOOF doesn't actually stand for "World Wide Opportunites on Organic Farms," but rather for "Willing Workers On Organic Farms," since you do end up doing a lot of farmhand chores.

To become a Wwoofer, You join the WOOF chapter in the country where you'd like to work (for roughly $25), it sends you a list of farms that would appreciate a helping hand in exchange for room and board.

You must be willing to put in six hours of work six days a week to see how the farming half lives in a variety of nations.

Barter B&B (

Again, is an Italy-only network of B&Bs that, on an ad hoc basis, are willing to swap a free stay for handyman work, professional help—web design, photos, etc.—and other odd jobs. » more

Tips & links

Work-swap links & resources

Other lodging links & resources
Useful Italian
Useful Italian phrases and terms for lodging

English (Inglese) Italian (Italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a hotel un albergo oon al-BEAR-go
...a B&B un bed-and-breakfast oon bet hand BREK-fust
...a rental room un'affittacamera oon ah-feet-ah-CAH-mair-ra apartment for rent un appartamento oon ah-part-tah-MENT-toh
...a farm stay un agriturismo oon ah-gree-tour-EES-moh
...a hostel un ostello oon oh-STEHL-loh
How much is...? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
a single room una singola OO-nah SEEN-go-la
double room for single use [will often be offered if singles are unavailable] doppia uso singola DOPE-pee-ya OO-so SEEN-go-la
a double room with two beds una doppia con due letti OO-nah DOPE-pee-ya cone DOO-way LET-tee
a double room with one big bed una matrimoniale OO-nah mat-tree-moan-nee-YAAL-lay
triple room una tripla OO-nah TREE-plah
with private bathroom con bagno cone BAHN-yoh
without private bathroom senza bagno [they might say con bagno in comune—"with a communal bath"] SEN-zah BAHN-yoh
for one night per una notte pair OO-nah NOH-tay
for two nights per due notti pair DOO-way NOH-tee
for three nights per tre notti pair tray NOH-tee
Is breakfast included? É incluso la prima colazione? ay in-CLOO-soh lah PREE-mah coal-laht-zee-YOAN-nay
Is there WiFi? C'é WiFi? chay WHY-fy?
May I see the room? Posso vedere la camera? POH-soh veh-DAIR-eh lah CAH-mair-rah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Is there a cheaper one? C'é una più economica? chay OO-nah pew eh-ko-NO-mee-kah

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