Want to travel Italy, and give something back at the same time? Looking for a unique way to experience the country? Maybe you’re out to make a difference to someone’s life (or just your own)? Why not volunteer in Italy? The Boot offers several volunteering placements in education, archaeology and marine conservation – all of which provide a truly distinctive encounter. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Volunteer to Teach English in Italy
The simplest option here is to organise a homestay. Many families in Italy seek English-speaking youngsters as long- or short-term guests to improve their English. You may be tutoring the kids or the family as a whole. You can also go the official route, and volunteer as a teaching assistant or at an English summer camp. Generally, Italian don’t speak a lot of English, so there’s a great need for teachers in the country. Many of these positions also include placement in an Italian home.
Pros: Accommodation and meals are provided for you, and you’ll be fully immersed in both Italian culture and the language. Living with a host family also means an added level of support for you as a foreigner.
Cons: You’ll probably need to provide your own flights, visa, transport budget and stipend. You’ll also be eating pasta like an Italian, so be prepared to put on some weight!
Volunteer on an Archaeological Dig
Most people go to Italy to see Roman ruins. After a stint at an archaeological dig, you’ll be able to say you actually dug them up! Several such programmes exist, which aim to excavate and reconstruct the lost civilisations of Italy. You’ll be helping to find and protect fragments of an ancient world before time or modern disruptions claim them. Training for volunteers is, of course, provided beforehand. Check out the Archeodig project in Tuscany as an example.
Pros: A truly unique experience; we defy you to find someone with similar holiday pics! Room and board are provided, and it’s a great opportunity to escape mom and dad’s clutches!
Cons: It’s tough work, and you’ll likely be stationed in a more rural setting as opposed to near a major city. But then, is that really so bad?
Another way to volunteer in Italy is to help out with conservation projects. Italy has tonnes of opportunities for this, especially at sea. Work alongside top researchers as you gather information on local marine ecosystems. Help to document encounters with sea turtles or dolphin and whale pods. You could also volunteer to help clean up the beaches and coastline, shoulder-to-shoulder with locals and internationals. Legambiente, a well-known environmental non-profit, organises an annual Clean Up the Med campaign aimed at awareness and bringing together schools, organisations and individuals in the name of keeping Mediterranean coastlines clean.
Pros: Dolphins and turtles, duh! Plus, you’ll feel really good about having done something hands-on for the environment – while travelling, making friends and learning the language.
Cons: Room and board are not necessarily provided – unless you’re on a research boat. Seasickness is definitely a thing, so you may take a while to acclimatise. You’ll also have to provide your own flights and visa.
Looking for other ways to volunteer in Italy? Check out AFS Interculture, who offer cultural exchanges programmes for all ages in partnership with various human rights and social NGOs.