Volunteer in Italy
Looking for an incredible and unique experience? Apply to join a volunteer project in Italy. This country really is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world and you can be far more than a average visitor by applying to help a volunteering program. You will get to sample the food, mix with local people, learn more about the history and culture of the country and do something rewarding.
Volunteer Programs in Italy
Guide to Volunteering in Italy
Volunteering abroad in Italy is a fantastic opportunity to learn something about Italy, its people, culture and customs, not to mention doing something really worthwhile for local people. This is a really meaningful way to experience the country, doing more than just sightseeing.
We list organisations which offer volunteer holidays during summer to places like Rome and Altamur, you will work alongside Italian staff on an English language camp for young people, and/or do arts and crafts activities with people who have a disability.
You don’t even need to be an expert in the Italian language as most placements have English speaking staff and language training is provided. You will live and work with other young people from around the world gaining new skills, learning new things and making new friends. There are various international organisations and also local charities and NGO's recruiting volunteers year round.
Location of Projects
There are programs available to join throughout Italy and where you are placed really depends on your personal preference or what type of project you would like to join. Each region of Italy offers a different experience, popular places to join programs include Florence, Milan, Roma (Rome), Siena, Sorrento, Torino (Turin), Venice, Bologna, Ferrara, Sicily and Puglia - there are more locations available too. You might also like to view our Europe volunteer opportunities for more options in this region.
Types of Volunteer Programs in Italy
Short and long term placements are available, here we provide a run down of what type of placements are on offer.
Wildlife & Conservation Projects in Italy
Volunteers are needed to participate on research and protection projects in spectacular locations like the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Parks. You will work in teams monitoring the habitat, researching flora and fauna and helping restore and protect beauty areas. A popular choice for many participants is to volunteer helping marine life like dolphins in the spectacular Mediterranean Sea. You will get to live and work in a spectacular setting with the aim of helping protect and help the animals who call this area home. Over the past few decades dolphin numbers have been falling dramatically and on these programs you will get to work with experienced staff and marine biologists with research, tracking, ocean/beach clean ups and other tasks.
Community Development Programs
A lot of voluntary work opportunities in Italy have a focus on work camps and missions in beautiful locations where you will get to help people or build infrastructure to help rural communities. English speaking volunteers are always needed for educational and teaching placements, you could be part of activities helping children and adults learn in a fun environment. There are regional archaeological units set up throughout the year where you could be excavating, planning or helping reconstruct buildings helping rural communities. Sometimes these types of projects last around 2 weeks. Spending time volunteering in agriculture and living at a local farm is popular, a lot of places offer free accommodation and board in exchange for voluntary work. This is a great way to fund travels and experience a different way of life, you might be helping harvest crops, looking after animals or doing general maintenance and daily tasks.
Italian Cultural Exchange Programs
Education projects are a great way to give back, there are placements with children at summer camps, schools and on specific after school programs where native speakers are required. The children will be very keen to learn English and hear about where you live and your life - this will be a lot of fun. Creativity is welcomed, you might need to create and run games, sports, songs and other things to help children learn in a structured way. Some programs have a focus on language, conversation partner exchanges are available where you can volunteer in local schools and communities helping local children learn. Or you could live with a host family improving English language skills whilst you learn Italian. Sometimes you will work around 20 hours per week with lots of free time too to explore your new surroundings. You might like to view our guide to studying in Italy.
Eligibility & How to Apply
- No Italian is necessary but it is recommend you learn some words and phrases
- Usually need to be aged 17+
- Be able to enter Italy on a tourist visa
- Have an open mind, be open to working in teams and in a new country
Some organisations offer structured packages which include placements, transfers, accommodation, meals, training and support.
Volunteer in Italy for Free
You can volunteer for free in Italy, local organisations need assistance on the ground all year round but sometimes you might need to cover your accommodation and food. Low cost programs are available where you pay a one off sign up fee for registration and then you will be assigned a project/location and a date you need to join by. Some projects are completely free as they are funded through the EU’s Grundtvig Senior Volunteering programme. Flights, accommodation, food, pocket money and an excellent support structure are all included.
Italy Volunteer Reviews
Have you ever been to volunteer in Italy? Would you like to share your experience or review a project/organisation? Contact us today.
"Working on the project was a unique experience – I hope to do many more. Everyone should be a volunteer!" - Ruth, festival project participant in Italy with Concordia
"From this experience I have gained an increased knowledge of looking after the environment and the importance of recycling. I have also learned a lot of many cultures from around the world. I had the best time of my life. Thank you!" - Patrick, environmental project
"Very good. The experience for me was wonderful. Although the walks up and down the mountain were hard; and the work was worthwhile. Acquerino reserve is stunning. The volunteers all got a really well together, the food was great and we had a lot of fun in the evenings and on our trip. It’s an experience that will always stay with me and I’ll definitely do it again." - Sarah, environmental project
WWOOF in Italy
If you have you have ever thought about volunteering Italy consider doing something different and participate on a WWOOF program. If this sounds interesting to you, or you would like more information about what this is view an experience of WWOOF-ing in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy by Jo Tabor...
I’m sure you have heard of Rome, Milan and Florence. I am sure you have even heard of Tuscany with the green rolling hills of vineyards and fruit. However, I would not bet my last pound on you having heard of Emilia-Romagna, the central region of Italy that billows down from the Adriatic coast. This forgotten territory was where I spent two weeks working on a bee farm through the WWOOF organisation (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), in the most surreal trip of my life to date.
My stay was in Mondaino, a glorious walled town that on first viewing feels like you have been dropped into a movie set – except that it is real life inside this stone encased community. Travelling around Europe it is not unusual to come across historical castle towns, but there is typically a 5€ entry fee and a young boy selling you a souvenir t-shirt. This was a world away from your typical tourism site. In my hazed state, having not slept well for 4 days, I could not believe my tired eyes.
As we approached the outside walls I was readying myself to get out of the truck, sure that we would be stopping and wherever we were staying would have a beautiful view of this impending fortress. We did not stop, but drove right on into the town under an enormous archway of the type you see in old Robin Hood films. On our right was the town square; a half moon dotted with a couple of wine bars, cafes and the town council offices. As I struggled to pick my jaw up off the floor, we eventually pulled up outside a small yellow door, somehow having squeezed our way down a narrow cobbled street to the family house.
The next morning we drove to the bee farm through the deep valley; purple vineyards on the right and pearly sheep on the left, with golden rays lighting up the valley ahead. Was this Tuscany or Mondaino?
For the first few days we shifted grain, a tough and dusty job in the heat of the midday sun, but working from 8am until 2pm meant the afternoon was ours to explore. Not only that, the lovely family recognized our work and rewarded us with food that English chefs let you believe is only for the rich and famous. Emilia-Romagna is known for the wealth of black and white truffles found there and it just so happened that a truffle farmer friend arrived for lunch. He brought with him the most beautiful white truffles that he grated into a simple pasta dish washed down with a glass of wine. I would take a hard morning’s work for truffle pasta at lunchtime any day of the week.
On the first Sunday we did not have to work and so decided to explore the coastline on offer. Despite hearing horror stories about Italian public transport, particularly during weekends, the buses ran cheaply and perfectly on time. The downside when we arrived at the seaside town of Cattolica were the crowds that had the same idea. Despite walking further along we could not escape the crowds, a job better done with a car perhaps? Ignoring the masses the coastline itself is an incredible sight, with high climbing cliffs sharply dropping down into crystal blue waters.
After 2 weeks our departure was tinged with sadness, but the blow was softened by sweet, sweet honey. If you have never tried nocciola miele (hazelnut honey) you need to. Imagine Nutella, but sweetened with the sultry tones of melting honey. Put it on your toast, in your coffee or just eat it out of the jar – delicious. Experiencing bee farming, truffles and Emilia Romagna may sound surreal but ironically you feel like a real local, something definitely not achievable in a tourist-laden tour of the better-known Italian spots. If you are willing to delve a little deeper, you can find a truffle nestling where you least expected it.