Italy is one of the world’s most popular destinations for tourists and Expats, with more than 90 million people visiting each year! However, if you want to have a more authentic experience then volunteering is a great way to take a deep dive into the life of the country.
Volunteering is something that you do that lets you interact and connect with your community. It can help improve your network and social skills. Volunteering can also help you find a job in a related field later on in life.
There are many benefits of volunteering in Italy.
Some of the key benefits are:
- You’ll learn new skills and gain invaluable knowledge and insight into the country and the people you are working with.
- Volunteering, particularly abroad, looks fantastic on your resume and shows that you have a good work ethic and like to help others.
- When you volunteer you often get opportunities to transition to a full or part time paid role within the organisation.
- Volunteering allows you to use your skills and training to help other people.
- There are many different ways in which you can volunteer so you’re bound to find an opportunity which suits your skills, ambitions and personal preferences.
Do You Need A Visa To Volunteer In Italy?
American citizens do not need a visa to volunteer in Italy for upto 90 days.
What Are The Different Ways To Volunteer In Italy?
There are many different ways to volunteer in Italy, ranging from working with large international NGOs to smaller, regional charities and organizations. It is worth noting though, that even though there are many volunteering opportunities in Italy the sector is nowhere near as ubiquitous as tourism; so you really will get a unique perspective on the country if you do volunteer!
The main ways in which you can volunteer in Italy include teaching, sustainable farming, working with an NGO or helping out with conservation efforts.
Agriculture, Sustainable Farming And Animal Care.
Italy has an ancient farming heritage and the industry is still thriving today. Italy is most famous for its world class wine making but its agricultural sector is hugely diverse and includes the growing of a whole manner of fruits and vegetables. There’s been a large rise in sustainable farming practices in Italy and consequently volunteers have the chance to learn about both ancient techniques as well as modern organic practices.
As a volunteer you can help agricultural producers with the harvesting and selling of their products, animal care and other activities on their farms. This is a wonderful experience and will give you a true insight into what goes into the production of the foods and wine which makes Italian cuisine so beloved around the world.
There are several main organizations which can assist you to arrange volunteering in the agricultural sector in Italy, the largest of which include WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms) and the work exchange platform HelpStay.
Teaching In Italy.
Teaching English in Italy is a popular option for volunteers looking for opportunities to live and work in the country while giving back to the community. Your English language skills are a valuable asset and so if you want to volunteer in Italy then teaching is something you should certainly consider.
If you’re worried that you don’t have the skills to get up and teach in front of a class then you can take a TEFL course first, either online or in person. A TEFL (Teaching English As A Foreign Language) course is usually a 4 week program that covers every aspect of the methods and techniques of teaching English to both adults and children.
You can take the TEFL course online, or attend classes at a local college. The course is very versatile and is accepted all over the world so if you find that you enjoy volunteering as a teacher you can transfer later to a fully paid job, either in Italy or elsewhere in the world.
As a teacher you may be teaching young students, older students or even adults. Teaching English is a hugely varied job which is fun and rewarding.
Marine Conservation And Environmental Volunteering.
The Southern coast of Italy meets the Mediterranean Sea which is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in the country. However, as a result of the Mediterranean being a busy commercial sea lane the water has become polluted and there is, sadly, a lot of rubbish on some of the beaches.
If you have concerns about the environment there are several organizations that you can work with who help to conserve the dolphins, clean up beaches and make efforts to raise awareness of the issues that the marine environment is facing.
As well as marine conservation there are many other ways that you can volunteer to help improve the environment all over Italy. This means that you can play your part in keeping the Italian natural environment in a pristine condition while having the opportunity to live amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe.
After School Care And Au Pairing.
If you enjoy working with children and have past experience as a babysitter then you can volunteer as an au pair or an after school care assistant. You will usually be given a free place to stay, normally in the home of the children you are au pairing. This means that you will have the days to yourself, while the children are at school, when you can explore the country’s heritage and then later in the day you’ll be responsible for picking up the children, taking them home and looking after them until their parents get back from work.
Volunteer With An NGO Or Nonprofit.
Volunteering with NGOs looks fantastic on your Resume and can open doors in your future career; as well as offering you an amazing experience in Italy. There’s a huge range of NGOs which you can volunteer with, such as the Red Cross, who help with the refugees on the Southern coast. Other areas that you can work with for an NGO include the technology sector which is only just beginning to flourish in Italy.
As a volunteer you will have a limited contract with the NGO but they will help to find you accommodation and in some cases, provide you with meals. You will normally have to arrange your own travel to get there and back though, so keep that in mind while making your plans.
Youth support volunteering can make a huge difference in the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or communities. As a youth support worker you will be working to help out at after school programs and activities set up for underprivileged students.
Working with disadvantaged youth will allow you to provide the students with a safe and supportive environment where they can catch up on their studies and take part in a wide range of activities. Most of the youth support roles are in the major cities of Italy where the need is greatest so you’ll also be able to explore some of the tourist sites of the city between shifts.
How Long Are Volunteer Programs?
Most volunteer programs last for between a few weeks and several months. The length of the program will vary, depending on the type of work you are engaged in. For instance, a teaching volunteer program may last several months, for the summer language school season, while a marine conservation program is more likely to last for only a few weeks.
Volunteering on a farm, with a WWOOF program for example, will probably give you the most flexibility because you are arranging the volunteering directly with the farm owner. This means that they may be happy for you to stay and help for several months or for a shorter time if you prefer.
Generally speaking though, you should expect a volunteer program to last a few weeks. Once the program is finished you can spend some time travelling around Italy on your own as well if you haven’t had your fill of the Dolce Vita yet!
How Much Will A Volunteer Program Cost And What Does It Include?
It might sound counterintuitive to pay a fee to volunteer in Italy but the organizations you are working for need to cover the costs of providing you with accommodation, food and transport. This also allows the organization to free up more resources for the cause that they are supporting.
As a guideline, you should expect approximately $700 to $1000 for a 2 week volunteering program. Every program is slightly different so you should always check what the fee includes before you commit to payment and taking part.
Usually, the fee will cover your accommodation as well as your breakfast and dinner. It also pays for your airport pickup and on the ground orientation once you arrive.
While you are volunteering with the program you will have 24/7 support so you can always get some help from the organizers if you have any problems. Some programs may offer free Italian lessons to help you find your feet and learn the basics on arrival.
Lastly, as well as the fee for the volunteering program you should budget yourself between $50 to $100 dollars per day; not only to have a safety net but also so that you can buy anything you might need during your stay.
How Do You Go About Finding A Volunteer Program In Italy?
When you’re looking for a suitable volunteering program in Italy the best way to get started is to do some research online. If you do find an organization that offers volunteering programs then you should always ensure that they have a good reputation and plenty of positive reviews. Usually though, it’s best to go with a well known organization, such as the WWOOF platform or a recognized TEFL provider.
For a good overview of the opportunities that are available there are a few big players in the volunteering sector who are trustworthy and will ensure that you are well looked after during your stay. Below are 3 of the best most trusted organizations which can offer you a wide range of programs that vary from a few weeks to 6 months or more.
- International Volunteer HQ
- WWOOF: World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms
- Volunteer World in Italy
Volunteering In Italy.
Volunteering abroad is a fantastic way to explore a country while giving back to the people, environment and society you are visiting. It’s also a great way to learn new skills, increase your confidence levels and experience the authentic daily life in another country.
There are many organizations that you can work with to help place you with the right volunteer program; and whether you want to work with children, the environment, sustainable farming or animal care, you can find the perfect program that allows you to give back to the community while living and learning in Italy.