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This month, travellers balking at Rome’s accommodation costs can pay their way with anything from a saxophone lesson to fresh pastries.

From 18 to 24 November, Barter Week takes place at thousands of participating B&Bs and guesthouses across Italy, including 83 in Rome. Organised by the booking website – and inspired by the economic crisis and tourist industry slowdown – the concept is simple. Instead of paying for a stay with cash or credit, guests can trade a good or service.

Although bartering hopefuls can get as creative as they want, many of the B&Bs also suggest trades. The eclectic list includes everything from  Coca-Cola memorabilia (a B&B in Modena) to a pedicure (Sardinia), satin sheets (Parma) to lessons in English, yoga, or international cuisine (Florence), traditional Native American clothing (Calabria) to a tea kettle (Tuscany).

For visitors arriving outside of Barter Week, 35 B&Bs in Rome also accept non-cash offers year-round. Owners at B&B La Scalinatella in Rome’s hip Monti neighbourhood say that since their balcony plants died in the summer heat, they will offer a gardener or florist bearing plants free hospitality for three days (normally, double rooms start at 80 euros per night); while the owners of Casa dei Colori, near Rome’s central Termini train station, would like roller skates, bags from the Cambridge Satchel Company, rain gear, organic olive oil or a Lomo camera (if you have none of these, a double starts at 90 euros per night).

To take part, travellers either can contact the B&B of their choice directly, or enter their trade proposal and chosen region through the Barter Week website; interested establishments will get in touch.

Amanda Ruggeri is the Rome Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes





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