for places to stay try couchsurfing.org
couch surfing is free so as long as you are comfortable with staying at some strangers house then cool.
otherwise hostels are cheep and not too shabby and you get to meet with fellow travelers and such.
As far as Italy as said before you have to watch out for the ZTL areas they aren't a joke you get a ticket going in and another ticket going out. The Italians have a warped view on things ie: they think Italy is the greatest country ever and all should bow down to their glory. And they eat lunch until about 1400 and dinner doesn't start until about 2000 its odd but you get used to it. And the pizza is freaking awesome it is the one thing they have got going for them.