On our travels, we have often used alternative ways to find great, local places to stay.
Check several accommodation platforms
When I start looking, I start with Airbnb and set a maximum amount we want to spend a night. I pick out a couple of places, add them to a list and go through each one in detail. Before I decide I also check on hotels.com and booking.com. Here I search for private accommodation, apartments, houses or villas.
In Italy and Sicily, there are also many Agriturismos, a bed & breakfast/pension accommodation, which usually also offers lunch and dinner. Because we (Matias!) likes to cook we prefer to rent our own place with a kitchen.
Depending on the place, area and season we are arriving at, I book a place about a month ahead of our arrival. This is mostly to make sure to get that nice place we want. I have tried to get better prices on bookings, both on Airbnb and Booking.com, just a day or two before we were checking in.
Use alternative ways to find accommodation
Independent local places not listed on Airbnb cost less and are our favorite choice.
To discover small local places especially in Sicily, I have been searching on google maps, in the areas we want to stay around. By zooming in on the roads, you can locate places that sometimes just are shown with a name on the map. If you google it, maybe it will be a great house for rent by a local owner. We thus skip the main travel industry’ fees and support the locals directly, which means they can keep the cheap prices they offer.
Rent through the locals
These rental places, are not on Airbnb. The owners only speak Italian, but again: Google is my friend. The places are mostly rented out to locals or Italians. The owners are usually delighted and excited to have other tourists. I promise that you will be welcomed with the warm Sicilian hospitality and furthermore the locals will have tips on where to find the authentic restaurant with the best food.
Another possibility for finding that good, cheap, and local place is to look on TripAdvisor. I search for our destination, for example, Malfa in Sicily, then accommodation and choose the category: other accommodation. This will not be possible if you are going to the main cities. But if you are going to a smaller village, you will be able to find local places listed where you can contact the place directly through TripAdvisor messages. I found an amazing rental with a rooftop terrace in the Aeolian Island Salina, this way.