ROME (Reuters) - Most guidebooks tell people where to go to spend money and eat well. This one tells poor people the best places to get a free meal and hot bath.
Rome's Sant' Egidio community, a Catholic group that has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, unveiled its latest guidebook for the needy on Thursday, in a city hit hard by years of economic crisis.
The 2014 edition of the guide, which the Italian media have dubbed the "Michelin guide for the poor," has a print run of 13,000 copies and offers advice to the growing number of homeless and needy in the Italian capital.
It is called "Rome, where to eat, sleep, wash" and styled like a tourist guidebook.
The new edition is 227 pages long and lists 68 soup kitchens, 42 shelters where the homeless can sleep, 16 places to wash, as well as where to access medical care and counseling.
The group said there were about 8,000 homeless people in Rome and that the number has grown by about 10 percent in recent years. Others have homes but need meals and social services.
In the past, the group has focused on helping the poor among Italy's immigrant community.
"After six or seven years of economic crisis, the number of poor Italians has increased," said the Sant' Egidio community's president, Marco Impagliazzo.
On Monday, data from national statistics office Istat showed a third of people living in Italy risked poverty or social exclusion, compared with a European average of 24.8 percent. Just over 21 percent were not able to heat their homes adequately, up from 18 percent in 2011.
Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Rosalind Russell