Italy tales: hopes and fears for the general election

Lizzy Davies searches for citizen's stories about the future and the men vying for votes

Italy goes to the polls next weekend in one of its most important elections in decades. Not only is the vote – for a new parliament and government – crucial for the future stability of Italy itself; it could also have ramifications for the wider eurozone and the financial markets.

Understandably, perhaps, in a contest where the stakes are so high and the cast of characters so undeniably odd, the focus of the campaign has been the politicians themselves.

Since arriving in Italy at the start of this year I have watched umpteen television shows featuring Silvio Berlusconi and read countless column inches on Mario Monti's "transformation" from mild-mannered technocrat to canny politician.

Beppe Grillo, the comedian and founder of the Five Star Movement, has garnered attention in spades with his nationwide tour.

Then there's Pier Luigi Bersani – the man described almost universally by foreign media as "a cigar-smoking former communist" who is likely, according to the polls, to become Italy's next prime minister.

But at the heart of this election and away from the media glare are, of course, the voters themselves. Which is why, from Sunday 17 February until Wednesday next week, I will be travelling through Italy in search of stories from ordinary people who will, I hope, explain to me what's on their mind ahead of the election: their feelings about the men vying for their vote, their concerns about the state of Italy and their hopes for the future.

As they go to the ballot box, what are their priorities? How do they feel about the prospect of a Berlusconi return? Can Italy take any more of the austerity measures pushed through under Monti? Do they trust Bersani – or, for that matter, any of the others?

My colleague Jon Henley has undertaken similar projects for the Guardian, travelling through Greece in search of ordinary tales of economic crisis and through Catalonia as it prepared to vote in the independence referendum.

It's our hope that this trip will work as well as they did then. But for that I will need your help. Please contact me – in Inglese or in Italiano – if you have suggestions for interesting places I should go or people I should meet.

Or, if you don't want to meet but would like your story to be told nonetheless, please email me and I'll try to put it on the blog.

My only fixed plan is that I will kick off my journey in Turin – and the surrounding region – on Sunday. After that, who knows? Along the way I'll be tweeting interviews and other posts using the hashtag #StoriedItalia2013.