Ah, Italy – From the uber-cool city streets of Rome and Milan to the wide-open spaces of Tuscany, there is something enduringly magical about these 301,000 square metres. There is no denying that an Italian city break is a fantastic way to spend some time off but, for those looking to find the real Italia, a camping holiday is a little piece of ‘paradiso’.
Whether you are a free spirit, love spectacular scenery, glorious beaches or historic sites, Italy has everything to offer to any campers. Oh, and yes – vineyards and tempting wines everywhere you go! Eating in Italy is also another joy, particularly with economical prices for large plates of food! Home of real pizza and pasta, you will not struggle even with a low budget.
Camping in Italy can be inexpensive, if you stay away from the major cities such as Rome and avoid some of the popular tourist beach destinations on the Adriatic Coast.
You should also consider how you travel to Italy, particularly if you are driving. You need to allow for expensive road toll costs, particularly if you are moving from place to place – these costs can mount up considerably. Train and bus costs within Italy are relatively inexpensive, but if you are attempting to hitch hike, watch out for drivers – they take no prisoners on the road, and drive as if every car was a Ferrari!
So, what is the best way to camp and go? It all depends on what you want from camping, whether you really want seclusion, freedom, space and relaxation. Take a look at our advice on getting the best for your health out of camping
The further north you go, the more likely you are to experience rain in Italy, even in the summer months, which can be absolutely scorching and dry. The north tends to be more mountainous so consequently the weather is a lot cooler, particularly in winter. Mid-summer temperatures can easily reach 30°C plus and the larger towns can be hot and stuffy. Obviously, the climate is very much ‘Mediterranean’, but can be a lot more bearable in the summer along the Adriatic Coast, but then you have to compete with the other tourists, who flood to this area every summer, both from Italy and other European destinations.
If you decide to go to the North, rainfall can be quite heavy, so have a look at the best tents to use.
Is camping allowed everywhere in Italy?
Like most of Europe, camping is not allowed in parts of the country or environment. However, rules are relaxed a little, providing you stick by the basic courtesy and consideration. Everything in terms of rules and regulations seem to be ‘at the discretion of’…, whether it is the owner of private land, campsite or other available space. So, if you want to camp in a certain location, you need to get authorisation from whoever is responsible for that site or area.
If you cannot or do not want to plan in advance, arrive early to the town or area that you wish to camp in and check it out with the locals. Without doubt, they will know farmers, landowners and sites that would suit your needs. Ingratiating yourself with locals is the best way to go, whichever country you visit. Whilst we would love to be clearer about this topic, things change and are never printed in stone! You just need to be mindful of the area you are in, and not be silly about it or take risks. A risk can cost you between E500 – E1,000, particularly if you try to camp on a beach. In the beach area and some other tourist hotspots, the ‘Polizia di Stato’ (state police) are out in full force to stop casual campers on popular beaches or areas or interest.
You can also fall foul of the ‘Policia Provinciali’ – the local police responsible for the protection of the forestry and environment, particularly if you try to wild camp in restricted areas.
Wild camping, whilst in theory is prohibited, a blind eye is sometimes turned if you are well away from restricted zones, such as footpaths, or close to main roads or streets and even populated areas that may be surrounded by fields. Remember, no fires, do not leave rubbish and move on quickly. Best to pitch up as the sun is going down and leave early morning!
Whilst camping in protected areas takes away your freedom to choose, think about using the local farmers and alpine areas to really enjoy your tented experience. Some private property owners will charge, but others, such as farmers, will merely want you to buy something from them (whatever produce they have) or pay for an evening meal, lovingly cooked by ‘the wife’! You could sit down to a wonderful repast of homemade cheeses, smoked meats, freshly baked bread and juicy tomatoes – even a soup or grilled meat – it tends not to be expensive.
It is surprising what can be available, if you are prepared to take a chance and check out with the locals which owners may be doing this as a supplement to their normal income. You can also look on relevant websites that have a wealth of landowners providing everything from tent space to motorhome space, and sometimes their own purpose built huts, chalets etc. It is worth checking out if you want something booked before you leave. There are around 7,500 properties available to book in advance!
When it comes to camping in Italy, there is a wide range of options available and so, we have put together some of our favourites:
Colleverde Siena, Siena, Approximately €341 per week for 2 adults
Just one hour’s drive from Florence airport, Colleverde offers several holidays in one due to its proximity to Siena, Mantalcino, Montepulcian and San Gimignano. With stunning views of the city of Palio and the Chianti hills, campers will not do much better than this Tuscan treat.
The campsite offers a number of options for camping including tents and mobile homes for up to eight people and, includes a whole ‘mazzo’ of facilities including a swimming pool, bar, restaurant & pizzeria (Easter until the end of October), launderette and supermarket. The site is dog friendly and, guided tours of the area are available on request.
Le Pianacce Camp, Tuscany, From €9 per day for basic camping
Perfection for parents, this campsite on the Etruscan Coast promises to keep kids occupied whilst adults enjoy a well-earned break. Just a few kilometres from Livorno, Le Pianacce combines tranquil lawns and fields with bellissimo beaches for the ultimate in modern camping.
The site offers tons of childrens’ activities including swimming and water sports and is pet friendly should you wish to bring Fido along. Accommodation options include camping, glamping and guest bungalows and, Le Pianacce offers a generous number of facilities including a swimming pool, bar, restaurant, ice cream bar, showers, laundry services, car recharging, bike rental and, free beach shuttle service.
Marina de Venezia, Venice, From €13.60 per day for camping
Set beside a Venetian blue lagoon, Marina de Venezia is the first word in Italian camping. With a choice of pitches or bungalows (including luxury options), this site is just a stone’s throw from the historic town of Cavallino Treporti, Venice and its islands, including Burano and Murano. Site facilities include multiple pools, a restaurant, a supermarket and a doctor’s office. For the kids (and big kids), the onsite Aquamarina water park offers hours of fun in the sun.
Fornella Camping & Wellness, Lake Garda, From €13.50 for a standard pitch and 16 Euros for a lakeside pitch
On the shores of luscious Lake Garda, Fornella Camping & Wellness is an ultra-modern campsite and wellbeing centre for singles, couples and families. Accommodation includes tent pitches and mobile homes and, the site offers tons of facilities including pools, spas and restaurants. As well as Lake Garda, the site provides easy access to a number of quaint lakeside villages and the magnificent Gardesan nature park. Fornella is child and pet friendly and, even has a dog park for your furry friend.
Costiolu Farm, Sardinia, Prices available on request
Whilst you must take a sea crossing or a flight to Sardinia, it is one of those destinations worth considering. Some areas of the island are very remote and provide excellent seclusion for a peaceful holiday in beautiful, rugged surroundings.
For those looking for something a little different from their camping holiday, Costiolu Farm will not disappoint. High up in the Sardinian hills, this organic working farm offers respite from the everyday world – and some stunning views of olive groves, farm animals and Sardinia’s capital, Nuoro. Overseen by Giovanni, this family run farm offers pitches for tents, camper vans and caravans – but do not expect too much in the way of amenities.
Delightfully rustic, this site is all about nature apart from a basic shower block and on-site restaurant for guests. Although children are welcome, due to Costiolu being a working farm, pets are not permitted.
Italy boasts a wealth of lush parkland, striking coastlines and magnificent mountains and lakes and, camping in Italy is surprisingly affordable. Try booking just before or after peak season to take advantage of some great cost savings and, most of all, buone vacanze!