Camping in Italy

Camping and campgrounds in Italy

Camping Michelangelo, Florence
Camping Michelangelo, overlooking the Florence skyline a shot bus ride from the center.
When I was ages 11 to 13, my family camped its way across Europe (we were living in Rome at the time—heck, for a few months we actually lived in our RV in a Roman campground).

We spent long weekends and summer breaks traveling the continent by campervan, hobnobbing with the types of Europeans who had ditched minibars for camp stores, and traded pillow mints for tent poles.

Granted, we actually did most of our camping in a hippie-orange VW pop-top campervan (I got the moldy pop-top), not in a pup tent, though as a Boy Scout over there I did have my share of trips in the woods.

Some of my favorite European memories came from camping, whether it was watching a meteor shower from the banks of the Thames (up-river from the bright lights of London), battling a German-speaking washing machine in Northern Italy (turned out to be a dryer, so our clothes camp out very warm, unwashed, yet full of soap powder), or taking in the sunset panorama of Florence from a plateau in the Oltrarno where we had arrived early enough to secure one of the sites along the front edge of the vast parking lot of a campground known as Campeggio Michelangelo.

The experience of camping in Italy

Camping is a heck of a lot cheaper than a hotel, especially these days, and you also get to make friends with all sorts of interesting Europeans (and by "interesting," I mean that German women campers often wander around topless).

But beyond the ogling, it truly is a chance to hang out in a totally non-touristy context with some bona fide Europeans, sharing travel advice along with your pickled wieners, making plans together to take a short hike in the Dolomites next morning, and just generally trying not to stare at the exposed chest of the wife of your new friend Günther.

Brush up on your German; Italian campeggi are packed with campers from Teutonic countries.

As in the U.S., Europe is suffering from the same trend away from car/tent camping in favor of RVs and campervans. Like their beaches, Italian's organize campgrounds in regimented rows.

Italian camping 101

Camping Marina di Venezia, Venice
Camping Marina di Venezia, sleeping up to 12,000 campers by the beach on Punta Sabbioni, a short vaporetto ride from downtown Venice .
While there are loads of Italian campgrounds out in the sticks for the get-back-to-nature crowd, there are also plenty of places to pitch your tent in and around the major cities, usually right near a bus stop.

That said, by their very nature most campgrounds tend to be on the edges of cities, so expect a healthy 30-45 minute bus ride into the heart of the action.

Camping in Italy is also pretty darn cheap (the biggest attraction, really). It generally costs anywhere from $15 to $50 for two people and a tent, sometimes a wee bit more if you are in a popular area (near a major city) or have a campervan.

Keep in mind when you're perusing prices that there are separate charges per person, for the site itself, for the tent, and for the car, (though the car and plot—called "piazzola" in Italian, often come packaged together under one price) so that €5 price tag ends up ringing in more around €18 to €32 for two people car camping with a tent—and that the highest prices are applied in July/August.

Many campgrounds are seasonal, shutting down from late September/early October through Easter-ish.

Many campgrounds also offer bungalows in case you didn't BYO tent. These run €50 to €100 (as high as €200 in popular areas in July/August).

For RVing, caravaning, and campervans, see the special RV page.

How to find campgrounds in Italy

Italians call campground either campeggi or campings. There are more than 1,700 official campgrounds scattered across Italy. The local tourist office always keeps a list of area campgrounds. There is an obscene number of camping-related sites in Italy. Note that in many cases, the sites are only available in the native language, but most are pretty easy to navigate regardless: click on the map where you want to go, you get a list of campgrounds with phone numbers addresses, web links, sometimes pictures and prices...so what if you can't read the blurb of accompanying text?

  • PartnerHostelWorld.com (www.hostelworld.com) - I know what the name says, but it also books campgrounds—and has the benefit of being in English.
  • Touring Club Italiano (www.touringclub.it) - Italy's version of AAA. Nothign online any longer, but once you're in Italy, you can buy their excellent camping guidebooks at any bookstore.
  • Campeggi e Villaggi (www.campeggievillaggi.it) - A privately-run database of Italian campgrounds.
  • Campeggio.com (www.campeggio.com) - Pretty complete database, in Italian, but click on a region, then a province (major city/town) for a list of local campgrounds in no particular order. They offer on-line booking ("richiedi disponibilità") but also provide direct links to individual campground websites. Odd, infuriating drawback: the links are not hotlinks; they're just the text, so you can't click on them. You have to cut-and-paste them into a browser window address field. Idiotic.
  • Camping.it (www.camping.it) - More Italian campgrounds. Big benefit: it's in English.
  • CamperOnline.it (www.camperonline.it) - In Italian (though you can get an English version of the menu—though not the content), but choc-a-block with info on camping and RVing all across Europe, including hundreds of country-specific links to tons of other useful Internet resources, free sites to park your RV, and on-line camping catalogues.
  • Camping Italia.it (www.campeggio.it) - Another online booking engine for Italian campgrounds.
  • Federcampeggio (www.federcampeggio.it) - The Federazione Italiana del Campeggio e del Caravanning is a camping and RVing club with discounts for members. It's in Italian—and, unfortunately, they prefer to sell you a book of campgrounds rather than provide an online database—but there is some good intel in there for nudists and RVers. Click first on "Buona Navigazione", then on "In Vacanza." On this page, you'll find a list of "Campeggi" (first is Campeggi Convenzionati" which just means campgrounds that offer members a discount. If you're feeling racy, the "Per Naturisti" section lists nudist camps. "In Croazia" are campgrounds in neighboring Croatia. The section "Aree di Sosta" contains lists of official places where RVers can park their motorhomes (click on the second one, "Aree di Sosta in Italia" for a complete list" by region).

Some favorite campgrounds in the major cities

  • Village Flaminio, Rome - This Roman campground a long bus ride north of the city center is near to my heart, as I lived in it for two months at age 12... Reserve it » more
  • Camping Miramare, Venice - Small, cheap, with an on-site restaurant and internet access, all just across the street from a beach by the lagoon (currently of-limits while Venice installs its anti-flooding barriers) and walking distance from the vaporetto stop to whisk you to the center of Venice... Reserve it » more

Tips & links

Camping links & resources
Other lodging links & resources
Useful Italian
Useful Italian phrases and terms for lodging

English (Inglese) Italian (Italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a hotel un albergo oon al-BEAR-go
...a B&B un bed-and-breakfast oon bet hand BREK-fust
...a rental room un'affittacamera oon ah-feet-ah-CAH-mair-ra
...an apartment for rent un appartamento oon ah-part-tah-MENT-toh
...a farm stay un agriturismo oon ah-gree-tour-EES-moh
...a hostel un ostello oon oh-STEHL-loh
     
How much is...? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
a single room una singola OO-nah SEEN-go-la
double room for single use [will often be offered if singles are unavailable] doppia uso singola DOPE-pee-ya OO-so SEEN-go-la
a double room with two beds una doppia con due letti OO-nah DOPE-pee-ya cone DOO-way LET-tee
a double room with one big bed una matrimoniale OO-nah mat-tree-moan-nee-YAAL-lay
triple room una tripla OO-nah TREE-plah
with private bathroom con bagno cone BAHN-yoh
without private bathroom senza bagno [they might say con bagno in comune—"with a communal bath"] SEN-zah BAHN-yoh
for one night per una notte pair OO-nah NOH-tay
for two nights per due notti pair DOO-way NOH-tee
for three nights per tre notti pair tray NOH-tee
Is breakfast included? É incluso la prima colazione? ay in-CLOO-soh lah PREE-mah coal-laht-zee-YOAN-nay
Is there WiFi? C'é WiFi? chay WHY-fy?
May I see the room? Posso vedere la camera? POH-soh veh-DAIR-eh lah CAH-mair-rah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Is there a cheaper one? C'é una più economica? chay OO-nah pew eh-ko-NO-mee-kah

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