We have prepared a useful vanlife guide for you - gathering information about the dos and don'ts while camping in Italy, places to stay, camping rules in Italy and a few local tips to make your campervan experience unforgettable and worry-free.
Centuries of history, ancient buildings and imposing monuments, museums with some of the world's most famous pieces of art. Landscapes that vary from the highest peaks of Europe to beaches that have nothing to envy to the Maldivian ones. An incredible mix of people, cultures, traditions, food and a heavenly climate.
Does it sound too good to be true? Hold on then, because we want to reveal you a secret.
This place is very real and it's called Italy.
With its 54 listed locations, Italy displays the highest number of UNESCO Heritage sites compared to any other country in the world. More than a hundred million tourists flock to Italy every year, with an ever growing number of them travelling the Italian roads by van, campervan and motorhome. Nest Campers helps you, adventure-seeking traveller, to discover this beautiful part of the world with our fleet of campervans!
In fact, we give you the chance to explore this amazing country with a convenient pick-up and drop-off point in the charming town of Trieste, in the North-East of Italy, close to the Slovenian border.
We also know it can be difficult to learn and understand the traffic rules that apply to a specific country, therefore we have prepared this informative blog post for you.
PARKING OR CAMPING?
To begin with, a distinction between this two terms needs to be done. As a matter of fact, even if you find a sign saying “No Camping allowed” you'll be most likely able to park and sleep in your campervan.
This is possible because campervans are considered by law equal to cars (just bigger!) and the same rules apply. As long as you stay within the marked lines you can park pretty much everywhere.
Failing to do so will result in a fine of no less than 30€. You can even sleep right next to your choosen tourist attraction as long as you don't exceed your van's perimeter (for example by opening the canopy or a side window, as well as using the levels to stabilize your campervan) because this is considered camping and you won't be allowed to stay there. To do so, you need to find one of the designated areas.
In some cases, there will be signs saying that campers are not allowed to neither park or camp at all. Luckily, there are not many places like these and, generally speaking, Italy is a camper-friendly country. Don't be scared, it is not complicated as it sounds and, if you you'll keep reading this article, you'll find everything you need about what Italy offers and where you can camp with peace of mind.
Lucky for us, Italy is a really campervan friendly country!
WHERE CAN I CAMP IN ITALY?
Given that an increasing number of locals and foreigners are hitting the road with their caravans, campervans and motorhomes, there is no shortage of options to camp in Italy. From basic parking areas with camper service to more equipped camping villages providing all sort of facilities, you'll never be too far from the next serviced area.
We separated designated camping areas in Italy into three categories:
These are surely the most common areas you will find all along Italy and they can vary considerably in terms of location, facilities and cleanliness. They're also called 'Aree di Sosta'.
If you are on a tight budget or simply want to spend your money mostly on activities and attractions, this could be your best choice. Sure, they might not be located in that panoramic place you were dreaming of when planning your trip and nearly all of them won't have amenities like toilets or hot showers, but they provide camper service (drain grey and black water, drinking water refill) for free and this is not something to underestimate.
Fines for draining the tanks outside the designated areas are quite high and can reach the steep amount of 335€.
Beautiful camper stop (area di sosta) at breathtaking lake Como.
In recent years, more and more smaller towns, in order to attract more tourists and improve their economy, are adding camper stops on the maps, with some of them offering also electricity for free or for a very little price. Bear in mind that these are considered as stopover areas and the stay should not be longer than 48hrs/72hrs unless stated otherwise.
Unfortunately there is not an official list of these camper stops. At this stage we recommend using mobile apps such as Park4Night, where you can find these areas and where a thriving community helps giving advice about which are the safest/nicest places and any user can add new locations and useful info on the map. Nearly all the gas stations on the main highways provide camper service too.
If you like outdoors activities, genuine and local food and a safe place to sleep with your campervan, look no further than Agricamping (or farm camping), offering travellers the opportunity to stay in beautiful locations surrounded by nature. Depending on their location, there are many outdoors activities on offer: trekking, climbing, kayaking, horse-riding are just a few of them.
Besides that, nearly every Agricamping will have its own products, grown locally, for sale. Food plays a big role in the Italian culture and if you want to discover more about it, this could be really an ideal way to enjoy it! All Agricampings offer camper service and charge a fee for using their facilities (including electricity, toilets, hot showers and in some cases communal kitchens). A few of them let you stay overnight for free, as long as you buy some of their delicious products as a form of payment. A “sacrifice” we will happily do!
Great food, local life and amazing views - that's what you can expect when opting for farm camping spots in Italy!
To help you finding farm camping spots in Italy, other than the usual app Park4Night, you can also have a look at:
- www.agriturist.it (this one has a limited English version but many accomodations available)
- www.pleinair.it (no English version but there's a map with pins and service icons easy to understand)
Besides basic Camper Stops and Farm Campings, Italy has a huge number of Camping villages, built specifically for tourists with tents, caravans and campervans.
These kind of areas are classified, like hotels, with stars from one to five. All of them have facilities such as communal kitchen, toilets, showers and electricity. The quality and the number of services provided increase with the number of stars. Depending on your budget, you might indulge in real luxury here. Good camping villages have swimming pools, spa centers, sport areas and entertainment for the kids. Some campings are so big and well accessorized that you can find, within their precincts, supermarkets, bars, restaurants or even hairdresser shops!
Prices, of course, reflect the services offered but, if you are looking for a great mix of relax and comforts, you'll find your happy place here!
Some websites to look at when searching for Camping villages:
BEST TIME TO GO CAMPING IN ITALY
Summer is, as one can imagine, the nicest but also the busiest time of the year. At these times, it's easy to find your desired camping spot fully booked. We recommend, particularly for the months of July and August, to book and plan your itinerary well in advance. Camper stops cannot be booked though and work on “first in first served” basis.
The best months to hit the road are May, June and September, when it's not too hot and the tourist places are not overcrowded. In the south of Italy, winter arrives later and October and November are good months too for travelling. In the north, close to the Alps, it can get cold and between October and April we do not recommend camping, unless you have a perfectly working heating system. Our Stork campervan has a heating system but, remember, it needs to be plugged to electricity in order to be used.
Between October and April north of Italy gets quite a lot of rain, not to mention that the temperatures drop significantly.
ITALY AND MEASURES AGAINST AIR POLLUTION
Some Italian areas, mainly around the big cities and particularly in the northern plan, are nowadays facing air pollution problems. To fight back this issue, councils are banning diesel engine vehicles from circulating within certain areas, but only OLDER models (engines Euro 1 - Euro 4). All our campervans are new and are not a subject of this ban (Euro 6 engines).
This ban happens usually from October to March/April, it is entirely up to each council to decide who will be affected by this ban and it changes every year depending on many factors such as weather, traffic and of course, quality of the air. You'll be able to see places like Rome, Milan, Turin and so on but you might have to park in the outskirts and use public transport to reach the city centre.
Italy is fighting its war with air pollution in order to preserve not only nature but also history. Good job, Italy!
HIGHWAYS AND FUEL
The highways network connects Italy very efficiently but the expense can be quite consistent. There's no vignette system like other countries (Slovenia, Switzerland among others), you pay as you go instead. If you are tight on time these are surely your fastest option. Besides that, a good thing is that nearly every gas station on the highway offers camper service for free or at a little price. If time is not a problem, think about state or local roads. You'll see many little gems along the way that you would miss otherwise.
'Pay as you go' system at Italian highways is simple and easy to use.
Regarding fuel, prices are higher on the higways or in remote, isolated areas. Towns and populated areas are definitely your best choice. Unless you are really at risk of getting stuck without fuel on the side of the road, fill your tank at gas stations in towns. You'll might end up saving up to 20c/litre!
THE ISLANDS AND HOW TO REACH THEM
Sardinia and Sicily. An extra article should be written to cover these two islands as they really have a lot to offer. Pristine beaches, crystal clear water, ancient monuments and very warm and welcoming people are some of the reasons why tourists go there. To reach the islands, the major ports are on the Tirrenic coast. Savona, Genoa, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Naples have regular daily ferries to Palermo in Sicily or Cagliari and Golfo Aranci in Sardinia.
There are a few companies that offer this service and these are their websites:
Check out also www.directferries.co.uk, a website that compares prices of all the ferry companies (a Skyscanner for sea transports!)
Italy awaits you for a new adventure packed with sports, activities, sightseeing, amazing spots and scrumptious food! We hope you'll find this guide useful once you'll plan your next holiday there. All you need to do now is to pack your things and book your campervan!
Enjoy and see you soon!