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Review of Italian Camping Villas, Budget Savers – Italy

Review of Italian Camping Villas, Budget Savers!!


Camping in Florence
Camping in Florence
On my last trip across Italy, I took a friend and it was the weirdest year that I have ever had for finding accommodation. Previous years I have sailed into towns across Italy and never had any difficulty finding a place to stay. Troubles I had never encountered before attacked from both sides, like small nasty dogs. Perhaps our lodging problems arose from the fact it was September, and all of Europe, including Italy itself, was on holiday. Almost the complete valley around Siena was booked. Assisi was full!

Rome was so booked, I was unable to find any place to stay, not even my dear accommodations at the YWCA, the best budget lodgings I have ever found. Prices in all the pensions went up when the last Pope died, and have not come down. Complicating matters, I had hired a car for this trip. Finding parking was out of the question.

So in Rome, I tried a new lodging strategy – we stayed in a “Camping Village”. Just outside of Rome, Camping Tiber had a parking spot for our car, and a swimming pool. We rented a cute travel trailer with a bath for 1/2 the price we would have paid in Rome itself. There were washing machines and dyers, a blessing, since my travel companion did not comprehend “wash in the sink and hang it up” until the end of the trip. The biggest surprise was the quality food we had in the small restaurant. Absolutely stunning! The pizza was cooked in a wood fueled brick oven and were as good as the ones we had at my favorite restaurant in Rome. The only disadvantage was the commute to Rome and we had to make the last train home at night. So no late night rambles around the Piazzas and fountains.

Justine in front of her clean, quiet camping villa
Justine in front of her clean, quiet camping villa
Camping villas became my budget weapon against a falling dollar and European inflation. We stayed at two more camping villas on our trip. The one in Florence was really incredible. We were not able to get a room at the Florence Hostel. So we drove around a few hill tops to stay at Camping Fiesole Panoramico. High on a mountain above the Florence Valley, it was a fantastically fun, budget place to stay. In the summer it would be the most comfortable spot in the valley, with winds and a swimming pool. In September, it was empty of travelers, our travel trailer was comfortable and clean, a welcome respite from the crushing crowds of Florence. The on site deli had wonderful wine and picnic food. Dinner in the restaurant was not as inspiring as Rome. The Pizza oven outside was shut down.

We meet other travelers savvy to these camping villas, and what jewels they are for travelers that can not afford city center hotels, and find backpacker dorms quite nasty. (I quit all hostels when they put both men and women in the same rooms.) We shared dinner, and stories of our day’s adventures, with student groups, retired seniors, and families. The bonus of being out side the city was the ability to walk a round in the morning and evening and see grass and trees. I love travel, but inner cites can be a lot of brick and cobblestone.

The last camping villa we stayed in was the seediest, and the hardest to find, simply because the city Mestre, outside Venice, is a complicated mess of roads. The on site store at Camping Venzia left much to be desired. Looking back there were three more camping villas down the road I could have checked out.

Wine, pasta and cheese
Wine, pasta and cheese
Reviewing the trip, and looking at my budget and credit card bill, I ask, would I do it again? By staying at camping villas I could afford six more nights in Italy. In Florence, villas would be the only place I would stay. In Rome I missed staying out late at night, walking from fountain to fountain. Since that is the only time of the year I stay out late, I felt cheated. My girlfriend did not, since it was here first trip. In Venice the villas were OK. My girl friend wanted to stay in Venice, but we had a car, and there is NO PARKING IN VENICE. (It’s all water.) So I felt that it was a good compromise. Would I recommend camping villas? Yes, they are clean, inexpensive places to stay, often with good food, and that rare thing, parking space.

Visit the author’s website at justinetravel.com for more stories and practical travel advice.

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