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CAMPERVANNING IN ITALY: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Lured to Italy by the romantic visions of Tuscany, ancient Roman ruins, renaissance architecture and its famous fine arts, we set off on our campervanning in Italy road trip.
Of course, the promise of a slice, (or ten) of authentic pizza, lashings of pasta carbonara and several scoops of gelato weren’t forgotten either.
This article covers pretty much everything you will need to know when campervanning or motorhoming in Italy. We’re gradually road tripping around the world so we do know a thing or two about the process required to plan a great road trip.
This post includes:
- An interactive Italy by campervan/motorhome map,
- Suggested road trip itineraries, including both the North and South of Italy (inc. Sicily),
- Campervan and motorhome campsites,
- Ideas for places to visit as you travel Italy by campervan/motorhome
- Driving tips for your Italy road trip
- Plenty more to help you plan your own Italy road trip itinerary
- FREE Road Trip Travel Planner
PLANNING YOUR ITALY CAMPERVAN ROAD TRIP ROUTE
There are so many places that you could visit on an Italy road trip but unless you plan on motorhoming for years in Italy then you won’t get to see them all.
We’ve included our Italy itinerary as a guide to what you can see as you embark on your Italian campervan trip. This can be used to help you plan your own route. You may like to skip some sights, deviate to other towns and change the visiting order when planning your own Italy road trip.
You might also find that you change your mind en route, which is half the fun sometimes, making it all up as you go along. We had a route planned for our Italy campervanning trip but took a detour to Croatia in the middle of it all!
Therefore you may like to note that after Rome, we headed to Ancona and caught a ferry to Croatia, then took a detour back to Venice after our Slovenia road trip a few months later. We finally arrived back at the ferry port of Bari, Italy (arriving from Greece), to complete our southern Italy road trip in the campervan.
That is one of the many joys of having your home with you — you have so much more freedom to change your travel plans.
>>> READ MORE: All You Need to Know About Planning a Road Trip
Other Matters to consider when planning your campervanning trip in Italy:
- The high season in Italy sees mass tourism, so expect the major towns and cities to be packed. We were in Northern Italy in mid to late May and the crowds were already building.
- If you are hiring your motorhome – where is the best place for you to collect your campervan? It might be worth hiring from a different country and driving to Italy
- Grab this FREE road trip Travel planner to help make this trip the best it can be
ITALY ROAD TRIP BY CAMPERVAN or MOTORHOME: QUICK OVERVIEW
Summary of places to visit on your Italy road trip, (all are covered in more detail in the post – click on a place to find it in the post):
WHERE CAN YOU CAMP WHEN CAMPERVANNING and MOTORHOMING IN ITALY?
We used the Camper Contact app (about 6 euros/year) when travelling through Italy to find our campervan overnight spots. They have over 4700 campervan parking and motorhome service areas listed. I
Italy also has lots of ‘Area di Sosta’, which are dedicated motorhome parking areas. Some are free, while others charge a fee for a 24-hour stay. Most of them have facilities for emptying waste water and toilet cassettes, and freshwater and rubbish facilities.
To help with your planning, we’ve included all of our campervanning overnight stops for our Italy Motorhome trip.
CAN I WILD CAMP IN ITALY?
Each area in Italy has their own regulations, but in general, it is illegal to wild camp in Italy.
However, in rural areas, it may be worth asking the municipality or locals whether you can park for the night.
MOTORHOME RENTAL IN ITALY
We recommend Motorhome Republic because they can search for the best deals from various pick-up points and countries. When we used them they were incredibly helpful and we saved more money going directly to them rather than to individual rental companies.
Also, remember to check what campervan accessories come with the motorhome and whether they are included in the price.
ITALY BY CAMPERVAN MAP
HOW TO USE THIS CAMPERVANNING IN ITALY MAP
To use this map, expand it using the square symbol on the top right-hand side and you will find the key on the left-hand side. By clicking each location you will find extra information.
For example, each Campervan overnight stops on the map has the web link to Camper Contact where you can see the facilities available, price, opening times, and useful user reviews on each campsite.
The campervan/motorhome overnight stops are marked with an orange circle with a motorhome icon and the places we visited are marked with purple icons.
PLACES TO VISIT ON YOUR ITALY CAMPERVAN ROAD TRIP
The first stop on our road trip in Italy was Lake Maggiore in Lombardy, one of the three main lakes in the Italian Lake District,t and the second largest after Lake Garda. Lake Como is the third main lake in the area.
I visited Lake Como and Garda many years ago, and would definitely recommend a visit there if you have time on your motorhome trip in Italy. You can see on the Map that they fit nicely into an itinerary if you decide to go east towards Venice.
All of the lakes are beautiful and have many pretty towns along with stunning mountain scenery.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: MACCAGNO
I doubt whether Venice needs much of an introduction — but be mindful that it can be extremely busy in summer. Our campsite was in the perfect location, quiet and away from the hustle and bustle on the opposite shoreline.
But was still within easy access of a passenger ferry across to Venice.
While in Venice, we did something I’d regretted not doing on my last visit. We took a ride on a gondola. I’d visited over ten years ago, and decided it was too expensive but had been sorry about that ever since.
This time I made sure it happened.
We budget carefully on our travels, but we have also learnt that if it is something we have always wanted to see or experience, then it is often worth paying, to avoid regret later.
The gondolier was a little grumpy and it wasn’t as dreamy and romantic as I had envisioned. Maybe it was the lack of mushy background music, which would have been drowned out anyway by the clamour of motorboats chugging alongside.
Nevertheless, even though my fanciful visions didn’t materialise, I’m glad can tick that off my bucket list of things to do.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: AL BATEO CAMPSITE
The San Rocco Parking overlooks the beautiful Liguria Coastline and the pretty port of Portofino is just around the corner. You can walk there along cobbled lanes and woodland.
The walk takes about two hours, and just near the end, you get a breathtaking view of Portofino Harbour.
In Portofino, we had our first sampling of Spaghetti Carbonara (a lovely treat as we normally buy our own food and cook in the motorhome). We also learnt that the restaurants in Italy charge a ‘pane e coperto‘ and a ‘Servizio‘ on top of your food bill.
The coperto is basically a cover charge per person for sitting at the restaurant and using the cutlery, and for the bread the waiter brings. It’s still payable even if you don’t want bread.
The service charge is also added on top of your food and coperto. For an interesting read on more dos and don’t when eating in Italy check out this post.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: SAN ROCCO CAMPERVAN PARKING
Getting to Cinque Terre from La Spezia campsite was easy. Catch the “S” bus to Stazione Centrale ( Central Train station) and there you can buy your ‘Cinque Terre’ card which gives you multi trips on the La Specia to Levanto train line. This means that you can get the train to each of the five Cinque Terre centuries-old towns.
There is also a coastal path between the towns, and depending on weather conditions and renovations at the time, you can walk between them.
The five towns of Cinque Terre are:
- Monterossa al Mare,
- Manarola and
Although some of the towns were beautiful and the walk between them offered stunning views, the towns themselves were commercialised. This tends to detract from their charm.
Locals advised us to avoid Cinque Terre on the weekend, which is an excellent tip for your Italy road trip.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: LA SPEZIA CAMPSITE
Lucca is a beautiful walled city in Tuscany. In fact, you can cycle along the 4km perimeter of these 16th and 17th-century ramparts, which we did. There are bikes for hire if you don’t have your own.
This city is also known as the City of a hundred churches, with its most famous being St. Michael’s Church (San Michele al Foro). For more things to do in Lucca including moped hire, concerts and tours, click here.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: LUCCA PARKING
Florence was our favourite large city that we visited while campervanning in Italy. The ambience was upbeat and the setting and beauty matched everything we had heard and seen of this renowned city.
That itself speaks volumes for Florence because in general, I am not a lover of cities.
Our first stop was the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore — a huge cathedral that dominates Florence with its enormous iconic red dome. Beside it is the Campanile Bell Tower, with a 444-step climb to the top.
Although you’re likely to be a little breathless, the view from the top is stunning.
We spent two days exploring Florence but could have easily spent more time there.
These are a few of the attractions we’d recommend:
- Visit the famous Ponte Vecchio and its jewellery shops – the bridge makes for a great photo opportunity.
- Uffizi Gallery – houses some of the greatest Renaissance art
- Museo Galileo to get your fix of clocks, microscopes telescopes, thermometers and terrestrial and celestial globes galore.
- And my favourite – Boboli Gardens. Full of statues, sculptures, fountains, several rose gardens and a terrace with spectacular views across the surrounding Tuscan landscape.
The Florence (Firenze) Campervan parking is only about 1km from the centre of Florence but is not within the ZTL Driving Zone. It’s, therefore, the perfect place to park and walk into Florence.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: FLORENCE AREE DI SOSTA
About 35km from Florence, you’ll find this small, photogenic, traditional hilltop Tuscan town with gothic 14th-century arches marking its entrance. At the end of the main street is an impressive Palazzo del Pretorio decorated with many coats of arms created by the master craftsmen of Florence.
We sat at the top with local pastries taking in this view.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: CERTALDO
We’d heard that Siena was a spectacular medieval town and our expectations were high.
However, even though it is a UNESCO World Heritage town, Siena and its main square, Piazza del Campo, failed to impress. Perhaps we didn’t see it in its best light, but it was full of tourists and we found it drab and uninteresting.
In our opinion, there are plenty of other far nicer hilltop Tuscan towns to visit. You may feel differently though, as many tourists travel here and sing Siena’s praises.
The one thing that did impress us though, was Siena’s Cathedral and its façade, completed in 1380.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: SIENA AREA DI SOSTA
Continuing your Italy road trip, this drive to Montalcino takes you through gorgeous Tuscan scenery. The picturesque town of Montalcinois known for its Brunello di Montalcino wine. Unfortunately, as with so many of Italy’s pretty, well-known towns, it is quite touristic.
If you are a wine lover though, there are plenty of wine cellars to sample local wines and a wander around the medieval, cobbled streets transports you back to medieval times.
The views across the Val d’Orcia are magnificent and you can certainly see why Montalcino and the surrounding area are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: MONTALCINO CAMPER STOP
Orvieto is another hilltop town, this time in Umbria, with the iconic Cyprus trees dotted around the classic landscape.
There is a large car park at the foot of the hill in Orvieto and you can then use an elevator which takes you to the old town on the hilltop.
The Orvieto Cathedral is the centrepiece of this majestic town and is certainly an impressive sight.
Rome is one of those cities that is often on any Italian itinerary. Travelling there in a motorhome, we would recommend avoiding driving into the city and finding a campsite on the outskirts.
We found a camper stop only 5km from the centre of Rome which was quiet and grassed.
To save time queuing, we booked our entrance ticket to the Vatican online. Being near the end of May, the tourist season was already well underway.
Getting into Rome was easy. You take a tram (near to the campsite), to the train station and then take the metro to the Vatican or whichever stop you want to explore first.
Once near the Vatican, we were stopped by several very persistent hawkers trying to get us to upgrade our tickets to a guided tour, which we didn’t want.
The experience of walking shoulder to shoulder through the museum with groups of guided tours wasn’t exactly pleasurable. The experience, especially in the Sistine Chapel, wasn’t at all how we had envisaged our visit.
Hundreds of visitors were packed into the chapel while loudspeakers blared out the rule that it was forbidden to take photos.
To be honest, it was a relief to leave and to catch a breath of fresh air as we headed to St. Peter’s Square. All the while hawkers pestered us and our romanticised image of Rome diminished with each step.
The Spanish Steps did little to save the day, but the Trevi Fountain did wow and amaze, allowing Rome to recoup a small sliver of its reputation in our eyes.
We suggest visiting this renowned city outside of peak tourist season because there are many beautiful reasons to visit Rome.
[It was at this point we left Italy and headed to Croatia and Eastern Europe – coming back to Italy to continue our Campervanning Italy trip in the winter in early January.]
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: ROME LGP CAMPSITE
Another place, often high on an itinerary wish list while on an Italy road trip, is Naples.
We arrived in the city, full of excitement, with planned stops at Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii. Fire and brimstone lay ahead. Visiting the top of Mt Vesuvius at 1280m above the Bay of Naples had been on our bucket list for some time.
Even though the volcano last erupted in 1944, it is still considered an active volcano. If you visit in winter, factor in that it is likely to be very cold at that altitude — even if it is warm in the bay below.
We hadn’t considered that and we were freezing up there.
We had envisaged lava spurts, bubbling mud and drifts of sulphurous fumes.
However, we soon saw that we had none of that. It was a dry, inactive crater and the closest thing to sulphurous fumes were the low clouds hovering in and out of the crater.
Nevertheless, it was still impressive, with a diameter of 700m and a depth of 200m.
GETTING TO MOUNT VESUVIUS
We decided to take public transport to Mount Vesuvius as it isn’t too easy navigating the narrow windy road in an 8-metre motorhome.
We left the camper at Estatico Campsite and walked 15 minutes to the Portici Bellavista train stop. There, we caught the Circumvesuviana train to Ercolano Scavi at a cost of €1.30 per person, one-way.
On arrival at Ercolano Scavi, look for the Travel kiosk to buy tickets for the bus and volcano entrance.
The bus trip from here took about 45 mins to arrive at Mount Vesuvius.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: ESTATICO CAMPSITE
The next stop on this Italian road trip was Pompei. Driving south from Naples towards ancient Pompeii, we found a camper stop at, Camping Spartacus. It was perfectly situated right opposite the ruins. Locking up the campervan, within a few minutes we were at the ruins entrance parting with a €13 entrance fee each.
Luckily, with it being January we walked the Pompeii streets with only a few other tourists.
In AD79, after the eruption of Mt Vesuvius, the town of Pompei was buried and the remaining inhabitants perished under tonnes of ash and mud (4 to 6 metres deep).
Most of the town’s inhabitants (estimated at 18,000 people), had already fled at the first sign of eruption, leaving about 2000 people still in Pompeii when Mount Vesuvius blanketed it with ash.
After walking around this ruined city you are left with a real sense of what life must have been like in early Roman times.
Ancient Pompeii ranks as one of the must-see places in Italy and a visit here is definitely a remarkable and memorable experience.
If you are looking for more things to do in and around Pompeii check out these tours and tickets on Viator.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: POMPEII > SPARTACUS CAMPING SITE
When we were in Positano, it was illegal to drive motorhomes on the Amalfi Coast until after 10 pm at night. The roads are just too narrow and winding. Only experienced licensed bus drivers are able to take this route.
Therefore, we left the campervan at Spartacus Camping in Pompei and took a train from Pompeii’s Savi-Villa dei Misteri station south to Sorrento’s Stazione Ferroviaria di Sorrento station (on the Circumvesuviana route) at a one-way cost per person of €2.40.
Once at Sorrento, at a kiosk outside the train station, we bought two all-day return Sorrento-Positano-Amalfi bus tickets at €8 per person.
The bus ride to Positano was nothing short of spectacular. Make sure you get the window seats closest to the coastline. The winding roads offered magnificent views of the coast.
The Amalfi Coast bus drivers are true professionals — shaving the stone walls at the turns with just centimetres to spare, was no mean feat.
Although we could have bussed all the way to the town of Amalfi, we decided to break the journey at Positano and enjoy the town whilst the sun was out. The bus dropped us at a stop on the main road above the town which was also the return pick-up point.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: POMPEII > SPARTACUS CAMPING SITE
From Positano, you can continue on to Amalfi, but we returned to Sorrento. The return bus trip provided breathtaking views of the coastline from a different perspective. And again, was just amazing.
Disembarking at Sorrento, we walked through to the ‘old town’ along the pedestrian-only access walkways. Just be aware that you do get to share these with the odd motorbike zipping alongside. Sorrento old town really did have that ‘old town’ vibe to it, with an expected touch of Sorrento chic.
Our wanderings took us past the Queens Chips Amsterdam, and with mouths watering, we parted with a handful of euros in exchange for chips and curry sauce. The perfect sustenance for a cold afternoon.
We also sampled some free Limoncello and Meloncello both of which were tasty and packed a pretty punch.
The evening was fast approaching, so we headed back to the Stazione Ferroviaria di Sorrento train station, heading towards Pompeii.
Within the hour we were back in the campervan reliving the fantastic day spent along the picturesque Amalfi coast.
It was also good to leave navigating the narrow winding streets to the experts and to have a break from driving the motorhome. We would highly recommend not driving a motorhome on this part of your Italy campervan road trip.
It’s much more relaxing to appreciate the views when you aren’t worried about heading off the side of a cliff.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: POMPEII > SPARTACUS CAMPING SITE
Matera and Alberobello were two of our favourite Italian towns that we visited while motorhoming in Italy.
Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is built on the side of the vast Matera Gravine. The old town is full of the ancient Sassi (caves) built into the side of the vast Matera Gravine.
It is an incredibly interesting city and one that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
>>> READ MORE about the Matera Alberobello effect here.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: MATERA CAMPSITE
Alberobello, just an hour or so drive from Matera, is another town not to be missed on your Italy road trip. If Matera leaves a sombre feel, then Alberobello will lift you with its enchanting Alberobello Trulli.
These tiny dwellings, with their cone-shaped roofs, look like something straight out of a fairytale.
OVERNIGHT MOTORHOME STOP: ALBEROBELLO CAMPSITE
The final stop on our campervanning in Italy road trip was the island of Sicily, just off the ‘toe’ of Southern Italy.
We were there for a week and visited a wide variety of places, with some perfect for hiking and others for soaking up the Sicilian atmosphere.
These are the Sicily campervan stops and places to visit — for the full details of each stop go to our Sicily Campervan Road Trip Post here.
Road Trip Sicily Overview
2. Isola Bella
DRIVING TO ITALY IN A MOTORHOME
If you are driving to Italy in a motorhome/campervan and arriving by road, then the main routes into Italy are:
- E80 along the Gulf of Genoa,
- Fréjus Tunnel (the E70) towards Turin,
- Mont-Blanc Tunnel between Chamonix and Courmayeur/Aosta Valley
- E27 via the Great St Bernard Tunnel
- E62 (Brin to Lake Maggiore),
- E35, via the San Gottardo Pass
- E43 towards Lugano
- E45 via the Brenner Pass
- E55 from Villach to Venice
- E751 towards Trieste
If you are arriving by car ferry, you may arrive at Ancona, Bari, Brindisi or Venice on the east coast of Italy or Genoa, Savona, Civitavecchia (Rome), Napoli, and Salerno on the North and Western coasts.
We had begun our campervanning in Germany – as that was the cheapest place for us to hire the campervan from – and drove into Italy from Switzerland via the E43 towards Lugano.
DRIVING TIPS FOR YOUR ITALY CAMPERVAN ROAD TRIP
- In Italy, you drive on the right.
- Seatbelts are compulsory
- Have the following documents to hand:
- Drivers licence (An international driver’s licence isn’t required if you hold a driver’s licence issued by an EU Member State )
- Vehicle insurance
- Vehicle registration document
- You are also required to have the following in your vehicle:
- Reflective Vest – to be used when getting out of the car in an event of an accident or breakdown on any road.
- Warning triangle – to be used in the event of an accident or breakdown to warn following traffic.
- Speed Limits are as follows unless otherwise signposted
- 130 km/h (80 mph) on motorways
- 90 km/h (50 mph) on minor out-of-town roads
- 110km/hr (30mph) on major out-of-town roads
- 50 km/h (31 mph) in urban areas.
- In the event of rain on snow, the limit is lowered to 110 k/h on motorways and 90 k/h on trunk roads.
- Cars with trailers or caravans: in urban areas, the speed limit is 50 km/h (31 mph); on minor out-of-town roads 70 km/h (44 mph); on major out-of-town roads 70 km/h (44 mph); on motorways 80 km/h (50 mph).
- Camper vans weighing over 3.5 tonnes and under 12 tonnes: in urban areas, the speed limit is 50 km/h (31 mph); on minor out-of-town roads 80 km/h (50 mph); on major out-of-town roads 80 km/h (50 mph); on motorways 100 km/h (62 mph).
- Tolls: Most autostrada/motorways require a toll. Toll prices are determined by the distance you travel, so on entering a motorway will need to collect a ticket from an automated machine, and the ticket must then be presented at the toll gate upon exit. where a toll can be calculated. Tolls can be paid by cash, credit card, prepaid card or electronic tags.
- Be aware of the Limited Traffic Zones (Zona Traffico Limitato/ ZTL) that are in many major cities, eg. Rome and Florence. These zones are in place to reduce traffic congestion and to slow the decay of the historic centres. All RENTED VEHICLES cannot enter these zones regardless of the timings shown on the signs. Cameras at the ZTL boundary automatically record the violation and issue a fine to the registered vehicle. See Below ZTL for Rome and Florence.
- Dipped headlights must be used on two-lane motorways.
- When driving through towns and villages, the horn may be sounded only in the event of an emergency.
- Buses, trams and trains have right of way.
- The main motorways have tolls. To avoid them you can program your navigator to avoid tolls.
- Emergency Numbers:
- Police 113
- Fire Brigade 115
- Ambulance 118.
- For more detailed information check out Italy’s Highway code
CAMPERVANNING IN ITALY… That’s a Wrap
Your campervanning in Italy road trip will take you through stunning scenery and tantalising hilltop towns. It will offer plenty of opportunities for delving deep into Italy’s historical past and admiring the famed artistic work of its artisans.
This article will be a useful guide to help you plan your motorhome road trip to Italy. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or any further suggestions on taking a campervan trip in this diverse and beautiful country.
Did you have a favourite destination in Italy? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below or drop us an email.
For road trip inspiration, and for a fun read, take a look at these Road Trip Quotes.
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YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN READING
You may also be Interested in These Posts:
- Roadtripping Around The World
- Austria: Motorhoming in Austria
- Switzerland: Motorhoming in Switzerland: The Ultimate Guide
- Albania: Albania Road Trip – A Country of Surprises
- Croatia: 10-Day Road Trip in Croatia
- Greece: Campervan Greece Road Trip
PLANNING YOUR TRAVELS?
These are some of the travel resources we use when planning our trip and can recommend:
- Travel Insurance: World Nomads
- Book Accommodation: We use Booking.com to find accommodation that suits our budget
- Travel Gear and Accessories: Check out our top picks here — Lifejourney4two page on Amazon
- Car Hire: We use Rentalcars.com
- Motorhome/Campervan Rental: We highly recommend the Motorhome Republic
- Activity Tickets: Get Your Guide
- Free Accommodation: Get 25% off Trusted House Sitters
- Wall Art: Shop our ETSY store
For a more thorough list visit our Travel Resources page here.