One of the best and cheapest ways to see the Italian peninsula is in an RV. Driving around Italy is fairly tough, the Italian peninsula is notorious for windy roads, ambiguous one-ways, and extremely tight squeezes. Despite this, Italians rank sixth among European countries in RV ownership, with 266,000 RVs on the road as of 2015 according to the International Trade Administration, so as long as you’re not driving through Florence or along the Amalfi Coast, you’re going to be just fine. Having the ability to drive around Italy, instead of hopping from city to city on trains, is the ability to truly experience Italian culture: a music festival in a small town in Piedmont, fresh seafood in a fishing village in Puglia, a rural vineyard in Abruzzo, and all of Tuscany’s medieval hilltop towns.
Why RV in Italy?
Italy is an interesting mix of popular cities and beautiful countryside, world-renowned food and cheap living, massive mountains and beautiful beaches, of plenty to do and a leisurely culture. While most tourists fly to Rome or Venice and travel through the peninsula by taking advantage of the cheap and reliable train lines, seeing anything outside of the cities is extremely challenging and expensive. Most visitors don’t get to see the impressive Dolomites or the beautiful Sicilian beaches. With an RV, you can start your trip with some of the world’s best skiing and hiking, end it with some of its best swimming and tanning, all while stopping in every city or small town you desire on your way through this terra bella.
What kind of RV to get?
If you’re used to RVing in the United States, be prepared for an entirely different experience. It is widely known that Americans like things large, and that Italians like things small. It is generally true for just about anything (except the size of the pasta plates), and RVs are certainly included. Besides being cramped for space, the RVs usually operate a little different, but it is not hard to maintain comfort and convenience while on the road. Finding the right gear to make your trip better, such as a camping shower or signal boosters, won’t be too challenging, and could do a lot to make your trip easier. While you may be used to a big RV, getting a smaller one is certainly in your best interest, as it will make the driving easier and much cheaper (gas is very expensive in Italy). However, as Italian RVing becomes more and more popular, new and better options are becoming available every day.
Where to park the RV?
Italy was ranked fifth in Europe with about 2,000 campgrounds, so you won’t have any trouble finding places to spend your nights. Not only are there lots of great campgrounds deep into the countryside, but almost every major Italian city has a campground or two in the direct vicinity, almost always within easy public transportation to city centers and historic sites. Spending nights in campgrounds is also a great way to meet more local travelers, whether they’re Italians from the countryside making a trip to the city, city-dwellers making a trip to the country, or other Europeans coming to see Italy. Wherever it is your stay, be sure to start up a conversation, learn more of the language, and share some delicious Italian wine.
Plan Your Trip
Once you’ve decided that renting a motorhome (camper in Italian) is the best option for your next Italian getaway, the last step is to actually plan your trip. While you may be tempted to wing it (a great advantage to sleeping in what you drive), having a route and mapping campgrounds along the way will make your vacation a lot less stressful. Italy does have many beautiful national parks, however, and planning a few days to get lost in one is definitely recommended. See the cities, enjoy the countryside, drink the local wine, don’t forget an Italian dictionary, and have fun! Buon Viaggio!