Whether you want to explore historical cities, stroll around medieval hill towns, relax on sandy beaches or indulge in a little opera, good food and wine, Italy has it all.
Camping in Italy is a relaxed affair. Invariably surrounded by amazing landscapes, sensational food and plenty of real dolce vita, it’s impossible not to relax.
Camping in Italy has its own quirks and facets. For instance, pitches can sometimes be slightly smaller than in other regions, but that’s because vehicles are not permitted on many campsites (except to pitch up or at the end of your holiday). When this is the case, campsite life is so much more peaceful, and safer, without cars trundling to and fro.
Italy is a relatively new country, being unified as recently as 1861. With some 60 million inhabitants, it remains a largely regional country with twenty distinct regions, each fiercely proud of its identity and local traditions. Italian culture has evolved over many centuries and is centred around the arts, music, architecture, family and food. Many eras have left their mark, from Roman, through Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical to today.
Italian food has influenced cuisines around the world. To many it is simply an art form. Much of it is essentially simple: cheese, pasta, tomatoes, meat, garlic but of course the key to success is the detail, the quality and the natural passion that comes so easily to Italian chefs in the restaurant and at home.
The ripest, juiciest tomatoes, the infinite variety of pasta that comes in all shapes and sizes, the freshest of fish, all handled with care and prepared with respect. The Italians make time for eating and eat with an almost religious enthusiasm so that there is a real sense of occasion round every table.
Eating on a campsite is a doddle in Italy. The on site restaurants are invariably excellent with simple but good quality crowd pleasers. Pizza never tastes so good as in an Italian campsite restaurant, sitting on the terrace with a glass of something refreshing.
Italy’s wines are not to be missed either. Nothing says holiday quite like a glass of chilled Prosecco as the sun goes down, and an easy drinking Montepulciano or a fruity Bardolino will accompany anything from pizza to spaghetti carbonara. And when things culinary get a little more serious a Chianti or a chunky Barolo will always hit the mark.
After dinner, try a Limoncello liqueur for something a little decadent but deliciously moreish.
The mountains of the Alps and the Dolomites drop down to the plains of northern Italy. The melt water makes its way down to the vast lakes for which this region is so famed. Lake Garda, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore and Lake Idro, among others, each have their own unique character but all are rather stylish with elegant waterside towns and villages offering great eateries, plenty of sightseeing, shops and places of interest. The lakes are perfect for a relaxing cruise or perhaps some watersports.
Milan is a vibrant city, with fabulous shopping, fashion houses like Armani and Dolce & Gabbana and the famous opera house, La Scala, as well as Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ fresco. Other cities like Bologna, Turin and Genoa have their own appeal, not least Verona with its Roman amphitheatre and Juliet’s Balcony, allegedly the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Encompassing Pisa, with its leaning tower, and Florence with its sublime views, Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and the Uffizi Gallery, it’s hard to beat Central Italy for pure ‘wow’.
Tuscany’s rolling countryside (is it ever anything else in Tuscany?) with its cypress trees, olive groves, vineyards and the gorgeous towns of Siena and San Gimignano are synonymous with this region. No surprise Tuscany is one of the country’s most visited regions.
Pompeii and Herculaneum are overlooked by the ever-watchful Mount Vesuvius. The uniquely breathtaking scenery of the Amalfi coast is not to be missed, but only once you have delved into the winding narrow streets of Naples with its crumbling façades inset with Catholic shrines, and its lively markets, chaotic traffic and roaring scooters.
The beautiful islands of Elba, Sardinia and Sicily are each worth visiting, each with magnificent sandy beaches and unique charm.
Some of Italy’s greatest appeal is found in its cities where its art, history and culture are so concentrated. Bursting with Renaissance art and architecture, Venice exemplifies this, a unique mix of slightly down at heel shabby chic, exquisite art and world class music.
The evocative canals form an intricate network through the old city, a timeless and beguiling feature which tourists never fail to love. Wander through St Mark’s Square, even in winter, and it is impossible not to fall in love with this spectacular city.
In a league of its own, Rome is a world city like no other. Brimming with stunning Roman remains there’s something amazing around every corner: the Pantheon, St Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, Vatican City are all iconic structures. And artworks like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling are absolutely unparalleled.