Andrea Mara

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Four Campsites in Italy: Comparison and Review

If you’re a campsite person, you’ll have had the conversation; the one where you chat with the people in the mobile home across the way about which campsites you’ve been to and which ones they’ve been to, and which ones were great and which ones were awful. Who you stayed with, the size of the pools, and the omni-present mosquito situation. And then you muse about how amazing it would be to find the Holy Grail – a campsite that has the best bits of all of them.

We’ve stayed in three campsites in France, and I compared them here, so this is the Italian version – what’s brilliant and what’s not so good about the four campsites in Italy we’ve tried: Norcenni Girasole, Marina di Venezia, Bella Italia, and Union Lido.

Norcenni Girasole

Where is it?

Norcenni Girasole is in Tuscany, and something you really need to know – something I didn’t know when we booked it – is it’s inland. (My husband did know, in fairness, and he probably told me but I didn’t hear him because everyone was talking at the same time that day. And every day.)

What’s great?

The campsite itself is absolutely wonderful. It’s beautifully kept, and has a centre with a buzzy village feel – a fountain, two ice-cream cafés, four good restaurants, a good supermarket, bars, playground, and an amphi-theatre for live shows.

Norcenni is a perfect base for day-trips to Florence, Siena, and Pisa, so if you’re someone who gets itchy at the thought of two solid weeks inside the four walls of a campsite, it’s ideal.

daytrip to Florence

What’s less good?

I found the pools very busy (we were there in July) but at the time, our kids were 3, 5, and 7, so minding three of them in any pool was a challenge.

It was also very hot when we were there (Summer 2015) – unusually hot for the time I believe, at 37’C. The air con in the mobile home was a much-used lifeline.

Do you need a car?

Not really – you can take a coach to see nearby cities (we had a car so we drove to Siena, but in hindsight, we should have taken a coach) and you can get away with doing your supermarket shop on the campsite. We used our car to drive to local towns and to shop in Lidl, but car hire is expensive in Italy, so getting away without it is good.

Overall verdict

This was our first time staying in an Italian campsite and we were blown away by it. It’s easy to get around, very well run, and a treat from start to finish, lack of sea air notwithstanding.

You can read the full review here: Family Holiday in Italy: Review of Norcenni Girasole 

Marina di Venezia

Where is it?

Marina di Venezia is in Northern Italy, very near Venice.

What’s great?

Oh God, everything. This is possibly  my favourite campsite. It has some downsides (see below) but we had a holiday of a lifetime there. It’s built on a beach, so you can walk from your mobile home to the beach within minutes, through a private access that’s just for people staying on the campsite. We’d stayed in Norcenni the year before and I thought I didn’t mind not being near the sea, but having stayed so close to it in Marina, it changed my mind completely.

I used to go for a run on the beach in the morning (with lots of standing around looking at the sea), and we’d go back there in the afternoon with the kids, and sometimes go down at night to catch the sunset.

We rented pedalos, swam, built sandcastles, and took hundreds of photos, and it’s truly my happiest holiday memory of all time. (It’s also the beach that inspired One Click, when I saw a woman sunbathing while I was out for my run/ walk/ stand one morning and considered taking her photo – I suspect that contributes to my happy associations when I think back on this holiday.)

The campsite itself is very good – it’s huge, but we hired bikes to get around. The pools are excellent, the restaurants are great, and the whole place is very well-kept, pretty, and clean.

What’s less good?

The pools closed from 1pm to 3pm every day which is a pain. We’re late risers on holidays so sometimes didn’t make it down to the pools at all before they closed. It didn’t dampen the holiday for me but having stayed in Union Lido last year (similar site but without the siesta) I saw the difference it made.

Do you need a car?

No, not really, but it can get a bit cabin-feverish if you like to get out of the campsite and don’t have a car. You can cycle to the nearby town of Ca’Savio, and you can walk or cycle to the lighthouse.

We hired a car for a day and a half: we drove to Jesolo for dinner one night, then to Verona the next day. (In hindsight, Verona was a bit too far for a day.) You can take a ferry to Venice which makes a fantastic day trip.

Overall verdict

This is my favourite campsite and I will definitely go back. Highly recommended, as long as you know it’s huge, and there’s a siesta.

Read the full review here: Family holiday in Italy: Review of Marina di Venezia 

Bella Italia

Where is it?

On beautiful Lake Garda

What’s great?

Okay, so I know I just said Marina di Venezia is my favourite campsite, but Bella Italia might be my favourite destination – the campsite itself is not as glossy as Marina and Norcenni, but its location on Lake Garda, with beautiful Peschiera town just a twenty-minute lakeside walk away makes it hard to beat.

The jetty by the campsite
jumping into the lake

We spent a lot of time at the lake and in Peschiera, and taking ferries to other lakeside towns like beautiful Lasize and Sermione.

Lazise – easily accessed by ferry from Peschiera

Early mornings and late evenings at the lake are particularly beautiful. So the campsite (which is fine, just not as amazing as some of the other Italian sites) is just one element of the holiday – it’s about the whole experience of staying on the lake.

What’s less good?

The pools in Bella Italia are very crowded. I’ve gone into lots of detail here in the review, but basically if you’re a pool fan and really want loungers, you need to be prepared to queue at 8.30 am to get them. We never did, and the kids were as happy to take a dip in the pool then head to the lake or the town, but if your kids like lots and lots of pool time, it’s important to know it’s crowded during high season.

The campsite itself is quite rustic compared to some of its shinier rivals – it’s been around a long time and it shows in places. But it wouldn’t put me off, and I’ll be back.

Do you need a car?

Definitely not and this is a huge plus. You can walk to Peschiera, there are dozens of restaurant options, you can walk to the ferry port to go on day trips, take a train to Verona, and for groceries, you can walk to Lidl, or just shop in the onsite supermarket.


Overall verdict

I’m getting nostalgic for Lake Garda writing this and really want to go back. Highly recommended as long as you know about the pools.

Read the full review here: Bella Italia Campsite Review – What’s in a word?

Union Lido

Where is it?

In Northern Italy, near Venice.

What’s great?

This is the Caesar’s Palace of Italian campsites. We’d heard before we went that it outshines everywhere else and we were sceptical, but having been there, I get it. It’s huge, it’s incredibly pretty and clean. It’s shiny. It’s glossy. Where other campsites have pools, Union Lido has a water park. And like Marina di Venezia, it’s built on a beach.

There are shops and restaurants and bars and many, many activities – a mini theme park, pony-rides, night-time shows, a market, and fireworks on the beach every now and then.  There are playgrounds on the beach, with nearby bars so you can sip your coffee or Aperol Spritz while the kids play.

We loved it during our six nights last year, so we’re going back for 12 this year.

What’s less good?

Nothing! Or perhaps in our longer trip this year, we’ll find out… It’s worth noting though that it’s absolutely huge in size. I like big campsites, I like exploring them, I like hiring bikes and cycling everywhere, I like the extra amenities that come with size. But if you don’t like big campsites, Union Lido is not for you.

Do you need a car?

You can take a day-trip to Venice via bus and ferry, and you can walk or cycle to the nearby town, but without a car, you’re really spending your entire holiday on the campsite and on the beach. Which might be absolutely fine… ask me in mid-July!

Overall verdict

We loved it, and we’re going back. It’s huge, don’t go there if you don’t like big sites, but it really has everything you need for a fantastic Italian campsite holiday with beach and pool on your doorstep.

Read the full review here: Union Lido Campsite Review: Going back for more.

PS: We are looking to try somewhere new next time – if you’ve stayed on an amazing campsite anywhere (sunny) in Europe, let me know!





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