On our first RV trip ever, we did 1 week through northern Italy. Starting in South Tyrol on the Austrian border, we crossed 3 federal states, bathed in 3 different lakes and in the sea. In this blog post, I’m listing all of our costs, stops that we have chosen, and reasons why you should not travel to Italy in August.
We made a total of 4 stops at the following locations: Lago Di Braies (Lake Braies), Lake Garda, Cinque Terre and Lago Maggiore. We visited Genoa and some villages along the famous bathing lakes.
Lago Di Braies
This beautiful turquoise lake is located on the UNESCO-protected Dolomites, a natural spectacle consisting of 3 breathtaking mountains, pointing towards the sky. The lake is located in the southern Alps in northern Italy. Next to Lake Toblach it is the largest lake in the Fannes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park. Especially in high season, the lake offers a popular hiking trail for day trippers, and boat rentals until late at night. If you come to take pictures, you should visit the lake either before 7 o’clock in the morning or after 8 o’clock in the evening.
Lago Di Braies at 6am
Italy’s largest lake, known as Lake Garda, was formed by glaciers during the last glacial period. It is located between the Alps in the north and the Po valley in the south. Along the coast there are many small towns that are frequently visited by tourists. The offer ranges from traditional restaurants with a wide range of fish and seafood, jewelery and antique markets to numerous hotels and campsites. Especially for families, Lake Garda is a popular destination.
Anyone arriving by camper should first get informed about the prices and availabilites of campsites. The price for a parking space in „La Rocca“ was just under 50 € including admission for 2 people. On top of that, a swimming pool, internal shopping facilities, a beach section, bike rental, a small gym, a wellness area, and modern sanitary facilities are offered. WiFi costs 1 € per hour or several euros for a whole day.
In the last decade, the area of the Cinque Terre has enjoyed increasing popularity. Tourists from all over the world travel daily to the 5 small towns along the coast of the Italian Riviera. The region, which is populated with around 7,000 inhabitants, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a National Park, it is protected from additional construction. The terraces built on steep slopes have already existed for nearly 1000 years. Wine, trade and fishing are centuries-old traditions in the region.
Cinque Terre is not accessible by RV. If you still want to visit the region, you should leave your mobile home in an outlying city with good train connections. For example, there are La Spezia, Deiva Marina or Levanto. With the purchase of a Cinque Terre Day Pass you get unlimited train travel, access to all hiking trails and free wifi in some places as well as some other benefits. In bad weather, however, the trails are closed and the Cinque Terre Card is temporarily unavailable.
Manarola – one of the 5 UNESCO-protected cities in Cinque Terre
Cities are a bit more complicated to travel to with an RV. Nevertheless, it is possible to find a parking space outside and then explore the city by public transport. We left our vehicle in Deiva Marina and bought a 5 € train ticket to Genoa. The fastest connection takes an hour and there are several trains a day.
Genoa is an ancient city in northern Italy, where once lived many noble families and build large palaces. These are for the most part still in very good condition and have been converted into hotels or museums. Parts of the nearly 1000-year-old city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to the well-kept shopping streets and public buildings, Genoa made a somewhat run-down and dirty impression on us. We also noticed many streets that were strongly populated by African and Arabic people. Strolling through the small streets, we also spotted quite a lot of prostitutes, majorily black girls. Our highlights were the old ship in the ancient harbor and the beautiful Via Garibaldi with its impressive buildings.
Just over 80% of Lake Maggiore belongs to Italy, while the other 20% are in Switzerland. It also arose during the melting of glacial glaciers. At 10km wide and almost 65km long, it is the second largest lake in Italy. The lake is very popular among tourists, boaters, sailors, cyclists and hikers.
Numerous campsites right on the beach allow a comfortable stay with an RV. During high season you should inform yourself in advance about availability and calculate with higher prices. The prices for a pitch vary from around 20 € in the off-season to over 50 € in the main season (mid-August).
Apart from the RV, you have to count on a whole range of other costs in Italy. But do not worry, the costs are manageable and the bottom line is still lower compared to tours including hotel stays. In the following, all our expenses are listed approximately. Since we traveled in the absolute high season (mid-August), we had to pay for everything a little more than usual. Therefore, on your trip to Italy you can be sure that it will not cost more.
In Italy, all vehicles have to pay a toll, which varies depending on the distance and road taken. At the entrance to the highway, you pull a ticket that reminds of a parking ticket. At each motorway exit are barriers and cash machines, which read the ticket and calculate the respective price. This must then be paid in cash or by card. However, the card readers do not always work and you should always carry enough cash with you. We had several problems with the machines, but we were always helped satisfactorily.
The highest amount that we had to pay was € 24 after about 300km with many tunnels and bridges. After a single exit we paid about 1.50 €. In sum, our toll costs totaled about 70 € for 1 week Italy.
In many places, parking your RV is prohibited and can even be punished. Therefore, you must find campgrounds, campsites or suitable parking lots in the area you want to visit in advance.
The cost of a pitch in Italy varies depending on the season, location and duration. For a rest stop on the highway behind the Austrian border we paid 15 €. On Lago Di Braies you pay € 20 for a maximum of 24 hours, but there are no toilets or showers. The campsites are best equipped at tourist places like the two big lakes. There we paid about 50 € for one night. In Deiva Marina a parking space with electricity and sanitary use cost only about 35 € in high season.
Italy is not cheap. If you prefer low budget travels, you should definitely choose another country. Restaurant prices are similar to those in southern Germany and for entrances you are often asked to pay 5-10 €. Highways are quite expensive, but hotels are even more so. Toilets at the service areas are for free and often you will find free Wi-Fi in tourist places. The prices for train travel depend on the type of trains and are on average about as expensive as in Germany. If you want to save money, you should be able to focus on local foods such as seasonal fruits and vegetables, especially when traveling by RV. We prepared most of our meals in the motorhome and thus saved restaurant costs. If you really focus on the essentials, you can thus travel 1 week with only 500 € (without souvenirs) for 2 people.
Road trip with or without an RV? For us the latter was not an option, because we did not want to pay overpriced hotel rooms in the touristy places in the high season. We wanted to be independent. To go whereever we want, whenever we want. The RV from Etrusco, which we were allowed to rent, came as a gift from heaven. Only 1 week before our roughly planned trip to Italy (roughly planned is already exaggerated, actually we did not plan anything except the time window) we got it confirmed. Therefore I want to say big thank you to Etrusco who enabled this experience! It certainly will not have been our last RV trip!