Planning a motorhome or campervan trip to Italy? Want to tour some of the most beautiful countryside in Europe? Here's everything you need to know to go campervanning or motorhoming in Italy, step-by-step.
Don't forget to download your FREE Europe motorhome travel checklist below to help you plan your Italy driving holiday even easier.
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Motorhoming in Italy- why you should go!
If you're looking for somewhere in Europe to visit with a motorhome or camper, and you want incredible scenery, beautiful weather and food-so-good-you'll-put-on-a-stone-in-a-week, head to Italy.
We've explored several times now with our motorhome and we can't wait to go back again. The last time we went, we spent a few days exploring the Dolomites; possibly the most breathtaking place we've even been in our van and we've been touring Europe by motorhome for a while now! (You can check out our Dolomites itinerary ideas here)
We've also enjoyed other road trips in Italy, like Cinque Terre, the Italian Lakes, Rome, Florence and the jaw-dropping Amalfi coast. We love the history, the scenery and the food- I'm pretty sure I could live on pizzas, calzones, spaghetti and Italian gelato forever more.
In this post, we're going to share with you everything you need to know to go motorhoming in Italy, including getting to Italy and how to plan your route, where to stay (motorhome campsites, sostas or wild camping with your camper), some road trip itineraries and places to visit in North and South Italy, driving tips and other practical advice to help you have an amazing Italian driving holiday.
If this is your first campervanning trip to Italy (or Europe!), don't forget to grab your free motorhome travel checklist which will help you plan and organise everything you need.
Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?
Campervanning in Italy- Where to go
When planning a motorhome trip to Italy, the first thing you need to do is decide where you're going (and how long you have for your Italian adventure!)
If you're driving from the UK to Italy (we'll cover that shortly), you need to allow at least a day to get from arriving in France (by either ferry or Eurotunnel) down to the north of Italy. Of course, if you only have a week's holiday, that only allows a few days to explore the country, so we'd suggest staying to the north of the country.
If you have 10-14 days or longer to tour Italy, you can get a lot further south, certainly as far as Naples/ Pompeii and possibly even further if you're happy to drive every day.
The more you tour around Italy, the more you'll realise there's are some big differences between North and South. There's much more wealth in the north. There are also more mountains and more big cosmopolitan cities. Southern Italy is much less developed, with some incredible beaches and several islands for you to explore (or camp up next too if you can!)
When to go motorhome touring in Italy
As with all European road trips, WHEN is almost as important as WHERE.
On our very first motorhome trip to Italy, we headed straight for the Italian lakes (one of the most popular areas in Italy) in August.
Funnily enough, there were people EVERYWHERE. It was so crowded, we could barely find a Sosta with any room and all the campsites near the lakes had been fully-booked for months.
That was our fault- we hadn't planned ahead.
On the flip side, when we did our tour from Rome to Florence (via Pisa), we went in February. There was snow on the ground, it was freezing cold, but the lack of people when visiting the attractions made up for the chill factor. We practically had some of the museums and popular sites to ourselves!
For us, our favourite time to explore Italy is either later Spring or early Autumn. We toured the Dolomites in early October and the weather was perfect. Obviously, the further south you go the warmer it will be. Sicily is where the Italians go to escape the chilly temperatures in the north. Of course, if you want to go skiing with your motorhome, stay in the Dolomites and enjoy some of the best slopes in Europe.
TOP TIP: Many campsites close in winter (normally at end of September or middle of October) and don't re-open until Easter. If you're planning to tour Italy in a camper between those times, you'll need to use Sostas or public services to get fresh water and empty waste.
New to motorhome or camper travel in Europe? You might find these posts helpful:
NEED GEAR? If you need any kit or essentials for motorhoming in Europe, here's what we recommend and where to find it
Planning a driving route from UK to Italy
There are several ways to get from the UK to Italy. The first question to ask yourself when you're planning a motorhome trip in Europe is are you happy to pay tolls, or do you want to take the slower but cheaper back roads?
For us, we're usually driving to Italy from France and we're happy to pay the tolls/ tunnel charge and get there quicker, so we head to Mont Blanc at Chamonix (don't miss the chance to stop overnight in your motorhome at the foot of Mont Blanc and get the cable car up the Aiguille de Midi– it's spectacular!) From here, it's easy to drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel and then you're in Italy!
Best Motorhome Route to Italy Through France
If you're planning a road trip through France to Italy, we've put together some of the best driving routes for motorhomes, campers, caravans and cars (complete with estimated toll charges)
Lastly, on our very first trip, we returned via the Swiss Alps, by leaving the Italian lakes and heading north. From there, we drove through Switzerland, detoured into Liechtenstein, past Strasbourg, then up into Luxembourg and Belgium where we paid our respects at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate.
Don't forget, if you take your campervan into Switzerland, you will need to buy a vignette at the border.
Other motorhome and campervan routes into Italy
If you're not driving from the UK, there are a couple of other options.
From the East, you can get a ferry from Greece to Italy (or vice versa!) There are loads of route options, so find one which works for you.
If you don't want to do a ferry, do what we did in reverse and drive back through Croatia and Slovenia into Northern Italy- it's a wonderful trip.
Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?
Hiring a motorhome to tour Italy
Of course, if you're hiring a motorhome, you'll have other factors to consider. If you're flying in, you'll need to pick an airport near the area you want to explore. Then you'll need to find a hire company with a base near there and plan how to get from the airport to the campervan.
If you're driving and then hiring, make sure the hire company has somewhere secure to park your car whilst you're off touring around Italy in your camper.
Campervanning in Italy- motorhome overnight parking
In Italy, there are several types of motorhome and campervan stopovers you can use.
- Sostas (which is what the Italians call aires)
- Free approved motorhome parking places
- Motorhome Wild camping
Motorhome Campsites in Italy
Campsites in Italy are much like campsites anywhere else in Europe. Some are rustic and have basic facilities, others are all singing, all dancing ones with pools, private beach access and boat hire.
If you're travelling out of high season and are planning to use campsites, we highly recommend buying an ACSI CampingCard membership– you'll save a lot of money as we found the campsites in Italy to be quite expensive.
Expect to need a token for the shower (yes, at additional cost) This happens even on ACSI sites, although you may get the token provided for free. Be warned- the hot water in the shower is on a timer- usually between 3-5 minutes per token.
Sostas/ Aires in Italy
Sostas are what the Italians call Aires- approved motorhome and campervan overnight parking places. They are often paid, although you will find some in more remote areas which are free to use overnight. Many of them have services, although you'll find the quality varies dramatically, especially from north to south.
READ MORE: Discover how we find and use Sostas, Aires and overnight parking places when motorhoming in Europe
Below Rome, sostas and service points are much rarer, although free camping is also easier in many places. Camperonline.it is a good place to look if Park4Night isn't being helpful.
Normally, there is a one or two day stop restriction- they're designed for you to see an area, and then move on- not stay for a week in one place.
We don't recommend you use the aires on the motorways- they are notorious for being unsafe.
It’s always worth investing in a book of aires, as well as an online app- just in case you find yourself without internet in your motorhome (or without a wifi signal). Of course, the downside with any book is that it goes out of date, but don't worry if it's only a year or two out- most information about aires won't change too much
Here are some we recommend:
Wild camping in Italy for motorhomes and campers
Can you wild camp in Italy with a motorised vehicle?
Wild camping in Italy is technically prohibited, although each region in Italy has their own regulations. It may be possible to get permission from the local governor if you ask at the town hall.
However, with a little common sense and staying within the restrictions, it's often possible to stay off-grid with your motorhome or campervan.
- Don't try and wild camp on the coast unless you're somewhere REALLY remote (more likely to be allowed in the South)
- Having said that, wild camping in the National Parks (like the Dolomites) is strictly controlled, although we did manage it at Val di Funes.
- Don't try and wild camp in busy/ popular areas- like the Italian Lakes- unless you're visiting in the lowest of low season
- Get the permission of the landowner if possible
- Don't stay within 1km of a built-up area, or within 100m of historic buildings
- Don't park within 50m of national routes or within 150m of where drinking water is extracted
TOP TIP: You can use Park4night or camper contact to find places. Learn how to wild camp with a motorhome here
We've heard of some people who have been approached and asked to pay a protection fee- to ensure their motorhome/ camper is ‘left alone and undisturbed' whilst wild camping. This seems to happen mostly when motorhome touring in southern Italy and in Sicily. I strongly suggest you pay this or move on- saying no is never going to end well!
Want to stay off-grid with your motorhome?
Grab our FREE wild camping checklist and make it easy for yourself. Everything you need to do, bring or remember when you stay off-grid.
Other approved overnight motorhome parking schemes in Italy
If you'd like to avoid campsites and sostas, but don't want to risk staying off-grid, there are two schemes which offer places to stay with a motorhome or campervan.
The first is AgriCamper Italia, which has wonderful hosts all over the country, including farms, vineyards and artisans. Membership costs 29€ for the year.
The second option is In Camper con Gusto, which does the same thing but focusses on the provinces of Piacenza, Parma and Reggio Emilia. Membership costs 35€/ year.
Motorhome and campervan service points in Italy
If you're used to touring in France and Germany, you might be surprised at the poor state of some of the motorhome service stations in Italy, especially in the south of the country.
Often, there is either no black waste emptying point- or it's blocked. The drains are in ridiculous places where it's impossible to get over- having a bucket or pipe will be useful.
Driving tips for Italy
The Italians are known for being… exuberant with their driving. I am in no way going to comment, but I will say that we have been very grateful for our motorhome wing-mirror protectors every time we visit!
The scariest thing about the Italian driving style is that they generally seem to overtake, on a blind bend and just hope that nothing is coming the other way. So our advice is to take it slowly, expect the unexpected, and be prepared to slam on the brakes at any moment.
We routinely just let people overtake, especially if we're towing a trailer with our motorhome– it's easier than worrying about which blind corner they'll try to kill themselves on next! They seem to have very little concept of how long it takes for a large vehicle like a motorhome to slow to a stop, so try to leave a lot of braking room.
Speed limits in Italy
Speed Limits are as follows (unless otherwise signed!)
- 130 km/h (80 mph) on motorways
- 110km/hr (30mph) on major roads
- 90 km/h (50 mph) on minor roads (out of town)
- 50 km/h (31 mph) in built-up areas
In rain or snow conditions, the limit is lowered to 110 k/h on motorways and 90 k/h on trunk roads- this WILL NOT be signposted- you're expected to know it
Motorhomes with trailers or caravans:
- motorways 80 km/h (50 mph)
- major out-of-town roads 70 km/h (44 mph)
- minor out-of-town roads 70 km/h (44 mph)
- built-up areas- 50 km/h (31 mph)
Motorhomes and Campervans weighing over 3.5 tonnes and under 12 tonnes:
- motorways 100 km/h (62 mph)
- major out-of-town roads 80 km/h (50 mph)
- minor out-of-town roads 80 km/h (50 mph)
- urban areas- 50 km/h (31 mph)
Italians love their horns. They'll beep to say hi to each other, they'll beep to tell each other off, they'll beep to let you know they're barrelling around a blind corner on your side of the road…! They also like to flash their headlights at you when they're on YOUR side of the road- as if you hadn't seen them!
Parking in towns and cities
Parking in most built-up areas is tough. You'll see cars, buses and lorries parked in the most ridiculous places, often blocking the road entirely whilst they unload or conduct their business.
If you are parking, white lines seem to denote free parking places, blue lines mean you need to pay (usually at a meter nearby).
I strongly recommend you don't take your motorhome into a city, but even a town you might struggle finding somewhere to park. We often found an aire or campsite near a train line and used that to visit- like we did at Cinque Terre.
Dogs are allowed on public transport- more on that later.
Most roads in the north of Italy are of decent quality- similar to France or the UK. There is a noticeable difference between the roads in the north and south- they get steadily worse as you go down.
There are usually roadworks on the major motorways and often crash barriers and safety features are missing, so drive carefully.
Fuel Stations in Italy
First thing to know- Buy fuel anywhere apart from on the main roads- it'll be cheaper. Fuel prices are comparable to France. and slightly cheaper than the UK.
Secondly, there is a ‘two-tier' payment system in Italy. A cheaper option if you fill yourself, and a more expensive rate if you get a forecourt attendant to do it for you. BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU PULL UP- they get very upset if you park at an attended service fuel pump and then don't want it. There's often a symbol of a man with a pump, but ‘con servicio' or servizio for service and ‘self' for self-service.
Many stations close overnight and on Sundays. Chiuso means closed in Italian and Aperto means open.
Low Emission Zones and ZTL's in Italy
Many major cities and towns are trying to reduce pollution levels by restricting vehicles into the centre. This is a ‘Zone Traffico Limitato’ or ZTL. Most ZTLs are for residents only, so if you drive your motorhome into a ZTL you will receive a fine through the post. Also, NO rented vehicles are allowed in a ZTL at any time.
Low Emission Zones are becoming more common throughout Europe. If you do decide to drive your camper or motorhome into a city with no ZTL, check if there is an LEZ or congestion charge to pay. Alternatively, park outside the city and use public transport to access the centre.
Planning to take your motorhome to Europe?
Some quick tips for driving in Italy:
- Italy drives on the right, like much of Europe
- Motorways are GREEN, dual carriageways are blue (opposite to the UK and much of Europe)
- The maximum speed for private vehicles under 3.5t is 130kph (81mph) on motorways but speed limits are lower for cars towing caravans and for motorhomes over 3.5t in weight.
- When on two-lane motorways, dipped headlights must be used.
- If driving through towns and villages, only use the horn in an emergency.
- Buses and trams have right of way.
- Seatbelts are compulsory
- In-car speed camera detectors and motorhome sat-nav systems warning of the presence of radars are illegal (whether they're in use or not!)
- Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal, but you can use a hands-free unit.
- Minor traffic offences can result in on-the-spot fines.
- UK driving licences are perfectly acceptable to use and you probably won't need an IDP (find out the changes made to driving in Europe after BREXIT)
- You will need a green card to prove you have motorhome insurance cover when travelling in Italy.
Tolls in Italy
Italy doesn't have a vignette- it has tolls (pedaggio). You collect a ticket at the machine as you enter the road system and pay (either a person or machine) at the end in cash or on a card. Tolls are generally more expensive than Spain but cheaper than in France.
You can use a tollpass/ telepass (like e-Movis) or you can pay-as-you-go by cash or card (we always recommend carrying some cash- just in case!) Signs indicate the means of payment accepted on each lane.
Most motorhomes are calculated for class B, regardless of the number of axles. You can calculate the toll cost of your intended route here
Petrol and diesel for propulsion are found at fuel stations all over Italy.
Petrol (Unleaded) is Benzina senza piombo/ “Benzina verde”.
It's also called Normale (95) or Speciale (98) and will be green handles at the pump.
Diesel is Gasolio / Diesel and will be black or yellow at the pump.
Prices in Italy are usually slightly higher than France or Germany- about equivalent to the UK.
Getting LPG in Italy
LPG (GPL) can be found at selected petrol stations and at autogas stations. If buying from a petrol station, you may need to wait for an attendant to turn the system on for you.
Some people have apparently had trouble filling their refillable motorhome gas bottles. This is down to alternate tax rates for gas used for domestic heating and cooking, and the garages are concerned about the paperwork. Apparently, things are worse if you have an interior fill point, which we do, but we've not had any troubles.
READ MORE: Learn how we find LPG in Europe for our motorhome
Red/ White striped warning reflective boards in Italy
If your motorhome has anything overhanging on the rear, (like bicycles or a tow bar box) you need to have a reflective plate fitted, warning other drivers of the danger. If you only have a bicycle rack but no bicycles, you don't need a board- as long as the rack is permanently fitted. A non-permanent bike rack needs a board at all times.
These boards are diagonal red and white striped, reflective, and measure 50 x 50cm. In Italy, they MUST have a metal backing (not plastic).
The stripes must point into the centre of the road, like this:
Driving in Italy- what to do in the event of a road traffic accident
You should have a European Claim Form provided by your insurer before you leave. In the event of an accident, all parties complete and sign the form at the scene and then send a copy to your insurer for assessment.
What to do at the scene:
- Stop your vehicle immediately but safely- out of the flow of traffic if possible.
- If a vehicle is blocking the road, use hazard lights and put the red warning triangle 30 metres from the scene to warn approaching traffic
- Exchange your details with the other involved parties. Be sure to get:
- Name and address of all the people involved in the accident
- Vehicle registration numbers of all parties
- Insurance company details of all parties
- Take photos of damage using a camera, GoPro or phone
For more details, read our step-by-step guide on dealing with a road traffic accident in Europe
Other essential things to carry while campervanning in Italy
In Italy, as with all countries in Europe, there are certain things you MUST carry with you in your motorhome or campervan, such as a reflective vest (one per person) and a warning triangle.
Italy asks for less kit than France, but don't forget, if you are driving down through France, you need all the kit for there as well.
If you are motorcycling in Italy, crash helmets are compulsory.
If you are travelling between 15 October and 15 April, you will need to have winter tyres and/ or snow chains fitted as conditions dictate.
Make sure you carry the following documents:
- Passport/ approved ID card
- Valid Drivers licence (yes, your UK driving licence is allowed to be used)
- Proof of Vehicle insurance (green card)
- Vehicle registration document (original)
Motorhoming in Italy- Itinerary ideas and places to visit
Obviously, it's impossible for us to know how long you have, where you're arriving from and the sorts of things you want to do during your campervanning tour of Italy.
So here are a couple of itinerary suggestions for you, which will give you starting point to build on. Don't forget to grab our FREE road trip planner, which will help you create a route and itinerary based on what YOU want to see.
Suggested Driving itinerary for Northern Italy
If you like national parks and incredible scenery, this is for you. You can squeeze it into a week, or add in some extra bits if you have longer.
Gran Paradiso National Park
Start your trip at Gran Paradiso National Park. You could easily spend a few days here. If you have time, pop down to Cinque Terre– we stayed at a nearby campsite called Camping Valdeiva, which was lovely and open out-of-season (we visited in February)
Then (as long as it's not high season) head to the Italian Lakes. They're all pretty, but our favourites are Maggiore and Garda. If you have another vehicle with you (like a motorbike or car, or a pushbike if you're REALLY fit), don't miss the Gorge road near Garda– it's spectacular. Sirmione is also well worth a visit.
Also, if you like heights, there's a zipwire near Lake Maggiore which has been on my bucket list for a while!
Motorhome campsite/ sostas at Lake Garda
We parked our motorhome at Densenzano del Garda, a sosta which costs 17.50€/ night (not including electric). It was nice enough, but there are a couple of nicer campsites around. You might wish to get one with a pool, as there are strong rumours that swimming in the Italian lakes is bad for your health!
Some of the other popular motorhome campsites at Lake Garda include:
- Camping Il Faro- complete with 25m swimming pool. Can be blissfully quiet out of season
- Camping Baia Verde- very popular and often very noisy!
- Camping Cappuccini- with incredible lake views if you're lucky
From here, you have a choice North, East or South.
Verona and Venice (east)
Verona is famous for the Romeo and Juliet balcony and the old town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Venice is one of the most famous cities in the world and well worth a couple of days of your itinerary. Avoid in high summer- it's just too crowded to see anything. If you're exploring Europe in February, don't miss the Venice Carnival – it will be crazy busy but spectacular!
Best Motorhome campsite near Venice
Camping Fusina is the only camp site in the region that overlooks the Venetian Lagoon and gives a view of Venice from its eastern edge. There is a passenger ferry which will take you across the water to Venice and back.
Address – Via Moranzini, 93, 30176, Venezia
GPS co-ordinates of campground: 45˚ 25’ 9” N, 12˚ 15’ 21” E
Florence and Rome (south)
Florence– I love this city. There are so many incredible things to do here. Stay at Camping Firenze, which is easy walking distance to the city, but avoids the ZTL No-Driving Zone.
Rome– It's rare we return to a place twice, but we have with Rome. Stay at Village Flaminio- 11km north of the city centre. It's a great campground for campervan and motorhome owners who want to leave their vehicle somewhere secure while they visit the city.
You can find more details of all the best motorhome campsites in Northern Italy here
Of course, if you have the time, extend your motorhome trip in Italy further south and enjoy incredible places like the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Herculaneum, Sicily and Matera
Campervanning in Italy- security
We highly recommend paying extra attention to your motorhome security when travelling in Italy. You might even wish to fit an extra camper habitation door lock and never leave your vehicle unattended in an unsecure area.
More useful things to know when campervanning in Italy
Emergency Numbers: 112 will get you everything
Fire Brigade 115
Language– Italian. English usually spoken in campsites and in tourist areas, but not often elsewhere
Cards– most major credit and debit cards are accepted. American Express is only taken in large stores (not at tolls and often not at fuel stations)
Timezone– GMT+1 (or one hour ahead in BST)
Tipping– Service is usually included in a restaurant, but do check. It's common to tip other services, like taxi drivers
Shops– Many shops close on Sundays. Bigger supermarkets may be open, but will close at lunchtime. If bakeries open on Sundays, they are often closed on Mondays instead. Many shops and businesses also shut for a long lunch (between 12-2pm) and some will not open on Wednesday afternoons.
Doing Laundry in Italy while touring
We struggled to get our motorhome anywhere near a laundrette (which are often in the centre of towns and cities). We ended up putting it on the back of our motorbikes, or specifically choosing a campsite with laundry facilities.
Touring Italy with a dog
Italy is pretty dog-friendly and they are widely accepted on public transport. Take a muzzle and their pet paperwork, such as the AHC- although we've never been asked to show this.
We also found dogs were allowed on the beaches except in high season, which makes sense and they're often allowed in restaurants if they're well-behaved and on a short lead.