Lombardy, Lake Iseo

Camping Covelo    October 2012

This small campsite is right on the lakeside. It's long and narrow, no more than 4 pitches deep, and as the back row is all permanent caravans, all tourers have a lake view. The pitches are level, grassy, and medium-sized, numbered but with no hedges or other dividing features. This means that outside of high season you can spread out a bit.

There are three sanitary blocks - men's loos and washbasins, womens ditto, and another unisex block with showers and disabled facilities. The water is very hot, everything is kept very clean, loos have seats, central paper dispenser, washbasins have soap and hand dryers. There are also some outdoor cold showers for those who swim in the lake. There is one washing machine and one tumble dryer.

The bar and restaurant have a lakeside terrace and serve basic Italian food at reasonable prices. Wifi throughout is free. There's a tiny mini-market, which has a variety of fresh bread and rolls daily. The town of Iseo is an easy walk of 1 km and has shops, supermarket, restaurants and ferries to various points around the lake.

Staff are friendly and most speak English. In high season there are children's activities, and cycle hire is free at all times. The site has facilities for launching and mooring your own boat, canoe etc, and although there is no beach there are steps down into the lake for swimming (it's quite shallow near the shore. ) A railway line runs behind the campsite but the trains are small, local and infrequent, so not a problem.

The views of the lake are lovely and we enjoyed feeding the ducks and swans, and watching the sunset from our pitch. In October when we stayed it was very relaxing and peaceful, and still warm enough to swim. There isn't a huge amount to do in the area but if you like a more laid-back atmosphere, Lake Iseo makes a very pleasant alternative to the bustle of Lake Garda.

Lombardy, Manerba del Garda

Camping Baia Verde    May 2012

This is a medium-sized site with level, grassy pitches of a good size. As it’s only been open 3 years the trees are still growing but are already providing shade where needed. There are bungalows and a few ready-erected tents around the perimeter, but none of those rather ramshackle permanent caravans often found on Italian sites.

It’s not directly on the lake, but only a short walk away from a pleasant beach with a few sunbeds and pedaloes, a small marina and a handful of cafes and restaurants. This is ideal if you want a low-key, relaxing holiday away from the rather frenetic campsites and amusement parks on the other side of the lake.

The central facilities block has excellent sanitary facilities on the ground floor, a large communal room with flat screen TV on the first floor, and a roof-top sunbathing terrace with fabulous views and a heated whirlpool bath.

There is a lovely swimming pool and toddlers’ pool, and as other reviewers have said the lifeguard is always in attendance. Like all the staff, he was friendly and helpful. There are some organised activities in high season, and a football/volleyball pitch.

The shop is a reasonable size, and there are supermarkets within 5-10 minutes’ drive. The restaurant is good and reasonably-priced, and does pizzas to take away or eat in.

Baia Verde may not suit families with teenagers who want a lot of activities and entertainment but it’s perfect for couples of all ages, those with small children, and anyone wanting a peaceful stay in beautiful surroundings.

Trentino, Lago di Caldonazzo

Camping Al Pescatore    May 2011

 Lake Caldonazzo is 15 km from Trento, north-east of Lake Garda. It's a lot smaller than Garda but

Very scenic, being surrounded with mountains. There are a handful of small towns around the lake but most of the campsites (about half a dozen) are situated in Calceranica.

Al Pescatore is a large site with plenty of facilities in high season - swimming pool, restaurant, mini-market, entertainment - but in May, when we visited, only the restaurant was open. It was excellent and obviously very popular with the general public, who also have access to it.

The site is level and grassy, with good-sized pitches, varying from 70 - 100 sq. Metres. There are three toilet blocks, clean and modern but, as often in Italy, no loo paper, soap or hand-driers, but there were hairdriers. The showers were push-button but you could control the temperature. Washing-up and laundry facilities were good.

The lake is only 30 metres from the site and has a pebble beach which shelves gently so is suitable for children. There are also grassy sunbathing areas along the edge of the lake, and the usual watersports are available.

The small town of Calceranica is only a few minutes' walk and has some basic shops, but there is a large Coop supermarket in the town of Caldonazzo, just a couple of kilometres away.

As often happens in Italy and Spain, the campsite tends to fill up with locals at weekends and can get quite lively!

Lake Caldonazzo is a less commercialised, less crowded alternative to Lake Garda. It's very popular with Dutch campers but seems relatively undiscovered by the British.

Piedmont, Garbagna

Camping E Maieu    June 2011

We used this small site as a stopover on our way from Umbria to the Mont Cenis pass. It's in the foothills of the Ligurian Apennines, between Genoa and Turin. The approach road was quite narrow and twisting, and to get into the site itself there was an extremely sharp right turn, which the ACSI book didn't mention!

The friendly and laid-back Dutch owner showed us to a pitch, down a very narrow, overgrown track. The pitch was very long and narrow and rather overhung by trees, but was a lot larger than the other pitches we passed on the way in, and was completely private.

The toilet block was recently refurbished and quite smart. The toilet cubicles each had their own wash basin, and were provided with seats and paper, but the shower cubicles, while being very large, had nowhere to put clothes, towels etc other than one hook on the back of the door.

As it was raining and we were only stopping overnight we didn't explore the site, which is terraced and has a swimming pool of the above-ground type. The surrounding countryside is scenic and there are plenty of walks in the vicinity, but because of the awkward access and generally overgrown nature of the pitches I think it would be more suited to tents and small motorhomes than caravans, and couples rather than families

Emilia-Romagna, Bellaria

Happy Camping     November 2008

We stayed here in November, en route from Greece to Spain, so didn't see it at its best - the weather was grey and cold, the beach was bleak, all the hotels and restaurants were closed! However don't be put off by this, as it was a pleasant, well-kept site and we could see that there would be lots of facilities open in high season, such as a restaurant, supermarket, swimming pool and organised entertainment.

The site is on level, sandy ground, with a lot of statics and bungalows, but also a large area for tourers with good-sized pitches.
The toilet blocks were excellent, very clean, and well-heated in winter. The laundry and dishwashing facilities were also good. Free wifi covers part of the site. The staff were very helpful, and security was good.

The site has its own section of beach accessed by a private gate opened by a wristband which is issued to campers. Obviously we couldn't enjoy the delights of the seaside in November, but there were plenty of interesting places to visit within easy reach, such as San Marino, Ravenna and Rimini. There is a huge, modern shopping complex nearby with a supermarket and wide range of shops. There's also an aquapark.

All in all it looked like a good place for a family holiday.

Veneto, Punta Sabbione

Camping Miramare    September 2012

This is an excellent base for visiting Venice. I'm not sure that it would be ideal as a summer holiday destination, as the campsite is not on a beach and has no swimming pool or entertainment, but we stayed in low season with the aim of doing some sightseeing and as such found it excellent.

It's a ten-minute walk to the ferry terminal for boats to Venice, but there is a frequent and free minibus service to and from the terminal from the campsite, even in low season. You can buy ferry tickets in advance at reception, which saves you having to queue at the terminal. Reception staff speak good English and are very helpful.

The pitches are are a generous size - plenty of room for a caravan, awning and car - and are level and sandy, with trees for shade. In low season only one shower block was open but it was clean, smart and had controllable showers with plenty of hot water. There are plenty of washing-up and laundry sinks, washing machines and a dryer. The supermarket is well-stocked, and there is wifi throughout for a flat fee of 5 euros, no matter how long you stay.

The site was very well-kept with lots of flowers, despite the late season. This makes up for the fact that there isn't much of a view of the Lido, as it's more or less a dock area immediately outside the campsite.

All in all, a pleasant, well-run site, very convenient for Venice

Veneto, Sottomarina

Camping Miramare    May 2011

 This site is at the southern end of the Venice lagoon, not to be confused with the previous site also called Miramare, at Punta Sabbione, at the northern end.

It's a fairly large site stretching back a long way from its own private beach, which has sunbeds and umbrellas. As well as plenty of pitches for tourers there are some permanent pitches, bungalows and caravans for rent. The ground is level and sandy, with plenty of small trees. Pitches are not all that big - 60 to 80 square metres - but in May, when we stayed, the site was only half-full so it was possible to take up a bit of extra room. It's a family-run site and the staff were friendly and spoke English. Wifi is available for a small charge.

Despite the fact it wasn't high season, most of the facilities were up and running, which is quite unusual but very welcome. There is a lovely swimming pool with a good-sized children's pool, a small supermarket, a bar and large restaurant with lots of choice. In high season there is a programme of entertainment and children's activities.

There are three large sanitary blocks of a good standard. Some of the toilets are the 'squatting' type but there are plenty of normal ones, with magic seats which raise automatically after you've finished, and spray a 'sanitising vapour'! However there's no paper. There are special baby and child washing facilities as well. Plenty of washing-up sinks, though the water wasn't very hot,and the cold taps had red dots and the hot taps had blue dots! The 4-euro charge for a washing-machine token included a generous bag of soap powder.

The nearby town of Chioggia is a busy fishing port known as 'Little Venice', and like its namesake it has canals, bridges and interesting old buildings. The main, pedestrianised street is lined with bars and restaurants. From Chioggia there is a ferry to Venice, although we didn't use it, as on this occasion we wanted to visit Padova which is about an hour's drive away.

Although we normally prefer to stay on smaller sites, we enjoyed our stay here very much. At 15 euros with an ACSI card it was very good value, given the facilities. In high season it would be probably be a slightly quieter alternative to the very large, popular sites nearer to Venice