Free camping in Italy
There are lots of free camping sites in Italy. However, in recent years the authorities have prohibited free camping in certain areas (mainly important tourist areas), and there are signposts to indicate this. Often signs will indicate where the next available official rest area is, called a Aree di Sosta (see below).
Aree di Sosta are official Italian motorhome and camper van rest areas. They vary in the facilities provided, but most have an area to park, fresh water supply and a waster water drain. Some prohibit overnight parking, this is clearly signposted. Otherwise they are a great place to stop for the night. You are not allowed to stay for more than 24 hours.
There are also some larger dedicated motorhome rest areas. These do allow stays of longer than 24 hours, unless signposts indicate differently. Most dedicated motorhome areas are free of charge. There are some private areas with extended facilities that do charge. In areas with limited parking, such as Venice, motorhomes and camper vans have to pay just like the cars.
Aree di Sosta rest areas are common in the central Italian regions (Tuscany, Umbria, Emilia Romagna, Marche,etc.). There are also some Aree di Sostas at coastal zones, but these are really orientated for visiting villages. If you are looking to spend time at seaside resorts then campsites are a better option.
The South Tyrol region has tougher restrictions than most. This is due to the high levels of tourism and development in the region.
Italian motorhomers know the rules well, and are generally a good guide to follow. If you see several motorhomes parked together then it is generally safe to assume free camping is possible there, although it’s a good idea to check. At busy times Aree di Sostas are often full and the Italians will use the next available parking zone or lane. This rarely causes a problem. During peak times you’ll often see large numbers of Italian motorhomes parked in areas clearly signposted as ‘no motorhome parking’ areas. Join in!
At all Aree di Sosta areas it is prohibited to put any camping equipment outside of your vehicle. This includes chairs and tables.
Alternative parking areas
If you find a restaurant with a large parking area suitable for overnight stopping, you may find the owners are happy for you to park overnight, assuming you eat at the restaurant.
- www.turismoitinerante.com – Aree di Sosta information in Italian