By April Drew
I’m just back from 10 blissful days in Italy. Our family, along with three other families, choose Bella Italia as our destination campsite for our 2022 holidays. The lovely Michelle in Breakaway travel agents in Dublin (who I have worked with for the last 3 years) did all the booking for us.
We booked last year so we only had to pay a €99 deposit and got an early booking discount so it all helped. (months later I was asked to work on this trip for Breakaway to showcase the site so my mobile ended up being complimentary- the joys of my lovely career).
Situated directly on Lake Garda, we knew we were in for a treat. Although the campsite was extremely busy- mad dashes to get a sunbed at 9 am- what the campsite lacked, the area made up for.
Now, I’m being slightly unfair here, because the campsite lacked very little but some things could be done slightly better. Like what, I hear you ask! I guess the kid’s clubs and entertainment could have been better quality, they could definitely do with another pool complex to deal with the number of campers on site and they could have more staff in peak season to deal with check-ins (some people were queueing 90 minutes in 35-degree heat at reception (to be fair they had a tent set up outside to provide some kind of shade).
But, overall I would give the campsite an 8/10. As the days progressed, and we ventured outside the gates we fell in love with the lake (which the kids swam in and partook in water sports a number of days on the trip.)
Lake Garda is right there in front of the back gate and it’s breath-taking. 15 minutes down to the right was the stunning town of Peschiera del Garda, one of the prettiest towns I’ve ever been in. And, from the campsite, you can easily access cities like Verona (14 min on a train from Peschiera) and Venice (one hour). You can also get a boat to many stunning towns around the lake (we recommend Sirmione) and visit the several theme parks and waterparks 15 minutes away (Garda Land and Movieland). You will NEVER be bored. It’s an active, busy campsite with so so much to do in the areas. We will certainly be back to visit again.
Below, I’ve compiled 20 tips to keep in mind when going to Bella Italia.
Please note we were guests of Eurocamp and booked via Breakaway.ie on this trip. We stayed in the Azure Plus mobile (their biggest) and we were located on the Barcelona section. It’s was very beautiful.
NOTE- All these tips are based on our experience during our 10 days in June 2023 (June 3-13th). Things might be different off-peak or in July/August.
Queue for Pool
If you want to be guaranteed a sun bed or two by the pool you need to be up early and join the queue of people at the gates of the pools. There are a few so suss them out first. Bring your beach towels to secure your seats, and to be fair to others waiting, make sure to avail of the beds and pool early in the morning.
We only did this one or two times (mainly because there was 21 of us) and found ourselves meeting up at the pool in the late afternoon times when there were beds available and it was slightly quieter. We often “borrowed” some seats from the entertainment area also which is right beside the pool to have somewhere to base ourselves if no sun beds were available.
Swim caps required
Swim caps are required in one of the pools. It’s the big one that people tend to swim lanes in. We never used it so didn’t need the caps but if you guys are serious swimmers, swim caps will be required to use this pool.
Shop opening times
Bring snacks if you arrive late in the evening. In June the shop was opened 7.30am to 7.30pm. If you arrive late in the evening you won’t have access to the shop but the take away restaurants are open late so you’ll get fed at least. We had trouble sourcing milk for Riley (our 1 year old) but I was able to get some at the restaurant so all was fine.
Water shoes for the lake
You can’t go to Bella Italia and not swim in the lake (or at least dip your feet in). But, warning, its rocky so not the nicest feeling on your feet. We bought swim shoes for the kids in Sport’s Direct before leaving Ireland (but you can get the on-site if needs be) so when they entered the lake the stones didn’t bother them. They really are a must. The lake is absolutely stunning and you’ll find yourself drawn to it more and more each day.
Hot water is HOT
The hot water in the mobiles (or at least in ours) was turned up super high so it was roasting in the shower. It took a few tries to get the temp right without scalding myself. You can turn it down at the mains inside the mobile so I’d advise to do that slightly before you hop into the shower or use the hot tap in the sink.
Join the Facebook Group
Join the Bella Italia Camping Resort group on Facebook to give you all the tips before you go. It’s ideal if people are leaving as they will pop up stuff they have left over like floaties, balls etc. So don’t buy anything, keep an eye on the group for stuff to be passed on. It’s also a great place for people to answer your questions about the campsite.
Most places onsite don’t take cards unless the spend is over €10 so when the kids want copious amounts of ice cream and it only comes to €6.70 you’ll need to pay cash. (things are a good price onsite, you never feel ripped off). There is a bank link right opposite the supermarket if you get stuck.
Bring wifi or buy it
Okay, so the mobile homes don’t have any wifi so you’ll fly through your data (if your phone even works, mine didn’t at all) but you can use the campsite’s wifi in three areas. Reception, down at the restaurants and the pool areas. You can also purchase wifi from an external company (ask reception) if needs be. My advice though is don’t. Enjoy the break away from the screens, read a book, play games and enjoy time together.
Avoid supermarket early
There was always a queue for the supermarket (mainly the bakery section) between 7.30 am and 9 am. You could be waiting approx. 20 minutes. If you don’t mind great if you do then go after 9 am. I did see some people skipping the queue and walking straight in because they didn’t need anything in the bakery so you could do that also.
Do a big shop in Lidl
There are 2 Lidl stores both about 1k away. Our friends had a car so we hopped in with them the morning after we arrived and did a big shop. If you don’t have a car organize a taxi. You CAN walk to one of them (go out the main entrance and turn right and Lidl is about 1.1km down the road BUT it’s hot so you’ll be limited on what you can carry back). I’ve heard people say you can get the bus there too so that might be an option but ask reception. To be fair they have everything onsite anyway but it’s handy to do a big shop at the beginning.
Invest in mossie spray
I say this but the mosquitos weren’t much of an issue in this part of Italy. I’m not sure why (we’ve been an hour away in Pra’ Dellle Torri campsite a few years ago and all got eaten alive). However, we got sprays in Lidl to keep the feckers away and we never got bitten.
Go to a theme park
You can’t go to Lake Garda and not visit a theme park (well you can) but we recommend you do. We chose Movieland (so much quieter and so affordable- €30 adult ticket and €25 child ticket. Kids under 100cm free.) It was absolutely fantastic. You can view the trip on my highlights on Instagram. It’s down the road from Garda Land (which my older kids and John went to the next day and they loved it also but preferred Movieland because there were no queues). We got a taxi there and back. Both times we were waiting over an hour for a taxi as they were so busy. Movieland (part of Caneva world) also has an epic theme park (our friends visited and gave it 10/10) and a night-time themed medieval times dinner that sounded fantastic. Also, from June 18th you can get an evening ticket for Garda Land (cheaper and fewer queues and open until 1am).
Bring a water bottle
Bring those stainless steel water bottles with you from home to keep your drinks nice and cold by the pool. A simple thing to pack but really handy for trips about the place.
Ice your water
Throw a ¾ full bottle of water into the freezer overnight and the next day bring it with you to the pool (top it up with water from the tap) and it will take hours to melt so you’ll have access to cold water all day.
Get the Bella Italia train into Peschiera del Garda
If you only leave the campsite once, then can we recommend you do so on the little Bella Italia train that goes every hour (didn’t go between 12-3 pm) into the town of Peschiera (15 min brisk walk) and you can get it home again. It was a lovely little journey and the kids really enjoyed the fun of it. It leaves from outside the supermarket. Times and costs will be displayed beside it.
Bring tea towels from home
Eurocamp provided one tea towel for the 10 days so try to grab some from home just to have on hand. These are handy for drying up the plates etc. We didn’t bother using the dishwasher, but there was one there. I couldn’t find any in Lidl to purchase.
Go off site to eat
Although the food in the restaurants on site was very good to be fair, we highly recommend getting dinner down by the lake in Peschiera or in Sirmione or if you turn left at the lakeside entrance gate you’ll find another lovely restaurant three minutes down the path.
Walk to Peschiera
I know I’ve just mentioned the train but it would be a shame not to walk into Peschiera one of the evenings. The walk-in by the lake is stunning. It’s about 15-20 minutes and the kids will enjoy it. Turn right as you go out the lakeside gate.
Visit the market
Peschiera has a wonderful market on a Monday. I got a lovely dress from one of the many clothing stalls but they have something for everyone. It’s a nice way to spend your morning or early afternoon.
While we were there masks were still required on public transport (although they weren’t enforced). So any buses or trains we took masks were a must. Kids didn’t have to wear them. It’s just handy to have a few in your bag. Taxis didn’t require them or any restaurants etc. Ryanair flying out to Italy required them and you were asked to have them boarding the flight from Italy to Ireland but the airline staff on board said they weren’t a requirement as we were flying back to Ireland.
You can view all my trip highlights over on our Instagram page- Getaways with Kids.