Roadtrip from The Netherlands to Italy 2023

First stop Heidelberg

Packed and ready to go!
First day was a 530 kms journey to Heidelberg, normally 5.5 hours but extended due to the seemingly never ending roadworks plus a truck jack-knifing into the the central zone of the A3 near Frankfurt.
Heidelberg is an excellent stopover, worthy of some time, be it hiking (to taking the train) up to the Schloss which itself is worth visiting, if only for the views down the valley. The town is situated on the Necker river, a tributary of the Rhine, has some delightful old buildings, plenty of restaurants, and possibly due to being a university town, has abundant young people giving place to a vibrant ambience. Take a walk over the old bridge where people just seem to hang out, and buskers were playing some nice tunes.
We stayed at Camping Heidelberg which is a 10 minute bus ride direct from the camping into town (tip: family ticket €10.50 for all day use). The camping is slung over the river, so all sites have view on the water, and is very idyllic. Less idyllic is the traffic on both sides which will wake up the light sleepers from 06:00, but probably worth it for the location. Can order fresh bread and croissants etc from the reception for the following morning. Reasonably priced too and friendly staff.

Lago di Como

From Heidelberg we headed to Lake Como, unfortunately with a lot of other people being;
a) a holiday weekend end of May,
b) the first really good weather of the summer,
c) this is a really key route to many parts of Italy.
As a result a 5.5 hour trip became many more. After paying the 40 SFR vignette, you expect some efficiency, but sadly not.

Once at Como we headed for the Sosta a special camper area – but with only 10 places (Area Sosta Camper Tavernola – Via Brennero, 7, 22100 Como CO) . The rest is a daytime parking that is free after 19:00 to 08:00 and is subsequently swamped by everyone that could not get the 10 places inside the fence that you pay for. You can’t book, so first come, first serve.
Security is fine with some 30 campers in the parking, absolutely packed in (see photo). Well worth a visit is the lakeside town of Cernobbio which has numerous fine restaurants, a delightful lakeside promenade, and lots of typical winding streets with shops, bars, etc. It takes about 20 minutes walk to the main area, but well worth the effort.



We discovered this town last year and wanted to come and stay. Nice area, along out over some cliffs overlooking the see, it is described as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, which might be pushing it a bit, but is worth a visit. Plenty of restaurants, old walls, nice views.

We stayed at Internazionale 4 star camping. Very nicely laid out, and spectacular views but negatives include paying for Wifi, no toilet paper, stoney beach, and quite pricey. We reseved a table at the campsite restaurant as there’s a nice terrace overlooking the sea. But left before ordering as the evening animation for the children was quite loud and annoying. It overpowered the nice jazz musique at the restaurant. Instead we walked into the village and had a meal. A very nice atmosphere of a typical Italian town, lifely and very enjoyable.
From the campsite it’s a 10 minute steap walk directly into town. You can also reach the beach from the campsite, again quite steap with steps, but not too bad.

We then hit the road to Numana, the other side of Sirolo, also nice town, more shops, beaches, long walk down. Then moved on an hour up the road to a place called San Giorgio – here the scenery went very flat after the rugged coastline combined with the hills and rolling countryside of la Marche. However, the beaches turned from stones and shingle to white sand and deep water to shallow. Beach restaurants all the way along this strip with a rail line hammering behind the resort – need to watch for in and out as some bridges are 1M90 or even 1M75, so best go for the 3M20!


Then we drove to the Gargano to see Antonietta’s father. After trying a couple of campsites at San Menaio near Vico del Gargano, both of which were in various states of not being properly open, we ended up back at the Sosta at Calenella, which was very quiet (30 May), compared to last time. A new sanitary block had been built, quite efficient, very good shower (€2 though), but not sure how they will cope with 40 campers in when it gets busy (a shower, not plural). Beach bar to open 3 June, but the other end of the beach a rather somwhat cosy restaurant on a (very scruffy) camping was open where you could get croissants, coffees and cocktails – all very cheap. Nice 10 minute walk along the beach to get there. Beautiful weather, only 22C but felt a lot hotter.

We then took off to Peschici for an evening on another camping, Bellariva, which has a Sosta on the beach. Peschici is a sparkling white town on a hill overlooking the sea. Dating back to medieval times and a nice museum to commemorate torture….the narrow winding streets and abundant activity make this quite a special resort. The town itself is a hike uphill from the beach (and down again later) but well worth a visit.

Afterwards we were back at the Sosta in Calenella again for some wine and cheese on the beach watching the sun go down.


Leaving the Gargano we took the 5 hour trip to Civitavecchia for the ferry to Olbia in Sardinia. We booked with Grimaldi Lines, and then saw the Trip advisor reviews where 80% described it as terrible! Grim Old Lines, avoid at all costs, a disgrace to Italian food, etc. Firstly, Civitavecchia is a dirty crappy old town. There are hardly any signes to the port and for the ferries. There was a helpful cafeteria outside and a gastro restaurant which was closed. We were early, and after driving through town concluded we would rather take our chances on the ferry.

Clearly the bulk of the people who reviewed Grimaldi on Trip Advisor were expecting something far more elaborate. However, after going on most cross channel routes, other European, and Canadian BC routes, this really isn’t that bad. Food could have been warmer but was edible and not too expensive. Service wasn’t rapid, but also difficult with a ferry crammed with impatient Italians. A lot of the furniture was new, the cabins were clean enough, and although a bit chaotic, everything more or less worked. Signs were in Greek and English (looks like they bought it from there), left on time, arrived on time. What do people expect?

Finding a camping in Sardinia is not that obvious. There are quite a number of campeggio villages, but we really don’t like all the animation nor need the activities and do not like the price of €60+ even in low season. Eventually we found the Tavolara some 20 minutes south of Olbia. Quite pleasant, well run, excellent sanitaire (except no toilet paper), 10 minute walk to a great beach and bay with top restaurants and excellent beach bar at the far end with bathing pools. Stunningly clear water. The camping has a good restaurant, shop and nice places for those staying longer, the overnight campers are in a field, pleasant enough. Reasonable price for camping (€33 with electricity) compared to many Campeggio Villages with prices in the €60+.

Leaving Sardinia, we took the night sailing, again with Grim Old Lines (Grimaldi). The port is easy to find in Olbia, well signposted. However, there are no signs for either Livorno or Civitavecchia, or anywhere in fact, nor for Grimaldi or other lines. However, once you drive past “Imbarco” (written on the asphalt) you come to a service point where they channel you into a lane where you will see the various shipping line boats, all quite huge, all seemingly old Greek cruise ships.

This time our ship was slightly more modernised with signs in Italian and English, and not Greek. The loading was bizarre, having to do a U turn to get in line. All the campers were crammed into a small space which then recorded 37C temperatures. Finding a way out and to the cabins was interesting to say the least, and again finding the campers again in the morning. The food looked a bit better in the canteens. We arrived on time in Livorno and left in a storm, but sightseeing would not be top of the list there anyway.

Going back home

Leaving the Grimaldi ferry at 08:00 under leaden skies which soon tend into a classic Italian summer storm. We had to make the return journey in 2 days due to an imminent business trip to UK. This was the first time we had to make such a pressure trip, usually preferring to stagger the journey into a serious vacation. But this was ending, and we had little time.

As a camper, it could gobble up highway kilometres, and we stopped every 2-3 hours, aiming to make 800 kilometres that day – we made 767, which wasn’t bad, on a very warm day, arriving in Strasbourg area early evening. Hunting internet for a camping in the area, we first came across a large one in Strasbourg that was full in early June! However, a quick call took us to Camping (and gites) à la ferme Michel, somewhat in the middle of nowhere, a village Isserhausen, but only 10 minutes to the Autoroute.

Great campsite, lots of space and quiet, but with electricity, good sanitaire in the farm buildings (no toilet paper, common theme), and so quiet the main noise was from the birds, morning and evening. Horses in the field nearby also very nice. No bugs, very friendly, and €19.75 including electricity (bring cash). No lights, head torch recommended. We went for an evening walk and saw a stork nest in the small village. 

After an outstanding night’s sleep, we made our way in the morning to the next village of Ringendorf which had a boulangerie selling extraordinarily good croissants, bread and cakes, at very reasonable prices. Finally, we were on our way, back into Saarbrucken Germany, Liege and Belgium, and into The Netherlands via Eindhoven. Back home in the middle of the afternoon.