Part 3 of our Summer Tour of The French Alps reaches Lac de Roseland
I have a confession to make! Despite hearing that Sosta motorhome parking in Italy existed, I didn’t really know much about the system. In fact, whenever I tried to find out any information, I always came to a bit of a blank.
For one reason or another, it actually took us several years to make it in the motorhome to Italy. Strangely enough, we didn’t even know anyone who’d toured there. Which meant only one thing – we’d have to go and find out for ourselves.
So, on our first big tour of Italy a couple of years ago, our learning curve began. Crossing the Swiss border before entering Lake Maggiore gave a first glimpse into the system of Sosta motorhome parking in Italy.
Most people with a motorhome who’ve travelled across France will know about the French Aire system. If you’ve never tried one out or really aren’t sure what they are, here’s a little insight.
Basically, a motorhome Aire in France is actually called an Aire de Camping Car. It’s not to be confused with either motorway Aires or wild camping because both are simply very different.
An official Aire de Camping Car or Aire for short, will usually be provided by the local town council. Most importantly, the length of time you can stay at an Aire will usually be determined by the Mayor, for example, it’s often 72 hours but could be more or less!
Every parking location will be different, many are scenic although some are most definitely not! Then, many will be huge with fifty or more spaces but others may only have a couple of places to park.
However, they all have one thing in common – the ultimate convenience of being a dedicated place to park the night for free or at a low cost. Not forgetting, the extra super bonus of not having to plan ahead to book a space!
On top of all that, there’s the handy dump area. Especially provided for filling up the fresh, emptying the loo and dumping the waste.
It will come as no surprise, that we’ve always been huge fans of the Aire system in France. So much so, that over the past 20 years, we’ve lost count of the amount of Aires we’ve stopped at. Above all, it’s just a super easy and an ultra convenient way of touring.
So, when it came to touring Italy, just how would we get on? One thing’s for sure, the Italian’s love their motorhome’s, so hopefully this would be a good sign.
Imagine then our delight when a familiar motorhome Aire sign appeared within a few minutes of entering Italy.
Low and behold, they had them here too! The blue background with an outline of a motorhome, directing us towards our first Sosta motorhome parking in Italy – Thank goodness!
Time went on and our travels through Italy progressed from region to region. Soon, we’d covered many towns and villages as well as some of the big name cities across Northern Italy.
As we set about discovering the Sosta motorhome parking in Italy, it soon proved to be every bit as good as the French Aire system.
Not only that, but the following year we returned for a few months to tour Central Italy, as far South as Rome. Thanks to the Sosta system being so good, it had tempted us back to explore more of this incredible country.
So, the more accurate name is an Aree di Sosta Camper. Simply put, it’s a dedicated area for overnight motorhome parking, found in numerous locations across Italy.
The important thing to remember is that this isn’t camping. So, there’s no guarantee of getting out the camping chairs or BBQ.
Known as a Sosta for short, they’re really nothing more than a parking space, having said that though, they can vary enormously.
What I mean, is that some Sosta’s are simply amazing whilst others may be just functional. So whilst some locations will have incredible views and plenty of space, other’s resemble no more than a tarmac parking space.
Now, as with most things, there’s not much left in the World that’s free, certainly a Sosta is no different so expect a small fee.
We soon found out that most Sosta’s have a parking machine to pay a ticketed charge for staying overnight. In this respect Sosta motorhome parking in Italy is very similar to the Stellplatz system in Germany.
I’d say that more often than not, most Sosta’s had a parking fee, averaging around 10 Euro per night. However, there are some free one’s to be had, usually in the less popular or small village locations, similar to Aires in France.
As with anywhere, if you head for the coast, there’s not only going to be a fee for parking, but this will usually be quite a bit more expensive, possibly even double. Then again, it may be a price worth paying for that perfect waterfront place, where timing your next dip is all you have to think about.
Just like Aires in France, nearly all Sosta motohome parking in Italy come with the convenience of a dump area.
Now if it’s not in sight straight away, the chances are it won’t be far away! A grid-type drain in the ground let’s you drive across to release the waste water – simple!
The one big difference in Italy, is that the drain in the ground is sometimes the toilet emptying point too.
In France, however, there will always be a separate emptying area for the loo, which never goes into the waste water drain that you drive over! Oh how careful you have to be!
Not a pretty sight as you can imagine! One last thing, always make sure where the toilet dump is actually positioned, incase it’s not the waste water drain. If in doubt, ask someone, don’t just pour and go – Yuk!
As with everything, location is key and no more so than a Sosta motorhome parking in Italy. Whether it be a big city such as Florence or a scenic mountain village in The Dolomites. The chances are, there will be a Sosta somewhere close to park the night.
Of course, some may be noisy, others may be dirty or just plain unappealing. However, most of the time these areas are superb, leaving you extremely grateful for the provision of a law-abiding overnight stop!
If you need electric, then this could be tricky! The key is to be off-grid and totally self-contained as well as self-sufficient.
The main appeal though is the convenience they offer. For example, from heading off on that scenic walk early in the morning to exploring the most elaborate city’s in Europe.
There’s also one big advantage compared to most campsites, because they are often within walking distance of the town. It’s all about location, location, location and that’s what counts.
Well, safety comes first and there’s certainly some Sosta motorhome parking in Italy that we’ve turned our noses up at. Not that we’re fussy or anything, but safety is a different matter. Quite simply, if it doesn’t feel right we’ll move on regardless.
Most importantly with any motorhome parking no matter which country it’s in, the key is to never let your guard down.
We always look around first, check out the area, keep an eye out for any undesirables and always take precautions against robbery. Keeping alert to anything suspicious and if in doubt, finding somewhere else to stop is a priority.
Reading the comments on the Apps is helpful to see if anyone’s reported break in’s or any trouble. Usually, it’s cities that are the most vulnerable areas, so if it means finding somewhere safer outside and getting transport in, then that’s what we’ll do.
Not all Sosta parking is provided by the local authority. Sometimes a private Sosta can be an excellent option, offering facilities such as showers, toilets and electric.
They usually provide better security too, often with the owner or manager being on site or visiting regularly. With this type of set-up, more often than not, they’ll have a small reception area to check in and pay the fees.
It’s a great way to have a bit more in the way of both security and facilities, yet still have the convenience of the flexibility.
An added advantage is that, generally, they’ll be more space for parking the van. Hopefully giving a little more room between you and the neighbours.
First of all it must be said that in peak season, most areas will be really busy! So, arriving early is essential to bag that space, especially if you want a beach front place to park! Secondly, don’t forget that it’s still not supposed to be camping behaviour.
This really means keeping to a parking place rather than looking like you’re on a campsite. Having said that, if there’s room and it’s somewhere hot, most people will have those sun chairs out under the awning!
Finally, don’t overstay your welcome. If the maximum stay is for example 72 hours then stick to it! They have wardens checking so the last thing you want is a fine!
Like most things now, there’s a few app’s which give all the motorhome parkings areas in various parts of Europe.
We like to use Camper Contact or Park 4 Night. The downside is the data roaming that they use up in the process. So keep this in mind, as well as charges, all depending on your own mobile contract or provider.
Otherwise, keep an eye out for the signs, which are usually blue with an outline image of a motorhome. If you’ve seen them in France, you’ll know what they look like.
Last but not least, enjoy the fabulous system of Sosta motorhome parking in Italy!
We’ve certainly had our fair share of use out of them over the last couple of years and found them just as good as Aires in France. Wishing you fabulous motorhome travels through Italy, enjoy and have fun!
Part 3 of our Summer Tour of The French Alps reaches Lac de Roseland
Part 2 of our Summer tour of the French Alps
Part 1 – Lake Geneva to Les Houches – Mountain passes and Hiking Trails
From sunflower fields to canals Burgundy is idyllic
Exploring the lesser known of the Italian Lakes
If narrow roads and cycle paths are your thing, you’ll love Como!