In the summer of 2019 we finally visited Bella Italia in the Lake Garda area of Italy. I say finally as I’d been fascinated by Lake Garda and Bella Italia campsite for a few years, in part inspired by watching other bloggers’ holidays.
I’d heard that it books up fast, so in June 2018, before we went on our 2018 holiday and the same week that we moved house I reserved our accommodation for Summer 2019. That gave us an entire year to dream about walking to dinner by the lake, and we got to avail of the early booking discount too, which made the price tag a lot smaller.
First things first, what’s so great about Bella Italia?
I think the main draw for Bella Italia is its location. It’s right on the lake, incredibly scenic, it’s easy to get to from Ireland with a choice of airports and there’s tons to do in the area. The campsite has lots to offer facility wise and i t’s possible to do day trips to Venice and Verona (we did both), to swim in the lake, to walk to the local town Pescheira Del Garda and to avail of the many activities and amenities of the campsite. Did I mention the lake?
Accommodation in Bella Italia
There’s lots of different accommodation types and providers on site. We stayed in a Canvas Holidays Moda 3 bed mobile home with air-conditioning. We booked a full 12 months before we travelled and used a Canvas loyalty discount and a sale discount too. The Canvas mobiles are really well located on the site and are not too on top of each other. There are many, many other operators on site but the location of the Canvas mobiles stood out.
Our Moda 3 bed had one double room, one twin and one room that had bunks and a fold up bed. The bedrooms were a little challenged on the storage side but that’s the norm for mobiles and there was still plenty of room once we unpacked properly for everything we needed for the 14 nights.
The mobile’s decor was really modern and clean. The toilet was separate to the shower room which was helpful too when trying to get everyone washed before going out. The large deck was half in shade and the mobile was located on a quiet road very near the centre of things. The mobile came with a barbecue (We didn’t use it). We were very glad of the air-conditioning when the temperatures hit the high 30s while we were there.
The swimming pool complex is amazing. The pool areas are divided into the “Acquapark” which has 4 pools including a lap pool, a kids’ splash pool, a flume waterslide pool and another with smaller slides. “Bel Beach” (extra charge) is a fake beach with loungers beside the pool and there’s also a smaller pool where they do the aqua aerobics which we named “the mushroom pool” because it had a toadstool slide. The “mushroom pool” was our favourite, it was 1metre deep all around so was safe for us. We always managed to get a couple of loungers after a few laps and some furniture moving. There is a more traditional pool at the Corte Riga apartments which is quieter and a pool at the hotel, although that’s reserved for hotel residents.
On a practical note there is ample car parking, very little traffic on site. Check in was straightforward. There are many laundry blocks on site too, just check which are less busy, changeover days are good for example. There’s a bar, restaurants, a shop, you could certainly spend your whole holiday on site without a car if you wanted to.
Playground: There’s a playground near the supermarket but there are also other amusement parks. Belpark amusements – opposite main pool has bumper boats, a trampoline and mini-quads (all additional charge for €2-2.50 for ten minutes) and there’s a bouncy castle area too, also additional charge.
There are outdoor table tennis tables at the stage, we bought our own bats and balls in the supermarket for less than a tenner and used them lots, they’re in the shade too.
Supermarket: There’s a supermarket on site that’s an OK size and stocks pretty much everything and has a good bakery and rotisserie chickens. There are lots of supermarkets in Pescheira if you have a car, we stocked up in CONAD and Famila.
Wi-fi: When we visited on-site wi-fi was poor, particularly in the accommodation areas. We (OK, my husband, not me) booked the rental of a wifi dongle on witourist.com – you must book a few days before you travel to ensure it’s at Bella Italia or the airport to collect, whichever you choose. We left ours a bit too late so it was the day after we arrived that that it was there. We received a wifi hotspot device that we could bring with us and it allowed us to connect all our devices as we needed, phones and ipads, and could watch Netflix etc easily. It was very handy to have, especially for our midday down time when it got too hot inside.
Activities at the Campsite
The small girl who had just turned 6 at the time of our holiday loved the campsite run kids’ club “mini club”. Kids’ club is on morning and afternoon, morning sessions from 10-12 were usually arts and crafts based, Laoise loved making masks, painting and doing salt dough. Sometimes the activities are based on shows that will be on later so if you’re not going to be around that night beware! Laoise got a part as one of the children in a mimed version of “The Greatest Showman” – she came home and told us but we didn’t hear anything about it from the co-ordinators yet on the evening she got called up and was really so thrilled to take part. The mini-club timetable is on a noticeboard near where mini club meets so check it first.
The boys, then 8 and 10 went to soccer at 10am every morning for 90 minutes and loved it. There are noticeboards at the main entertainment area which list the days’ activites, there’s aqua-aerobics every day and other fitness classes available too.
We hired bikes on site for a few days and the kids really enjoyed the freedom around the campsite, many people recommend hiring bikes locally rather than on site as there are better prices to be had. If we went again we’d definitely hire them for longer.
There’s entertainment every night in the arena area, we went a couple of times. The Foam Party was fun and the musical was enjoyable too, the gameshow night was less enjoyable.
There are restaurants on site, and then there’s the sometimes short sometimes long depending on how tired the kids are walk along the Lake to Pescheira which is a hive of activity. The proximity to Pescheira is a huge attraction.
On site we ate in La Terrazza twice (we returned as the kids begged to) and got take-away a couple of times (there’s a takeway, the pizza on site is reasonable and very, very good). The restaurant in the Corte Riga complex is more expensive but we didn’t think the hike in prices was warranted, the food wasn’t any better than in La Terrazza.
Most nights we walked into town, go for a meal and then get gelato at one of the many ice-cream shops in the town, there’s a great restaurant scene in Pescheira.
Our favourites were Vecchio Mulino Beach, on the lake, turn left as you exit the campsite onto the lake and L’Osteria in Pescheira.
Limone: We drove around the lake one of the days, stopping for lunch in Limone Sul Garda, a really picturesque town, definitely recommend a stop here for the photo opportunities.
Verona: Verona is only half an hour by car from Camping Bella Italia. After some google maps issues and parking misunderstandings our trip there went very smoothly. The day was really, really hot so sightseeing was limited. We parked on the river near Ponte Pietra and walked over, up to the Duomo, down to Juliet’s House (very crowded), gelato stop in the square where I also managed to buy a very nice leather handbag, then over to the Arena, and wandered around and had yet more gelato (it was hot!) before heading back. There’s a lot more that you could do there if you had the time and the kids were inclined, like museums etc but just seeing the city was a lovely day out.
Venice We drove to Venice early one morning and spent the morning sightseeing before the crowds descended. We pre-booked parking in Piazzale Roma on the outskirts and walked the narrow streets to St Mark’s Square. We got a traghetto (economy shared version of a gondola – 3 minute ride across the canal costs €2 per person). Key to our successful trip was an early start – we arrived at the carpark at 9am on a weekday morning and left Venice by 2.15pm, back in time for an evening dip in the pool before dinner.
Sirmione Another gorgeous town worth a visit. It gets incredibly busy though so be prepared.
There are a variety of options but we shopped around (a lot), and booked our flights 10 months before we travelled, at the very end of August 2019. We found the best deal for our family of 2 adults and 3 children flying on the last Saturday in June and returning two weeks later was to fly Aer LincSAgus Dublin – Milan Linate on the way and to fly from Milan Malpensa on the way home. In total we paid €1145. This worked for us as we had intended to hire a car and arranged to collect from Linate on arrival and drop back to Malpensa on departure.
Closer airports are available too – you could fly Ryanair to Milan Bergamo, both Aer Lingus and Ryanair also now fly to Verona which is very close and definitely taxi-able . You could also look at flying to Venice, either Aer Lingus to Leonardo da Vinci or Ryanair to Treviso.
TIP: Bear in mind check in times for Bella Italia when booking your flights, we got an early flight, stopped at a small motorway services for a coffee and some buns and by the time we got to Bella Italia we could check in and our mobile was ready. On check out day we booked a very late flight home, checked out of the campsite by 10am and had the whole day to spend sightseeing before getting back to the airport.
We rented a car from Enterprise on rentalcars.com. The car was provided in Milan by local company Locauto. We paid €518 for a “Skoda Octavia Estate type” which ended up being a Fiat Tipo Estate, for 14 days including pick up at one airport and drop off at another.
TIP: We always buy car hire excess insurance separately and not from the company that we are renting the car from, there are loads of providers, for this trip we got it from AIG, you can get an annual European policy for around €50 a year, or around €3 per day for shorter trips.
The car pickup desk is in the terminal in Linate but you have to go outside to collect the car. It makes the inevitable waiting much easier when you are indoors in the terminal building with all the luggage rather than waiting outside in the midday sun. The drive from Linate to Camping Bella Italia is about 1 hour 30 minutes and back to Malpensa is 1hr 45 minutes. Drop off in Malpensa is straightforward too.
Conclusion: We had a fantastic holiday at Camping Bella Italia and would go back in a heartbeat. We paid for everything on this holiday and received no discounts or collaborations.
Want more? I’ve loads of video footage on my instagram story hightlights of the facilities and our daytrips, watching them is like being there!