“ Address: Via Cassia Nord 111 / 01023 Bolsena (Viterbo) / Italy „
I don't know what it is about central Italy but I am madly in love with the place. Don't get me wrong I like northern Italy too. I like the mountains and lakes but I always find the weather in the north very unreliable and the northern Italians a bit cold and distant - a bit stuck-up, I suppose compared with the Romans. Camping in central Italy is a lot of fun - the sites are generally quite large although you can find smaller ones, and they are always bustling with colour and energy. In Lake Bolsena there is a 4 star campsite called the Lido Camping Village and I thoroughly recommend it not only for its super location near to the medieval clifftop town of Orvieto and not too far to travel to the eternal city of Rome but also for the pretty town of Bolsena which is on the campsite's doorstep.
So where is Lake Bolsena?
Lake Bolsena is approximately a hundred kilometres from Rome, situated on the borders of Umbria and Tuscany. There are two ways to take find the lake and campsite. You can either take the scenic route from Rome travelling north towards Viterbo and then on to Orvieto where Bolsena will be signposted or take the fast A1 autostrada from Rome or Florence and exit at Orvieto.
This part of Italy is relatively undiscovered and has the largest volcanic lake in Italy. The lake's deep waters have been voted the cleanest in Italy and manage to sustain a busy and thriving fishing community. The lake is situated in an area of beauty with no industry in sight. I can vouch for the cleanliness of the water and can tell you that you can see your feet when swimming and there are no muddy deposits. The water is safe to drink and I believe the local fishermen still use the clear cool waters to cook their traditional soup known as sbrosia.
Why I like the Campsite
The reason I like the Lido Village is beacuse it has a great ambience and usually full of tourists from Rome which is great fun. As people, I find the Romans quite a boisterous race, always talking, posing with their mobile phones and singing at the top of their voices. Yes, it's true. I couldn't believe it when one morning I was awakened by a huge man with a big stomach wearing a string vest singing Pavarotti at the top of his voice. What's more - He could actually sing. He was in the tent opposite but the two guys in the tent next to me had guitars so every evening we were serenaded with a rock ballad in the style of Eros Ramazzotti. I didn't mind at all - it was a lot of fun and as my husband is a guitarist and vocalist he joined in to. And another reason I love this part of Italy is I love the way they speak Italian with a slight drawl and not as clipped as in the north. I think Italian is my favourite language and very easy for me to speak and understand as it is similar to Portuguese. I love the way the words roll off your tongue and the rhythm of the language.
Some Info about the Campsite
Well, it is four stars like I have already mentioned and is quite large with two swimming pools and direct access to the lake. To give you an idea of the size I think there are about 700 pitches and all have some shade. The ground surface is grass and dust and the size of each pitch is approximately 80-100 square metres. You can easily get lost on all the little paths leading to the main area where the restaurant and toilets are. Well, I often did but that's probably because I am too busy looking at people to take notice of my surroundings. The site is well laid out and the pitches are not too close together so you still feel like you have some privacy. Parking is not allowed near the tent which I always think is a bit of a nuisance especially if you want to leave the site early on deparure. It means you have to pack the car the night before and then park up. Perhaps I find it irritating because I am lazy and like to leave everything to the last minute.
This is the question tourists love to ask - are the toilets clean? Yes, they are and they are standard toilets and there are seperate rooms for baby changing and bathing. Having said that the loos are clean I also have to tell you that Italians still have the waste bin at the side of the loo to put soiled paper in mainly because the plumbing system in the summer months when the population is quadrupled can't take the strain and you will sometimes see toilets backing up beause people have put their paper in the loo. In August which is the busiest time you will find that these bins get full and a bit smelly so if you have a mild disposition then you won't like this aspect of the campsite.
Hot showers are operated by inserting a token which costs half a euro and you can buy these from reception.
If you feel the need to wash your clothes during your duration there are special sinks and also the use of 5 washing machines and two tumble driers. The cost of these is 4 and a half euros per load. You will have to buy some washing powder from the shop as there isn't any available in the wash room.
There are several shops on site with a good range of foodstuffs suitable for cooking full meals or just snacks. Fresh bread and vegetables are available everyday. Also, a fine selection of wine is on offer but I would suggest that you buy wine when you are out and about as it is always more expensive from a site shop.
The restaurant on this site is wonderful and I have eaten some of the best Italian food ever here - pizzas with bases that are as big as dustbin lids and with doughy textures that melt in your mouth along with huge bowls of spaghetti, light and drizzled with olive oil covered in a rich tomato and basil sauce with a topping of freshly grated parmesan cheese and lasagne so tasty that you eat so much that you can't move afterwards and are unable to get up on the dance floor. Dance floor - yes! It is adjoined to the restaurant and is in the open air. I spent many an evening on my last trip here intoxicated with the rich taste of Italian food, red wine and the balmy atmosphere of a summers evening. Apart from my love of Italian food, wine and language I also find Italian smoochy music very romantic and I love dancing especially when you can wear a short dress with lots of material in the skirt so that when you dance and twirl and swirl you can feel the warm breeze brushing against your bare legs. I adore it and once I am on the dance floor it is a very difficult job for anyone to prise me away. If there isn't a disco then a live band will serenade you through the night and sometimes even a full orchestra. Believe me, it is a lot of fun and don't drink too much wine or you will get carried away and want to dance all night.
If you don't want to eat in the restaurant there is a take away service which is available every evening and is also very popular.
There are two swimming pools on site - a large family pool and a seperate one for children. A pass has to be purchased and the cost for each adult is 3 euros per day and for children under the age of 10 - 2 euros. It is probably cheaper to buy a family ticket if you have 2 children as the price is 8 euros for 2 adults and 2 children. Shorts are not allowed in the pools. A lifeguard is on duty during the low and high season. At the side of both pools is a sun terrace and loungers are available.
If you don't want to use the pool then there is direct access to the beautiful lake. The water is warm and it is nicely surrounded by lots of green vegetation. Organised water sports can be booked at reception and fishing is also allowed.
For sports enthusiasts there are 2 full size tennis courts and 2 table tennis tables. Facilities for organised football, volleyball and basketball are also available. There is a games room and if you really do miss TV and need to watch it then there is a special TV room.
As the campsite isn't too far from Rome - about 100 kilometres I really recommend a visit to the city. You don't have to take the car if you don't want as there is a rail line and probably much easier to do this so you don't have the hassle and cost of parking. Rome is a wonderful city full of architectural gems and a very laid back place to walk around. The traffic is a bit hectic but I was amazed at the calmness of the city and loved it. (see my review). I was amazed when I spoke to a young British couple in the next tent (not the Italian guitarists) and they told me they had been to Rome on the train. When I asked what did they see - they answered, 'Oh, we went to MacDonald's and just went shopping.' Unbelievable.
Another recommended sightseeing trip is to Orvieto. A wonderful old town with very narrow streets and perched on a cliff top. My husband gets really infuriated with this town because of parking and actually driving around. It's okay if you have a small car like a Fiat Uno or a scooter even but anything bigger makes driving a nightmare. Apart from its beauty Orvieto is famous for its white wine. A honey coloured wine with a crisp, delicate taste when served chilled and accompanied with a plate of grilled prawns in garlic butter.
Florence and Pisa aren't too far away and obviously I thoroughly recommend both cities. Pisa is very touristy but interesting and you will be amazed at the size of the tower. I was. I don't know what I was expecting but it is very small. Florence is another favourite city of mine and really I think you need at least two days to take in all the art, beauty and buildings.
If you don't want a day trip but just somewhere to visit for a few hours then the town of Bolsena is very pretty. It is the main tourist centre on the shores of the lake. Founded by the Etruscans, the town's rich history is proudly celebrated today. The Monaldeschi Castle dominates the old town and because of its elevated position you are able to see panoramic views of the cobbled squares and a labryinth of medieval streets. These lead down to the sides of the lake. A pretty promenade provides a place for the weary traveller to sit and relax. If you would like to taste the frothy milk of a capuccino with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon on the top then there are several cafes on the terraces.
Dates to look out for for things going on in Bolsena are August 16th which is the Bolsena fish festival and also in August it is the Montefiascone Wine Festival - look out for those wonderful tastings. August is probably the hottest month to visit Tuscany and June is probably the best month. In the month of June a flower festival is held in the town of Bolsena.
Other Attractions Close by
Giardino dei Tarrochi
This is a very artistically laid out garden with sculptures based on all the symbols of the tarot cards. It has a very relaxing atmosphere and a good way to introduce children to art.
Museo Archeologico Nazionale Chiusi (Siena)
As the title suggests this is an archaelogical museum which was opened in 1871 and is full of archeological gems including urns, tombs, vases and Bucchero ware.
Parco di Bomarzo (Monster Park)
This is a very large and very weird garden in which rather strange forms in the shape of dragons, bears, mermaids and evil ogres have been designed from rocks. Children are allowed to climb on the statues and to go into a strange crooked house that leans and tilts. It's really good fun.
I love camping in this part of Italy and I think of the many sites I have visited this is one of my favourites. I love the ambience, the bubbling, noisy chatter of the locals and the colour. The site is very laid back in the day when people are having a siesta or swimming and sunbathing at the lake. In the evening the whole site bursts into life with dancing, music and just lots of silly frivolity. It is a very happy site and near to some of the most picturesque and historical towns in Italy. Not only will you go home sun-tanned, well fed and happy but hopefully you will have learnt something about art, history and architecture. Top notch site.