Let's go Italiano!
Why Italy ticks all the right boxes; Al Fresco Specialist Erica Casey gives us the low-down.
As households across Ireland - including mine - reach for the brochures during the long winter’s nights and begin the search for their 2015’s park of choice, I’m struck by the number of times I hear from friends and family that Italy is an expensive destination.
I’m at a loss to explain this perception given my experiences of Italian parks so I thought I’d give you 9 reasons why I think there’s great value in vacanze Italiana:
1. Aldi and all that: Italy is the #1 choice of our German camping cousins by a long stretch. As are leaning ever more towards Aldi and Lidl ourselves!
2. Sunbathing city breaks: We all know that once the kids find the swimming pools, it can take monumental efforts to entice them out to visit the local curiosities. But when so many Italian sun loungers lie within a short trip to world famous historical sites: Venice, Verona, Pisa, Florence, Rome – and all by easy and cheap public transport – it’s the kids who lead the charge to the centro, making a strong case for combining a city break and a sun holiday all at once. Take a look at la Frecciarossa if you fancy an enticing twin city Italian adventure via super-fast luxurious train.
3. Economy transfers: So often it’s the additional costs of car hire or even expensive transfers which can break the back of value holidays to Venice. However the campsites on the Venetian Riviera have lobbied the local governments to supply cheap coach transfers direct from Treviso and Marco Polo meaning the cost of reaching the parks has come tumbling down.
4. The pleasures of pasta: It’s particularly eating out which gets stigmatised as expensive in Italy. Yet with their abundance of great pasta proposals all campsite restaurants have an economical way to feed the bambini. Did you know that 7 of the top 10 restaurant ratings given by our customers for the 2014 season were at Italian parks? In fact Union Lido, Norcenni and Marina di Venezia were the absolute top 3?
5. Mussolini’s meal deal: Ok you say, there can be economy in penne and parmesan but it’s still expensive to eat out anyway? Here Mussolini can give us a helping hand. He decreed that all restaurants should offer “pranzo di lavoro” a hearty working lunch for ordinary Italians and this tradition is still alive today; many restaurants still advertise their lunchtime menus in this fashion.
6. Osteria and antipasti: The Italian’s invented the wine bar experience and especially northern Italian’s adore the Prosecco and nibbles offered at the bar by a typical Osteria – quite probably Europe’s cheapest “fizz and finger food” experience.
7. La Pausa: Funnily enough it’s not Spain but particularly Italy which promotes the afternoon siesta and some campsites actually drop the barrier and stop cars moving during this time. I know of some who are frustrated by this but isn’t it nice to embrace genuine daily down time for all? Hammock or lounger? Tough call.
8. Just 1 cornetto: Authentic Italian Gelato I recently discovered, isn’t in fact ice-cream at all because it has a higher milk to cream ratio meaning it is lighter and has a lower fat ratio, which in turns allows all those fruity flavours to come flooding through. Which is why the Italians turn it into a repeatable daily feature and why they serve a mind-boggling array of flavours in some very small portions, starting from the simple “coppa”. All this is very good news both for the pocket and the waistline!
9. Caffé kudos: No nation makes as big a fuss and success of coffee than Italy which is why the humble espresso is generally speaking as cheap in Italy as anywhere, especially if you consume at the bar – for which the average Italian price is just 0,80cents .
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