This is a review I’ve been meaning to write up for the past month or so (along with what feels like a gazillion other posts!), but due to feeling pretty rubbish at the end of this pregnancy work has taken a bit of a back seat. However, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed editing our holiday snaps, and doing this has inspired me to write up our trip and appears to have given me my writing mojo back once more!
After our holiday last August to Venice and then with Eurocamp to their Ca Savio site, we were invited back and decided to try out another one of their Italian sites, Bella Italia Lake Garda. We decided on this site, as we were looking for another easy fly-transfer again, and because we enjoyed our Italian experience so much previously. We had originally booked to travel now over the May/June half term, but due to my pregnancy and being unable to fly this late we decided to move our holiday forward by a few weeks so I was still inside the Easyjet flight deadline of 35 weeks pregnant, and in the end we flew out of Gatwick to Verona (such an easy flight of under 2 hours!) on the 30th April for a week.
As before, we opted to stay in one of their Esprit Mobile Homes (you can read my full review of one of these HERE), and this time around had the unexpected luxury of an extra, 3rd bedroom and 2nd bathroom, and the extra space ended up being most welcome due to some dodgy weather conditions that I will touch on shortly!
On arrival at Verona airport, it was so nice with young children to greet our taxi driver (I had pre-booked a cab and booster seats) and only have to travel 25 minutes to the Bella Italia site. Due to our flights being at a reasonable time, we arrived on site and picked up our keys from our Eurocamp rep late afternoon- giving us perfect time to become acquainted with the site and head out to grab some dinner.
The actual Bella Italia site is HUGE so might not suit those looking for a more intimate experience, but I actually liked the fact there were loads of facilities, and it had a much ‘buzzier’ vibe than I anticipated for the beginning of May, largely due to there being loads of Dutch families as it was their school holidays. Even though the site was large, it was really easy to navigate, with clearly marked ‘roads’ leading to different areas (Eurocamp isn’t the only tour operator on site, far from it), and we never felt that the place was too busy or unsafe for the children to walk and cycle around. After unpacking our stuff in our mobile home, we headed out to the main restaurant on site, with breathtaking views of Lake Garda, and enjoyed some of the most amazing pizza we’d tasted (and that’s saying something after Venice!).
The one and only thing that was disappointing about our holiday was the weather (I am never trusting the BBC weather app again!)- it said it was going to be warm at a minimum and hot on most days, with a couple of days being showery, so I packed accordingly….in the end we had only 2 ‘hot’ days with the others being cold and soggy, meaning we had the heating on sometimes in our mobile home and I had to wash and dry the couple of jumpers and trousers we bought for the children as we didn’t have enough warm clothes and they got muddy. Next time, I will be prepared!
As a result, I perhaps didn’t take as many photos as I usually would do (no one wants to see snaps of our endless card games of ‘Pirate George’!), but here is what I papped, and looking back at these we still had a fantastic time despite the crazy weather!
On our first night, despite it getting a little chillier as the sun went down, we decided to sit outside the main restaurant on their gorgeous terrace and enjoy the view. There was always a great atmosphere in the restaurant and the food came quickly (ideal when dining with children), and the portions were huge! There was a children’s menu which if I’m being honest was quite basic, but we tended to mix-and-match our food with Freddie and Sasha’s the few times we ate there, so we all got a bit of everything.
This was delicious, and a starter for just one person- told you the portions were huge!
The facilities were great on site, with a few different restaurants, a bar, cafes, takeout pizza, gelato shop, supermarket, green grocer, gift shop, pool shop, playgrounds, sports facilities, kids clubs, bike hire… you name it, Bella Italia had it. There was also a brilliant reception with English speaking staff who could help you book taxis or answer any questions about the site or the local area- we found them especially helpful when we decided to visit an aquarium on a wet weather day, and they sorted our taxi and cheaper tickets for us.
The pool area at Bella Italia is absolutely fantastic, so child-friendly, and our two couldn’t get enough, despite us being the only family there on our second day because unfortunately the weather was not the best. I’m so glad I bought the children mini wetsuits to wear in the pool, as it was icy cold, which meant the children sadly couldn’t stay in there for too long and we had to drag Freddie out as his lips were turning blue! I guess that’s the main downside of travelling there at the start of the season when the pools haven’t had a chance to warm up and they’re definitely not heated- it’s certainly something I’ll bear in mind in future as F and S would have spent so much more time in there if they could’ve done.
BUT, every cloud has a silver lining, and the mixed weather meant we hired the children bikes from the onsite shop with lovely, helpful staff (about 20 euros for both of them per day), and went for some long cycles (them) and walks (us- or rather waddles as I was 32 weeks pregnant!) around our nearest part of the lake.
The first bikes we hired for them had stabilisers, but halfway through our holiday we decided to bite the bullet and hire ones without as Sasha had told us she wanted to have a go on just two wheels. After spending half an hour with her 1-2-1 near our mobile home, and lots of pep talks, she managed to master her bike. Adam and I were over the moon for her, as it was one of her goals on her classroom board at school, and she was so pleased with herself! Freddie, after originally not being remotely interested, was clearly spurred on by his little sister’s achievement and about an hour later had cracked his bike without stabilisers too. As someone who couldn’t ride a bike with them until I was nearly 9 (yes, that is a little weird!), I feel so relieved that we’ve got this milestone out of the way for both of them!
On the days where we had nice weather, it really was glorious around the lake, with little cafes, restaurants and bars dotted about, and was perfect for biking. The historic town of Peschiera del Garda was walkable/bikable along the lake from the campsite, and we spent a bit of time there checking out the sites (there is a half-hourly land train from the campsite that will also take you here if you don’t want to walk).
Some snaps of our time in Peschiera, where you will never go short of a gelato shop!
On our second-to-last night we decided to treat ourselves and eat out at one of the ‘posher’ lakeside restaurants, and luckily the weather was gorgeous with breathtaking views- the whole place is totally stunning and I would happily go back to the Italian Lakes any time.
Such a gorgeous sight to see every day.
On one of the lovelier days weather-wise, we hired a pedalo from right outside the campsite (there was a lake entrance/exit that you needed to show your wristbands on entering/leaving), and it was only 10 euros for the hour. We had so much fun and the kids actually had a go at peddling themselves in spite of their little legs! I was worried initially about the lack of life jackets, but the pedalo area is so shallow (literally up to Freddie’s chest), with no current and soft, sandy bottom that our fears were put at ease. An afternoon well spent.
Hanging out by the lake beach after dinner one evening.
There was a little children’s entertainment park on site that was open from 5 until 8pm every night, which Freddie and Sasha loved. It has quad bikes, bumper boats, trampolines and a little ride on train, all for a couple of euros a turn.
My crew! I’m not going to lie, the dodgy weather and spending more time than planned in our mobile home playing card/board games together was both a blessing and a curse depending on what mood everyone was in, but the cycling was brilliant, as was a boat trip on the lake, and it was so nice to spend some time as a family of four before our new baby boy joins us later this month.
We thought that Bella Italia site was absolutely brilliant for families with children of all ages, and we agreed that we’d happily return (although maybe this time in the summer for warmer weather!). I’m so pleased we got to experience this beautiful part of the world together, and had yet again a great time with Eurocamp.
*We received this holiday in return for an honest review, all words and opinions are my own.
Enjoyed this? Read Caroline’s post about her Italian Road Trip!