Wayfarers just camped, the rich and the emperors set up entire camps – centuries and centuries before the word glamping was coined. All thanks to the British: the first campers for pleasure and the first to have discovered the charm of the safari tents in which they stayed during the big game hunts in Africa. Fifty years ago in the era of mass tourism, the British, Germans and Northern Europeans headed for more accessible destinations, eventually pitching their tents in Italy. Today, if made in Italy glamping is a reality, we owe it to them.
The first tourists arrived from the North in search of a sunny climate and beautiful locations, and in fact the campsites were born in the most beautiful places in Italy. Today, however, great climate and alluring locations are not enough – explains Loek Van de Loo, a Dutch transplanted to Lake Garda on the wave of open air tourism, he reveals the background of a global phenomenon.
Once upon a time it was all more rustic and uncomfortable, even holidays, but today comfort is no longer a luxury as in the times of the Roman emperors, it’s a necessity. In fact, the simple tents are hardly seen anymore and have been replaced by campers and mobile homes, because camping went from being the only option for a low budget holiday to a lifestyle: those who camp do it by choice. “In the last 10 years, besides the nature, the location and the comfort of mobile homes, people want an experience, a wow experience”. Arriving as an intern to work in campsites for his countrymen, Loek sensed what the trend would be and founded Vacanze con Cuore, raising the quality of services and facilities and thinking about new iconic accommodations. “Wow” he would say, while we say instagrammable.
Mobilhome? It is not glamping
“Small houses with equipped apartments… are no longer enough. Comfort is the minimum, you need a place that excites you “. Here is the essence of glamping, something very different from a 5-star campsite, and which in Italy is widespread and at very high levels on Lake Garda, in Veneto, and in Tuscany (the favorite destinations for tourists from the North) . Glamping tells something about the new way to travel, to research.
There are small structures such as farmhouses that offer a handful of unusual options for accommodation, campsites that are transforming some or all the space to glamping with Bedouin tents, yurts, chalets or increasingly incredible design structures like vintage American Airstreams and 1950s caravans. Suspended on a tree or under a starry sky? Amazement is a must because everyone now has a roof over their heads.
A new post-lockdown hype
The hype had already started about ten years ago and has been talked about since then, but after the lockdown the desire for outdoor holidays and freedom has exploded again. Even Italians are discovering or rediscovering this form of vacation, within national borders. Novelty? Apparently not. “The trend was already present in Northern Europe, even before 2020: open air but proximity. Summers are always more beautiful there too and so maybe you avoid going 1000 or 2000 km by car to who knows where. So we brought Made in Italy glamping to Holland ”. The most luxurious mobile homes and many lodges from furniture magazines are in fact designed and built right here, in Italy, and exported throughout Europe, by manufacturers such as CrippaConcept (which from the campsite has also converted to glamping hardware thanks to Loek’s collaboration). “First we imported the idea, now we export the atmosphere, the warmth, the services that guests have known here in Italy and that they can find closer to home,” says Loek, who in 2021 inaugurated the first “made in Italy” glamping village in Twente, on the border with Germany. It is in the middle of nowhere, but the essence of glamping is to be a destination.
In a tent like on a safari
The tents can be small, accommodating just two people without luxuries, or even have two floors, a master bathroom, a dishwasher and six comfortable beds. There are those with three separate curtained “rooms” on the first floor, or very large safari tents that make you live like you’re in the savannah, but with a private outdoor hot tub. You can find them at the Weekend Glamping Resort in San Felice del Benaco and in the other holiday villages with the heart on Lake Garda, or on the Tuscan coast in Terre di Sacra’s glamping, on thermal waters at Terre di Vulci or in Sicily right by Syracuse at IUTA Glamping but also on the island of Procida, at the Procida Glamping Resort, in the shade of lemons in a secret garden on the island.
Among the trees of the alpine pine forests
You sleep in a tree, or among the trees, even in the mountains of the Dolomites in South Tyrol. Here near Bolzano the tents give way to contemporary design, very romantic Canadian chalets or “sleeping barrels” like at Camping Residence Corones. At Caravan Park Sexten a children’s dream becomes reality because you sleep suspended at 3.5 m above the ground in an isolated refuge for two with living room, TV, bathroom with sensory shower, hydromassage and sauna. No children instead at Camping Toblacher See because the chalets are adults only. In addition to every comfort they offer a spectacular view under the starry sky to sleep in a “glass cube”.
Longing for vintage
The United States has a true culture of caravans and mobile homes on wheels – which are also used as real mobile homes. Today Airstream (large steel suppositories) and 1950s caravans are back in fashion, even in Italy. You can sleep at the Orlando in Chianti Glamping Resort and in completely renovated and super-equipped interiors. There is Shasta, the historic caravan with a 60s look, specially recreated by the manufacturer to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the first model, a real Sixties Airstream® but with air conditioning and Bluetooth. And then there is a yellow school bus, all 12 original meters completely modernized: renamed Cool Bus.