As a family of 4 we like to try out all types of accommodation options and this flashback to our 2013 Summer Road Trip was to be no different. We aren’t your typical hotel goers, as we prefer a little more space or unusual places. That said, there are times when a hotel fits the bill for short stays. We have stayed in a cave house, a ferry, boat hotels, but most often, we like to rent apartments, so why not try camping in Rome?
When planning our trip to Rome, we tried to find alternatives to the standard hotel room for a city destination. Something that gave the adults and kids their own rooms along with self-catering options to save money on eating out. Of course we also wanted to be near all of the attractions, yet have some outdoor space for the kids to burn some energy on our “chill” days.
During my search, it seemed apartments were plentiful and many affordable, but parking our car was not going to be easy within the city. The camping options kept popping up and they all seemed to provide easy access directly into Rome. An added bonus, they all came with activities for kids. With a little reluctance, I went for the camping and we selected Family Park Pini (locally named Camping I Pini).
In the past we stayed several times at the all-inclusive Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean and we loved their kids’ programs. This would give the kids an opportunity to meet others and give us adults some down time. I thought this was ideal. Prior to arriving, I had visions of the kids being able to mingle with other children from all over Europe. They would all play together and though they may not have a common language, they would find a way to communicate.
Once we arrived it was readily apparent that the kids programs were geared towards very little kids. Our kids were now at that age when they’d rather be caught dead than dancing the bunny hop on the stage with others. Let me rephrase that… our son is too old and our daughter wanted to participate, but prefers to model her big brother more. This made me nervous as my “master plan” was going to be foiled. Oh no!
This was our first venture into camping as a family without any supplies at all. This particular campground, as well as most in Europe, offered several different kinds of accommodations. The offered cabins, mobile homes and tents (with beds and a kitchen). We opted for the mobile home as it actually had 2 bedrooms, one bath, a covered porch and the ever-so-coveted Air Conditioning! Prior to arriving, I kept planting the seed with the family that this was going to be small and different from our standard apartments.
When we first arrived at our assigned mobile home, I held my breath awaiting the families comments. This was much smaller than what we were used to and it was nearly RV living, oh what were they going to say? To my surprise, the kids were ecstatic that they had bunk beds and that we had a huge porch! Their room only fit bunk beds, but they didn’t seem to mind. The bathroom and shower were tiny, but there seemed to be plenty of living space. Alan liked it too! Whew, this just may work. To this day, I am not sure if they were all just being nice to me because they knew I was worried or if they really liked it. I am not going to ask and just believe that the loved it.
We spent 5 nights in our new home and fell in love with it. The campground was small and remote enough for the kids to roam the area freely without us having to worry. The big pool and the kiddie pool were our favorites. The kiddie pool was more like a padded lagoon with water slides and tunnels play in. They also had tennis courts, bike rentals and a trampoline. Let’s just say when we were in Rome, we walked and walked and walked. When we were at I Pini Camping, we played and played and played! It was the perfect contrast to our typical “City Trip”.
The kids did have a blast and though they didn’t participate in the organized kids activities, they did have fun playing with the other children. So in the end, the vision of them playing on an international level came to fruition and all was right with the balance of the vacation. We fell in love with the camping style in Europe and decided that we were going to book more camping locations with an intermix of apartments as well.
Access to Rome:
Access to Rome was initially was a big concern for me, as I Pini Campground seemed to be far in the outskirts in Fiano Romano. It turned out to be very easy to get into the city. The campground provided a shuttle bus directly to the center. Of course we are a little more adventurous and prefer not to be shuttled around, so we took the public transportation route. Just a 10 minute drive and we were at the train station, with free parking! We purchased our BIRG day pass tickets (Biglietto Integrato Regionale Giornaliero – train and metro combo) and we were set to go. (our daughter was free on the Rome metro, so we only needed a train ticket for her).
About I Pini Camping outside of Rome:
They had everything we needed right in the campground and were just a 5 minute drive to the nearest grocery store.
Features: Small gift shop, a well stocked market, 1 restaurant with great pizza, a small snack cafe, 2 pools, tennis courts, trampoline, kids activities and evening activities/games for all ages. The front desk was well stocked with books, maps and supplies for planning. They even offered day trips and tours. Internet access was only at the restaurant area, so this was a little inconvenient.
Staff: The entire staff was incredible. Especially around the front desk and the pool. They were all wanting to get to know us and said it was very rare to have Americans there. I am not sure if we were just a novelty or if that was standard customer service, but we loved it. No matter what question we asked, they were full of information. They even provided us with some great “diversion/excursion” options on our path from Rome to Florence. Thus the La Cascetta della Marmore appeared in our master plan.