The promise of a day trip to nearby Venice lured me in the direction of the Cavallino peninsula that separates the Venetian lagoon and the Adriatic Sea in Northern Italy. Truth be told, in my initial reverie, I gave little thought to the logistics of such an expedition with three youngsters in tow, and instead romanticised about strolls along meandering canals, people-watching in Piazza San Marco and Cornetto-style gondola rides. Of course, the reality of Venice with three small, generally apathetic, gelato-sticky travelling companions is entirely different, but more about that later.
Like any decent holiday researcher, I hovered over the general area of Cavallino-Treporti on the satellite view of Google Maps for hours, travelling up and down the coastline like a demented drone. One of the most difficult things about booking a campsite holiday – in the grand scheme of First World problems – is choosing one site over another. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Armed with a small list of steadfast prerequisites that included close proximity to a small town or village, I excavated deep beneath the surface of the Eurocamp sales pages and and combed through copious Trip Advisor reviews.
While sites like Union Lido, Pra’ Delle Torri and Marina da Venezia had enormous appeal, we felt that because our kids were still quite young (7, 5 and 2), a quieter, more low-key site might result in an easier, slower-paced holiday for us all. Faraway hills are inevitably greener where my kids are concerned and we figured that the smaller the pool areas and the fewer the chutes and slides, the less darting and running and chasing after kids we’d have to do. In our case, less was more and Camping Ca’Savio was ticking our boxes.
Camping Ca’Savio is a family-run campsite situated in 30 hectares of pine forest (the whole place smells incredible) on the edges of a nature reserve. It has direct access to a gorgeous, unspoiled, sandy beach. The nearby town of Ca’Savio is less than a kilometre from the campsite (a ten-minute stroll or a three to four-minute bike ride). The site has two similar-sized pool complexes: one with a pirate ship play area and slide, the other with a slightly larger slide feature. It boasts the usual campsite features: kids’ clubs, mini disco, nightly entertainment, a mini-market, a restaurant, a pizzeria, gelateria, a canteen-style cafe, snack bars, a pub and a takeaway. Venice is reachable by boat in 30 minutes from Punta Sabbioni, 2km from the campsite.
The area is serviced well by Treviso and Venice Marco Polo airports. We flew into Treviso airport with Ryanair and out of Marco Polo with Aer Lingus because the flights happened to work out cheaper that way. While public transport is available directly to the campsite gate from both airports, we booked a transfer with GoOpti from Treviso for €87. On our return journey, we got public transport directly to Marco Polo airport for €6.90 each and berated ourselves for having bothered with the transfer on arrival.
Most of the usual suspects are also on site; Vacance Soleil, Go4Camp, Happy Camp, Rent-a-Tent, Select Camp, Albatross, Smile Camp, Roan, etc. We booked with Eurocamp for the first time and stayed in a 3-bed Azure. We were largely impressed with the living space and the decor. It was modern and airy with comfortable beds, decent storage and a covered deck. All of the bedrooms were fitted with blackout blinds. Bingo! Air conditioning wasn’t included in the price but prepaid cards were available at reception (a site-wide policy to discourage wasteful use). Smaller items that were missing from our inventory (a cafetiere and corkscrew – both very high on the list of holiday essentials) were promptly replaced by pleasant and helpful Eurocamp couriers.
We paid just under €2000 for ten nights in mid-July and felt it was worth the price. There was plenty of space between units and our deck wasn’t overlooked by neighbours. We were located in the centre of the complex, close to the pool at the rear, about a five-minute walk from the main hive of activity and a three-minute walk from the beach.
That’s Amoré – What we loved about Camping Ca’Savio
We loved so much about this gentle-paced site and my husband and I both agreed that it was our most enjoyable holiday to date. Our enjoyment, of course, could be attributed to the fact that the kids are getting older, more independent and easier to manage, but I think our campsite choice definitely helped. Here’s why…
The Living is Easy
While it’s a physically large site, it never felt busy or crowded. Everything was easy. There were always free seats in the gorgeous cafe area near reception if you fancied a mid-morning coffee or ice-cream. It was generally easy to rock up and get a table in the garden restaurant in the evenings. The only queuing we had to do was at the bakery area of the supermarket for morning pastries – worth every aromatic minute!
Footloose and Vehicle-free
Because of its accessibility, we didn’t need to rent a car so we didn’t budge (apart from our day trip to Venice). Of course there are pros to having a set of wheels but we focused on the joy of having nowhere to go, no means of getting there and the option of having a sneaky glass of wine with lunch.
Seas the Day…
The 1km stretch of sandy beach provided a nice change of scene. The water is shallow, safe and warm to swim in. It’s manned by lifeguards of the same austere ilk as those by the pools and punctuated by two lovely beach bars at either end. There aren’t any loungers for rent on the beach like other campsites in the area – a conscious decision by the site so that rows of umbrellas don’t block your view of the horizon. The only snag? Jellyfish in droves. Or in blooms, to use the appropriate collective noun. No one got stung but we did feel a little stranded on our pedalo at times.
On Yer Bike
Bike hire was a game changer. We rented bikes on site (roughly €100 per week for four bikes and a back carrier for the two-year-old). The site is quite big and cycling meant that we could zip from A to B in jig time; we could be at the beach in under a minute and the local village in under five, with the added bonus of feeling a lovely breeze – very welcome in the heat.
About the Kids…
While my kids rarely show an interest in kids’ clubs either at home or abroad, the two-hour long soccer camp in the mornings enticed the seven-year-old. There was also the usual kids’ club schedule run by the site animation team but we didn’t really partake so I can’t comment.
However – and this was a real holiday hero – daily, in the afternoon, under a large canopy beside the main pool, kids could escape the from the heat and build Lego in the Lego Tent. We were so impressed with this. While it might not sound like much, I can’t stress how well-organised it was. Little guests browsed catalogues with hundreds of options, chose an item to build and were then presented with the set of pieces and the corresponding instruction booklet. Coming from a home Lego situation involving merely a large, instruction-free, mismatched bucket of random and arbitrary pieces from any number of sources, my kids were positively jubilant. The staff’s ability to maintain hundreds of perfectly intact Lego sets involved some kind of wizardry but needless to say it was a HUGE hit and my older two went back for more day after day for lengthy stints, while we stayed at the nearby pool.
There was no shortage of other activities for the kids. The pottery-painting station was right up the five-year-old’s street and an on-site fun park opened in the mornings and evenings that included mini-golf, a large climbing frame and a range of bouncy castles. Additional fees applied for these activities which was a little disappointing.
There’s a large playground near the main pool and restaurant that was another big hit with our kids. It’s sandy with an impressive castle feature and never seemed to be uncomfortably busy.
The newly-renovated supermarket was well-stocked and reasonably priced, relatively speaking. The bakery was fantastic, good pizzas were made to order and sold by the slice and a range of wines were sold by the litre for €2.99. It had everything we needed and also had a section selling holiday nik-naks, beachwear and inflatables. Groceries and alcohol were marginally less expensive in a supermarket in Ca’Savio town but we shopped on-site.
The on-site restaurant is, for the most part, located outdoors overlooking a large, enclosed garden that the kids can run around while waiting for their novelty-shaped pizzas. We ate here twice and enjoyed our meal both times – mostly pizza and pasta with some meat, fish and seafood dishes. In bad weather, the furniture is brought indoors, making for an altogether less aesthetically-pleasing dining experience but still absolutely fine. The staff were friendly and accommodating.
Because the campsite has only one restaurant, we ate dinner off-site in Ca’Savio town quite a bit.
Our favourite restaurant was Trattoria Pizzeria Al Funghetto, which had good, reasonably-priced food, a cracking outdoor seating area and an incredible play area for kids that included an AstroTurf soccer pitch, bouncy castles and playground equipment. Expect to queue at peak times but it’s big enough for the queue to move quickly. We liked Pompeii on the main street too. We had intended to try Via Gentile, which also had a small play area for kids but after spending almost half an hour in a poorly-managed queue one evening, we abandoned the idea. The menus in the eateries were virtually identical; popular but simple Italian pasta dishes and a range of large pizzas starting at around a fiver. Nothing out of the ordinary but entirely satisfactory.
We also ate in the Terrazza Beach restaurant directly across from the gates of the campsite and we loved it. The staff were friendly, the decor was lovely and the menu was a little more exciting than some of the other places we tried. We were, however, a little bemused by the fact that each time we were there, our meal was accompanied by Simply Red’s greatest hits loudly on loop. Could be worse.
Handy to Know
- Inflatables aren’t allowed in the pools. It didn’t bother us – we used them at the beach.
- Each of the two pools closes once per week for cleaning, which means the one that’s open is a little busier.
- Prepaid air conditioning costs €10 for 20 hours. We bought €40 worth over the duration of our stay.
- Wifi is available at various locations. Prepaid codes are available for purchase at reception.
- The pool at the rear of the site is naturally shaded by pine trees, making it super for younger kids on hot days. We generally found it less crowded than the main pool.
- Aside from the main avenue through the site, pathways are very poorly lit at night. It’s advisable to bring some small torches. The beach is also unlit.
- Mosquitoes are king in Ca’Savio. The site is thoroughly sprayed weekly to help reduce the problem but I guess the location of the site on the lagoon means that we’re on their turf. Approach the site armed with the best repellents you can find. On the evening of our arrival we ate, unsprayed and bare-legged, in the garden restaurant and lived to regret it. My bites were so bad that I needed to go to the local pharmacy for an over-the-counter remedy (which closes for siesta like most businesses in the town, by the way).
- This is a big one: due to the fact that the site is located in woodland, BBQs aren’t permitted on the site at all. We missed having one and it meant that we spent a bit more than previous years on dining out.
- Twice a week a large pirate ship, The Jolly Rodger, moors at the beach and brings little landlubbers on a swashbuckling adventure at sea, along the coastline of Cavallino-Treporti. We didn’t get around to it but heard good reports. Pay as you get on board.
- There are regular street markets and music events in Ca’Savio and Cavallino, details of which you can get from reception or at www.summernight.it
- If you’re used to picturesque lake towns around Garda, or medieval Tuscan villages with piazzas and vistas of rolling vineyards, then the town of Ca’Savio may disappoint. It’s not your typical pretty tourist town but it was fine for a wander, had plenty of little shops and there were plenty of restaurant options.
- Nearby Jelsolo is home to a large waterpark, Aqualandia, reachable by bus.
- The parts of the site that have been recently renovated are gorgeous. The reception area, the outdoor gelateria and the supermarket are beautifully designed to blend in with the natural environment. Other parts of the site could do with similar treatment. The main restaurant is connected to a daytime, canteen-style cafe which felt dated and the food here was just as uninspiring as the environs. Similarly, the snack bar located at the entrance to the beach – while in a super location – looked a little shabby and failed to entice us. We opted for the Sunshine bar on the beach instead.
- While we had no issues with our Eurocamp accommodation, we were disappointed with the Eurocamp kids’ club on site. One of the reasons we booked Eurocamp was because there was a Fun Station with English-speaking couriers on site. Sadly the unenthusiastic staff, lacklustre activities and the dirty and unkempt Fun Station didn’t make for much of a ‘fun’ environment at all.
- The campsite is located near the end of the peninsula. I’ve heard reports of traffic congestion in the area at peak times but we didn’t experience any.
Day Tripping to Venice
If proximity to Venice is what you’re after then the campsites on the peninsula are hard to beat. We walked to Ca’Savio and got the no. 5 bus the 2km to Punto Sabbioni (though we probably could have cycled), costing €2 per person each way. Return tickets with Marco Polo Venezia from Punto Sabbioni to Venice cost €32 in total and we bought them at the campsite reception. It’s possible to jump on the public ACTV Vaporetto ferry from the same location, which costs less but reviews suggest it can be busy and cramped in high season. All in all, within an hour of leaving the campsite, we were marvelling at at the Basilica San Marco. Not bad.
As a first time visitor, my mind was suitably blown by the paradoxical spectacle of a city floating on water. It really is incredible and has shunted Florence off the top spot on my (fairly small) list of favourite Italian cities. The boat delivered us right into the hub of the action, a short walk from the famous Bridge of Sighs. We spent an afternoon wandering around what was probably quite a small area but we managed to take in Doges’ Palace, the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge.
We knew better than to bring a buggy and instead used a toddler carrier for the three-year-old, which made navigating the thronged streets a little easier. As expected, it was teeming with tourists and hot as hell but we negotiated with our nonplussed kids, using overpriced gelato as currency, and had a much nicer time than either of us had expected. Was it expensive? Of course! There are no bargains to be had in Venice. Still totally worth it though. We didn’t get to the other islands, this time. Which means we’ll just have to come back.
Camping Ca’Savio has a whole lot going for it. If you’re looking for a campsite with a relaxed pace, a beach-side location, near a town and with potential for memorable day tripping, then this place is absolutely worth considering.
If you like this post, you might enjoy our review of Bella Italia on Lake Garda, or this round-up of 16 popular European campsites by some of your favourite parenting bloggers. If you’re new to the business of camping on the continent, then you’ll enjoy my tips for booking a European campsite.
Have you visited this area? Is Venice on your hit list? If you found this review helpful feel free to share it with friends and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. As always, thanks for reading.