What happens when you get caught illegal camping in Italy?

Camping, tent, wild-camping, stealth-camping

The only thing you can shamelessly take for granted when traveling is that you never know. And this you-never-know is every wanderer’s daily bread kneaded out of the most delightful ingredients, my favourite ones being… the absurd and the unbelievable.  

Picturesque Northern Italy. My train has just arrived in Alpine Trento. My stomach feels like an ADHD-stricken butterfly farm when I’m waiting for Gunnar. Not only are we freshly in love, long-distance sweethearts, but it is going to be our first law-breaking date. And for this occasion, my beloved got a  brand new ‘one-second tent’. Wouldn’t you get thrilled yourselves?

After two cigarettes excused over his delayed train and enamel-annihilating teeth brushing at the station facility, I look as backpacker fresh as possible when my love is waving  to me from the platform. It got quite late but luckily enough, at least for the time being, we don’t need to walk far to spot that mausoleum towering over the place – how romantic! Traveling lovers camping at mausoleum… what a grasping story to tell! Plus the spot looks rather safe – who would climb a hill at night, except for the couple of the year?

The foot of the hill surprises us with a gate – a locked one, to be clear. Looks like our wild-camping is going to be stealth-camping after all. Who cares, during your first year as a cool peace/freedom/adventure backpacker you do not care, as a crazed rule.  Hence, thanks to Mother Nature who fitted us out with skinny butts, the gate is more of a mockup and we sneak in between the intruder-friendly bars with ease. Now, happy to get such a splendid accommodation for tonight we’re rushing up enjoying the fresh air while glittering windows of Trento become smaller and smaller as we climb the hill.

On the top it feels just perfect: tranquilizing view over the town getting ready to sleep, the illuminated mausoleum behind and the starry sky above…

Even the terrain is desirably flat and pitching our ‘one-second tent’ takes us only five seconds. The park opens at 9 a.m. so fortunately, for the time being, we don’t need to take off at the peep of day. How much in love I am, how paradisiac my new life is! Falling asleep in his arms, waking up lazily to a morning kiss… (Listen, there are some people walking! Oh, okay, sorry.)


Having thought so… so what is the ‘knocking’ at the flap around 6 a.m.? Pants on, quickly, no kiss, a peep outside, oh crap…

Dummies of the year. Or so in love, or so dark that we didn’t notice we’d pitched our super invisible tent just under the keeper’s nose?

Now we’re having the police car just next to our tent – meaning they drove twenty meters across the lawn squashing it completely – to fine us for squashing the lawn with our tent (this is why camping is illegal in the EU: because of its “detrimental effect on landscape.”) On the bright side, we are not the only dummies here.

That would be 180€, then. So there. Yet, full of hope and backpacking awesomeness, I’m standing there, tanned, denim shorts, activating my blue-eyed-blonde rescue mechanism, forgot my love, a dummy trying to flirt herself out of trouble.  But they ask for our passports anyway. One. Hundred. Eighty. I could travel for three weeks for the money. The uniformed dummy takes our IDs  and hides in the car.

But wait, he is coming back.

– If you pack the tent up in the blink of an eye we’ll report we found some people but there was no tent.

And that would be the end of the trouble, the only wrinkle is that the ‘one-second’ in the tent description refers to putting it up, not taking it down. Since they were already pissed off when they arrived (obviously, six in the morning is something most Italians have heard of, but never experienced themselves)  and now they seem to be more and more boiling, I jump to a little chat with the officers to entertin them with my Italian and win some time for Gunnar fighting with the tent that keeps springing out back to its ready-to-use form.

But yeah, we got away with it that time. Was it my powerful trick or Gunnar’s German passport? Or both, because say whatever but in the North of Italy they adore blue-eyed blondes, and Germans.

– And if you’re going to do that again tonight, you’d better go for that grill bar on the other side of the river. They close around 10 p.m.
– You mean we can camp there, officer?
– No, but it’s a private property and nobody is going to be there after 10, so nobody is going to bother us.

ITALY – what’s not to love?

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43 Responses

  1. Tiina A says:

    What a great story! It’s fantastic how the police was reacting and giving advice. There are so many different rules in every country.

  2. Ana says:

    It’s hilarious! Can’t believe that you got caught for this reason!

  3. Ivelisse says:

    Lol what a read! Sounds like you are adventurous.

    Ivelisse | CarnationDreams.com

  4. Lubka Henry says:

    Ooops, this sounds serious! I think I prefer finding a hotel to avoid such situations.

  5. Eugenia says:

    What a cool and fun story! Can’t believe they answered you like that ‘nobody is going to be there after 10, so nobody is going to bother u’! Now you know what to do next time, lol!

    • Hahaha, exactly, I was surprised too – but this is Italy, now I know – nobody bothers to wrap the truth in a shiny paper, they give it to you unpacked. And I love it this way 😉

  6. jennifer L says:

    haha what an adventure! Happy it worked out!

  7. Bluedreamer says:

    hahaha good thin you got away with it..it could have been a big trouble if ever… Honestly I haven’t tried a serious campin yet.. i think the last camping I had is when I was in elementary (boyscout in particular)… I would love to experience an overnight campin soon.. it would be fun

    • Do it! I love it! Since the time it happened I wild- and #stealth-camped hundreds of times. But beginnings are the best, before you stat recognizing ‘the sounds of darkness’ it’s a lot of adrenaline 😉

  8. Vanessa says:

    hahaha! WAY TO GO 🙂 That’s hilarious – and i love your writing style. Great adventure in deed!

  9. Lol there you were innocently backpacking and found a magical spot to camp in when you realized you were right under a keepers nose. Good thing you got away with it!

  10. Way to keep it suspenseful. lol 🙂

  11. Saminu Abass says:

    Woww. I was scared when starting the post but thank God you could avoid any bad thing that could have happened. Thanks for sharing

  12. Elizabeth O. says:

    Haha, I honestly thought you were in deep trouble until they said if you could pack the tent up they wouldn’t report it! It was exciting and scary at the same time, that’s for sure! Can’t believe they even gave you a tip on where to camp the next time! Lol.

  13. lex says:

    good story telling, unique, original and true to the basics of the events. .. spot on.

  14. Liz Mays says:

    Oh wow, I’m glad you managed to avoid some big trouble! I can’t believe they hinted at a different place you could try out.

  15. Fomo Queen says:

    Oh man, sounds like those cops hadn’t had their morning coffee. Funny story though.

  16. Too funny, what an experience to wake up to. I can only imagine the fun trying to frantically pack up the tent while half asleep and in a rush!

    • Yes, that was the funniest part because it was that ‘spring-out’ tent and we hadn’t used it before back then, it turned out to be very tricky to stop it from springing back out, so my boyfriend looked ridiculous (but fell in love with him, anyway 😉 )

  17. Brian says:

    I like the way you use adjectives and adverbs. Makes for a more engaging read.

  18. Melissa Rose says:

    Hahaha, oh dear!! At least you have a rebellious story to tell now :p

  19. Ree says:

    😂😂😂 love it!

  20. Helen says:

    Oh dear haha. I have done quite a bit of “not-so-legal” camping in the UK, Aus and NZ but so far I have been very lucky with it. You are right though, you never know.
    As for the officer driving on the grass. What an idiot!

  21. Jasmin N says:

    Hahah oh my goodness! It happens 🙂

    <3: Jasmin N

  22. haha no way they would help you for the next night where to camp 😛

    Love it!

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