First Time at the “Salone di Camper” of Parma

Italy, Parma, Salone del Camper
After more than 10 years that we own a camper van, we finally decided to visit the famous Salone del Camper of Parma. Hence this is not a post about our travel experiences but about our personal impressions on what it is considered to be the event of the year for camper lovers in Italy. The short version: what a disappointement! Following is the large version…

After we had read in various forums horror stories about endless queues at the ticket offices, restaurants with horrible food and absurd prices, crowds waiting to visit the interior of the luxurius/giant motorhomes, it seemed like a good idea to arrive on Wednesday, thereby avoiding the hordes of weekend visitors.

Italy, Parma, Salone del Camper
The building of the Fiera (Fair)

We arrived in the late afternoon after the closing time, as advised by many, to find parking more easily, but when we passed in front of the parking area of the Fiera we changed our mind.  What we saw was a sea of white vehicles lined up; they were parked so closely together that in many cases opening the windows was out of question. There was no way for us to join voluntarily this chaos. We pass the Fair hoping to find a place to park near without this feeling of being in an apartment building on the outskirts of a big city Basically we have chosen to live in our camper because of our taste for the outdoor life and the open air .. . or not?

Parma, Salone del Camper

At exactly one kilometer from the Fiera grounds [44.85069,10.27825] we found this (free of charge and apparently quiet) parking area with a few shiny new RVs already parked. Initially, as it often happens, their owners at the sight of our small, humble camper-cav, they seemed a bit worried, but then when they realised that we don’t look dangerous they just ignored us. In fact I do not think that we would have much to share with them 😉
The funny thing is that despite their snobby attitude, we noticed that ALL of them they were illegally parked. Our 5-meters vehicle was the only one that was regularly parked within the marked areas. The shiny ones were either jutting closing all over the sidewalk or occupying more than one space. Without any shame

Italy, Parma, Salone del CamperItaly, Parma, Salone del Camper

In the morning, we walked up to the exhibition grounds; it took us less than a quarter of an hour, half of which inside the parking lot where we had to pass by through narrow corridors formed by parked motorhomes. Notice that the parking area was still half empty (!) as it was mid-week and there were no crowds yet. During week-end every single meter of this parking area was filled up. We confirmed that we made the right choice to avoid the Fiera parking that, by the way, costs 8 euro per day!

Italy, Parma, Salone del Camper
One of the most ‘strange’ vehicles

We discovered with surprise that the ticket offices were empty as well as the exhibition halls. It seems the traffic begins after 11.00. At first we remained a bit intimidated by the size of the exhibition: four pavilions with hundreds of camper vans and motorhomes exposed, in addition with stands with various accessories and foodstuffs.

We began our pilgrimage from manufacturer to manufacturer, mostly to satisfy our curiosity and secondly to see if we can find a model that could replace our faithful, but now old enough camper van.

Let start by saying that the characteristics for the ideal motorhome for us are:
Maximum length of 5 meters, to park and circulate everywhere without problems
Van with side door, to have a window on the outside world and, most important, not to feel locked inside a refrigerator truck
Height at least 2.80 to not suffer from claustrophobia when we remain closed in during the long winter afternoons or the rainy days
– bathroom with shower
Comfortable and spacious living room, with a chance to lie down for an afternoon nap
A comfy double bed of 1.40 x 2 meters
Closet to hang the few things that we carry with extra space for our bags of photographic equipment

Do we ask too much? So it seemed to most of the manufacturers/dealers! They remained all very surprised when we told them that the camper that we now own have all these features, plus a second double bed! The only drawback is that it is a ’88 model classified Euro 0, so we begin to have problems to circulate freely in some cities.

Italy, Parma, Salone del Camper
This experimental motorhome was the most interesting model for us regarding innovations and equipment ( not currently in production)

Wherever we saw a van-style camper we stopped snooping to see the wonders of the new technologies. First observation: excluding the classic models of Westphalia that however don’t have a bathroom and one (1) model of Gulliver which unfortunately has adopted the ‘refrigerator door’ , there were no other camper vans up to 5 meters!!! The smaller begins from 5.40 m.
Ok… 40 extra cm may not be the end of the world. Obviously your parking options are limited and you also have to be extra attentive when you get in small villages BUT in exchange for more space maybe you can make a compromise … And here we come to our second observation: with a couple of exceptions ( sold at exorbitant prices) the living space of all the camper vans that we saw is considerably reduced! It seems strange but all manufacturers have adopted the same horrendous organization of interior space. In practice, from one model to another what changes is just the colors and some small detail.

Italy, Parma, Salone del CamperItaly, Parma, Salone del Camper
Italy, Parma, Salone del Camper
Different models, the same lack of practicality and convenience! Where are we supposed to put our legs?
Italy, Parma, Salone del CamperItaly, Parma, Salone del Camper

The main reason for this situation is the fixed rear bed which takes away, in the best of cases, 1,20 of space. So it is obvious that everything has to shrink; the dinette has a table like the one we find in the trains, where it is impossible to put two dishes on the table oposite one another and the seating arrangement reminds us the spaciousness offered by low-cost air companies… And as if these were not enough, the kitchen became an obstacle closing half of the door aperture. Extra bonus: in many models there is no longer a decent wardrobe In return they all have led lighting and electric step

To hear the vendors, the responsibility falls on the customers who are too lazy to make the bed every night, transforming the dinette into sleeping area, as in the “oldmodels. We currently live in a camper van and we can assure all the camper constructors and designers that in the models that they propose now we cannot stay for more than 1 week. Please, less luxury and less gadgets and more intelligent use of space and resources Are we the only ones who think so?

Last stop: Koroni
Greece to Italy via Sarajevo
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