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.
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?
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…
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.
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.
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 “old” models. 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?