I am a lot of things. One might call me a moderate banana bread maker. Or perhaps an ALMOST FIORENTINA (YOU LIKE THAT ONE?). Maybe even a biking queen. But I am not someone who goes camping. Someone who can just POP A SQUAT and start a fire. Someone who knows what “GO NORTH EAST FOR 2 AND A HALF MILES THEN TURN LEFT ” means. Someone who can name the trees and birds around me and can casually flick off a spider from their plaid shirt (I PREFER TO YELL AT THE SPIDER. IT HAPPENS NATURALLY AND FEELS RIGHT).
I am a woman with needs. I need coffee in the morning. I need a solid waterproof eyeliner. I need a moderately expensive cleanser. I also need to be able to SEE MY LEGS WITH MY EYES IF I HAVE TO SHAVE THEM, (we can get to that later) to feel like myself. So it would only make sense for me to book a 5-day trip of “EASY CAMPING” (SPOILER: WASN’T THAT EASY, BABE) holiday with shared bathrooms, outdoor showers and no air conditioning in the heart of Grosseto.
Last month, I remembered that I had taken a one-week holiday in July and hadn’t booked a single thing. Oh no! Where do I even go! I don’t even have a car! I don’t want to leave Kiwi at a dog sitter! After desperately searching for last minute Italian vacations in July that didn’t cost thousands of euros on a Saturday night, I came to the realization that I probably should’ve booked a little earlier.
While searching for dog-friendly, easy to get to by train and less than 3 hours away vacations from Florence for what felt like 46 hours, I stumbled upon an “EASY CAMPING” holiday idea. It was called Glamping, or something. Dogs were welcome, it was less than 3 hours away, I could access the campgrounds by Train and Bus and it would cost under 500 euro for the whole experience. OKAY, OKAY, NOW WE’RE TALKING. Before giving it a second thought or asking myself if I knew what glamping even meant, I thought THIS IS IT. SIGN ME UP, BABY. I’M GONNA BE THE GIRL WHO GOES GLAMPING ON HOLIDAY. I’ve seen the TikToks. I know about girls who live in their vans. LET’S DO THIS.
Side note: I invited my partner to join this adventure and he agreed even though he is even LESS of a camping girl than I am. So if I use “we”, this is why.
Let the Glamping Diaries begin.
(By the way, I won’t be saying what/where this place is because the customer service wasn’t, IN MY PERSONAL OPINION, the best, the camp area wasn’t what I thought it would be and it’s not something I would necessarily recommend).
Our bags are packed and we call a taxi to bring us to Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station. Normally, I would walk to the station, but carrying bags, Kiwi and a beach umbrella under the pounding Florentine summer heat didn’t seem like the best way to start this holiday. After a 10 euro cab ride and a little McChicken (McDonald’s before trips is a guilty pleasure), we find our spots on the train and settle in. When I say settle in, I mean get annoyed with all of the tourists who refuse to wear their masks on the train—even though there is an audio recording on REPEAT reminding everyone to wear their masks on the train or they will be forcefully removed at the next stop—and accept the lack of air conditioning. I see my partner putting in his airpods and turning on his meditation playlist so I know he’s NOT FEELING SO FRESH either. I tell a couple who decides to sit next to us that masks are VERY MUCH STILL MANDATORY in Italy and they have to put them on. This is very unlike me, as I mostly keep to myself, but there have been so many cases of COVID lately that even I find the courage to speak up.
As we approach Grosseto train station, I receive a text message from our camping hosts with the number of our tent and the lock code. “So I guess our tent locks?” All of this means nothing to me, but I accept my camping fate. We get off the train, walk across the street to LIDL supermarket and buy camping essentials (coffee, hot dogs, buns, sandwiches and beer) before finding a taxi to bring us to the camping village.
After a 46 euro taxi ride (that suddenly became 48 when we asked to pay by card) and a rigged taxi meter that was going A LOT FASTER than it should’ve been, we arrive at our destination. As we step out of the cab, we are suddenly overcome by THE OVERWHELMING SOUND OF CRICKETS CHANTING IN THE TREES. “Oh my god, WHY ARE THEY SO LOUD?”
After a few Google searches, we learn that male crickets are desperately looking for summer love and are singing to find female mates. I don’t know guys, but the male crickets in Grosseto ARE REAL DESPERATE AND CLEARLY DON’T WANNA BE SINGLE FOR THE SUMMER.
As we wait for our caddy driver to bring us to our tent, we stop talking because we can’t hear the sounds of our own voices and it kind of feels like our ears are blocked. This may sound dramatic, but believe me when I say the crickets WERE LOUDER THAN THE CLUB ON A SATURDAY NIGHT IN MIAMI.
Following a struggle with the tiny pink tent lock and the realization that it is REAL HOT in this “GLAMPING” tent, I start looking around. This place kind of feels like a simulation. Happy kids are biking by, light is shining through the bright green trees, the birds are chirping…I feel weird. At least we have a mini fridge to keep our beer cold.
THE SOUND OF THE CRICKETS IS DEAFENING. HOW WILL I SURVIVE 5 DAYS OF THIS.
After a few hours spent wondering and asking ourselves “wtf, now what?”, I start people watching because I feel so far from my comfort zone. In front of our tent is a couple of 70-something women who look like they’ve done this before. I see them grab a towel and a toiletry bag and head to the showers. It’s 7pm. They are confident. They are cool. THEY. ARE. CAMPERS. We decide to do the same. As we walk towards to bathrooms, I realize that we’re going to have to walk 30 meters every single time we need water. This is going to get annoying.
I spot my cool 70-year-old camping friends walk into the shower and I’m like OKAY, OKAY, I CAN DO THIS. The sun is setting and I happen to choose a shower without a functioning light (I will later learn that half of the bathrooms and showers do not have functioning lights and even the ones that do work are quite dim).
I fumble around the dark shower very awkwardly, drop all of my products on the greasy floor and try to wash my hair with a 2in1 Body Wash/Shampoo that turns my hair into something I’ve never seen before. As I grab my razor, I realize I can’t actually see anything.
HOW DO I SHAVE MY LEGS IN THE DARK? WHAT AM I DOING HERE? WILL THE CRICKETS EVER SHUT UP?
I’m fresh out of the shower and I feel a lot better even though I missed some spots on my legs and can’t get my brush through my hair.
I’m feeling good. I see a few men drinking a can of beer and using the BBQ. Couples are sitting in front of their tents and having aperitivo. We decide it’s time to eat so we turn on the gas stove and make some hotdogs as the sun is setting. We open a bottle of cheap rosé and suddenly understand why everyone around us is drinking. Maybe this place is not so bad.
My partner asks “What happens if there’s a thunderstorm?” I have no answers.
Lights are off, fan is on and I think about the hot dogs we just had under the Grosseto night sky.
That clementine sunset between the trees was pretty cute.
I am WIDE AWAKE. I would be lying if I said I had a good night’s sleep. From thinking things were crawling on my legs to seeing weird shadows outside my tent, let’s just say I didn’t rest much. I look at my phone and check when the sun will rise so I can escape the tent. 5:48am. Okay, I’m going to wait 17 minutes and then get up. Kiwi decides she’s over the tent and wants to go for a walk too.
I zip open the tent in fear and hope no weird bugs or animals are WAITING TO EAT MY DELICATE BODY. The coast is clear. On my right, I can see the sun rising between the trees. There are a few crickets who have already begun LOOKING FOR LOVE but nobody is really awake yet and the silence sounds so delicious to me.
I grab my makeup bag and walk over to the bathrooms. I try to make myself look decent but my crunchy hair from the 2in1 BODY WASH SHAMPOO IS REALLY KILLING MY VIBE. I braid my hair, throw on some eyeliner and put on some fake golden hoop earrings to feel normal. I fill my water bottle with lukewarm water and walk back to my tent. I put a moka pot on the gas stove and read my book as I wait for my morning coffee.
We walk to the beach. The camping village we’re staying at is across the street from a dog-friendly beach. The water isn’t the bluest of blues and there are a few cockroaches hanging out in the sand, but it’s good enough for us. We set up our umbrella and try our best to be like the Italians. My body is covered in a thick paste of Bilboa sunscreen and sand. We last until 1pm and head back to our tent to shower and have lunch.
FYI: I still have difficulty seeing my legs in the shower and decide that IT IS WHAT IT IS will be my motto for the rest of the holiday.
We make grilled turkey sandwiches and realize it’s way too hot in our tent so we should probably do something. We head over to the sinks and wash the dishes. This part of the experience is perhaps the most annoying. Generally, washing dishes isn’t something anybody REALLY LOVES doing so when you have to walk 30 meters with all of your pots and plates and soap and sponge and have to use a sink that only stays on for 12 seconds at a time, it can get a little FRUSTRATING.
I come to the realization that camping simply means doing EVERYTHING YOU ALREADY DO AT HOME BUT WITH LESS COMFORT AND 4 TIMES MORE EFFORT. IT IS WHAT IT IS.
Following my big camping awakening, we drink some rosé and decide that camping aperitivo hour starts at 3pm from now on.
The wine buzz is making us laugh at ourselves and our camping experience suddenly feels very funny so we head to the camping village market to buy some more wine and chips. The prices are outrageous. One bag of basic Italian cookies are 4 euro. Tuna is 6 euro. We buy a bottle of cheap white wine, Italian chips and lettuce because we haven’t eaten anything green since we’ve been here and walk back to the tent to keep the aperitivo party going. Someone in the distance starts playing Panic! at the disco on their portable speaker. We’re feeling A-OKAY.
We decide to try the camping village restaurant pizza. I order an AMERICANA, NATURALLY. Put fries on my pizza and I’m a happy girl. It’s mediocre but I EAT IT ALL ANYWAY.
I’m exhausted from not sleeping the night before. We watch a few TikToks, but the wifi is bad so we turn on the fan and go to bed.
I AM STILL ALIVE. IT IS DAY 3.
I feel like I have a camping routine now. I am not as confident as my tent neighbors. but I KNOW WHAT TO DO. I get up, walk to the bathrooms, and put on some overalls. I send a selfie to my father to let him know I am still alive. He finds the whole thing a little funny because he knows I’m not AN EXPERIENCED CAMPER. I walk back to the tent and can hear the neighbor snoring. It’s so loud and I start to wonder if his wife is sleeping through this.
I grab my tripod and take a few pictures for the blog (the featured image is me smiling by myself with my tripod). A few seconds later, a bug flies into my hair. I scream.
We decide to spend a day at the camping village pool instead of the beach. I’m not in the mood to cover my body in sunscreen and sand and we think it could be fun to have a pool day. It’s a slow morning. The lifeguard is so kind and we immediately fall in love with him. I almost forget about the deafening sound of the crickets. I make some bracelets and read my book. Dare I say I feel RELAXED?!
We have some hummus and chips with beer for aperitivo.
LE CICALE. THE MALE CRICKETS. WHY CAN’T THEY FIND LOVE. WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS CHANTING. SOMEONE GET THESE GUYS HELP, THE SINGING ISN’T WORKING. THE LADIES DON’T WANT THEM.
We take showers, make hotdogs again and end the night with a gelato. Don’t ask me about my legs.
The guy working at the camping village bar is full of face piercings and blasts System of a Down every night. We order granita. He says the blue granita isn’t that good but I order it anyway. It’s a vibe.
As we’re brushing our teeth, Kiwi’s back wart suddenly explodes. I’M SORRY TO BE GRAPHIC BUT KIWI IS A SENIOR DOG WITH WARTS THAT SOMETIMES EXPLODE OKAY. We clean her up and we’re in bed by 1030pm.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW, IT’S NOT EVEN 6AM AND I AM AWAKE. 24 HOURS LEFT UNTIL WE LEAVE. I slept well last night.
I forgot to mention this, but on the first night, I decided that the tent felt like it was suffocating me so I’ve been sleeping with my face at the foot of the bed because it feels like there is “more air” floating on top of my head and I can breathe better. IT IS WHAT IT IS.
I think we all know where this is going. I do MY MORNING THING (bathroom walk, fill my water bottle, do my makeup and make a moka pot while I read my book) and we head to the beach for a few hours so Kiwi can swim in the sea.
We head back to the camping village and start packing. We’re feeling ready to get back to our beloved Florence.
It’s lunch time. We eat everything leftover in the fridge so we don’t have to bring anything back with us. Olives, white bread, turkey, leftover hummus, flat Coca Cola, a beer, a protein cookie and a few taralli. We grab our bathing suits and head back to the pool.
I can’t properly remember what happened when during these hours because I blacked out from the stress. But basically, we needed to buy bus tickets from the camping village info point to get back to the Grosseto train station but the info point only accepted cash (yes, it’s illegal). They told us to use the only ATM in the camping village. The ATM was broken and had been broken for a month. They tell us to download an app. The app doesn’t work. We panic. We text the Glamping people. They tell us to get on the bus without a ticket and explain our situation to the bus driver because he will be understanding. We tell her this doesn’t seem like the best advice. The Glamping people call us and are not very kind on the phone. They repeatedly tell us they don’t know how to help us. We order mango mojitos and try to make the app work. I eat 400 peanuts and then panic that the light peanut allergy I may or may not have will flare up in the middle of nowhere. We figure out that we can book a ticket from further away to get to Grosseto and that should work. Crisis averted.
We walk to the beach and decide to go to a restaurant for our last night. We were convinced it was a pizza place but it’s a fish restaurant. I order some of the best PACCHERI AL SUGO DI POLPO (paccheri with octopus sauce) I have ever had. We order fried calamari. We order white wine. We order dessert. We live THE LUSH LIFE on our last night. I feel like THE RICHEST WOMAN IN THE LAND after days of hot dogs and tents.
We finish packing, brush our teeth under a tree and jump in our tent. LAST NIGHT, BABY. WE MADE IT.
We wake up at sunrise, use the shared bathrooms for the last time and leave our tent. We are on cloud 9. We are at the bus stop by 630am. We jump on the bus going to Grosseto city center and stop at the first coffee bar we see. Nutella cornetto and a cappuccio. The sound of cars. No crickets for miles. We’re on the train for Florence at 8:30am and agree that camping probably isn’t our thing.
-Glamping is camping with a fridge
-Male crickets need to find a new and more effective way to meet girls
-Tents are either freezing or boiling hot. There is never an in-between.
-Spiders fall from the sky
-Shaving in the dark isn’t easy
Well, I guess that’s it. Thank you for reading if you made it this far and sorry for disappearing. I needed to piece my life back together before I could start writing about it again.
Please comment some of your camping horror stories.
See you soon xoxo