People often don’t realise just how great Italy is for the perfect road trip but with its land comes real variety. There are beautiful countries with smooth, easy roads or the contrasting twists and turns through the snowy peaks. And there is just about everything in between. Whether you are looking for coastlines, towns with history, countryside or lakeside drives, Italy will have the perfect route for you. This is what makes Italy one of the best places to take a road trip. Whether you are travelling as a family or going solo, we guarantee it will be a memorable adventure.
We will go through 7 of the best road trips you can venture down, from drives in the beautiful Tuscan fields to the more adventurous mountain drives.
The Tuscany Adventure
If you choose to take this route you will drive through two of the great medieval cities of Italy, get the chance to taste some famous wines and take in some beautiful scenery. For this route, we recommend you allow two days, depending on how many times you’d like to stop off over night.
Start in Florence where you can check out the famous art work and Renaissance architecture before heading off South toward Chianti to do some wine tasting. Enoteca Falorini in Greve is one of the most well known locations for wine tasting so if you are looking to stop off and indulge, this might be a good place to do so. L’Antica Macelleria Cecchini in Panzano is perfect for those steak lovers wanting to try some local meals too. Next, head down the winding roads to Siena where you can immerse yourself in history in one of Italy’s medieval cities. The 12th century square in Piazza del Camp is a great place to take some pictures and stop off for a bite to eat. If you’re a fan of wines, make sure to drive up to Montalcino and get your hands on some Brunello di Montalcino which is one of the famous red wines of Italy. Now you have the choice to continue to drive East to explore the beautiful landscapes that Tuscany has to offer with their cypress trees and hilltop towns. To finish off your trip, make sure to stop off in Pienza, Montepulciano and Orvieto, home to the Gothic Duomo and definitely one not to miss.
The Stunning Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast if one Italy’s most famous tourist destination. It is loved for its winding roads and friendly locals so it’s no wonder people can’t get enough of the place. This drive is not only beautiful but is one for the more adventurous and thrill seeking drivers with a nerve-racking drive along the coast.
The road starts in Salerno which is known as the main gateway to the coast. If you are keen on your art, Vietri Sul Mare is a small town full of artists and ceramic pieces. Throughout the duration of your drive along the Amalfi Coast, the views get more breathtaking and the roads get more terrifying. The curves are tight but the views are more than worth it! Around 20km into the drive you will hit Amalfi itself, a great place to stop off for a while. Soak up the views and grab some lunch overlooking the gardens. After Amalfi you will head to Positano which is a stunning little town full of fashionable people and tall multi-coloured houses, winding down the hillside. Lastly, you will finish up inland in Sorrento where you can view Mt Vesuvius.
A two day tour of Baroque Sicily explores the beautiful treasures of the south eat. Beginning in the historic centre of Catania, you are able to explore the huge fish markets. It might be a good idea to enjoy a seafood lunch here on the Osteria Antica Marina and taste the local delicacy.
After you’ve eaten, head off to Syracuse where you’ll have chance to explore the ancient ruins at Parco Archeologica della Neapolis. Here you will also have the chance to enjoy the beautiful baroque streets of Ortygia.
On your second day you should head to what is known as Sicily’s most beautiful street – Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Noto. This is one often seen posted all over social media as it really is a beauty. Next you will head toward the small town of Modica which is set in a deep canyon. This town might be small but it’s very famous for its chocolate so make sure you don’t miss out on having a taste before you carry on to Ragusa and the historic Ragusa Ibla. Here you will also find one of Siciliy’s top restaurants called Ristorante Duomo.
Grande Strada Della Dolomiti
If you are looking for an exciting and exhilarating drive, this Great Dolomites Road might just be for you. The drive starts off in Bolzano and heads to Cortina d’Ampezzo. The scenery here is beautiful as you drive past the mountains.
Next you will head east to Ponte Nova where you will witness the stunning granite peaks of Dolomite. You will drive on to Val di Fassa which is a beautiful canyon with a bit of everything from forests to rock summits. Your drive will take you down to La Villa in the site of Val Vadia where you will find hiking in the summer months and skiing in the winter months – a great stop off if you’re looking for some adventure. From here you will finish up in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Starting in the town of Como, you will drive through the beautifully historic town of Villa Olmo which leads you on toward Bellagio down its winding roads. Here you might want to stop off to take in the views and grab some lunch at Terrazza Barchetta.
Once you’ve eaten, leave your car and head off on the ferry toward Tremezzo. Here you’ll find beautiful gardens and the 17th century Villa Carlotta. When you get back to Bellagio, your drive will take you south east toward the lakeside road to allow you to take in the scenery. This road will head down to Lecco and then to Bergamo which is full of history.
Head Up to Abruzzo
This drive is around an hours drive east of Rome. The town of Abruzzo is small but beautiful. It is full of green valleys and mountain landscapes.
From Rome you should take the A24 autostrada toward Fonte Cerreto. You will then move from Campo Imperatore to Santo Stefano di Sessanio which is an abandoned village high in the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga. Make sure to stop off for lunch at the Locana Sotto gli Archi and then after lunch head to Sulmona.
Sulmona is a cute little town set beneath Morrone Massif. There are lots of delicious eateries including Il Vecchio Muro but it’s also a great spot for exploring.
Lake Garda Views
Lake Como is well known for its beauty, but Lake Garda is one often missed. This drive takes you through Italy’s Veneto region and consists of a stunning drive along the Lake Garda banks. The views still captivate those who are locals, so there’s no doubt you will be amazed at its beauty! The scenery makes a beautiful backdrop for those photos that you’ll keep forever and if you’re into your history, there’s lots to discover on this drive through Verona, Brescia and Trento.
The Lake Garda drive actually features in Auto Europe’s Italy Road Trip Guide so definitely won’t disappoint. Being one of the longest road trips in the guide, it begins in Verona and is ideal for any budget due to the wide array of restaurants and cafes on route.
Special Mention: Foothills of Sabina
If you want to head to Rome, why not drive through the foothills of Sabina and enjoy the scenic route? The drive runs from Rome to Terni and allows you to observe the real Italian countryside surrounding the hustle and bustle of Rome itself. You can even drive around the stunning Lake Albano which is one not to be missed.
The Marcigliani Natural Reserve is also on route and we definitely recommend stopping off to drop out some local olive oils in this region. You can drive up to Mount Terminillo on your way to Amatrice and then head on through Lago di Campotosto State Reserve on route to Terni.
Tips For Road Trips Through Italy
- Don’t Rent a Big Car
Cars in Italy are small and a big car in Italy is anything bigger than a Fiat. When driving through to Positano, there will find tight curves, very narrow roads, road-sharing with tour buses and van taxis, and other drivers who are likely to be confused fellow tourists. The smaller the car you can get your hands on the better. Failing that, you might want to opt for a bus tour.
There are lots of websites that will rent you small cars for longer driving trips and you are also likely to come across many car hires when you enter Italy. If you choose in person, they will know you are a tourist so make sure you have done your research beforehand so that they don’t charge you too much. However, you are usually able to cancel within 24 hours of your reservation and get your money back so it won’t be the end of the world if you realise you want to change your car.
Related Post: Best Car Rental Companies
- Don’t Overpack
Realistically, if you are getting a tiny car, you won’t have a lot of room. So pack small! Only take the absolute basics. You can always stop off and buy things along the way, so only pack what you absolutely need.
- Expect to Pay Tolls
Just like with any country, sometimes in Italy you will come across toll roads. The prices for these will vary depending on where in Italy you are doing your road try but you should expect to pay around 25 euros in tolls between Naples to Pienza.
You should look for the booth that says ‘bidlietto’ which means ticket in Italian. You can than use the ticket when you exit the freeway and it will tell you how much you owe for the distance you have driven. There are numerous websites that allow you to work this figure out in advance if you like to be prepared.
- Look Up Where to Park in Advance
Parking can be a pain so it might be a good idea to have a look in advance of your trip at potential parking spaces. It might be good to have these written down so you can find them if you need them quickly. If you are in a small town and don’t speak Italian, it might be difficult to explain what you are looking for. If you have an address written down however that you can show someone, this will make things a lot easier. Don’t forget to fold in your mirrors too when you do park. The last thing you need is to be on the receiving end of some damage!
- Don’t Ever Leave Anything Visible
Whilst many travelers and locals will be friendly, don’t let yourself be lulled into a false sense of security. You still need to be vigilant with your belongings and this includes the things you leave on show in your car. Everything should be stored in your trunk or underneath the seats if possible. Anything valuable should be kept on you at all times. It might also be worth making sure all your essentials are covered by your insurance incase anything does happen.
- You Will See Weird Things
Be open minded. Italy is a different country and so will have different ways of doing things. There are many less exits off the freeway in Italy meaning that people sometimes have to pull over, something you wouldn’t normally see happen at home.
Children’s car seats are also not always used in Italy so don’t be too alarmed if you see children sitting on their parents laps.
- Avoid Limited Traffic Zones
When it comes to limited traffic zones, these are for resident use only. You should not be driving down those streets unless you live there and you definitely shouldn’t be parking there. If you do, don’t be surprised when you get shouted at by the angry locals!!
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