The Ultimate Italian Road Trip: Exploring Italy’s Most Scenic Drives
They say, “Roads were made for journeys, not destinations,” and this is especially true when it comes to road-tripping in the beautiful country of Italy. If you have taken a few trips to Italy, you’d know that its countryside was meant to be explored by road. There’s nothing better than being on the road, just enjoying the scenic views of majestic mountains, seaside cliffs, and countryside cottages passing by while blasting music from the stereo. You can even stop anytime you want to try out some scrumptious local delicacies and snap some photos to commemorate your trip. That being said, it is not a stretch to say that an Italian road trip is among the best experiences in Europe. So, grab your keys, blast your favorite road trip playlist, and let’s start hitting the road.
The Amalfi Coast
The best coastal road trip
Route: Salerno to Sorrento
Distance: ~75km/46 miles
Perhaps the most famous of them all, the Amalfi Coast is the best road to take if you fancy breathtaking coastal scenery. The trip begins in Salerno, the main southern gateway to the coast. From there, continue on to Vietri sul Mare, a small town known for its ceramics. This is where the coastal road starts. Be prepared to test your driving skills before from here on out, the road becomes narrow, the curves tighter, and the views even more spectacular.
The Amalfi coast overlooks a stretch of pristine beaches and the deep blue Tyrrhenian Sea. Anywhere you look, it is picture-perfect in every way, so don’t forget to snap some photos for your Instagram.
After driving 20km (12 miles), you’ll arrive at Amalfi, where you can see the Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea. From here, you can go uphill in Ravello and take a leisurely lunch at Ristorante Pizzeria Vittoria while enjoying a panoramic view of lush gardens. After that, you can hit the road to the chic town of Positano and marvel at its colorful, steeply-stacked houses cascading down the hillsides. This route will lead you to Sorrento, a popular tourist hotspot overlooked by the majestic Mount Vesuvius.
Best time to visit: During fall and spring, between May and September.
Travel tip: If you have another day to spare, you continue north to Naples and see the ruins of Pompeii for yourself.
The Tuscan Route
The best road trip for art and architecture
Route: Florence to Orvieto
Distance: ~210km/130 miles
The Tuscan countryside is famed for its beautiful vineyards, medieval-aged hamlets, and quaint cafes. The best way to experience it is by taking a scenic drive along the route of Florence and Orvieto. The Tuscan route is a favorite among wine connoisseurs and epicures because apart from enjoying scenic views, you can also have wine-tasting sessions and food tours during your road trip. About an hour of driving from Florence, you’ll arrive at Siena, where you can find Piazza del Campo, a historic plaza in Italy. From here, you can also tour historic churches, various art galleries, and even go cafe-hopping. There are also various pit stops at Pistoia, San Gimignano, Cortona, and Todi.
Best time to visit: From late September to October and between April and May
Travel tip: Make sure you bring home a bottle or two of wine from Tuscany’s famed wineries.
Best road trip for town-hopping
Route: Catania to Ragusa
Distance: ~165km/103 miles
A road trip around the quaint island of Sicily promises panoramic views of pristine beaches with turquoise waters, mini-islands, vintage bars, and authentic seafood restaurants. The trip starts at Catania, and as you go along the way, you can have quick stops at one of its many medieval hamlets imbued with rich history and architecture. Here, you will see Francofonte, which is famed for its blood oranges; Vizzini, the oldest hamlet in Sicily; and Chiaramonte Gulfi, which is beloved for its towering Baroque churches, museums and scrumptious local foods. You can also stop by Syracuse and trawl through the ancient Greco-Roman ruins or take a leisurely stroll along the baroque streets of the Ortygia district or Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which is hailed as Sicily’s most beautiful street.
Best time to visit: May to June or September to October.
Travel tip: Taste and bring home some of Modica’s finest and most famous chocolates.
Along Lake Como’s Shore
Best road trip during springtime
Route: Como to Bergamo
Distance: ~112km/70 miles
Lago di Como (Lake Como) is among the most picturesque Italian lakes to date. Truly a breathtaking sight to see, this place is surrounded by Alpine peaks and lush hills that will instantly transport you to a tranquil headspace. If you fancy a calming road trip, let this leisurely one-day drive take you through elegant art nouveau villas lined with waterfront gardens along the lake’s shoreline.
Once you are done exploring the charming town of Como and the nearby Villa Olmo, start hitting the road leading to Bellagio. Here, you can take out your picnic basket and lay out a blanket to enjoy the warm afternoon sun along the charming lakeside. Alternatively, you can explore Villa Melzi d’Eril and have lunch at Terrazza Barchetta. Once you’ve had your fill, go southeast, following the scenic lakeside road down to Lecco and then to Bergamo.
Best time travel: April and May
Travel tips: If you’re a The Lord Of The Rings fan, take the time to visit Casa degli Hobbit, which is a quaint Hobbit themed villa a few kilometers outside Como.