6 Scenic Driving Holidays Across Italy
The Amalfi Coast
A road trip along this UNESCO World Heritage Site will take you to some of most well-known destinations in Italy, including Positano, Ravello and Sorrento. Start in Naples, the birthplace of pizza, before heading past Mount Vesuvius and making your first stop in Pompeii. The ruins stretch to over 400,000sq. metres, with visitors usually taking between two and four hours to explore the historical site. After getting your culture fix, journey on to Sorrento, a beautiful coastal town perched on the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naples. The drive from Sorrento to your next stop, Positano, will take about 45 minutes. Spend a few days drinking in the sunshine at Bagni d'Arienzo, a pebble beach filled with coral sun loungers and umbrellas. For something a bit more secluded, take the steps down to Laurito. From there, move on to Ravello, your final stop, which is known for its luscious gardens and panoramic coastal views.
Where to stay…
On the road between Positano and Ravello, book in for a few nights at the idyllic Casa Angelina. Set high up in the cliffs, the hotel offers guests panoramic ocean views and relaxed, yet luxurious, rooms. Enjoy a sundowner on the rooftop terrace or lounge around the pool under a canopy of lemon trees.
One of the most scenic road trips across Italy, this route takes you to Lake Garda, Lake Iseo and Lake Como. Start in romantic Verona, before driving up to the largest Italian lake, Lake Garda, which should take about an hour and a half, bypassing the archaeological site of Grotte di Catullo, as you go. After a few days spent taking in the beauty and culture of Lake Garda, travel to the fairytale-esque Lake Iseo, a remote expanse of water in the Italian Alpine region, which is surrounded by pebble beaches. Then, finish on a high at Lake Como. Drive there through the mountains, a journey which takes just under three hours, or stop off in Milan for a few days before heading back to the countryside. The deepest lake in Italy, Como is a summer playground where city dwellers relax and enjoy afternoons sailing with an aperol spritz in hand. Bellagio is one of the most beautiful spots in the area, which offers plenty of adventure sport opportunities, such as rock climbing and water skiing.
Where to stay…
The lakes can be pricey, but Villa Liberty near Lake Como is one of the most reasonably priced luxury hotels in the area. It offers a selection of rooms, suites and apartments, all of which feature contemporary stylish decor, as well as a terrace restaurant with views over the water.
This road trip is best for adults only, thanks to the plethora of vineyards you pass along the way. The region is loved by locals and tourists alike for its rolling hills, charming hamlets and beautiful scenery, as well as its winemakers – which produce some of the best bottles in the country. Siena is your starting point, whose historic city centre has been classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit Tenuta Prima Pietra, the highest vineyard on the coast, which produces organic wines and offers tasting sessions and cookery classes. Tuscany isn’t just about the wine though, with plenty of communes to visit such as Orbetello on the coast, and Pelago near Florence. A strip of land in the middle of the eponymous unspoilt lagoon, Orbetello is close to the charming fishing village of Talamone, while Pelago is home to ancient castles and pretty olive groves.
Where to stay…
While in Orbetello, book into Casa Iris. Each room has an en-suite and private sitting room, with pretty antique touches coupled with modern, eclectic furniture to create a relaxed, yet elegant, home away from home.
The Dolomites are just as majestic in summer as they are during the ski season. The entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and covers the provinces of South Tyrol, Trentino, and Belluno. It’s a great road trip to do with children thanks to an abundance of outdoor activities, from climbing to cycling, and watersports to wildlife spotting. As well as weaving past lakes and national parks, you’ll also drive through the iconic Passo Gardena. Stop off at two of the most beautiful lakes in the region, Lago di Carezza and Lago di Braies, both of which boast sparkling turquoise waters. Hikers can also embark on the Tre Cime di Lavardeo loop, a series of walks around the three peaks, while families can rent bikes and lift passes at the ski resort Val di Fassa, open during both summer and winter. Spend a week exploring this route to give yourself enough time to relax.
Where to stay…
The Seehotel Ambach sits right on the shores of Lake Caldaro in South Tyrol, offering guests plenty of peace and quiet between drives. Expect understated 70s decor and a chic, easy-going atmosphere.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean, and driving around its ragged coastline promises to be a magical trip. Fly into Palermo, Sicily’s cosmopolitan capital, and start by drinking in the culture and history of the city, which is home to Roman, Greek and gothic architecture, as well as an abundance of museums and galleries. A visit to the catacombs is a must, as is a stop off at the stunning Church of Santa Caterina. Drive for two hours to reach Catania, a chic coastal city that boasts Mount Etna as its backdrop. As for the beaches, La Playa is the most popular, while the quieter Cyclops’ Riviera is a secluded pebbled shore shrouded in myth and legend. Spend a few days catching some rays before driving or catching the bus to Mount Etna, the highest volcano in Europe, which you can hike up from the base at Parco dell’Etna, Sicily’s only national park. Next, drive an hour north to Taormina, a hilltop town with sea views and a beautiful ancient theatre. Finish by catching a boat over to Isola Bella, a pretty, tiny island with a cove-style beach and nature reserve.
Where to stay…
While in Taormina, book a stay at Villa Ducale, a boutique hotel with ocean views. Take your pick from courtyard rooms, sea view suites or the rooftop penthouse to enjoy a taste of Italian luxury between stops.
Fancy ticking off all the big Italian cities in one, unforgettable trip? Hire a car and follow this route, taking a week or two to explore the major sites. Start in the glamorous playground of Milan, before heading to romantic Verona and Venice. In the seductive waterside city, take a trip on a gondola along the Grand Canal, walk over the Rialto bridge and indulge in a day trip to Burano, home to rows of brightly coloured buildings. The midway mark on the route is Bologna, the buzzy historic capital of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. A foodie’s paradise, the city is known for its culinary delights and pretty cafés that line the terracotta squares, while visits to the towering Torre Degli Asinelli and Madonna di San Luca offer a dose of culture. The final stops are Florence and Rome, but there is an option to extend your trip further to Pisa to catch a glimpse of the famous leaning tower. Each drive takes under two hours and you can also do it by train.
Where to stay…
The Continentale Hotel in Florence is a perfect place to rest between drives. It sits right on the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge in the heart of the city. We love the sleek, contemporary design of the rooms, as well as the stunning terrace. For an added treat, breakfast can be taken in your room.
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