With its rich history and numerous amenities, Italy is a great place to embark on a road trip. The best way to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes that the Bel Paese has to offer is by renting a car and taking it slow, to savor every minute, from the first espresso in the morning to the last glass of wine before going to sleep.
Here are some itineraries to discover all the different faces of Italy.
Former capital of the Italian Kingdom, Turin was once home to the Royal Family, and as such, it is surrounded by sumptuous castles and palaces. At the heart of the city, in Piazza Castello, the official residence, Palazzo Madama, is open to visitors, as well as the adjacent Palazzo Reale, which always hosts art exhibitions. And don’t miss the fake medieval village, created by the King during the nineteenth century! Across the Po river is the spectacular Venaria, who’s been recently restored and opened to the public, while just out of town heading South are the Moncalieri Castle and Stupinigi, an impressive palace that was used as hunting reserve. And if you keep driving you’ll get to the Racconigi Castle: take a detour to Alba and taste some truffle on the way!
There is not a spot in Italy that won’t make you fall in love with it, there is not a spot that isn’t worth the miles you cover to reach it: you definitely want to head South and visit the “heel” of the “booth”. The Cathedral in Trani, right on top of a cliff, overlooking the Adriatic Sea will take your breath away, as well as the giant millenary olive trees, among which is possible to take a tour. Be stunned by the characteristic borough of Alberobello with its famous trulli, peculiar buildings with conic roofs, and visit Castel del Monte, where The Name of The Rose with Sean Connery was filmed.
And while you’re in Puglia, don’t miss an opportunity to have an happy hour on the beach in Gallipoli!
Home to the greatest artists of the Renaissance and to the First Italian High Fashion Show in 1951 (still today hosting luxury brands such as Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo) Florence has a lot of stories to tell. Nonetheless there are so many little towns in the amazing Tuscan countryside that are simply unmissable: Lucca is a picturesque town still enclosed in her Roman walls that won’t fail to fascinate you, as well as the unique medieval towers in San Gimignano, one of the few remaining examples of that architecture that is undoubtedly the ancestor of skyscrapers. On the way between Lucca and San Gimignano you’ll find the famous leaning tower of Pisa in Campo dei Miracoli, right beside the gothic Cathedral and the Baptistery.
Further South you will reach Siena, famous for her main Piazza where all the Contrade come together every August to compete in the Palio. Not far from Siena is the little borough of Pienza, famous for its delicious pecorino cheese, because anywhere you end up in Tuscany, you will always find excellent food to have with a glass of Tuscan wine…or two.
Naples is full of baroque master pieces by great painters like Tiepolo, and offers tons of food specialties that you’ll love tasting. And don’t forget the sea: spend a day at the beach, take a ferry to Capri and visit the most fashionable island in the world, where all the ladies since the Fifties go to show off their newest and boldest looks. Then jump back in the car and go to Pompei to discover the Roman city entirely preserved thanks to the Vesuvio’s eruption. And by the way, Vesuvio is a sleeping vulcan: climb it and go see the fumes coming out the crater for yourselves!
5. Cinque Terre
Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore: these are the names of the so called Cinque Terre. They are part of UNESCO world heritage for the extraordinary value of their landscape. But all the Liguria Region actually offers breathtaking views and splendid gravel beaches: from Nervi, near Genoa, to Porto Venere and the lovely Alassio. And if you drive towards the French border you’ll eventually get to Sanremo, the city of flowers…and, if you’re there in February, it’s also the city of music. Sanremo hosts the famous Festival di Sanremo, in celebration of Italian music, and during those days, the city welcomes celebrities from all over the world, attending the event.
6. Magna Graecia
Did you know you can see ancient Greek temples in Italy? The marvelous Valle dei Templi in Agrigento, Sicily, still testifies the ancient Greek conquest in southern Italy, with fully preserved temples that are not one bit less impressive than the Parthenon in Athens. And if you drive to Palermo you will have a taste of Arabia, that reflects in the majority of antique buildings and churches. To complete the tour of the old Magna Graecia drive to Calabria, and in Riace you will be able to admire the two bronze statues known as Bronzi di Riace, two of the few original ancient Greek bronzes left in the world.
7. Amalfi Coast
If you want to spend a true relaxing vacation and just lay in the sun, the warm and yellow sun of Southern Italy, the Amalfi Coast is the place for you. You can drive up un down the coast looking for beautiful beaches where to spend your days, or the cutest little restaurant to have some fresh fish and sip limoncello after lunch.
Visiting Amalfi, stretch out to the Pier to have your breath taken away in amazement by the show in front of your eyes: colorful houses building up to the mountains’ tops right behind the sea. And when sunset comes you definitely want to be in Positano to enjoy of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see.