It’s one of the heritage capitals of Europe, whose historic cities play host to tourists all year round. But there is another way to see the country – and here we present five reasons to rent a car and roam beyond the cultural hotspots. There’s a lot of Italy waiting to be discovered.
The right size for driving – The USA might be the first country that comes to mind when you think about road trips, but it’s actually very difficult to see the whole place that way – unless you’ve got several weeks free. On the other hand, Italy occupies a much smaller land mass, making driving between towns and cities much easier – while supplying just as much beautiful scenery in between. A little research on the internet will reveal many recommended routes, each of which should last one day or two – join a few of these up and you can fill any holiday with both unforgettable journeys and restful stops along the way.
The roads are ready for you – As one of Europe’s leading economies, it should come as no surprise that Italy has a well-maintained road network, but that’s far from the whole story. Autostradas (the Italian version of a motorway or freeway) are privatised, meaning you’ll have to pay a toll – but they do offer an excellent way to make up the miles in a short time, you can also get real-time information on driving conditions over Autostrade.
Besides the bigger roads, there are state, regional and provincial highways – and the good news is that the Automobile Club d’Italia offers assistance to drivers without a subscription (charging instead by the incident).
Relax on the road of Tuscany – One of the most popular road trip routes, the two-day trip from Florence to Orvieto is maybe the most relaxing. You can easily spend a day (or more) sampling the treasures of Florence – with some of the earliest Renaissance architecture plus the Uffizi Gallery’s world-class collection.
Next, ease off north into the Chianti region – where it’s only polite to attend a wine tasting (though, of course, don’t mix this with driving). Once recovered,
Challenging routes at Amalfi – For a real change of pace – and for confident drivers only – the drive along the Amalfi coast is regularly breath-taking. At the same time, keep your eyes on the curves – the EU has managed to cut the number of road deaths on Europe’s roads by 20%, but signage and improved surfaces can only do so much. So expect narrow roads which can turn tightly and often. But those navigating these will be rewarded – Amalfi is a beautiful beachfront destination perfect for drivers to unwind by exploring the alleys, stairways and historic shrines. Further along the coast, Sorrento is a popular tourist destination and a great place to hire a boat, take a hike or simply feast in a trattoria. In the distance is one of Italy’s most famous landmarks – Mount Vesuvius.
Get off the tourist trail at Abruzzo – It’s hard to believe Abruzzo is only an hour’s drive from Rome, such as the quality and depth of unspoilt countryside all around. This is a route through valleys and around mountains – including the highest in the Apennine Mountains, Corno Grande. Continuing on, it’s the perfect region to picnic in nature, or explore some wonderfully off-the-trail villages where you’ll see many more locals than tourists.