Northern Italy has it all; incredible food, idyllic scenery, great art and culture, and a pleasant climate. And a road trip is one of the best ways to enjoy it. For anyone planning or dreaming up their next getaway, why not hire a car and embark on any one of these scenic and heavenly Northern Italian road trip routes?
The Italian Lakes
The beauty of the Italian Lakes couldn’t really be overstated. Explore the villages of pastel-painted houses decorated with flower baskets and shutters that sit aside Lake Garda. Or break up a road trip with a boat ride taking in the grand neoclassical villas that line Lake Como’s glistening blue water’s edge, while mountains covered in cypress forest and terraces of olive and lemon groves form the backdrop. You can tailor your road trip itinerary to match your needs, whether that’s a week spent circumnavigating Garda. Or a leisurely day spent driving 70km around Como’s southern shore, stopping in charming little towns like Bellagio. Book yourself a night at Palazzo Albricci Peregrini in the town of Como, an easy starting point to a trip around the lake.
The Pordoi Pass
The Grande Strada delle Dolomiti (or the Great Dolomites Road) winds for 182km through the magnificent granite peaks of the eponymous mountain range. The entire route runs from the city of Bolzano to a town called Cortina d'Ampezzo but you can break it up, as you wish. You’ll want to take it at a relatively slow pace though; leaving time for detours to go on spectacular hikes and viewpoint pit stops to fully appreciate the scenery. Expect castles, glaciers, crystalline turquoise lakes that contrast with the grey granite, and stupendous natural monuments like the jagged Pordoi Pass. Start your trip staying at Goldenstern Townhouse, a B&B in Bolzano.
Milan to Rome
The Tuscan landscape
From Italy’s fashion capital to its actual capital, this road trip route takes in some of the country’s finest treasures. It’s a six-hour straight drive but ought to be broken up into a several-day jaunt. Stop in Bologna, a youthful city on account of its university (famous as the oldest university in continuous operation in the world) to try ragu with fresh shaved parmesan in the very city from which it came. Next, visit Florence for a taste of Renaissance art and architecture. And Siena for its magical Tuscan cityscape, marked by the The Torre del Mangia towering over the main square, Piazza del Campo. Round off your trip in Rome, staying at the Hotel Vilòn.
Venice to Milan
Pastel coloured houses over channel in Burano
Start by spending at least a few car-free days amid Venice’s dreamy waterways, taking gondola rides and trips to the lagoon islands of Murano and Burano. Then hit the road and head to Padua, home to another of the world’s oldest universities as well as some of the world’s most historically significant frescoes by Giotto in the city’s Scrovegni Chapel. Your next port of call should be Verona, home of Romeo and Juliette and the Arena di Verona, a Roman amphitheatre built in 30 AD that is still used today for opera and pop concerts. Get a ticket to a show here and spend the night in Verona before driving on to Milan to finish up your road trip with a stay at Moscova Luxury B&B.
Turin to Florence
The coastal villages of the Cinque Terre
This road trip route is one for the sightseers, taking in some of Italy’s most iconic attractions, from the colourful terraces of the Cinque Terre to the photo op-friendly leaning Tower of Pisa.
While it’s not recommended to drive the Cinque Terre – a string of scenic coastal villages with pastel-painted houses that decorate the hillside – you can park your car for this portion of your trip to walk the trail. There’s also plenty to see and do in Turin, where you start your trip (and hire your car). And the captivatingly pretty sight of the church tower with a tree growing on top in the town of Lucca, which is also en route. Not to mention mighty monuments like Florence’s exquisite Duomo and its medieval Ponte Vecchio (or Old Bridge), as the grand culmination of your trip while staying at Corte Calzaiuoli Elegant Suites.
If you’re in need of a playlist for the drive – or simply want to get in the mood for your trip – this curation of top Italian tracks will transport you to a Bel Paese summer.