Italy is so much more than just the famous cities that
visitors often flock to. While Florence, Rome and Venice are impressive,
Italy's small towns, rolling countryside and stunning scenery are best
experienced via road trip. The freedom of driving through Italy, with the
ability to stop in small towns, wineries or just to snap a picture, is
Italy has many diverse driving possibilities, from winding
mountain roads to meandering coastal drives. Here are a few of the most iconic:
Amalfi Coast (SS 163)
The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy's most scenic stretches of
coastline. Exploring the area via automobile is quite popular because it gives
visitors the chance to stop at the many small towns and beaches that dot the
coast. The popular route runs between the towns of Sorrento and Amalfi, passing
through Positano, Ravello and other colorful towns. The highway itself is
carved into the cliffside, with the side of the road dropping dramatically down
into the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The Great Dolomites Road
The rocky Italian alps, known as the Dolomites, provide a
dramatic setting for this popular two-day drive. Made from ancient coral reefs,
preserved and pushed upwards, the mountains are jagged with craggy snow-capped
peaks. The 110-mile drive is not for novices. It involves many sharp curves and
steep gradients, while offering up distracting panoramic view of the mountains.
The culture, like the scenery, is unique: once a part of Austria, the locals
here speak both German and Italian.
Strada Chiantigiana (SS 22)
The back road through Tuscany is significantly more scenic
than the faster, more direct highway that connects Florence and Siena. Picture
farms, vineyards and rolling hills occasionally dotted with a medieval bell tower
or ancient farmhouse. It's a unique day trip, which you can customize, with
stops at local wineries, small towns and local restaurants.
The Gallura Coast (D80)
Non-Italian tourists often overlook the island of Sardinia,
but the still mostly undiscovered Gallura Coast has amazing coastal scenery ideal
for exploration via car. Gallura is also called the Costa Smeralda – the
Emerald Coast, and features granite mountain faces plunging steeply into the
Mediterranean sea. You'll pass luxury hotels and resorts as well as untouched
slices of wilderness and carefully preserved views.
Via Aurelia (SS 1)
Italy' s oldest highway and one of its most classic drives.
This old Roman road was first established in 241 BC. Although it has had a few
upgrades since then, the highway follows the original route, leaving Rome and
winding along the Italian Riviera all the way to Pisa.
The Salento Peninsula (SS16)
Puglia, the “heel” of Italy, isn't known for its well-maintained
roads, but this trip will make the bumps and bruises worthwhile. Starting in
Otranto, the road runs along the coastline, passing dramatic limestone cliffs,
hidden green inlets and ancient Roman forts. The trip ends at the very tip of
the boot, in Santa Maria di Leuca, a delightful beach town with a party
Which Italian road trip do you want to tackle first?