Where to drive in Italy
Driving in Italy can take a bit of getting used to. Italians tend to drive fast and overtake even on the bendiest of roads. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t do it. Car is by far the best way to see the sights when your time is limited, and you’ll enjoy some of the world’s most spectacular scenery from your window. Fuel up on the excellent roadside coffee and buckle up for the ride of your life.
But where to go first? If you’re headed for the north of the country, it’s easy to collect a hire car at Milan Malpensa Airport or Milan Linate Airport. From there, many travellers will head to world-famous resort Lake Como, just a 40-minute drive from the airport at the foot of the Italian Alps. Spend a little longer behind the wheel and you can tick the stunning Dolomites off your bucket list. Just over three hours’ drive from Milan, the Great Dolomites Road – or Grande strada della Dolomiti will take you right through the heart of this craggy range, past castles and lakes before hitting the 2239m-high peak.
A little further down Italy’s ‘boot’ you’ll hit the region of Umbria with its medieval hill towns and forests. Capital city Perugia is well worth seeing and don’t miss Marmore Falls, created by the Romans and the world’s second highest man-made waterfall. From Umbria you can cross the border to Tuscany. The drive from cultural Florence to the medieval city of Sienna may only take an hour but you’ll remember it for years. The Via Chiantigiana will take you through the rolling hills of Chianti country. It’s a great way to visit some of the region’s famous vineyards and olive groves.
Keep heading south and you’ll find one of the curviest roads in Italy. The Amalfi Coast Drive is famous for being one of the most spectacular drives in the world – although it’s certainly not one of the easiest. Starting in Sorrento and taking in Positano, Praiano, Ravello and of course Amalfi, a seemingly endless number of hairpin bends snake past pastel-coloured villages and bright lemon groves to give way to staggering coastal views.
Right at the toe-end of Italy’s ‘boot’ is Sicily, with its volcanoes and catacombs. The short route between the Baroque hillside towns of Scicli, Ragusa, Modica and Noto makes a memorable trip while the beautiful town of Taormina, known as the pearl of the Mediterranean, is a good place to stay, especially if you plan to visit Mount Etna.
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