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The 7 Best Road Trips in Italy

Kenny Dunn

While many travelers enjoy a tour of Italy’s most famous monuments (or indeed a walking food tour of one of its most culinary neighborhoods), one of the best ways to get to know Italy and to make the most of your trip is to explore the beautiful Italian countryside by car. Auto Europe – a car rental company which has been matching travelers with affordable cars in Italy for over 60 years – has assembled a terrific list of Italy driving itineraries , and we thought we’d highlight these 7 classic Italian drives in the event you choose to enjoy one of these routes on your upcoming trip.

Why Take a Road Trip Through Italy

Perhaps you are in need of a vacation that will sweep you off your feet; then an Italy road trip should be at the top of your list. Driving here takes patience, but perhaps its because you should take your time so you can soak in the views and the culture.  It is a country filled with everything you could want, from history to food to scenic views. The drive through Italy itself is breathtaking, with winding roads leading through rolling hills dotted with quaint little towns, giving you ample opportunities to explore Italy’s rich culture, and you can stop and explore anywhere you want. Each stop on your journey will take you back in time to a different era and give you an experience you’ll never forget. Take a dip in the crystal clear waters of the Amalfi Coast or wander through the vineyards of Tuscany. The sights, smells, and tastes of Italy will stay with you forever. So pack your bags, buckle up, and hit the open road, because this is one adventure that you won’t regret!

Amalfi Coast

amalfi-coast

Italy’s Sorrento Peninsula offers drivers breathtaking views of crystal-clear water and charming hillside villas. This drive, often called the Blue Highway, can start easily from Naples. Enjoy a scenic cruise around Mt. Vesuvio as you tour Sorrento, Positano, and Salerno. The total driving time for this 4-day trip is about 5 hours (108 miles of jaw-dropping views). Bend after bend in the highway; you’ll discover some of the best photo opportunities. Make sure you plan stops to dine and explore in each of these fabulous towns; you’ll leave with a deep understanding of and appreciation for Italian life on the Amalfi Coast.

Click here for the full itinerary.

Auto Europe Car Rental

Stelvio Pass

stelvio-pass

If alpine views are more your style, then the Stelvio Pass driving route offers breathtaking vistas the hairpin turns will delight anyone wanting to see be surrounded by mountains throughout the journey. This itinerary includes stops in Bolzano, Stelvio, Bormio and Livigno. Here, you can stop to enjoy the wine culture, explore medieval towns and fresh mountain air and hiking. Northern Italy offers travelers unique cuisine and the opportunity to explore the stunning Ortler Alps. This might be our favorite road trip for nature lovers, as it offers you the chance to take one-of-a-kind alpine photos which will amaze your friends and family when you return from Italy.

tuscany

Food and wine lovers will love driving through Italy to see the rolling landscape of Casentino Valley. This drive from Florence through the Tuscan countryside will allow you to pause at wonderful wineries, eateries featuring the fresh, simple, and in-season ingredients that Tuscan food is known for. Stay at a quaint Italian hotel or guest house along the way. This 63-mile trip offers travelers plenty of time to explore, linger and delve into one of Italy’s most magical regions. Travel at your own pace while enjoying plenty of inspiring views of the iconic Tuscan countryside. Make sure you take the time to stop for a sunset (or two) and admire that golden light that makes Tuscany so special. While on your Tuscany trip , why not make a short detour to Florence to enjoy a food tour ?

sicily

The famous island of Sicily offers travelers gorgeous vistas of the Mediterranean, a unique and storied history and some of the most delicious and interesting seafood cuisine in the world. The itinerary begins in Catania with stops on the slopes of Mount Etna, seaside Taormina and concludes after 87 gorgeous miles in Messina. This 3-day tour of Sicily offers travelers the opportunity to stop and explore roadside shops and cafes, pausing to enjoy your new favorite restaurants and classic monuments and ruins – a truly great part of the island to explore by car.

lake-garda

While you may have heard of the glamor of Lake Como’s palatial estates, a drive through Italy’s Veneto region along the banks of Lake Garda offers savvy travelers equally beautiful vistas. Pause for photos with pastel-colored Italian villas and the lake’s crystalline waters as your backdrop, and enjoy the history of Verona, Brescia, Limone sul Garda and Trento on this fabulous drive. One of the longest routes in Auto Europe’s Italy road trip guide, the Lake Garda tour doesn’t disappoint. Begin in fabulous Verona and leave room in your itinerary for scenic detours. The itinerary also offers numerous restaurant recommendations, sorted by price, so no matter your budget you can find the perfect restaurant or café to leave you satisfied for the next leg of this delicious road trip.

Foothills of Sabina

foothills-of-sabina

If you’re planning a trip to Rome , this charming route which winds its way through the Sabina foothills from Rome to Terni offers you the chance to experience the beauty of the often-overlooked and unspoilt Italian countryside which surrounds this famous city. Here you’ll see lush, green hillsides, steep valleys, and hilltop towns. this route is sure to deepen your Italian experience and enhance your understanding of Italian culture. The pace here is much slower and enjoying the outdoor lifestyle and nature is a thing here. Scenic detours include driving around Lake Albano, among other beautiful areas. Continuing on the route, it will take you through the Marcigliani Natural Reserve as you follow the banks of the Tevere River, and we recommend pausing at a roadside stand to sample high-quality olive oils from any of the impressive olive groves in this region. Drive to the summit of Mount Terminillo on your way to Amatrice before enjoying a drive through Lago di Campotosto State Reserve on your way to beautiful Terni. While in Rome, why not join a food tour or culinary class and get to know the region through its cuisine?

The Italian Riviera

Italian Riviera - one of the best road trips in Italy

Craving a road trip through Italy on the Italian Riviera? This area is renowned for its idyllic harbours, colourful houses and dramatic coastlines. Discover the beauty of the numerous bays and Italian towns on an iconic road trip. From San Remo, the route takes you to Portofino, often listed as the prettiest harbor in the world. The road passes through Genova, a large city with many historical sights, and then to Cinque Terre, known for its unique five coastal villages. Here you’ll want to take a break from the drive and explore the villages by foot to round out your journey.

What Stunning Finds Will You Uncover Driving Through Italy?

Of course, these 7 fantastic driving routes in Italy are only the beginning. There are numerous locales that you can explore by car, all within reach of Italy’s major cities. Whether you’re planning a day trip or an extended tour of Italy, incorporating our food tours or cooking classes with a driving tour of the Italian countryside is a great way to leave Italy with a deep understanding of what makes this country so special.

Do you have a favorite drive not listed here? Inspired to rent a car and enjoy and Italy road trip for your travel memories? Let us know in the comments!

Like this? Check out Eating Europe on social media!

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About Kenny Dunn

Kenny’s love for European cuisine was sparked after moving to Rome in 2009. He fell in love with the city’s backstreet eateries, and even more with the people and stories behind each dish. Now he's turned his passion into food tours, so  Eating Europe  guests can also share a taste of local life.

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Road Trip Italy Planner & Itinerary

The gorgeous country of Italy is perfect for a road trip! Compact and with all the best bits in the middle, you’ll be blown away by the landscapes, architecture, and local food in this sublime country. Take a bucket list road trip to Italy and see it for yourself!

A road trip in Italy opens up the sweeping landscapes, historic cities, and some of the most picture-perfect seaside towns in Europe, like no other way to travel does.

This visually arresting country will have you stopping regularly for Insta-worthy images, and along the way, you’ll find fantastic adventures to try like wine tastings, volcano trekking, exploring historic UNESCO sites, and the real Italian dolce vita !

In this Italy travel guide, you’ll find a list of all the top sights in Italy to visit on your road trip adventure, with Italy travel tips and information to help you plan and prepare. Come with us as we share our unmissable Italian road trip itinerary.

Italy road trip

Is this your first time visiting Italy? Get all the information you need in our Italy Travel Guide , including what to pack, the best time of year to go, getting there, and practical tips to help you have the best trip!

Getting to Italy

Fly into Milan Malpensa   Airport,  a good starting point for your roadtrip in Italy. With direct international flights from North America, the Middle East, Europe, and  UK , we recommend booking through  Skyscanner  for live deals and the best prices.

Alternatively, switch up the itinerary a little and start your Italy trip in beautiful Rome, the historic capital city. We’ve even got a fantastic one day in Rome itinerary for you, so you can see the city before heading off on your Italian road trip!

Driving to Italy from UK

If you’re planning to drive to  Italy from the U K, then you’ll find everything you need to know, including the best, fastest, and cheapest routes, as well as driving tips, in our UK to Italy driving guide .

Are you planning to rent a car in Italy? As one of the largest rental car aggregator companies in the world, we recommend Rentalcars.com because they have massive purchasing power which enables them to secure the best rental prices, which benefits you when you’re planning a road trip.

For a real adventure, hire a motorhome or campervan in Italy . We recommend Motorhome Republic , an aggregate booking site who pull together all the best deals from a number of rental agencies, to offer you a wide choice of options alongside an excellent English speaking expert motorhome Concierge Team.

Use the Park4Night app to find overnight spots and campsites as your travel around Italy, and sleep on a high mountain pass, next to a beautiful lake, or in a wildflower meadow.

Driving in Italy

Lots of people will tell you that renting a car in Italy is madness, that driving through Italy is dangerous and the roads are dreadful.  

It is true that some routes can be challenging to drive in Italy, and in big cities, Italian drivers see it as a badge of honor not to give way. Isn’t that the same in most big cities nowadays though?

Don’t let your fears about traveling Italy by car put you off taking Italian road trips. Take your time and be prepared for the differences in driving styles and roads from back home when you follow our driving in Italy tips .

You’ll also find helpful information regarding driving requirements in Italy, such as international driving permits, age limits, and tips about renting a car in Italy .

Make sure you have travel insurance you can trust when visiting Italy . We recommend True Traveller for their 5-star TrustPilot reviews, variety of cover options, best activities cover as standard, great prices, and excellent service.

Italy Itinerary & Map

  • Get the Travel Guides
  • Lonely Planet Italy
  • The Rough Guide to Italy
  • DK Eyewitness Italy
  • Italy Road Trip Itinerary

Milan – Portofino – Cinque Terre – Pisa – San Gimignano – Siena – Montepulciano – Rome – Spoleto – Assisi – Florence – Bologna – Venice – Lake Garda

  • Distance: 1670km
  • Duration: 2-4 weeks
  • Drive Time: 23 hours

How to use this Italy road trip map – Use your fingers (or computer mouse) to zoom in and out. Click or touch the icons to get more info about a place, and click the arrow in the box top left to open the index. To add to your own Google Maps account, click the star next to the title of the map.

Make your road trip across Italy flexible…

Italy road trip 1 week.

Fly into Pisa instead, skip San Gimignano, Spoleto and Montepuciano. Head home from Pisa once you’ve seen Florence.  

Italy Road Trip 2 Weeks

Skip Pisa, Spoleto, Venice and Lake Garda…these are tough choices, but you can always come back for a second trip.

Italy Road Trip 3 Weeks

You have enough time to complete our suggested itinerary, but you will be busy! You’ll have one day in most places, and up to 36 hours in Rome and Florence.

Italy Road Trip 4 Weeks

Enjoy the time and spend longer in Rome and Florence. Maybe add Arezzo and Verona to your itinerary or check out the Amalfi coast.

food road trip italy

Want to print this itinerary? Download and print a text only version with no ads or images. Includes space for your trip planning notes and a packing list for Italy!

Italy Road Trip Route & Destinations

Milan is the best airport to fly in and out of for your perfect Italy road trip itinerary. As one of Italy’s major cities, Milan enjoys direct international flights from all the world’s continents, it’s accessible, has great car hire options and it’s a pretty kick-a** city to visit too!

If you didn’t already know,  Milan  is a global capital of design, and the famous Italian fashion brands that call the city their home deliver sleek and simple Italian style at every turn. Milan’s creativity and design flair are not a recent phenomenon though.

The city center has been at the forefront of the arts throughout history and this can be seen in the spectacular Gothic Duomo di Milano cathedral and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Santa Maria delle Grazie, home to Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’. 

If you fancy a bit of shopping in this city of designer boutiques and couture labels, then visit the spectacular Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest shopping mall, and unlike any other shopping mall you’ve visited before!

Stay at the Moxy Milan Malpensa Airport , the best of Milan’s airport hotels, and get the train or bus directly into the center of Milan. It will take around 30 minutes and cost €10-15. If you’re splashing out, get a cab for around €100.

If you decide to spend a night in Milan, save money, and delay your car rental pick-up until the following day, then hit the road for the best road trip route in Italy!

RELATED POST: Northern Italy Road Trip: Itinerary, Map & Tips

Milan, the start of your road tripping in Italy adventure

Don’t forget your road trip essentials! Our free road trip checklists help you remember everything, including road trip snacks , podcasts , and road trip songs for the journey!

Head south to Portofino, a gentrified fishing village on the Italian Riviera coastline of the Ligurian Sea. Pastel-painted houses line the picturesque harbor, mixing effortlessly with stylish bijou stores, seafood restaurants, and cool bars.

The charming Piazzetta, a small cobbled square, overlooks the harbor of the coastal town, which is lined with super-yachts in the summer and more traditional craft in spring and autumn. 

Spend a day soaking up the atmosphere and people-watching. Grab a slice of delicious focaccia con il formaggio (focaccia with cheese) from nearby Recco and meander along the winding backstreets, whilst indulging in a bit of window shopping.  

Head to San Fruttuoso, a stretch of the Mediterranean coast which you can only get to by boat or on foot. Enjoy lunch at a cantina on one of the beautiful terraces, where we ate one of the best tomato salads we have ever experienced. 

Spend some time on the warm turquoise water in a kayak or on a paddle board; make sure to take a snorkel and mask with you too, as the water here is crystal clear.

Head back to dry land and enjoy dinner at one of the many seafood restaurants in the harbor, for a perfect end to your first full day in Italy.

  • Where to Stay in Portofino

Upmarket: Splendido, A Belmond Hotel – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Hotel Piccolo Portofino – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Albergo Annabella, Santa Margherita Ligure – Booking.com | Agoda

Portofino should be included on a road trip around Italy

Cinque Terre

You could easily spend a week or more in this wonderful national park, especially if you enjoy hiking, water sports, and outdoor activities.  Cinque Terre  is a group of five historic seaside villages on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline and a real  bucket list destination .

Pretty and brightly colored houses cling to dramatic terraced streets, harbors are filled with traditional fishing boats bobbing on clear azure waters and trattorias serve up everything with homemade pesto (basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts), the traditional sauce of the region.

The Sentiero Azzurro cliffside hiking trail links the five little towns of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Riomaggiore, and Manarola. The trail offers incredible sea views and easy walking.

If you’re more of a water baby, see the Cinque Terre villages from a kayak, or take a boat trip and avoid the inevitable crowds in the towns.

Like driving the Amalfi Coast , going to Cinque Terre in a car can be challenging and you should read this  Cinque Terre guide  before you decide how to visit.

If you do decide to stay or park in Cinque Terre, head for delightful Monterosso al Mare, the largest of the Cinque Terre towns, and start your amble along the hiking route from there. Otherwise, stay in La Spezia and get the early train the next morning to make the most of your day.

  • Where to Stay in Cinque Terre

Upmarket: Sesta Terra – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Ca’ D’Andrean – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: La Taverna del Metallo Rooms – Booking.com | Agoda

Cinque Terre, all the best Italian road trips stop here

Looking for the best SIM card deals in Europe for your trip? Check out our guide to the best data SIMs in Europe and get the best deal for your trip to Italy.

There’s  more than you think to do in Pisa , even though much of the town was sadly lost during the WW2 bombings. Head for the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles) where you’ll find the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of Italy’s most famous landmarks, the fine Romanesque duomo, Gothic baptistery, and  camposanto  (cemetery).

This beautiful quartet of creamy-colored historic buildings sits on an open and grassy area, enabling the infamous Instagram shots of people seemingly holding up the infamous tower.

If you’re on a deadline, the best way to enjoy Pisa is to take this excellent  two hour guided tour  of these important monuments, as you pass through on your way to the next stop.

  • Where to Stay in Pisa

Upmarket: Palazzo Cini – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Hotel Di Stefano – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Hotel La Pace – Booking.com | Agoda

creamy stone leaning tower with eight stories and arched rows around each story

San Gimignano

As you approach this most archetypal of Tuscan hill villages, you’ll see its thirteen towers dominating the skyline.

Historically, this beautiful place was on the main pilgrim route from Northern Europe to Rome and the towers were built by merchants to show the world their power and wealth.   

San Gimignano is now beautifully preserved and perfect for an afternoon meandering the atmospheric narrow cobbled streets and piazzas of the historic center.

Make sure to visit the ancient Torre Grossa, the only one of the thirteen towers open to visitors.

Other must-sees are the stunning frescos in the 11th century Collegiate and the ornamental Rococo interior of Sant’ Agostino church. Otherwise, grab a gelato or a coffee and stroll to your heart’s content.

As with all Tuscan hill villages, if you’re in a motorhome or anything bigger than a car you will need to identify parking at sea level and walk up, or take public transportation – often provided by the municipality in the summer months.

When you leave San Gimignano, you’ll have time to make a quick stop to visit Monteriggioni , a fine example of a beautiful medieval walled castle and village.

RELATED POST: The Complete Guide to Touring Italy by Motorhome

  • Where to Stay in San Gimignano  

Upmarket: Agriturismo Mormoraia – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Hotel Bel Soggiorno – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Relais Cappuccina – Booking.com | Agoda

San Gimignano, one of the best places to visit on a road trip to Italy

Siena is gloriously Tuscan, its warm colors beckoning you into the medieval streets and towards the jewel in Siena’s crown, the famous Piazza del Campo.

The prettiest of  Tuscany’s must-see towns  is not only home to one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares but a wealth of stunning religious and civic buildings and a busy shopping area packed with interesting galleries and boutiques.

Any  visit to Siena  has to include the Piazza del Campo, an extraordinary site as you enter from Via di Citta to fully appreciate the symmetry, layout, and beauty of the square.

Lined with fine buildings that will grab your attention, don’t miss the tiny Fonte Gaia on the northern edge of the piazza, whose water is still supplied by a 500-year-old viaduct.

Take a  walking tour of Siena  and the Duomo to fully appreciate the city’s turbulent history and breathtaking architecture.

Stop for lunch at one of the many lively restaurants lining the streets around the main square and sample delicious Ribollita, a traditional Tuscan soup made with beans, vegetables, and bread, before heading off on one of the best drives in Italy.

  • Where to Stay in Siena

Upmarket: Palazzetto Rosso – Art Hotel – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Hotel Athena – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Hotel Palazzo di Valli – Booking.com | Agoda

Siena a must see on Italy road trips

Val d’Orcia

Driving in Tuscany is one of the greatest pleasures as you road trip through Italy. As you leave Siena for Montepulciano, you’ll be motoring through some of Italy’s most iconic and stunning scenery.

Head south, setting your sat nav for the Val d’Orcia, and enjoy one of Europe’s best driving routes and Italy’s most scenic drive.

This journey will take you past small villages, vineyards, and olive groves, and you’ll pass row upon row of majestic cypress trees lining the roads and on the skyline. This is Tuscan countryside at its very best.

If you pick up the SP146 between San Quirico d’Orcia and Montepulciano, you might even spot the famous house from  the film ‘Gladiator’, some of which was shot in Tuscany .

Val d'Orcia best of Italy scenic drives

Montepulciano

Famous for the classic, rustic wine of the same name, the gorgeous medieval town of Montepulciano is nestled into the chalky hills at the meeting point of the Val d’Orcia and the Vall di Chiana.

Surrounded by the classic Tuscan landscape of rolling green hills and golden fields dotted with cypress trees, this is your picture-perfect Tuscany road trip destination.

The old town itself is a masterpiece of cobbled streets, charming piazzas, restaurants, and gift shops which can easily draw you in for a deliciously pleasant afternoon and evening.  

Enjoy a meal of wild boar ragu, followed by local cheese and honey washed down with the famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

The town is also one of the best spots in this itinerary for a  wine-tasting tour of a local vineyard , to understand the history and process of  making wine in Italy .

You cannot park within the town walls and need a permit to park in one of the numbered car parks on the outskirts, which your hotel will provide for you.

The car parks are around a ten to fifteen minute walk from the center of the town, so maybe pack a small bag for an overnight stay.

  • Where to Stay in Montepulciano

Upmarket: Palazzo Carletti – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Il Rondò Boutique Hotel – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Albergo Duomo – Booking.com | Agoda

Italian hill village well bell tower and old stone buildings lit up at night

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The center of a vast empire and capital of the Christian world for centuries, Rome is full of the works of the artists and architects who gathered here to work for the Popes and their wealthy families.

This magnificent legacy has assured the eternal city’s position as one of the most important historical places in the world. Even if you just have one day, you should see the most important of Rome’s ancient architecture like the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Roman Forum, and the slightly more modern historical sites like the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.

As you walk, you’ll take in a handful of light and airy piazzas, perfect for stopping and enjoying a coffee or ice cream as you people-watch.

Our Rome in one day itinerary has all the information you need to visit the city and get a real flavor of why Rome is a must-visit place in Italy.

RELATED POSTS: The Best of Rome in 36 Hours | Rome in a Day – Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

Ancient rome surrounded by trees

If you have four weeks or longer for your driving tour of Italy, one of the best road trips from Rome is to head south for around three hours to the Amalfi Coast .

This stunning stretch of gravity-defying road from Sorrento to Salerno passes by the beautiful beaches of Positano, the romantic village of Ravello and authentic Vietri sul Mare, and is considered the best Italian coast road trip of them all.

The road south to the Amalfi Coast will also take you past Mount Vesuvius (one of Italy’s three live volcanoes – the others are Mount Etna on Sicily and Stromboli, its own small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea), and the magnificent Pompeii Archaeological Park.

Both Vesuvius and Pompeii can be seen in a day , meaning you could visit three major Italian attractions, adding just two extra days to your roadtrip Italy – be prepared for an early start from Rome though!

RELATED POST: Southern Italy Road Trip: Discover the Best 33 Places To Visit

Driving from Rome to Florence you’ll find Spoleto, often overlooked in favor of its famous neighbors but a true hidden gem.

Nestled in a beautiful wooded setting in Umbria, the town is famous for the Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds) held in June and July annually.

Outside of this time, tourists are welcomed, but not thick on the ground like they are in next-door Assisi.

Spoleto’s independent nature has allowed it to thrive and progress as a town in its own right, rather than a tourist hot spot.

Come to Spoleto to enjoy a slow day, sipping coffee in the square, taking the travelator (an experience in itself) up to the mighty fortress of La Rocca Albornoz, which dominates the skyline, and wandering around the many beautiful churches and religious buildings in the town. 

  • Where to Stay in Spoleto

Upmarket: Palazzo Leti Residenza d’Epoca – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Hotel dei Duchi – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Hotel Vecchio Forno – Booking.com | Agoda

Town on a hill topped with a large castle in front of stormy skies

The birth and final resting place of St Francis of Assisi, this beautiful medieval hill town, with its geranium-filled narrow streets, charming piazzas, and panoramic views is a must-see on your Italian road trip itinerary.

Wreathed in history and religion, the magnificent Basilica di San Francesco draws pilgrims and tourists from across the globe – think of  Italian novels  like ‘The Name of the Rose’ and you’re imagining Assisi.

Clinging to the side of a craggy outcrop and visible for miles, the Basilica dominates the town and surrounding landscape.  Spend the day wandering between here and Assisi’s main square, Piazza del Comune, where the Roman columns of the Templo di Minerva still stand.

There are many other religious buildings of note, a  walking tour with a private guide  will help you understand the importance and history of each.

  • Where to Stay in Assisi

Upmarket: Nun Assisi Relais & Spa Museum – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Le Silve di Armenzano – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Hotel Cladan – Booking.com | Agoda

Assisi a must see on your road trip Italy 2 weeks

If you’re all eaten and drunk out at this stage, consider giving Bologna (the stop after Florence) a miss and heading up the east coast of Italy from Assisi, before cutting back inland to Florence.

This route takes in the best of Le Marche, a remote corner full of beautiful scenery that is sandwiched between the Apennines and the Adriatic.

The coast is home to a number of seaside resort towns with long sandy beaches and the stunning Conero Peninsula, which makes a welcome relief from the almost uninterrupted beach which dominates the coastline.

Inland are lots of beautiful and historic towns, less visited and the better for it. For a real punch of medieval architecture, check out Urbino and Ascoli Piceno, the highlights of the region.

Whilst you’re there, pop into San Marino, said to be the world’s oldest surviving republic and the fifth smallest country in the world!

Florence is a vast and graceful monument to the Renaissance, the period of cultural and artistic rebirth following the Middle Ages. Many famous artists such as Michelangelo and Botticelli contributed to Florence’s heritage, making it one of the artistic capitals of the world. 

Historic Florence is compact and walkable and could be seen in a day if you’re ruthless in your selections.

Better to spend two days here and visit the must-sees of the exceptional Duomo, the stunning Palazzo Vecchio, the sublime Uffizi Gallery, and the ancient church of Santa Croce.

Across the River Arno, via the Ponte Vecchio, lies the vast and imposing Pitti Palace and the Santa Spirito church.

Book everything in advance, whether that’s tickets, tours, or guides; this city never sheds itself of tourists, all clamoring to see the same things as you!  

RELATED POST: One Day in Florence – Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

  • Where to Stay in Florence

Upmarket: Hotel Spadai – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Soprarno Suites – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Hotel Perseo – Booking.com | Agoda

one day Florence Italy

One of the best medieval cities in Italy and the foodie capital of Emilia-Romagna (and possibly the whole of Italy) Bologna will surprise and delight you. Follow our self-guided foodie walking tour of Bologna to sample the best food and architecture the city has to offer. 

If you have time, pop across to Modena to sample the famous Balsamic vinegar made there, and then Parma for the ham of the same name.

RELATED POST: Self-Guided Food Tour of Bologna

  • Where to Stay in Bologna

Upmarket: Grand Hotel Majestic Gia Baglioni – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: PHI Hotel Al Cappello Rosso – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: The Social Hub Bologna – Booking.com | Agoda

Aerial view of Bologna Emilia-Romagna

Ahh, Venice. This unique city has survived against all the odds; built on a series of mud banks, and in the tidal waters of the Adriatic, Venice regularly floods.

Despite this, little of the essential fabric and infrastructure of Venice has changed in 200 years, and more than 20 million visitors a year fall in love with the beguiling city of water.

Trying to see Venice in a day will not do it justice, and leave you feeling frustrated. If that’s all you have, either come back another time or take a  private full day trip  so you can be whisked around and see all the best bits, without getting lost.

Whenever you visit and whether you choose to see the religious and historic buildings, the famous glass island of Murano, the lace-making island of Burano, and haunting Torcello, or take a gondola along the Grand Canal, Venice will be crowded.

Park at Garage San Marco Venezia , (book well in advance) a five minute walk from the hotel. There is no free parking in or around Venice, expect to pay at least €25 per 24-hour period.

RELATED POST: One Day in Venice – Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

  • Where to Stay in Venice

Upmarket: Sina Centurian Palace – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Palazzo Veneziano – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Hotel Saturnia & International – Booking.com | Agoda

a gondala arriving to dock in Venice lagoon, with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background

Lake Garda is your final stop before heading back to Milan to drop off your hire car.  Lake Garda, the most well-known and largest of the Italian lakes, borders three regions; Trentino, Lombardy, and the Veneto.

The further north along the lake you go, the more dramatic the landscapes become, as you head towards the snowcapped Alps of the South Tyrol.

There are  many beautiful towns around Lake Garda , all offering opportunities for water sports, hiking, and relaxing at the end of your epic road trip around Italy.  

Our pick is Bardolino on the east shore, a lively town with easy access to the lake and lots going on, as well as spectacular sunsets over Lake Garda to end your day.

From Bardolino, it’s a few hour’s drive to Milan Airport, perhaps via Lake Iseo, Lake Como, and Lake Maggiore if you have a few extra days to explore.

  • Where to Stay in Lake Garda

Upmarket: LLAC Living Nature Hotel – Booking.com | Agoda

Mid-Range: Resort Casino di Caccia – Booking.com | Agoda

Budget: Hotel La Terrazzina – Booking.com | Agoda

One of the best places to stay on a road trip Italy

Want to plan your own road tri p? Get our step-by-step road trip planning guide to help you organize the perfect trip, or get inspiration from our favorite European road trips .

Italian Road Trip Resources

Here are the websites and services we personally use and recommend for trips to Italy.

  • Search for affordable flights to Italy with Skyscanner
  • Search for availability and book hotels and accommodation in Italy with Booking.com
  • Find and book the best campsites in Italy with Eurocampings
  • Book the cheapest and most reliable hire cars in Italy with Rentalcars.com
  • Find and hire your perfect motorhome or campervan with Motorhome Republic
  • Get highly rated, reliable, and trustworthy travel insurance with True Traveller
  • Check if you need a visa and arrange your documents with Visagov

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Italian road trip

My Path in the World

Best Italian Road Trips: 16 Super Dreamy Routes

Italian road trips are the best. Whether you love strolling through cities, towns, and villages or exploring the country’s natural scenery, Italy is a fantastic road trip destination and it never disappoints.

The views will always be dreamy, the culture will always be fascinating, and the food will always be delicious.

With so much beauty in this country, it can be difficult to decide which area to choose for your scenic drive, so here’s a roundup of the best road trips in Italy that will hopefully help you make this almost impossible decision.

* This post may contain affiliate links from which I earn a commission (for more info, read my disclosure ). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

* I try to keep the information on this blog as updated as possible, but I still recommend consulting the latest prices, opening hours, and other details on the official website of each site, hotel, and tour, as well as checking the updated public transport routes and timetables.

Looking for the best Italian road trips? Here are 14 road trips in Italy for your travel bucket list inculding itineraries and tips!

Table of Contents

BEST ITALIAN ROAD TRIPS ON THE MAINLAND

Southern italy.

By Nicole from Adventures of Nicole

Route:  Circular starting in Naples.

Days:  15 days (13-17 days is comfortable).

In a perfect mixture of off-the-beaten-path and well-trodden classics, this Southern Italy road trip takes in the hidden gems and most-loved stops in the regions of Campania , Basilicata , Puglia , and Calabria .

Starting from the capital of Campania,  Naples , take a day or so to explore the historical sites that the city has to offer.

Some of the best things to do in Naples include exploring the historic center, grabbing some arancini, pizza fritta (fried pizza), and sfogliatelle, and heading to Gino Sorbillo’s pizzeria for one of his famed pizzas.

After your whirlwind visit to Naples, head south and spend 2- 4 days on the Amalfi Coast .

Explore the gorgeous towns of Positano , Amalfi , Atrani , and Ravello that seem impossibly clung to the side of the mountainous coast that appears to tumble into the sea.

Continuing south from the Amalfi Coast, you’ll enter the little-visited region of Basilicata and on to two of the most beautiful places in all of Italy – Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa . These side-by-side towns are built right into the Lucian Dolomites.

Castelmezzano Southern Italy

From Castelmezzano, you’ll journey deeper into Basilicata and visit  Matera .

Once the ‘shame of Italy,’ the troglodytic city has risen from the ashes to become a European Capital of Culture and a UNESCO site. Among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, don’t miss the fascinating caves of the Sassi di Matera.

Heading into  Puglia , you’ll visit the bizarre conical-roofed Trulli of Alberobello, the gorgeous caves of Grotta dell’Poesia, and the thermal baths of Santa Cesarea Terme before heading back into Basilicata to explore the nature of  Pollino National Park  en route to Calabria.

In  Calabria , you’ll laze on the beautiful beaches in and around  Tropea  and explore the untamed beaches and cave of Grotto dell’Arcomagno.

Head back north to  Maratea , your jumping-off point to the little-known cousin of Amalfi – the  Cilento Coast , where you’ll wrap up your epic road trip before turning your car back in up in Naples. Plan your own  Southern Italy road trip here .

UNESCO-listed Trulli houses of Alberobello, southern Italy

By Krisztina from She Wanders Abroad

Route:  From Ortisei to Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Days:  4-5.

If you want to discover one of the most stunning areas in Northern Italy, you have to plan a  road trip to the Dolomites  for your next vacation!

It’s best to explore the Dolomites by car, so you can either bring your own if you live nearby or rent a car at the airport when you arrive in Italy.

Although there are no international airports in the area, bigger airports such as Venice, Bergamo, or Milan are only a few hours away from the Dolomites. This makes it easy to visit the region, even if you are coming from overseas.

The Dolomites cover more than 140,000 hectares in several regions, so you can spend several weeks exploring the area without getting bored, but if you only have a shorter amount of time, 4-5 days are enough to discover the highlights.

Since the best places to visit in the Dolomites are quite far from each other, it’s best to choose two bases for your road trip from where you can explore the nearby area with less driving.

In the first part of your road trip to Italy’s Dolomites, stay in  Ortisei , which is a cute little town located in  Val Gardena (in South Tyrol).

From there, you can visit the famous  Alpe di Siusi ,  Lago di Carezza , the Seceda ridgeline, and the picturesque church of Santa Maddalena in  Val di Funes .

Cortina d’Ampezzo  is one of the most popular places to stay, and it will be the perfect base for the second half of your Dolomites road trip as you can easily reach the Insta-famous  Lago di Braies  or the iconic three peaks at  Tre Cime di Lavaredo  from there.

It’s best to stay at least 2 nights at each place to have time to properly explore their surroundings!

Alpe di Siusi Dolomites

By Marek from Indie Traveller

Route:  Circular starting in Bari.

Days:  7.

Puglia is a highly underrated region of Italy that’s just made for a road trip.

It’s filled with ancient history, cute coastal towns, and great regional culinary delights, though without the crowds often found on the tourist trail elsewhere in Italy.

Start in the port city of  Bari , then drive a circle around the Puglia peninsula (recognizable as the ‘heel of Italy’s boot’). The ancient city of  Lecce , often billed as a kind of mini-Florence but without the crowds, is a must-stop along the way.

The true delights, though, are the small towns with white-plastered houses along the coast, such as  Monopoli  and  Otranto , many of them boasting old Venetian fortresses and some of the best beaches in Puglia .

Best scenic drives in Italy - Puglia

Looping back to Bari, be sure to stop by  Alberobello . It’s a town known for its ‘Trulli’ – small conical buildings that were once used as farmhouses, but these days often function as souvenir shops or little holiday homes.

Staying in a Trullo is a unique experience you can’t have anywhere else.

Puglia is a wonderful region to explore by car, but do take care when driving; the Italians around here are known to be quite reckless drivers at times! Be sure to check out these  tips for a road trip in Puglia .

Read more about Puglia:

  • Best places to stay in Bari
  • Day trips from Bari
  • Puglia itinerary without a car
  • Hidden gems in Puglia
  • Is Bari worth visiting
  • Visiting Puglia in March

A city in Puglia

NORTHERN ITALY: LAKES GARDA, COMO, MAGGIORE, AND ORTA

Route:  Circular starting in Milan.

Northern Italy’s lakes are an ideal European road trip destination from Milan (especially if you want to spend fall or spring in Europe ).

From colorful coastal towns to relaxing beaches to natural landscapes, this area offers an interesting mix of things to do and see.

This one-week  Italian lakes road trip  can easily be extended to 10 or even 14 days if you want to visit a few more places or spend some time resting by the lakes.

Borghetto sul Mincio Lake Garda

Rent your car at Milan’s airport and head to  Lake Garda , the largest in the country. Dedicate at least 3-4 days to this lake and explore towns like Limone , Sirmione , Malcesine , Bardolino , and Borghetto sul Mincio .

Don’t miss the mesmerizing turquoise Lake Tenno , situated only a few miles away from Garda’s northern coast.

Continue to  Lake Como , which is mostly known for its luxurious lakeside villas. Towns like Varenna and Bellagio are its crowning glory, but there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered in the area.

Cannobio Lake Maggiore

The third lake,  Lake Maggiore , is the one that often gets overlooked, yet visiting it is one of the best things to do in northern Italy .

Base yourself in  Stresa , and visit places like the nearby Borromean Islands  (easily accessible by ferry or boat) and the lesser-known Cannobio .

Before heading back to Milan, be sure to stop at the charming  Orta San Giulio  on  Lake Orta .

ROME TO FLORENCE

By Tiffany from A Girl and Her Passport

Route:  Rome to Florence.

Days:  5.

Traveling from Rome to Florence is probably one of the best driving routes in Italy. This road trip takes you through the gorgeous countryside of Umbria and Tuscany .

A  road trip from Rome to Florence  is very short if you want to make no stops along the way, but where is the fun in that? You can make the trip in as little as two days or make it a longer trip of up to five days. 

Most people will rent a car at the Rome airport, so if you want to see the city first, you should do this before renting a car.

You can plan a short itinerary of just 24 hours in Rome , but the Italian capital has so much to offer, that it would be best to spend at least 4 days in Rome .

Once you leave the city, head to the  Parco di Monstri – this outdoor sculpture garden is unlike any art you might have seen, and it has a slightly creepy history.

In Umbria, there are several cute towns to visit that have fascinating histories. Amelia , supposedly the oldest Umbrian town, has 11-foot-thick walls and winding alleyways to explore.

Assisi is the hometown of St. Francis and has many stunning churches to visit. The view from the Rocca Maggiore castle is one of the best in Italy.

Tuscany brings its own beautiful villages, including Siena and Cortona , from ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ fame.

Be sure to watch where you park in these towns as the parking can be restricted to residents only. Usually, there is a public car park on the outskirts of town.

Most of all, take time to enjoy the scenery of this stunning road trip from Rome to Florence.

You can also check out this 7-day Rome-Florence-Venice itinerary !

Assisi village

By Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

Route:  Circular starting in Florence.

One of the best scenic drives in Italy is a trip through Tuscany.

With this  7-day Tuscany road trip itinerary , you can cover the best places to visit in the region, enjoy the art and architecture, take great photos, and relish fabulous food and wine along the way.

Begin your trip with 1 or 2 days in  Florence , the region’s capital and the cradle of the Renaissance.

In Florence, climb to the top of the Duomo for fabulous views, wander the streets of the historic center (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and take in the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo. Don’t forget to gorge on gelato!

From Florence, head southeast, to the lesser-visited but very beautiful towns of Arezzo and Cortona . With beautiful architecture and lively main squares, these small towns will charm you.

Your next stop is  Siena , possibly Italy’s most famous hill town. Its Duomo is magnificent, as well as its Piazza del Campo, one of the largest squares in Europe and one of the prettiest piazzas in Italy .

From Siena, move on to the scenic  Val d’Orcia , where you can stop at old historic abbeys, small picturesque hill towns, and even one of the best hot springs in Tuscany .

Do make time to sample the local pici pasta and famous local wines, and visit some vineyards as well!

On the western side of your loop around Tuscany, you will visit  San Gimignano , with its famous medieval towers, and  Lucca , famous for its medieval city walls (though you’ll find plenty of other things to do in Lucca ).

You can also stop in  Pisa , to see the famous Leaning Tower, before you head back to Florence.

Montepulciano Tuscany

BOLOGNA APENNINES

By Lori from Travelinmad

Route:  Circular starting in Bologna.

Days:  2-3.

If you’ve visited the over-touristy cities in Italy like Venice, Florence, and Rome and are seeking somewhere without crowds, base yourself in Bologna, rent a car, and  road trip the Bologna Apennines .

The small towns, scenic wilderness areas, and incredible historic sites are all within a one-hour drive from Bologna.

The Bologna Apennines are south of the city and easily accessible. Use a GPS to explore winding roads with overviews around nearly every bend.

One of the best things to experience is the incredible local food. The small hamlets all have one or two great places to eat.

On a weekend drive a pleasant 28 miles from Bologna, is the mysterious Rocchetta Mattei , a 19th-century fortress with a fascinating past and wild architecture. You’ll need a reservation, but that’s easy to do at the tourism office in Bologna.

Along the same road is the 13th-century sparsely habited village of Borgo La Scola . It’s quiet and interesting… and you might even get to chat with one of the few residents.

You’ll find the town of Tolé fascinating with its incredible murals and artworks lining the narrow lanes. And don’t miss the town of Vignola and its amazing castle, the Rocca di Vignola. The entrance is free, and if you’d like a tour in English, you’ll need a reservation.

If you’re looking for offbeat Italy road trip routes, the Bologna Apennines are definitely slow travel at its best.

Rocchetta Mattei - Bologna Appennines

NORTHERN ITALY: VENETO AND TRENTINO REGIONS

By Emily from London City Calling

Route:  Circular starting in Verona.

Days:  10.

Starting and finishing in Verona, this 10-day northern Italy road trip itinerary will let you see the best of the diverse regions of Veneto and Trentino , with their many historic cities, beautiful lakes, and dramatic mountainous scenery.

Start your trip in the romantic city of Verona , known for its connection with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, followed by a couple of days in the neighboring Lake Garda , famous for its turquoise waters and quaint lakeside towns.

A leisurely few days in the sunny Veneto region is a perfect place to start your Italian road trip route.

From the south of Lake Garda, drive to the lake’s northern shore where you’ll enter Trentino, one of Italy’s most northerly provinces.

Here you can spend a few days nestled within the dramatic scenery of the  Dolomites , either in the charming city of  Trento  or out hiking, kayaking, and caving your way around the region’s beautiful nature.

Next, head back down to the Veneto region and spend your last couple of days exploring  Venice , Italy’s famous floating city, and  Treviso , home of the tiramisu.

Venice can be difficult to visit on a road trip given that cars can’t enter the island, however, you can either leave your car in Treviso and get the 30-minute train to Venice island or park at one of Venice’s designated car parks and jump on a boat into the historic center.

Finally, head back to Verona, just an hour’s drive away from Venice, to end your trip where you started it.

Verona

By Val from My Italian Diaries

Route:  From Ancona to Ascoli Piceno.

Le Marche is a beautiful region in central Italy , stretching along the Adriatic coast.

Its fabulous landscapes in all shades of green and yellow rival those of neighboring Tuscany, while its historic hamlets and glitzy beach towns are a joy to explore.

There’s a lot you can include on your  Le Marche itinerary , but with five days at your disposal, you can cover quite a few highlights.

Start in Ancona , the region’s capital, with a lively harbor, interesting museums (including one specially designed for visually impaired people), and a splendid hilltop cathedral.

The next day, head to Mount Conero National Park , where you’ll find pristine beaches immersed in natural beauty and enchanting little towns like Sirolo and Numana .

On day 3, visit Loreto , home to one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Italy – the Holy House of the Virgin Mary.

Then, reach the beautiful hilltop town of Recanati, where everything speaks of his most famous resident, Giacomo Leopardi, one of Italy’s greatest poets.

Spend the next day in Fermo , another fabulous hilltop town where highlights include Roman cisterns, amazing churches, and a fascinating piazza lined with historic palaces.

While you’re there, don’t miss the gorgeous hamlet of Torre di Palme , known as the “balcony of the Adriatic”, and the magical old town of Grottammare Alta , a bit further south.

Finally, reach Ascoli Piceno to admire its stunning Piazza del Popolo, lined with medieval buildings and historic establishments, and feast on  olive all’ascolana , the region’s delicious stuffed fried olives that were born here.

Le Marche, Italy

By Nancy from Nancy Goes to Italy

Route:  Based in Termoli.

Days:  3.

Molise is the second smallest region of Italy. Its western half is part of the Apennine Mountains and a national park. This  Molise road trip  concentrates (over 3 days) on the eastern shelf near the Adriatic.

The base is the seaside town of Termoli, with its old town and beautiful beaches, popular with Romans.

On day 1, visit Agnone, home to the oldest bell foundry in the world, founded in 1339 and continuously operating ever since. 

On day 2, head to Bagnoli del Trigno, a town built in and around a rock. It has an attractive big square, easy parking, pretty trees, painted houses, a piazza with benches and scalloped cobblestones, and a bar named Bizzarro.

Next, visit Pietrabbondante, a town with an ancient amphitheater built by the Samnites around 400 BC. It takes about 40 minutes to get there from Bagnoli del Trigno, even though it’s only 20 miles away. In Molise, the terrain is rough and the roads are small and twisty.

On your last day, head to the village called Acquaviva Collecroce, also named Kruć. It’s small and easily walkable but very hilly. It was founded by people from the Dalmatian coast (what is now Croatia) who are said to speak Italian and Serbo-Croatian.

Bagnoli del Trigno, a town in Molise, Italy

NORTHWEST ITALY: LOMBARDY, LIGURIA, AND PIEDMONT

Route:  Circular from Milan.

Days:  7-8.

Looking for more ideas for your Italian self-drive holidays? Another way to see northern Italy with a car is by exploring its northwestern regions, including Lombardy , Liguria, and Piedmont .

After spending a day in Milan , it’s time to hit the road and head to the city of Pavia to marvel at the Visconti Castle, the Cathedral of Pavia, and its beautiful streets.

Continue to Genoa for a couple of days. You can visit the Royal Palace Museum, admire the San Lorenzo Cathedral, stroll along the UNESCO-listed Via Garibaldi and its famous palatial buildings, and enjoy dozens of other landmarks, museums, and activities.

You could also visit the villages of the Cinque Terre, though you might find it easier to reach the area by train (from Genoa).

Spend some time in the charming small city of Asti , and head to Turin for about two days during which you should visit the Egyptian Museum, Palazzo Reale, Palazzo Madama, Villa della Regina, and Borgo Medievale.

Before going back to Milan, make a final stop in the small city of Biella and the nearby Burcina Park and Sanctuary of Oropa , the largest and most important sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the Alps.

  • Non touristy things to do in Milan
  • Day trips from Milan in winter
  • Things to do in Milan when it rains
  • 4 days in Milan
  • Milan or Turin
  • Hidden gems in northern Italy

Mole Antonelliana building in Turin

NORTHWEST ITALY: TURIN AND AOSTA VALLEY

Route:  Circular from Turin.

To combine history and culture with the most picture-perfect natural landscapes, spend a couple of days in Turin and then head to the dreamy Aosta Valley , Italy’s smallest region.

The capital of Piedmont will reward you with UNESCO-listed royal residences of the House of Savoy, fascinating museums for all ages, amazing hearty food and chocolates, and so much more.

Then rent your car in the city center and head to the visit-worthy Aosta Valley (alternatively, rent your car at Turin’s airport, travel through Aosta Valley, and end your trip with 2 days in Turin).

Base yourself in the center of the region and explore a different area each day. On your way from Turin, you can already visit the awe-inspiring Fort of Bard .

In the remaining days, enjoy the magical Mont Blanc views offered by the Skyway Monte Bianco cable car and the quaint towns of Pre Saint Didier and Courmayeur , head into the scenic Gran Paradiso National Park , visit the Roman landmarks of Aosta (the city), and unwind at Brusson Lake.

Don’t forget to try regional delicacies cooked with locally produced fontina cheese, including fondue, risotto, and polenta.

  • Where to stay in Aosta Valley
  • Places to visit in Aosta Valley
  • Is Turin worth visiting?
  • 3-day Turin itinerary
  • Things to do in Turin
  • Best area to stay in Turin
  • Chocolate in Turin
  • Cafes in Turin
  • Turin travel tips
  • Winter in Turin
  • Hidden gems in Turin

Natural landscapes and houses in Saint Pierre in Aosta Valley, Italy

SOUTHERN ITALY + SICILY

By Talek from Travels with Talek

Route:  Naples to Palermo.

My  road trip in Southern Italy  was one of the coolest I’ve ever taken. We started off in Naples and headed south to Sicily ending in the beautiful capital city of Palermo.

All told the trip took 10 days, but it is the type of journey that you could extend to whatever you want depending on your interests.

In  Naples , the best thing to do is to eat pizza and visit the Archeological Museum.

On to  Matera , a land of mysterious caves where people live and work underground. Further south we crossed into Sicily via car ferry, quite the experience navigating the narrow aisles on a ship with a car!

The island of Sicily is magical. Taormina , one of the first cities you reach when you cross the strait, is a medieval treasure.

Agrigento has the Valley of the Temples and the excavated Roman palace, Villa Romana del Casale, with its perfectly preserved collection of mosaics dating from Roman times.

One of the most impressive sights is the cathedral at Monreal , but the absolute gem of Sicily is its capital,  Palermo .

Wandering the city’s narrow streets and food markets (which are a great way to eat and experience Sicily on a budget ) and visiting the fascinating architectural mishmash of its cathedral and Norman palace was an unforgettable experience.

Agrigento

BEST ITALY ROAD TRIPS: SCENIC ISLAND ROUTES

By Marvin from Part Time Passenger

Route:  Circular starting in Olbia.

Days:  5-10.

Sardinia, the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea , is an excellent road trip destination – for various reasons. If you think you’ve seen a fair share of beautiful Italy, this  Sardinia road trip  will elevate your Dolce Vita to the next level.

The local Sards will not only welcome you with open arms, but will fix you up with some of the best Italian food around, including baked goat cheese, homemade ravioli tossed in sage butter, and fresh seafood. 

From the impeccable beaches of the  Costa Smeralda  in the north to the surf spots in  Oristano , across the central mountains, to the sandy bays of the  Costa Rei , Sardinia is an incredibly diverse destination.

With constantly changing scenery, it’ll be hard to be bored. And the best part: the main routes are easy to navigate and dotted with an abundance of stop-over opportunities.

While you could technically drive from north to south in 3-4 hours, you should at least (!) arrange for 5 days on the island.

Olbia , located in the northeastern tip of Sardinia and served by various airlines, is a good starting point. From here, work your way around the coastline. 

Venturing offshore to  La Maddalena  islands, watching the sunset in beautiful  Castelsardo,  or catching that perfect wave in  Capo Mannu ,  are just some of the things that will keep you busy here.

Lovers of all things history and culture will enjoy roaming the colorful alleys of the former Spanish enclave  Alghero  or the many piazzas of  Cagliari , the island’s busy capital. Sardinia simply has it all.

Sardinia

WESTERN SICILY

By Katja from Places and Notes

Route:  Circular starting in Trapani.

Days:  7-10.

On this awesome  Western Sicily road trip , you will visit some of the island’s best historical sites, sandy beaches, cute villages with traditional wine cellars, vibrant cities, salt pans dotted with windmills, lush countryside, and much more.

Start your adventure in  Trapani , spend the first day getting to know the laid-back Sicilian way of life, and take a trip to the medieval village of  Erice  the day after.

Continue towards  San Vito lo Capo , a wonderful white sandy beach bay with a mountain backdrop, perfect for a relaxing day at the seaside.

On the way to Palermo, you can stop by at  Segesta  archaeological site and  Monreale  monastery.

Palermo

Palermo  is Sicily’s largest, loudest, and most chaotic city, but it sure is worth spending a day or two visiting all the sites and indulging in Sicilian cuisine.

While heading south towards Agrigento and its impressive Valley of the Temples, make sure you visit Corleone , a smaller town famous for its connection with some of the most powerful families of the mafia.

Unwind in  San Leone  at the beach and explore another one of Sicily’s best spots,  Scala dei Turchi  white cliff.

The last part of this trip before returning to Trapani takes you to  Marsala , a charming wine area and a natural reserve with salt evaporation ponds, which are especially lovely at sunset.

This trip can begin in either Trapani or Palermo since there are international airports in both cities and is doable in seven days, but can be extended to ten.

Scala dei Turchi Sicily

EASTERN SICILY

By Annabel from Smudged Postcard

Route:  Circular starting in Catania.

Days:  10 or more.

One of the best drives in Italy, this exploration of Eastern Sicily takes in a wide variety of sights. Flying into  Catania , it is worth spending a day learning about this beautiful Baroque city and its relationship with nearby  Mount Etna .

From Catania, it is an easy drive south to  Syracuse  where highlights include the stunning Piazza del Duomo and the Ancient Greek and Roman remains at the Archaeological Park.

If you’re taking a  road trip in Sicily with kids , be sure to watch a show at the traditional puppet theatre.

From Syracuse, it is a short drive to the Val di Noto region of Sicily, home to some appealing cities including  Modica  and  Ragusa , both perfect for foodies.

Heading inland from the Val di Noto, you reach  Caltagirone  with its impressive terracotta staircase.

Not far from there is the highest regional capital of Sicily, hilltop  Enna  with far-reaching views across the countryside towards Mount Etna.

The final leg of this road trip through Italy’s biggest island passes the smoldering volcano before reaching the pretty clifftop town of  Taormina .

Here, you will find a perfectly positioned Greek-Roman amphitheater with views looking out towards the sea and Mount Etna. There’s a cable car down to the pebbly beach and enough restaurants and cafes to fill a lifetime of holidays.

Etna view from Taormina

SOME TIPS FOR PLANNING AN ITALIAN ROAD TRIP

  • As you can see in the suggested routes in this post, you should focus on a relatively small area instead of trying to see the entire country in 7 to 10 days (or even 2 weeks), which is impossible.
  • In some instances, parking is limited and the roads are narrow, so renting a smaller car would be better. It’s not always the case – in Aosta Valley, for example, this wasn’t a problem.
  • Parking is never free, so always have spare change, and be prepared for many toll roads (for these, you can also pay by card in most cases but not always).
  • Driving inside big Italian cities is not fun, so rent and return the car at the airport if possible.
  • Browse the best car rental deals on Rentalcars.com !

RELATED TRAVEL GUIDES

Did you like these Italian routes? You might also like:

  • Best quotes about Italy
  • Books set in Tuscany
  • Romantic novels set in Italy
  • Gifts for Italy lovers (which you can totally buy for yourself)
  • Winter in Italy

Did you like these bucket list Italy road trip ideas? Check out:

  • Best road trips in Portugal
  • A road trip from Lisbon to Porto
  • Northern Portugal road trip
  • Beautiful road trips in Spain
  • Southern Spain road trip
  • Northern Spain road trip
  • 4 days in Crete
  • 3 days in Malta
  • Spring destinations in Europe

Have you found the best Italian road trip ideas for you? Tell me in the comments which one is your favorite and pin this post for later

About Or Amir

Hey, I'm Or! I'm a passionate traveler with a severe coffee, chocolate, and pastry addiction (or any other carb for that matter). I'm always planning my next trip to Spain, Italy, or any other country in Europe, and my goal is to help you make the most of each destination.

14 thoughts on “Best Italian Road Trips: 16 Super Dreamy Routes”

Thanks for the recommendations. I am planning a road trip to Italy for the summer and your info just made if 10 times easier to plan. Appreciate it!

That’s the goal, so that’s great to know! Thank you, Nadia!

I did a road trip in Puglia, Basilicata and the Amalfi Coast! It was really nice! I passed by many places you mentioned 🙂

That sounds lovely 🙂 Italy is so dreamy!

Great list of road trips you’ve put together! I would love to do all of these so I’m saving this post for later reference.

Thank you so much! A bucket list can never be too big 🙂

I’m loving these road trip ideas! I’m wishing I could teleport myself to Europe now and start the adventure. Ahh well, I will definitely keep these ideas in mind for the future! Those Italian Lakes are calling my name…

Oh, teleporting myself to other places is my dream superpower 😛 You’ll love the Italian lakes – their colorful towns are right up your alley 🙂

What a beautiful country! I’ve travelled through Tuscany and the Veneto but definitely need to explore the Northern Lakes and Sicily. We usually cope with driving in the country (although the smaller roads do have those anxiety inducing ditches on either side) then chicken out and go for a park and ride when we get close to the bog cities.

Your fabulous photos make me want to go back again soon!

I agree some regions in Italy are not so fun to drive, but I’ll take my chances 🙂 Happy you like this post!

Thanks for the feature! I wish I could be in Italy right now 🙁

Me too! Thanks for writing about your amazing Italian road trip 🙂

Thank you for the feature! This is an awesome list of Italy road trips and I can’t wait to explore some of these routes. Especially the Sicily road trips make me crave more Italian adventures!

Thanks for participating! I think it turned out awesome 🙂

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Hi, I'm Or!

I'm a passionate traveler obsessed with traveling in Europe and discovering hidden gems in each place I visit. For me, it's not about ticking destinations off the bucket list but experiencing each one of them to the fullest. Read more about me and my story.

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Food , Italy

8 best cities in italy for food – where to find the best food in italy.

Italy has been our go-to food paradise for over 20 years. Having traveled to nearly every region, we’ve uncovered where to find some of the best food in Italy. While this post only scratches the surface of where to eat in Italy, it will certainly help you plan the ultimate foodie tour of Italy.

*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my  DISCLAIMER . As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

8 Best Food Cities In Italy:

After 20+ years of traveling in Italy, we came up with our list of the best cities in Italy for food. Okay, it’s really six cities and two regions!

Planning Your Food-Focused Italian Bucket List

Italy checks all the boxes for a destination with vibrant food cultures, food markets and museums, incredible architecture, rich history, and fine-dining restaurants . 

However, you must plan to get the best out of your trip. The first thing to decide is when to go to Italy . The winter is good for Alpine ski resorts, autumn is suitable for wine harvest, summer for beach vacations, and spring for road trips. The good thing about traveling to Italy for food is that is a year-round activity.

How To Choose Where To Go In Italy For Food

You should also identify where you want to go. But to enjoy all the various dishes, you should travel to all the regions: northern, central, and southern Italy. Though it may be challenging to visit all the provinces at once, the ultimate foodie tour of Italy should include all of them.

You can leverage search apps and tools to find the ideal locations and make reservations whenever needed. Check the schedule and opening hours of the places you intend to visit. Finally, it would be best if you learned the dining customs and etiquette of the locals.

We can help you with some shortcuts. We’ve been traveling to Italy for over twenty years and we chose our favorite food cities in Italy to help you make an informed decision.

Planning a trip to Italy? Get our Italy trip packing list .

Foodie Tour Of Italy- Where To Find The Best Food In Italy

How To Book Hotels In Italy

In the 20+ years of traveling to Italy, we’ve learned a thing or two about booking a hotel in Italy. We’ve stayed at some stunning hotels like the Westin Excelsior Rome and St. Regis in Florence . And we’ve stayed at some not-so-great hotels mainly around train stations in Italy. Do yourself a favor and avoid hotels near train stations at all costs.

When planning a trip to Italy, we use Booking.com for our accommodations. In addition to booking hotels, we’ve used them for booking apartments for longer stays or booking villas in Italy when we want something special. We’ve even found some charming and less expensive guest houses in Italy on Booking.com.

The 8 Best Italian Destinations For Food Lovers

Italy is a perfect destination for a food tour because it offers various regional cuisines. We have listed the best destinations for your Italy food tour. 

Eating lasagna in Bologna

Amber and I fell in love with Bologna after our first visit back in 2010. We first learned about Bologna after watching No Reservations and couldn’t believe our eyes. Here’s a city responsible for lasagna, mortadella , and tagliatelle al ragu and we haven’t been there? Our first trip wasn’t our last trip. We’ve visited Bologna and the rest of Emilia-Romagna nearly a dozen times.

For us, Bologna is THE culinary capital of Italy. Don’t even try arguing with us, you won’t change our minds. With the nickname “la Grassa” (the Fat One), you can tell people in Bologna take their food seriously. The sheer volume of food is staggering with tons of trattorias, restaurants, and food markets throughout the city.

Why Travel To Bologna For Food

Eating cured meats in Bologna

As we said, Bologna, as well as the region of Emilia-Romagna, has arguably the best food in Italy. The region is home to many DOP ( Protected Designation of Origin ) food products. This ensures the highest quality ingredients are being used. For any tourist on a foodie tour of Italy, Bologna has to be your first and last stop. It’s home to classic Italian ingredients including mortadella .

If you are looking for the best culinary Italian experience, Bologna is the place to go. You’ll find everything from high-end Michelin Star dining to family-run restaurants. Even after nearly a dozen trips to Bologna, we are still discovering new places to experience.

Things To Know About Bologna

  • What to eat in Bologna: lasagna verde or tagliatelle ragu
  • Where to eat in Bologna if you only have one meal: Trattoria Bertozzi , Via Andrea Costa, 84/2, is a real local restaurant outside of the city center, but still walking distance
  • Where to stay in Bologna: For luxury try i Portici (which has a Michelin Star Restaurant) or for contemporary apartments in the city center try Design Club Collection .

Are You Heading To Bologna? Check Out Our Full Bologna Food Guide to learn what to eat in Bologna

Modena food in Italy

Italian food products from Modena are some of the most famous. Some of these food products are what Italy is famous for . Modena is known for its rich cuisine, wonderful cheese, and barrel-aged balsamic vinegar. Tourists on a food tour in Italy flock to this city to sample flavors that cannot be replicated anywhere else.  

Why Travel To Modena For Food

Some of the most significant heritage foods anyone on a foodie tour of Italy should sample are prosciutto ham and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. 

Prosciutto is a cured ham and can either be di Parma or di Modena, depending on its origin. The ham comes from Italian-raised pigs and is salted, cured, and aged. Its flavor makes it a must-have dish if you are on Italian food travel. 

Also called the king of cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano can only be produced in Modena, Bologna, Parma, or Reggio Emilia. The process used in making this cheese is different and makes it so good and unique that lactose-intolerant people can consume it.

Things To Know About Modena

  • What to eat in Modena: tortellini in brodo or gnocco fritto with mortadella
  • Where to eat in Modena if you have one day: Trattoria Aldina is one of the best restaurants because it focuses on Modenese cuisine. Pasta is one of their best dishes and a slow-roasted pork shin known as stinco. 
  • What to do in Modena: Be sure to visit the local food market, Mercato Albinelli, loaded with fresh vegetables and fruits from Italy .
  • Where to stay in Modena: Best Western Modena for a good value or the PHI Hotel Modena for a more luxury stay.

Are You Heading To Modena? Check out our recommendations for the best restaurants in Modena .

prosciutto di parma made in Italy

Parma, Italy is an excellent destination if you want to find the best food in Italy and is a perfect destination for anyone who wants to understand Italian cuisine. There are numerous food museums to visit if you are on an Italy food tour.

Why Travel To Parma For Food

pasta dishes to eat in Parma

Prosciutto di Parma DOP is a cured meat you must have if you want real culinary Italy experiences. This meat is generally Parma ham, and its production is highly regulated and limited to the area around Parma. This ham has only four ingredients: Italian pigs, air, salt, and time.

Culatello di Zibello DOP, the king of Salumi, is another must-try dish. It has more strict regulations than prosciutto, thus more difficult to produce. Culatello is aged for at least ten months in a cantina or cave, with exposure to the fog and air of the Po River .

You can enjoy your prosciutto served with a variety of bread, such as the fluffy torta fritta. But where can you taste these Parma delicacies? Ristorante Gallo D’Oro focuses on the local cuisine of the region. 

Things To Know About Parma

  • What to eat in Parma: Parma ham or culatello for cured meat lovers
  • Where to eat in Parma: Sorelle Picchi Trattoria Salumeria , Strada Luigi Carlo Farini, for cured meats or Antica Corte Pallavicina , Polesine Parmense, outside of the city for a true Parma foodie experience.
  • Where to stay in Parma: Palazzo della Rosa for a more luxury experience or the Best Western Farnese for a value hotel

Are You Heading To Parma? Check recommendations for what to eat in Parma .

eating pasta in Turino Italy

Turino, the capital of Piedmont, is an important cultural region in Northern Italy. You can find the best northern Italian foods in Turino. Ingredients play the most significant role in the difference between the recipes from this region and those from Southern Italy.  Food in Piedmont is heavier, with a focus on aged cheese and beef.

Why Travel To Turino Food

If you’re on a foodie tour of Italy and you visit Turino, there are two things you will not miss: cheese and pasta.

Though most people think that pasta is Italy’s national food, cheese is one thing you won’t miss if you are eating in Italy. Almost all restaurants in Turino have all sorts of dishes with some of the most popular Piedmont cheese. 

Bagna Cauda is a must-try if you are visiting Turino. Its main part is the sauce, a mixture of milk, garlic, and anchovies. And there is a way to eat the sauce, which is served fondue-style in a pot with a flame beneath to keep it hot. To scoop up the sauce, use grilled vegetables, mostly celery, peppers, endives, or fennel, and not utensils.

If you want a fine restaurant where you can taste Piedmont cuisine, you can visit Ristorante Del Cambio and have the elaborate six-course tasting menu.  

Things To Know About Turino

  • What to eat in Turin: Drink Barolo wine and hot chocolate. Eat risotto, tajarin pasta, and Piedmonte beef.
  • Where to eat in Turin: Check out Porto di Savona, the oldest restaurant in Turino, as well as Eataly.

eating pesto in Genoa Italy

Genoa is the capital of Liguria in the Italian Riviera . It is known for its narrow streets where there is no shortage of tiny cafes. It is an excellent destination if you are on a culinary tour of Italy because it is filled with street food made from local ingredients.

Why Travel To Genoa Food

Most Ligurian cuisine focuses on pasta, fish, vegetables, and bread. Two of the best inventions that the city gave to the world are focaccia and pesto. You can snack on these two delicacies in one of the tiny cafes. And don’t forget to try farinata, a savory chickpea pancake.

Pesto Genovese is also a popular food to eat in Genoa. It includes Ligurian olive oil, Genovese Basil, cheese, garlic, pine nuts, and salt. The bright green sauce is served with various pasta dishes and is one of the best food in Italy.

Though the narrow alleys in Genoa are filled with tiny cafes, Trattoria Rosmarino is one of the best restaurants to dine at. It is full of intimate crannies and nooks for digging into the local cuisine. And, Genoa has some of our favorite types of I talian pastry !

Things To Know About Genoa

  • What to eat in Genoa: Dunk focaccia in your cappuccino and eat pesto!
  • Where to eat in Genoa: Antica Sa Pesta  for farinata and traditional working man’s lunches and Mercato Orientale Genoa  (or MOG).

Are You Heading To Genoa? Check Out Our Full Genoa Food Guide The Best Ligurian Food To Eat In Genoa Italy

Eating pasta in Cagliari Sardinia

Sardinia is a Blue Zone and hosts the healthiest people because of their longevity diet. It has one of the highest concentrations of people over 100 years. Sardinian food is delicious and unique; what you find there cannot be found anywhere else in Italy.  

Why Travel To Sardinia Food

Pecora in cappotto is referred to as the national food of Sardinia. It is a mutton stew with rich broth, potatoes, and wild herbs. Its name, which means “sheep in a coat,” refers to a pastoral tradition of not shaving the oldest sheep in the herd during the annual sheep-shearing feast.

Su Porcheddu is another popular dish on the island and a must-try if you are on a food tour in Italy. It is an authentic countryside tradition prepared by roasting a suckling pig until the skin is crisp.

L’Antico Borgo is an excellent restaurant if you want to try an incredible selection of seafood. Alternatively, you can enjoy the best Sardinian dish at its simplest, made from ingredients grown on-site.     

Things To Know About Cagliari And Sardinia

  • What to eat in Sardinia: Pane carasau and for pasta try malloreddus alla campidanese and culurgiones.

Are You Heading To Sardinia? Check Out Our Full Sardinian Food Guide Where To Eat In Sardinia Italy

Eating pizza in Naples

Everyone that Naples is famous for its pizza. That said, there’s more to enjoy if you are on a foodie tour of Italy. Neapolitan cuisine focuses on simplicity and local ingredients. Some of the classic ingredients are tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic. 

Naples is the birthplace of pizza, and Napoli pizza is a must-try if you are on Italian food travel. During our trip to Naples, we ate 15 pizzas over five days and reveal our favorite in our Naples Pizza Guide .

Neapolitan pizza is cooked in a brick oven which gives it its distinctive look and taste. A classic Neapolitan pizza is topped with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and 2-3 leaves of basil. Nothing more, nothing less.   

But Naples is not all about pizza; pasta fritters, known as frittatine di pasta, are also delicious. The Pignasecca market will tempt you with stalls serving deep-fried calamari, artichokes, and whitebait. Naples is one of the best cities for Italian snacks and streetfood.

If you are after top-notch Neapolitan cuisine, you can visit Ristorante Mattozzi. You will enjoy your favorite local dish in a wood-paneled dining room adorned with historic prints.  

Are You Heading To Naples? Check Out Our Full Naples Food Guide What To Eat In Naples, Italy

eating in Puglia Italy

Puglia offers tasty and rustic dishes that are different from what you will find in northern Italy. You will get to enjoy simple plates of pasta, hearty baked dishes, and wilted wild greens like cimi de rape or chicory. Though the bread from Altamura and the rich string cheese burrata are enough to justify a trip to Puglia, there are more delicacies to enjoy.

Bread is the most common food in the region. Pane di Altamura is a PDO bread from Bari and the most famous. This toasted bread has yellow crumbs and a crunchy crust that remains soft for days. It is dense yet easy to chew. 

Though focaccia originates from Genoa, it forms the backbone of Puglia cuisine. The local version, Apulian focaccia, is characterized by a round dough. It’s lighter than the Genovese variety but soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Ristorante Grotta Palazzese Polignan is one of the most exotic restaurants. The restaurant is housed in a cave, offering breathtaking views of the Adriatic. Apart from the stunning views, you can enjoy the traditional Apulian cuisine. 

Italy is one of the best destinations for a foodie. The country has regions that will offer a variety of dishes with unique flavor profiles and ingredients. However, you should plan and create a food-focused bucket list.  

Are You Heading to Puglia? Check Out Our Full What To Eat In Puglia Italy Food Guide

Culinary Travel To Italy

Food Traveler's Guide To Emilia Romagna

Our Italy Travel Experience

Check out Food & Drink Destinations original founder Amber Hoffman’s book, the Food Traveler’s Guide To Emilia Romagna , which is available on Amazon. In addition to being a culinary travel guide to the region, it walks through how many of the typical Italian food products are made, like mortadella , prosciutto , and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Eric Hoffman

Eric Hoffman is the co-founder of Food And Drink Destinations. Eric is a lifelong traveler who is passionate about helping people learn how to travel for food. He lives with his wife, Amber, in Limerick, Ireland, after spending 3 years living in Spain. Over the last 20 years, they've traveled to over 70 countries together, always in search of great food travel experiences. Eric also loves cooking at home, always looking to perfect his Italian recipes.

One thought on “ 8 Best Cities In Italy For Food – Where To Find The Best Food In Italy ”

Your articles on Italy are great. I’ve spent months traveling all but 2 of the regions. You’ve definitely explored the great depths of this too rich country. Your observations are “spot on”. Great work! One correction/addition: Parmigiano Reggiano is made in 5 districts. It is also made in a part of Lombardia in the province of Manitova. I spent 12 years as a Cheesemonger. Visiting the great cheese makers of Italy was a Joy!!! Save travels, David

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Essential Map Of What To Eat Around Italy

Italy food map showing where and what to eat in Italy (2)

Italy is one incredible country to visit and I’m not going to tell any porky pies by saying otherwise. Italy is one of Europe’s most diverse countries, with completely different landscapes, cultures and weather.

No trip to Italy is complete without devouring your whole weight in delicious grub; especially when it’s so tasty.

I swear, with every trip I take to Italy I somehow gain a bulbous amount of weight that somehow (despite my very conscious effort to eat as much gelato and pizza as humanly possible) seems to surprise me every time.

Best Things To Do In Matera, Italy (9)

Anyway, if you’re anything like me your trip to Italy will be filled with delicious treats. The way a holiday should be.

This made me want to create and share the ultimate food map of the key places to get some of Italy’s most famous dishes, drinks and desserts.

It’s all about going right back to the birthplace of these amazing meals! Take a look below for where to visit for the very best that Italy has to offer.

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for potentially expanding your waistline when you visit Italy. Ha!

🇮🇹  Swipe left to right on the map to see each region and what they’re famous for 🇮🇹

food road trip italy

1.) Cotoletta all Milanese in Lombardy 

A Day In Como And Bellagio... In Lake Como, Italy (27)

Close to the border with Switzerland and relatively close to Austria and France, the Lombardy region of Italy has many delicious influences when it comes to food.

Unlike the warm, south of Italy, the Lombardy region is much less dry and a little cooler too, which reflects in the dishes.

Make sure to try Cotoletta all Milanese which is very similar to an Austrian Schnitzel.  

Head to places like Como or the town of Bellagio on Lake Como and chow down on the waterfront.

Read more: Best things to do in Lake Como

2.) Truffles in Piedmont

Truffle-Hunting, Chateau-Living And Wine-Tasting In the French Dordogne Valley (9)

Truffles are an expensive little treat, to say the least.

These prized fungi are known across the world for their fragrant smells, taste and high prices, with bigger truffles selling for the price of a car.

If you’re wanting to head out truffle hunting, visit Piedmont in the fall when the truffle season is in full swing.

Read more: How to go truffle hunting  in  England and France

3.) Pesto Genovese, Genoa 

Best Things To Do In Genoa, Italy Piazza De Ferrari

Yummy, Basil pesto is one big reason you should visit Genoa .

Made from a little parmesan cheese, pine nuts, oil and basil, Pesto is one delicious addition to a simple pasta meal.

Read more: Best things to do in Genoa

4.) Risotto alla Milanese, Milan

Arrival in Milan - Italy On A Rickshaw... (23)

Risotto’s origins come from the northern regions of Italy, with Milan truly embracing this thick, creamy, rice broth… would you call it a broth?

Anyway, it’s often served as a first plate in many places in northern Italy but in Milan, they sometimes choose to serve it with shanks of meat, called Ossobuco.

Work up an appetite and eat like the Italians; slow and with lots of wine.

Read more: Best things to do in Milan

5.) Parma Ham, Parma

Photo Diary: Corn Fields And Open Roads... In Italy (10)

Yup, Parma ham is a pretty big deal in Italy.

Head to Parma to try some of the local cured ham that is truly delicious. Perfect for a little nibble with wine and olives in the late afternoon.

Read more: Our rickshaw road trip from Milan to the Amalfi Coast

6.) Ragù with Parmigiano Reggiano, Bologna

Best Things To Do In Bologna (3)

Ragù is a meat-based tomato sauce that is often served with plenty of meat, so if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you might want to steer clear.

Best Things To Do In Bologna (20)

Created approximately 300 years ago, Ragù has become a firm favourite in and around Bologna .

Read more: Best things to do in Bologna

7.) Cappuccino, Northern Italy

Best Things To Do In Milan (28)

Technically not just present in the north of Italy, Cappuccino has made its way into the hearts of most Italians.

Typically a breakfast coffee (mixed with frothed milk) and a cappuccino are best served before 10 am.

It’s frowned upon to have it after midday but I’m sure I’ve drunk one in the afternoon and no Italian wrath was experienced.

8.) Spritz Veneziano, Venice

Photos And Postcards From Venice, Italy (2)

On a hot summers day in Venice, take a sip of a Spritz Veneziano that is made up of Aperol or Campari with lashings of sparkling water. These refreshing drinks are best on a really warm afternoon.

Photos And Postcards From Venice, Italy (18)

Though, I guarantee, once you’ve had one, there will be no stopping you.

Read more on what to see, do and eat in Venice

9.) Cinque Terre, Calamari

11 Stunning Things To Do In Cinque Terre, Italy (3)

Perched on the oceanfront, the region of Cinque Terre is a historic ‘land’ made up of five old fishing towns (and the surrounding landscape) that are truly stunning.

11 Stunning Things To Do In Cinque Terre, Italy (17)

Obviously, you’ll want to come here for the views and quaint charm but don’t forget to grab a bite to eat in one of the region’s restaurants, with many serving fresh catches every day.

Read more: Best things to do in Cinque Terre

10.) Espresso, Pisa

Tuscan Summer Evenings And A Day In Pisa, Italy (14)

Technically not just Pisa , espresso has made its way all over Italy.

This after dinner drink is the perfect ‘pick-me-up’ after a long day sightseeing and climbing to the top of the famous leaning tower.

See more on planning your trip to Pisa

11.) Florentine Steak, Florence

Best Things To Do In Florence (3)

A Florentine Steak is not for the faint-hearted!

This beast of a steak requires a hefty amount of willpower, plenty of guts and a huge appetite that has to be tried in Florence. If you can’t finish it whole all, have one to share.

Read more: Best things to do in Florence

12.) Chianti, Chianti region of Tuscany 

The Farmhouse... In Tuscany, Italy (8)

Produced in and around Tuscany , Chianti is often served in that straw-like baskets that cup the bottle.

A typical wine to have in this region, it’s best served with an afternoon meal or an evening relaxing in the Tuscan countryside. We decided to rent our very own farmhouse on our last visit to Tuscany and boy was it special.

See more of our idyllic Tuscan farmhouse, right here .

Read more: Best places to visit in Tuscany

13.) Carbonara, Rome

Exploring Vatican City And The Sistine Chapel, Rome (7)

Yup, now we can say that Rome is official to blame for my incredulous weight gain… damn its delicious carbonara.

Exploring Vatican City And The Sistine Chapel, Rome (22)

I have no idea what sorcery came about to create this beast of a meal but I just love it. This creamy pasta is served with egg, bacon and sprinkles of black pepper.

Read more: Best things to do in Rome

14.) Pizza, Naples

Best Things To Do In Naples (26)

Naples is the home of Pizza and the perfect place to indulge in a little comfort food.

Best Things To Do In Naples (9)

Personally, I love the anchovy thin crusts, but they’ll almost make you any type in the city.. as long as it’s not a deep dish.

Read more: Best things to do in Naples

15.) Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Puglia

Best Things To Do In Matera, Italy (28)

Puglia is one of the best regions in Italy for extra virgin olive oil. Make sure to visit the historic city of Bari and the small towns around Polignano A Mare.

You won’t be disappointed!

Read more: Best things to do in Puglia

16.) Limoncello, Amalfi Coast

Best Things To Do In The Amalfi Coast (3)

Limoncello is the drink of the Gulf Of Naples, with any trip to the Amalfi Coast almost guaranteed to include it within.

Traditional Limoncello is made from the strongly scented zest of the lemon and mixed spirit and dollops of sugary goodness.

Just be warned, home-made Limoncello varies in alcohol content so make sure you know the strength you’re drinking.

Read more: Best things to do on the Amalfi Coast,  and Pompeii

17.) Gelato, Sicily

15 Things To Know About Visiting Cinque Terre In Italy (11)

My favourite of them all! Gelato. I swear the majority of the world’s problems can be solved with a big cone of gelato!

Head to the island of Sicily for some of the best, in almost every flavour you can imagine.

Read on some of the best things to see in Sicily

18.) Cannoli, Sicily

A 'Few' Photos From Palermo, Italy... (2)

This delicious sweet treat is the perfect dessert if you’re a sweet-toothed fiend, like me! From the island of Sicily, this fried pastry dessert is accompanied by a sweet and creamy ricotta that is so more-ish

Read more: Best places to visit on an Italian road trip

19.) Seadas, Sardinia

Best Things To Do In Sardinia (3)

This traditional fritter is created on the island of Sardinia by frying semolina dumplings with a hearty filling of delicious pecorino cheese that is finally smothered with lashings of local honey.

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Where to Eat, Stay, and Drink on a Northern Italian Road Trip

Courtesy of Nolinski Venezia Hotel

Soaring alpine peaks, serene canals, stunning art and architecture of antiquity. Northern Italy is the proud parent of some of the most wondrous landscapes on Earth. Whenever I’m lucky enough to explore this region, though, it is all but a beautiful backdrop for unforgettable food and drink. My favorite cuisine, cocktails, and wine all come from here: the tortellini of Modena, the cicchetti of Venice , the prototypical Florentine Negroni , and Brunello di Montalcino . 

I had encountered it all separately during various trips to the country. Each experience was so individually enshrined within my memory that it felt improbable that all these provinces were essentially neighbors across a relatively small swath of land. It was an area I had repeatedly been advised could be effortlessly traversed within several days. So last autumn, I endeavored to put that prescription to the test through a carefully planned road trip. I was delighted with the results and implore any adventurous gourmand to experiment similarly. If you feel inclined to eat and drink your way through the scenery, here’s an easy template to follow.

Stop one: Venice

Bookend the journey by flying into Venice Marco Polo Airport and securing a stay at the new Nolinski Venezia Hotel in the heart of the City of Canals. The five-star property sits just a short stroll from Piazza San Marco, yet it feels worlds away from the frenzied din of any tourist hub. Acclimate to its serenity by bellying up to the Library Bar, tucked off to the corner of the third-floor lobby. The cozy space is bound by red velvet banquettes — comfortable perches from which to sip martinis made with local Italian gins or smoky Manhattans prepared with top-shelf bourbon. And, living up to its name, the watering hole holds some 4000 books along its crowded shelves. 

At meal time, Il Caffè plates a parade of Northern Italian specialties, served adjacent to the hotel’s inner courtyard sanctum. Staples of the menu include outsized portions of Milanese veal chop, house-made linguini with lobster, and pizzetta topped with basil and heaping mounds of burrata. 

There’s enough here that you’ll need to navigate it over several days worth of dinners. Especially come spring, when Two-Michelin-starred chef Philip Chronopoulos opens the hotly anticipated Palais Royal on site. So allocate enough time to explore off-property, too, of course. For cicchetti, check out Enoteca Schiavi. The unassuming wine shop, south of Ponte dell’Accademia, is an enduring destination for locals. When it’s time for something sweet, beeline over to Suso — an artisanal gelateria under the shadow of Rialto Bridge. 

Once you’ve left ample time for digestion, you’ll want to return to the hotel to enjoy its sublime rooftop pool. More like a massive indoor hot tub, it features gold-leafed tiling and a view overlooking some of the city's most iconic attractions. Rooms here start at around $600 per night. And for a nominal fee, they’ll provide private transfer from and back to the airport via water taxi. Take them up on it. It’s worth it. 

At the airport, you can find plenty of rental cars for as little as $30 per day. Try securing a hybrid vehicle, as gas prices will be the most significant associated cost. Two caveats before you hit the road: stick-shift is still the norm here, so if you only drive automatic, make sure to book well ahead of time — supply might be scarce. One thing that there’s no shortage of, however, is aggressive drivers on Italian highways. They will come up on you fast and fierce. To avoid them, stay in the rightmost lane at all times. 

Stop two: Verona 

After leaving Venice, I headed west toward E70 for about an hour before making my first pit stop outside Verona. I came to explore the Pasqua Winery tasting room, where I could score some fantastic deals on big and fruity examples of Amarone, the region's signature wine. But I soon learned that there was a lot more going on in this operation. Namely, some irreverent yet well-structured whites relying heavily on garganega and pinot bianco grapes. For €50 (about $55), I was able to tour the winemaking process and blend my own customized bottle.

Stop three: Modena 

From Verona, I veered south on E45 to the automotive mecca of Modena. The historic city is home to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati … and Massimo Bottura. Despite my love of exotic sports cars, the three Michelin-star chef excited me most about this particular pilgrimage. Landing a table at his legendary Osteria Francescana is a herculean task. I opted for a less stressful alternative: lining up an overnight at Casa Maria Luigia , the charming bed and breakfast he opened up with his wife, Lara Gilmore, along the outskirts of the city, back in 2019. 

Since then, the property has slowly and mindfully expanded beyond its primary footprint within the 12-room confines of a 250-year-old farmhouse. It now includes a working acetaia, where you can tour over a thousand barrels of balsamic patiently taking shape. In addition to tasting the classical expressions for which the region is singularly renowned, I sampled some of the chef's playful experimentations, including a curiously piney variant flavored using juniper wood. 

Earlier this autumn, Casa Maria Luigia added another adjoining dining option, Al Gatto Verde , where talented tastemaker — and Bottura disciple — chef Jessica Rosval focuses on wood-fired fare. But the original venue here is Francescana, an offshoot of the beloved Osteria that showcases some of the greatest hits from throughout its nearly 30-year history. The $500 tasting menu is carefully paired against endless pours of under-heralded viticultural treasures. There’s also plenty of surprises coming out of the open kitchen, which may or may not include a dessert portion of tortellini. 

During my Saturday evening experience, there was no greater surprise than chef Bottura in the flesh, descending upon the dining room to plate one of his most famous creations: “Beautiful, Psychedelic Spin-painted Veal, Not Flame Grilled.” It turns out that you have a solid chance of spotting him if you arrive on that particular night of the week. 

But no matter when you stay at Casa Maria Luigia, you’re guaranteed a wholly boutique experience for around €800 (about $876) per night. It includes access to a 24/7 kitchen stocked with snacks—and aperitivo; a listening room lined with the chef’s thousand-strong collection of vinyl, and a gym, which doubles as a garage for his vintage sports cars. His penchant for such is chronicled in a new book he co-authored with his wife called Slow Food, Fast Cars . 

Stop four: Florence

After exiting greater Modena, I went south on A1, bypassing Bologna on my way to Florence. Transitioning from Emilia-Romagna into Tuscany, the drive revealed an increasingly undulating terrain as I eventually descended into the Arno river valley. 

The Tuscan capital is brimming with sensual delights. But I had only one such pleasure in mind: checking into the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze . The enchanting property, repurposed from a 15th Century palace, is among my favorite places to stay on earth. And so anytime I’m in the city, I intend to spend as much time within its hallowed halls as schedule allows. It is never enough. 

The aptly named Atrium Bar is the hotel's signature space for liquid libation. Classically appointed, it sits under a lofty glass skylight — affording a most stately retreat. Negronis are always front of mind here. This is the very city in which the cocktail was invented, and the bar reserves a trolly, especially for their assembly. I was delighted to learn that the mixologists had just crafted a new menu, highlighting a half dozen or so elegant variations on the classic. 

They also offer a refreshingly extensive food menu at Atrium. I took advantage of this fact by pairing my Vintage Negroni with truffle-dusted ravioli. The real pro move, however, is to reserve a table at Il Palagio , the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, helmed by chef Paolo Lavezzini. His menu addresses old Tuscan standbys with a modern sensibility. In one compelling example, succulent, locally sourced lamb is plated with an application of sheep’s milk ricotta and studded with bee pollen. 

After dinner, I retreated to my second-floor room. With its impossibly high ceilings and Medici-inspired decor, I didn’t just feel like I was staying in a palace. I was staying in a palace.

Stop five: Barone Ricasoli

My fourth day on the road was to be my last before returning to Venice. So, I wanted to go out strong. For that, I entrusted Barone Ricasoli , Italy’s oldest wine estate. To get here from Florence, you pass through ancient hillside villages that would be worth your time even if you didn’t have a specific destination in mind. But good grief, is it ever a worthy destination. At the center of 600 acres of pristinely rowed vineyards is Brolio castle . I came in time for the morning tour. It’s over two hours, costs €40 (about $44), and includes a tasting of several of the winery’s prototypical Chianti Classicos and an exploration of the castle. It’s offered daily from April through December. 

In the early afternoon, I continued along the narrower rustic roads of Tuscany, eventually winding my way through the timeworn, limestone-tinted city of Arezzo for an espresso break. The wheels kept rolling north on E45 toward the Adriatic coast and Ravenna — the seaside village most famous for its medieval-era Basilicas. Today, its best dining destination exists just steps away from one of those ancient edifices. Osteria del Tempo Perso is a glistening gem of modern Italian cuisine. And it's got the Michelin star to prove it. I savored a house-made ravioli stuffed with seabream and washed it down with a buoyant Lambrusco. 

It’s merely a two-hour drive from here, tracing the coastline north along SS309, back to Venice Marco Polo Airport. By the time you return the rental car, you will have logged 12 total hours behind the wheel and 510 miles on the odometer. All of it packed pleasantly into four days that will last you for a lifetime.

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Food & Culinary Tours in Italy

Head out on a truffle hunting adventure in Tuscany , sip on the freshest limoncello at the Amalfi Coast or indulge in the finest berried blends in Sicily . Ignite your inner epicure with melting Margherita pizzas and spoon-swirling spaghetti on an Italian food tour. Whether you're indulging at a bàcari in Venice or celebrating la dolce vita with an aperitivo in Milan , there's no competition for the best food experiences in Italy.

116 Food & Culinary tour packages in Italy with 508 positive reviews

Small Group Sicily Food & Wine Tour (Maximum 8 Guests) Tour

  • Food & Culinary
  • Christmas & New Year

Small Group Sicily Food & Wine Tour (Maximum 8 Guests)

We enjoyed this tour from A to Z. Highly recommended for slow travellers visiting Sicily for the first time!
  • 10% deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.

Taste of Salento-Authentic Culinary Experience Tour

Taste of Salento-Authentic Culinary Experience

I arrived at the farmhouse not knowing what to expect and left very happy that I had chosen this tour. Emilio and Clara are a lovely couple, full of passion and warmth. Emilio has a passion for the land, his cooking and showing visitors the real Salento. You get a real insider's look at the area and feel like part of their family. If you are looking for a luxury type of Tuscan villa vacation, then this is not the vacation for you. But if you want a real, authentic type of vacation, then this farmhouse will deliver.

Private Sicily Food & Wine Lovers Tour Tour

Private Sicily Food & Wine Lovers Tour

This private tour of Sicily one of the most fun, relaxing, beautiful, and delicious (!) vacations we've ever had--the perfect way to break out of the Covid "lockdown" blues after not being able to travel for 17 months. If you are considering this vacation, stop looking and book this tour before it sells out--you will not regret it!! I originally thought I would book the small group tour, but because of covid--and more importantly because the private tour price was so reasonable--we booked this as a private tour, and it couldn't have been more perfect. Massimo is the SINGLE BEST travel agent we've ever used. I don't say this lightly--First, I'm extremely picky (I'm a professor and scientist, and I tend to analyze everything; I want only the very best experiences; second, we have traveled all over the world, and we have very high standards and expectations. We have always had wonderful local travel agents, but Massimo went "above and beyond" in every way imaginable. His communication was phenomenal; with Covid restrictions, we weren't sure we were going to be able to make the trip happen at all, and at every stage Massimo would send me the latest information on Italy, and also he basically said we could cancel for a full refund even a week before our trip, which is an extremely generous policy and eased a lot of my stress. I ask a lot of questions, and he answered every question very quickly with detailed answers. He treated me more like a friend or family member than a "client."If he hadn't been so friendly, reassuring, and had such a flexible policy, we probably wouldn't have taken the trip. The trip itself was absolutely perfect in every way. When local travel agents plan trips for us, I meticulously read reviews of all the hotels and activities, and I end up making suggestions for revisions or alterations. In this case, all of the reviews were stellar, so I didn't ask fora single revision. And yet, every single tour, activity, and hotel Massimo planned was FABULOUS. I wouldn't change a thing! The care with which Massimo puts into his tours--and especially his clients--is amazing. He would what's app me every evening to remind me of the pickup time the next morning, and again during the day to check in to see how our day was going, whether we were enjoying an activity, and if he could do anything to make things better. I noticed that every tour we went on, they took pictures of us and sent them to Massimo, which I believe was his way of making sure we were always well cared for, and where we were supposed to be. I truly felt like he deeply cared about us and wanted to make sure we were having the best time possible. His drivers, guides, and tours were also top notch. Every single driver (without exception) was early to pick us up, spoke great English, and was incredibly friendly and informative--it's as if he chose to only work with contractors who have his same wonderful personality. Each and every tour guide was also incredibly knowledgeable, passionate, and engaging, some of the best guides we've had in any city. All of the activities -- from cooking classes to food tours to wine tasting -- were incredible as well. What I loved most of all was that I literally never had to worry about anything, because everything was so perfectly chose and planned and because Massimo was always watching over us to make sure everything went well. I will absolutely recommend this tour of Sicily and especially Massimo to all of my friends and family!

Discover Matera and Taste of Salento Tour Tour

Discover Matera and Taste of Salento Tour

What a wonderful experience! The guides Emilio and Cosimo enthralled us with the stories and history of Salento and Matera. The food was bountiful. The meals were wholesome and delicious. There was free time that allowed us to relax at the farmhouse ! The accommodation was more than adequate in Salento and wonderful in Matera, we had a spacious cave room!. The staff from the agency has been lovely and attentive. Excellent.

Charming Sicily Food & Wine Small Group Tour - 8 days Tour

  • Wine tasting

Charming Sicily Food & Wine Small Group Tour - 8 days

We had a wonderful time. The trip was very enjoyable, made so not only due to the amazing scenery but the efficiency of the tour leader and driver who both went out of their way to be so helpful and informative about places we were visiting and stopping. We never felt rushed and always had time to enjoy where we were. The hotel was lovely, first class service by all the staff and all the meals were extremely good. We both had such a wonderful time. First Class Customer Care!! Very happy customer.

Sicily Food Adventure Tour

Sicily Food Adventure

Sicily was great, the transportation was very good, fellow passengers were a great bunch who mixed well. Food and wine experiences were good, but for me the highlight of the trip was ancient and modern Sicily. The tour guide was lovely and tried very hard but with limited English understanding, was not able to provide any significant on board commentary or quell the frustrations that accrued as we drove from place to place. Accommodation throughout the tour was average to good and the weather was just perfect.

Italy Real Food Adventure Tour

Italy Real Food Adventure

A Taste of Tuscany - Hilltop Towns and Vineyards Tour

  • In-depth Cultural

A Taste of Tuscany - Hilltop Towns and Vineyards

Northern Italy’s Charm – food & wine tour in Veneto and Trentino Tour

Northern Italy’s Charm – food & wine tour in Veneto and Trentino

Exploring delicacies of Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto Tour

Exploring delicacies of Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto

5 Days Italian  Cookery Getaway in Umbria Tour

5 Days Italian Cookery Getaway in Umbria

I was excited to cook real Italan cuisine every day. I heasitated to take part in this tour first, because I'm not native English speaker. But Raffaella explained me slowly and the other participants helped me a lot. So I really enjoyed eatting,relaxing and excursion.Thank you !

Gourmet Rome, Sorrento & Capri Tour

Gourmet Rome, Sorrento & Capri

South Italy Campania Escape Tour

South Italy Campania Escape

5 Luxury days on the Sacred Land of Umbria Tour

5 Luxury days on the Sacred Land of Umbria

Grand tour of Veneto, from Venezia to Verona Tour

Grand tour of Veneto, from Venezia to Verona

Reviews of food & culinary tours in italy.

I can’t say enough good things about our experience in Sicily thanks to Mossimo and his team. Excellent, informative tour guides…Denise, Carlos, Antonio and Sem. The cooking class may have been the highlight, but all of the activities were fun and the pace of the tour, planned activities/free time mix was perfect. Will definitely recommend!
Emilio, Clara, Michael and Antonio were fantastic hosts. The food and the sights visited were fantastic. However, a more protein driven menu would have been appreciated. The Casa Clarita was nice, but needed little attentions such as water in the fridge upon our arrival without asking and napkins. The mattresses would need updating and extra blankets. Being North Americans, it would help paying attention to safe driving. These are only constructive criticism, as we truly enjoyed our week on the farm and highly recommend this tour.
This private tour of Sicily one of the most fun, relaxing, beautiful, and delicious (!) vacations we've ever had--the perfect way to break out of the Covid "lockdown" blues after not being able to travel for 17 months. If you are considering this vacation, stop looking and book this tour before it sells out--you will not regret it!! I originally thought I would book the small group tour, but because of covid--and more importantly because the private tour price was so reasonable--we booked this as a private tour, and it couldn't have been more perfect. Massimo is the SINGLE BEST travel agent we've ever used. I don't say this lightly--First, I'm extremely picky (I'm a professor and scientist, and I tend to analyze everything; I want only the very best experiences; second, we have traveled all over the world, and we have very high standards and expectations. We have always had wonderful local travel agents, but Massimo went "above and beyond" in every way imaginable. His communication was phenomenal; with Covid restrictions, we weren't sure we were going to be able to make the trip happen at all, and at every stage Massimo would send me the latest information on Italy, and also he basically said we could cancel for a full refund even a week before our trip, which is an extremely generous policy and eased a lot of my stress. I ask a lot of questions, and he answered every question very quickly with detailed answers. He treated me more like a friend or family member than a "client."If he hadn't been so friendly, reassuring, and had such a flexible policy, we probably wouldn't have taken the trip. The trip itself was absolutely perfect in every way. When local travel agents plan trips for us, I meticulously read reviews of all the hotels and activities, and I end up making suggestions for revisions or alterations. In this case, all of the reviews were stellar, so I didn't ask fora single revision. And yet, every single tour, activity, and hotel Massimo planned was FABULOUS. I wouldn't change a thing! The care with which Massimo puts into his tours--and especially his clients--is amazing. He would what's app me every evening to remind me of the pickup time the next morning, and again during the day to check in to see how our day was going, whether we were enjoying an activity, and if he could do anything to make things better. I noticed that every tour we went on, they took pictures of us and sent them to Massimo, which I believe was his way of making sure we were always well cared for, and where we were supposed to be. I truly felt like he deeply cared about us and wanted to make sure we were having the best time possible. His drivers, guides, and tours were also top notch. Every single driver (without exception) was early to pick us up, spoke great English, and was incredibly friendly and informative--it's as if he chose to only work with contractors who have his same wonderful personality. Each and every tour guide was also incredibly knowledgeable, passionate, and engaging, some of the best guides we've had in any city. All of the activities -- from cooking classes to food tours to wine tasting -- were incredible as well. What I loved most of all was that I literally never had to worry about anything, because everything was so perfectly chose and planned and because Massimo was always watching over us to make sure everything went well. I will absolutely recommend this tour of Sicily and especially Massimo to all of my friends and family!

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6 Perfect Stops On A Northern Italy Food Tour

food road trip italy

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The Northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna is a foodie’s paradise. Along with the production of some of Italy’s most prized commodities — Parmigiano-Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, and prosciutto — the food of the region presents a satisfying and seductive gastronomic persona all its own.

More affordable and less crowded than other Italian regions, Emilia-Romagna is replete with stunning landscapes: mountains, rolling hills, rich, verdant farmland, and a 55-mile-long Adriatic coastline. The combination makes this region a treasure trove of extraordinary food production and consumption.

Emilia-Romagna is hot and more crowded in summer, and parts of the region see snow in winter. The best times to take advantage of fewer vacationers, off-season prices, and a bounty of fresh options are spring and fall.

The following food experiences are located in Bologna or are an easy drive from the city.

1. Trattoria Del Rosso In Bologna

Bologna is the capital of Bologna Province and the heart and belly of the Emilia-Romagna food experience. My husband and I have delighted in several meals at Trattoria del Rosso . Although the interior is welcoming, there’s nothing like sitting outdoors and savoring a light evening breeze along with pasta and wine. Service was efficient and friendly, but it was the outstanding food that drew us back.

Tagliatelle Bolognese, long wide pasta with a thick, robust meat and tomato sauce, is one of the region’s signature dishes, and Trattoria del Rosso’s is superb. My favorite, however, was Tortellini in Brodo, tender pasta circles filled with meat and cheese basking in a rich chicken broth. Next time, I’ll try the Gramigna with Sausage, a squiggly egg pasta that makes it easy for the sauce to cling to its curls.

Trattoria del Rosso is wheelchair accessible. Make reservations, as this is a popular spot with locals, students, and tourists.

Pro Tip: An excellent way to work off all that pasta is to take a paid or free (tip-based) Bologna walking tour. It also serves as a perfect introduction to this remarkable city.

Seen in the Quadrilatero Area of Bologna—Gorgonzola so Ripe it has to be Served with a Spoon

Simon Lock / MyElecticImages

2. The Quadrilatero In Bologna

In Bologna’s historic center lies a magical network of enticing shops near Piazza Maggiore. This is the oldest market in Bologna, with some structures dating back to the 13th century. Although food is by no means the only commodity vying for attention, it nevertheless will tempt and enthrall. Mouthwatering displays of freshly sliced cured meats, Parma ham, salamis, and aged Parmigiano-Reggiano will call your name. And gorgonzola so ripe it will appear to be rushing to rendezvous with your tastebuds will beckon you.

The Quadrilatero has expanded since its medieval beginnings. Today, the market area is bounded by a large quadrant of streets. High-end boutiques, jewelers, blade-smiths, fishmongers, produce stands, and more will occupy you for hours. Of course, a bounty of cafes and restaurants will see that you remain fully fed and hydrated.

The cobblestone streets may make walking less than comfortable, so leave the heels at home. The terrain will also give wheelchair users somewhat of a bumpy ride.

Pro Tip: FICO Eataly World is a 20-acre foodie’s playground located outside Bologna’s busy city center. It features vendors and restaurants showcasing high-quality foods from all of Italy’s regions.

Barrels of Balsamic Vinegar Aging at Acetaia Cavedoni in Castelvetro

3. Acetaia Cavedoni Balsamic Vinegar Tour In Castelvetro

Acetaia Cavedoni is a sixth-generation balsamic vinegar distillery owned and operated by Paolo Cavedoni and his son, Marcello. Take the small-group tour, and you will never see those mass-produced bottles of balsamic the same way again.

A history of balsamic from the Romans to today will lead to an introduction to the dedication, patience, and painstaking techniques that result in the world’s finest aged balsamic vinegar. A stop at the building where the aging barrels stand in perfect rows from largest to smallest will help put the process into perspective.

The Cavedoni family has been producing certified DOP, artisanal balsamic vinegar since 1860. Each generation has strictly adhered to the traditions and values that enable them to produce the finest balsamic on the market.

Shifting the focus from brain to palate. You will taste a range of vinegars from thin, lip-puckering acidity to smooth, thick, sweet liquid gold, giving you a unique understanding of how aging affects the final product.

Following the tasting, you will enjoy a generous sampling of crusty homemade bread, aged Parmigiano Reggiano, peppery mortadella, and of course, wine. The family also produces the ruby-red Lambrusco, a refreshing, slightly sparkling, organic wine.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for something to take away for a treat or gift, you can purchase aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, balsamic, and Lambrusco onsite.

Flavorful Bowl of Pasta e Fagioli Served at Casa Selene.

4. Casa Selene Outside Modena

Located on Via Monticelli, a country road a couple of miles off the main road running between Bologna and Modena, sits Casa Selene on an incline overlooking gently rolling countryside. Here we feasted on a traditional Emilia Romagna lunch. This restaurant/hotel is an agro-tourism business. We had high expectations of freshness and quality, and Casa Selene didn’t disappoint.

We lunched with a group, so our meal was served family-style. This enabled us to sample small portions of several dishes. From the thick and savory pasta e fagioli to the beautifully presented rich, sweet creme caramel, each dish was an edible work of art.

Casa Selene makes its own pasta, and makes it well. I dream of someday sitting down with a hot bowl of their tagliatelle Bolognese and nothing other than a glass of wine.

Casa Selene is wheelchair accessible, and the staff is friendly and accommodating.

Pro Tip: Even if you’re not a car enthusiast, the Ferrari Museum in the nearby town of Maranello will fascinate you and keep your mind off food, at least for a couple of hours.

Just A Few of the Thousands of Wheels Of Parmigiano-Reggiano Aging in a Warehouse Near Modena

5. Mercato Albinelli In Modena

Since 1931, this covered food market has been a go-to place for locals and tourists alike. We perused stalls offering fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as fresh and cured meats, cheeses, wine, flowers, and anything else one would want to grace a traditional Emilia-Romagna table.

Located near Modena’s Piazza Grande, this market is not as large as others in Europe, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in quality and charm. The corner restaurant where we had lunch tempted us with homemade baked pasta, pizza, roasted chicken, and a variety of cold offerings. We shared a cheese plate and a hot pork sandwich, washed down with Lambrusco. All were excellent, but the pizza will be my next choice.

There is plenty of architectural eye-candy on which to feast, as well. Wrought iron spirals and a sculpture of a little girl holding a flower basket on her hip lend an artsy touch to the homey atmosphere.

Pro Tip: You don’t have to be an opera lover to be fascinated by Casa Museo Luciano Pavarotti , the place Modena’s native singing son called home. Become acquainted with this operatic icon through his private collection of memorabilia, costumes, awards, and personal artifacts.

Massive Ball of Curds that will Form Two Wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano

6. Italian Days Food Experiences Tour Originating In Bologna

Indulge yourself in a 10-hour Bologna Food and Wine Tour from Italian Days Food Experiences . This tour that dives into the production of Parmigiana-Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, and prosciutto will feed both body and mind.

The small-group tour includes transportation to and from your accommodations in Bologna and tours of a Parmigiano-Reggiano production plant and a prosciutto production facility not generally open to the public. Also included are a tour and breakfast at the aforementioned Acetaia Cavedoni, generous samples throughout the day, and a sumptuous late lunch at a restaurant or winery serving traditional Emilia-Romagna dishes.

We took this tour and developed a strong affection and respect for the families who keep alive the traditions that result in some of the finest foods in the world. Our guide was friendly, informative, and highly entertaining, making the entire experience all the more enjoyable.

Disclaimer: My husband and I were guests of Italian Days Food Experiences. However, all opinions are entirely my own.

Pro Tip: Resist the temptation to nap in the van between stops. Instead, take in the lush landscape rolling by, and glean as much information as you can about what else to see, do, and eat in the area from your driver.

Related Reading:

  • Tuscany Road Trip: The Perfect Itinerary Through Italy’s Stunning Countryside
  • 7 Essential Tips For Planning A Beautiful Road Trip Through Italy
  • The Best Gelaterias In Italy (And What To Order When You Visit)
  • How To Spend A Day In Lake Como, Italy

Image of Penny Zibula

Penny Zibula has been a freelance writer and blogger since she retired in 2013. Her background is in public relations and community outreach, with stints as a newspaper reporter, television talk show host, and producer. She applies her life-long love of learning and passion for travel to her writing about destinations, history, culture, food, and accessibility.

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Drifter Planet

The Ultimate Italy Road Trip: 2 Weeks Itinerary (with Amalfi Coast)

by Drifter Planet | May 17, 2022 | Italy , Most Popular Blog Posts , Road Trips

food road trip italy

How can anyone not fall in love with Italy? Not only it is picturesque, but there’s so much more to it that just the visual beauty. It is the feeling one gets when they visit this country which makes it special. Italy is romantic, culturally beautiful, and offers delicious food.

There is a reason why some of the most famous books and movies are set in a backdrop of famous Italian towns. Rome, Venice, Florence, Naples – some of the most famous historical cities and towns in the world are in Italy. Not just that, Italy also has the Italian Alps, the Dolomites, and a massive coastline on three sides! Yep, it has it all.

food road trip italy

The first time I visited Italy, it was just North Italy. We landed in Venice and drove to Trentino in our rental car. The second time was in South Italy where we spent one entire month in Puglia. We actually drove from Germany to Puglia but realized it would have been easier to just fly to Bari or Brindisi and drive a rental car from there.

For the purpose of travel, it is important to understand what are the regions of Italy. You can pick and choose some of them or get a taste of them all. Here are the regions in Italy that you can visit –

  • Northeast Italy, (the Dolomites,  Trentino , Venice and Bologna)
  • Northwest Italy, (Cinque Terre, Milan and the Alps)
  • Central Italy, (Tuscany region and Rome)
  • Southern Italy, (Naples,  Puglia , Amalfi and Capri)
  • The islands – Sicily and Sardinia.

If you ever see the list of the most visited countries in the world, Italy usually is in top 5 year after year. It is because there is so much to see & experience in every single region of Italy.

Keep in mind that to properly explore each region of Italy, you would probably need at least two weeks each. However, this itinerary focuses on the entire Italy, so I will help you move from one region to another and tell you the best of each. That’s the difference between a region-specific itinerary and a country-specific itinerary.

food road trip italy

If you think you will get to visit Italy multiple times, then by all means pick just one region or maximum two for each trip. If you’re going to visit Italy just once or twice in your life then I suggest you visit more than just 2 regions because they all have something to offer.

Don’t try to cover it all , it isn’t possible to do so. Instead, pick a few destinations and spend some quality time in each place that you visit so that you don’t feel rushed or drained out.

Starting Point for Italy Road Trip:

So where should you start your epic Italian road trip? It depends on a few things. The starting points will change based on how you enter Italy – flying or driving.

Italy road trip itinerary Map for Pinterest

Italy has many airports from the North to the South. If you want to start your trip in North Italy then I suggest you fly to Venice or Verona and  rent a car from there. You can also fly to Naples or Bari to start your trip from South Italy and make your way to the North. Or fly to the middle – Rome, Florence, or Pisa and just do the North or the South for your Italy road trip 2 weeks.

Alternatively, you can also pick a section of Italy and do a smaller road trip that focuses on just that area. For example, the North Italy road trip would include the top three points that I have mentioned below, the middle would include Tuscany and Rome and South Italy road trip would include Rome and below like Puglia and Amalfi Coast.

For ease of understanding, we have created this route that starts in Venice. It is very easy to rent a car from Venice airport and drive from there. We did that already!

Table of Contents

Circular italy or straight route for italian road trip.

If you’re driving to Italy, then it will make a lot of sense for you to follow a straight route. You can enter Italy from the North and move to the South. Or the other way around.

If you are able to rent a car from one place and return it to another, then I highly recommend you go for a straight route. It will save you a lot of time. However, this option isn’t usually available, so most of you will end up following a circular itinerary.

This is a fast-paced itinerary that includes a lot of destinations within Italy. Some of them are optional, so you can figure out which ones to leave and skip. For example, you can pick one out of the Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast and spend a long time in other destinations.

1) Venice (and Burano) – 2 Days – the Canals of Italy

Grand Canal in Venice - Northern Italy by Train

You can’t drive inside Venice, so why is it a part of this itinerary? Because Venice is the most romantic city of Italy and it needs to be a part of this epic itinerary.

If you’re flying to Italy and renting your car, then I suggest you rent your car on the day you leave Venice to save money. You can check for prices here or book one  and pick it from Piazzale Roma. However, if you’re driving to Italy from another country then you will have to park your car in one of the below options.

In order to visit Venice, you will drive to the entrance of the city Piazzale Roma or Tronchetto , and park your car there. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of space and it is Europe’s largest car park. Yes, it is expensive to park here because it is EUR 30 per 24 hours.

[Box] Want to save some money? Park your car near Mestre Railway Station and take a 10-minute train ride to Venezia St.Lucia. This way, your parking costs, and journey will be less than 5 euros. [/Box]

There aren’t any roads beyond Piazzale Roma, so you will have to continue by walking or by getting on a boat.

A bridge over a pretty canal in Venice, Italy

I have included two days in Venice but if you want, you can take half a day to explore Burano. It is smaller, colorful, and very close to Venice. Here’s what to do in Venice:

Walking is the easiest way to explore Venice. The most popular spots in Venice are around St. Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge. However, I suggest you get lost on purpose and explore the narrow alleys. Here you will find the best photo spots because of fewer tourists. If it gets sunny, cover your head and eat gelato to beat the heat.

Sunset Gondola Ride :

food road trip italy

You can’t visit Venice and not do a Gondola ride. Yep, Gondola rides are super expensive so you make the most of it by doing it at the most romantic time – the sunset. The point of a gondola ride isn’t transportation but enjoyment.

You can save money by doing the Gondola ride with 1 or 2 other people and doing it before the sunset time. Here are the options I have handpicked for you:

  • Gondola Ride with Commentary : Skip the line ticket for a Gondola ride. Duration is 30-50 minutes. Price in May 2022 is EUR 33.
  • Gondola Ride with App Commentary : Skip the line ticket for a Gondola ride. Duration is 45 minutes. Price in May 2022 is EUR 28.

Find a restaurant with a view:

Most of the restaurants with nice views are going to be very expensive but I can help you find a moderately affordable one. To actually get a table with a view, you need to always book in advance. Once you’re here, try the squid ink pasta. Try one of the following:

  • Trattoria Altanella in Giudecca,
  • Gianni in Giudecca,
  • Da Fiore in Campo S. Polo,
  • Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti in Dorsoduro.

See Scala Contarini del Bovolo

food road trip italy

Climb the spiral stairs and click a few photos of the view from the top. It is a famous building that was once a gothic palace.

Visit Rialto Food Market

Venice is touristy but visiting a famous food market will give you somewhat a local experience. The locals come here to buy fresh fruit, veggies and fish. It is best to arrive here early because the market hours are 7:30 am to 1 pm.

Campo Santo Stefano

Find an outdoor cafe on Campo Santo Stefano and enjoy your afternoon or evening with cicchetti & Spritz. Cicchetti is a small snack plate. You don’t need to order cicchetti, but the servers will bring it for you if you order your drinks (Spritz).

See Doge’s Palace

food road trip italy

Doge’s Palace is an important historical landmark in Venice. This was once an official residence for the Doge of Venice (the elected leader of the historical Venetian Republic). It was originally designed to be a residential palace for Nepolean.

Doge’s Palace is an interesting spot for those who like history, but it is also a photographer’s dream because of its stunning interiors, especially in the Chamber of the Great Council. Believe it or not, the world’s largest canvas painting is located in this room. But remember, you can’t use flash when you photograph this.

While inside the Doge’s Palace, you should also walk on the iconic Bridge of Sighs, which is located here. You will also see St. Mark’s Square and Correr Museum.

I have handpicked two entry ticket options for you for Doge’s Palace:

  • Doge’s Palace Entry Reservation Ticket : This is the official ticket and costs EUR 28 in May 2022. It is a “skip-the-line” ticket.
  • Doge Palace with Terrace Access : This is also a “skip-the-line” ticket but it also includes an expert guide, who will not just take you to Doge’s Palace but also St. Mark’s Basilica. Please be aware that the entry to St. Mark’s Basilica is free but this tour includes the access to the terrace of the Basilica for the views. The cost is EUR 79 in May 2022.

Scuola grande di San Rocco

See the interiors of Scuola Grande di San Rocco . Your jaw will actually drop when you see the grandeur and the arty details.

Day Trip to Burano

Burano (Italy)

Burano is a cute little canal-side town with stunning colorful houses. It has become popular over the recent years because of Instagram.

You can prebook your boat ticket for Burano for a day trip from Venice and the boat will also take you to the nearby Murano and Torcello.

  • Murano, Burano and Torcello boat trip  – 6 Hours, EUR 25
  • Murano, Burano and Torcello boat trip – 4.5-5.5 Hours, EUR 25
  • Murano, Burano and Torcello boat trip – 4.5 Hours, EUR 20

How to save money in Venice?

Eat in Pizzeria ae Oche – a chain with affordable pizzas. Don’t eat or drink in the main touristy areas, head to Dorsoduro for cheaper eateries and buy your own supplies from bakeries and supermarkets to save money. Another way to save more money is by skipping the Gondola ride.

2) Cinque Terre – 2 days – the Colorful Fishing Villages

The colorful houses of Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso are five colorful fishing villages that are collectively called the Cinque Terre. The entire Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In order to arrive at the Cinque Terra, you can drive to Riomaggiore, Manarola, or Monterosso and park your car there. If you’re nervous about driving in this hilly terrain, then park in La Spezia and take a train from there. In any case, if you want to move from one village to another, the best way to do it is by train.  It is easy and affordable.

Remember – don’t get your car inside the Cinque Terra. Leave it outside and take the train.

Five villages at on cliffs and little hills, so there’s a lot to do in the Cinque Terra. Don’t get overwhelmed by the list of things that you can do. Just pick 1-2 villages and enjoy your time there.

Here’s a bit of an introduction about the five villages, so that you can pick the one that suits you and book a room there.

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre - Northern Italy by train

It has a fun vibe for nightlife, unlike a few others on this list. Riomaggiore is closest to La Spezia so it can sometimes feel crowded. It has budget accommodation options. It is as stunning as Manarola.

There’s a lot to do in Riomaggiore – you can do cliff jumping, enjoy the bar scene or just go for a stroll and get lost. The main street is called Via Colombo, and that’s where you will find everything. You can also check out the ancient Castello, which is one of the monuments of the Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre.

If you’re into hiking, then hike to Monte Nero, which is right above Riomaggiore. This hike takes around 50 – 60 minutes. Here’s some information about it.

You can also hike from Riomaggiore to Manarola – these two are actually the most famous villages of the Cinque Terre. This hike should take you normally 15 minutes but check the information because sometimes this path is closed .

food road trip italy

Manarola is quieter and is normally visited by couples and photographers. Out of them, the one the most photographed one is Manarola because of the above-pictured sunset spot. But don’t underestimate the beauty of the other 4.

Make sure you click epic sunset photos while you’re in Manorala. No, I don’t mean photos of the sun when it is setting, but the golden hue on Manorala’s pastel houses on the cliff. You will find this spot as soon as you’re there. Photographers line up here with their fancy gear and tripods at sunrise and sunset time.

If you like swimming, then you can find some caves and swimming holes on the Blue Trail in Manarola. To access all of it, you will need a swimming pass. But there are some you can do without the pass too.

food road trip italy

It is the highest village and is therefore famous for its views. You need to climb 365 steps in order to reach Corniglia – yes one for each day of the year. There’s a bus that’s run by the Cinque Terre National Park that takes people up to Corniglia and back. 

Corniglia is less visited as compared to the other four but is popular amongst hikers. It is possible to find budget accommodation here.

While you are in Corniglia, hike the Blue Trail, and you will find a stone beach with easy access to water. Doing the entire Blue Trail can be challenging but if you do, you will arrive in Vernazza.

food road trip italy

Vernazza is often called the most beautiful of the five Cinque Terre villages. It is also visited by a lot of photographers and couples. If you visit Vernazza then spend some time enjoying the stunning views that this village is famous for.

If you arrive in Vernazza from Corniglia by hiking, then you will cross Prevo – it has a stunning viewpoint that overlooks Guvano Beach. At 208 meters above sea level, it is the highest spot of Sentiero Azzurro.

You will be surprised to know that Vernazza has a great bar scene. It also has a small sandy beach, which makes sense for family travelers to visit since it is comfortable for children. There are two clock towers in the town and the maze of small streets will be a delight to anyone who loves getting lost in small places.

While you’re in Vernazza, visit Franco’s Ristorante “La Torre”. It is in a castle on the trail to Corniglia.

Monterosso al Mare

food road trip italy

Monterosso has a proper big sandy beach and fancy hotels. It is a bit flatter compared to the others so is a good option for those who have mobility issues and families with small children.

Monterosso is actually two towns – Old Monterosso and New Monterosso (Fegila). The big sandy beach is in New Monterosso. The new town is flatter but the old town has that typical Cinque Terre looks and vibes.

You can walk from one village to another – check the list of walking trails here + useful information .

Where to stay in Cinque Terra:

3) Tuscany – 2 days – Art, Culture, and the rolling hills

Sunset in Florence, Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany is romantic, arty, historical, and naturally beautiful. But wait, isn’t most of Italy? True but Tuscany is special because the Renaissance art movement began and flourished before it moved on to most of Europe.

Being a nature lover, I’m also interested in the other side of Tuscany – the rolling hills. So, when you visit Tuscany, drive around here and see the small villages because here you can truly admire the natural beauty of Tuscany. Get yourself a nice villa, see the vineyards and castles.

Tuscany's famous rolling hills - Italy by train

Honestly, if I were visiting Italy for the first time and I wanted to just focus on one area, I’d do a Tuscany road trip. There’s everything in Tuscany that Italy is famous for – historical buildings, art, nature, castles, and vineyards. On top of that, Tuscany is a little laid back.

Here’s what you can do while you’re in Tuscany. You can pick and choose some of the activities that I have mentioned below.

Visit one of the Old Cities – Florence / Lucca / Siena

food road trip italy

Tuscany’s old cities are stunning for art lovers because of the Renaissance art and sculptures. Out of all of them, I suggest you pick just one to keep your itinerary easy. For that purpose, I suggest Florence.

See the Statue of David by Michelangelo in Florence

Michelangelo’s Statue of David is a Renaissance masterpiece and shouldn’t be missed while you’re in Tuscany. This 17 feet marble statue is the star of Florence, the way Mona Lisa is to Paris.

Michelangelo’s Statue of Liberty is located in Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. This museum also has some other pieces by Michelangelo and many other Florentine artists.

Art lovers would enjoy Leonardo Da Vinci Museum, Uffizi Gallery, and Museo Galileo

Val d’ Orcia – the Rolling Hills

food road trip italy

Tuscany’s most famous landscape are the rolling hills and one of the best way to see them is by driving to Val d’ Orcia. The rolling hills landscape is not just Instagram famous but also depicted in many Renaissance paintings.

Val d’ Orcia is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a 2 – 2.5 hours drive from Florence. You can stay in Florence during the entire time of your time in Tuscany, or split your time between Val d’ Orcia and Florence.

Pienza is the place that you would want to check out in Val d’ Orcia. This village is situated very high so you can get a good view of the rolling hills from here.

Saturnia Hot Springs or Terme di Saturnia

food road trip italy

While in Tuscany, visit the stunning thermal springs of Saturnia. They are actually 3 hours away from Florence city, so it makes sense to visit this place on your way out of Tuscany but before you arrive in Rome. Alternatively, if you decided to stay in Val d’ Orcia, then Terme di Saturnia is just 30 minutes drive.

Believe it or not, there is no entry fee and these thermal springs are open 24 hours a day every day. It can’t get better than this. Just find the parking spot and put it on your navigation system to arrive here. Spend half a day here or more, depending on how much you love being in the water.

The best time to reach Saturnia hot springs is before 9 am so that you can miss the majority of crowds.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

food road trip italy

Visiting the leaning tower of Pisa is on many people’s bucket lists because of the Leaning Tower. Yes, it is a very touristy thing to do and there’s nothing else to do in Pisa BUT that shouldn’t stop you from visiting it if you really want to. After all, it is just 45 minutes from Florence by car or train!

Pisa is a small city, and you can cover most of it by walking. Most of what you would want to see is situated in Campo dei Miracoli . It is a student town and as a result, the nightlife is fun.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is called Torre Pendente in Italian. Go ahead and click a super silly touristy picture here. Believe it or not, you can actually climb the tower but you need to reserve your tickets in advance.

If you’re in Pisa in the middle of June, you can actually stay to watch the stunning Luminara festival . Thousands of candles are lit at sunset time along the Arno River. Watch this spectacle if you can.

Hike to Lake Calamone

If you’re not visiting Terme di Saturnia, then you can consider visiting Lake Calamone. It is located in the TEA National Park, at the base of Mt. Ventasso.

To start your hike to Lago Calamone, park your car at Bar il Faggio. The walk from there to the lake is just one hour. For more information, check this page .

4) Rome – 1 day

The bejeweled Rome in Italy

Rome can’t be fully explored in a day, but also Italy can’t be explored in 2 weeks!

Honestly, it makes more sense to do Rome properly on an entirely separate trip. It isn’t the best Road trip stop because of the parking, so if you want to skip Rome, then you should. I just wanted to include Rome for those who would want to do it anyway, considering it is on the way when you move from Tuscany to Amalfi.

Rome is high-priced in terms of stay and food, therefore it gets expensive to stay here longer. But if you can afford it, extend your trip by all means. Did you know there are more than 900 churches in Rome?

food road trip italy

Honestly, I wouldn’t even include the Vatican City and the churches in this itinerary because of time constraints. But just so you know, the most famous one is St. Peter Basilica. To enter this, one has to walk up to the Vatican and stay in a long security line.

Like many other famous cities ( Lisbon , Moscow, Porto , Pula , Istanbul , San Fransisco, Edinburgh, etc.), Rome is built on seven hills. It means, there are plenty of viewpoints that can be found. Also, unlike most touristy European cities, Rome is massive. The entire historic center of Rome is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also one of the fashion capitals of the world with an amazing shopping scene and buzzing nightlife.

If I were to spend just one day in Rome, I’d forget about the top things to do, and just walk around because there are interesting sights everywhere.

Trevi Fountain 

food road trip italy

This is probably the busiest part of Rome and yet it is a legendary landmark. This fountain is in modern Rome, right next to the main train station. Walk around here but keep your belongings close to yourself because Rome has many pickpockets.

Explore the ruins of ancient Rome – Colosseo

The most obvious thing to do in Rome is to explore ancient Rome, it is the area around Colosseo. For this, get via dei Fori Imperiali Street and everything you would want to see is on both sides of this street.

Start with the Colosseum, then move on to Piazza Venezia. Next, you can check the Roman Forum, Trajan’s Forum, Arch of Constantin, and Flavian Palace.

Old Rome – Pantheon

Pantheon dates back to 125 AD. Of course, if you’re a Dan Brown fan then you would have probably read about all these places in the book called Angels and Demons. Yes, the book does make sightseeing more interesting but remember, it is just fiction.

There are other attractions that are nearby, like Castel Sant’Angelo – but I don’t want to include too much in the list because it will just overwhelm you.

You can skip South Rome but if you have time, then you can check out the Baths of Caracalla, Rome City Walls, and the Circus of Maxentius.

Viewpoints in Rome

Since Rome is built on seven hills, there isn’t a shortage of viewpoints. You can look for Janiculum hill in Western Rome, the Pincio at the end of the Borghese Gardens, Vittoriano in Piazza Venezia, and Zodiaco in Monte Mario.

Campsites Near Rome

Let’s face it, you shouldn’t enter Rome in your car because of parking problems. Instead, find a camping spot that’s just outside Rome and then explore the city by public transport. Here are two camping spots that I recommend:

  • Happy Valley
  • Camping Tiber

Check this post for a list of places to stay in Rome .

Optional: Stop in Naples for a pizza on your way

food road trip italy

The Pizzas of Naples are world-famous. If possible, try to stop here for a meal or a snack on your way to the next spot to experience a legendary Neapolitan pizza. It is essentially Margarita Pizza that’s made with a particular kind of tomatoes and mozzarella.

The Napoli Pizza follows the guidelines of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. It has the protected status granted by the Italian Standardization Body.

I won’t go into the technicalities but keep your mind open and embrace the simplicity of this pizza. The beauty of the taste of this pizza lies in the best quality ingredients and an amazing base.

5) Amalfi Coast – 3 days – Positano

food road trip italy

How can you visit Italy and not see the most praised coastal area – the Amalfi Coast? Keep in mind that it tends to get very busy even during the shoulder months because of its popularity. Amalfi Coast is an expensive destination because it attracts mostly high-income travelers.

The Italian road trip itinerary is designed in such a way that you can skip a part of it. If you think Amalfi Coast is blowing up your budget, then feel free to skip it because the other destinations are equally stunning too! Honestly, if you are visiting the Cinque Terre or Puglia, then you can safely skip the Amalfi Coast.

Ever seen pictures stunning coast with colorful houses, bougainvillea flowers, and low-hanging lemon trees all around? That’s Amalfi Coast. It actually is a group of 13 fishing villages, all of which are collectively UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Whether you decide to stay here or not, make sure you experience driving on the “Amalfi Drive”, which goes along the coast from Vietri sul Mare to Positano .

In order to explore the Amalfi Coast, we suggest you make your base in Positano. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to see even half the villages, just focus on one or two and enjoy your time there.

food road trip italy

Positano is situated horizontally on the face of cliffs that face the sea. It is a better idea to find a place to stay here instead of in Amalfi Town. From here, you can visit Amalfi Town by ferry.

The two beaches of Positano are Spiaggia Grande and Fornillo. Spend some lazy hours here to enjoy the landscape.

Do the Path of the Gods hike that is from Bomerano to Positano with stunning views. You can reach Bomerano on a bus from Positano to start the hike.

While in Positano, try the Limoncello. It is a locally-produced lemon liqueur.

Amalfi Town

food road trip italy

Amalfi Town is the heart of Amalfi Coast. Take a ferry from Positano and spend a few hours here to see what the buzz is all about. The main Amalfi town beach gets crowded but you can spend some time here to enjoy the vibe.

6) Puglia – 3 days – Bari, Matera, and Polignano a Maren

food road trip italy

Having spent a month in Puglia last summer, I can claim that this is a place that you wouldn’t want to leave. There are stunning beaches, old cities, the Instagram-famous Alberobello village, and Florence of South – Lecce city . The seafood in Puglia is mind-blowing!

Puglia was once Italy’s secret but has come up with a bang in recent years. It has risen to prominence in popular culture.

The 2021 James Bond movie (No Time to Die) was shot in Puglia’s stunning Matera. Moreover, the Red Bull cliff diving championship took place in Polignano a Maren. Of course, people googled the location for the next days and Puglia went high in Google searches!

Honestly, 3 days are not enough for Puglia, but if you want to include it in your Italian road trip itinerary, then I will tell you exactly where to go.

You can’t do them all, but pick just 2-3 places and enjoy your time well.

food road trip italy

Bari is Puglia’s largest city and it has a stunning old town. Sure, this itinerary already has many old towns but this one is very different because it is in South Italy.

Bari’s old town is called Bari Vecchia. It was the heart of the city even in pre-Roman times. Explore the maze of narrow streets here and enjoy the sights.

Many people make Bari their base as they explore the nearby destinations of Puglia. But I don’t suggest Bari as your base, check the next point.

Polignano a Maren

food road trip italy

Instead of Bari, I suggest you make Polignano a Maren your base. It is a stunning beach town with historical buildings that are situated on the cliffs. You can just cover almost the entire city on foot because it is small.

food road trip italy

Almost every restaurant or bar in Polignano a Maren faces the sea.

Alberobello

food road trip italy

Alberobello is just 30 minutes from Polignano a Maren. It is a Trulli village and is a UNESCO world heritage site. So what’s a Trulli? It is an architectural feature of Puglia, a unique way of building temporary or sometimes full-time houses.

You won’t need a lot of time for Alberobello. Just arrive here and spend 1 hour walking around to see the Trullo. You can combine Alberobello with 1-2 other places that are in your South Italy road trip itinerary, like Matera or Lecce.

Alberobello is unique! You won’t see a place like this in all of Italy, so try to include this in your Italy road trip itinerary if you can.

food road trip italy

If you thought Alberobello was unique, wait till you see Matera. It has rock-cut settlements and they are well-preserved. These settlements are a UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Matera’s cave houses are called Sassi, and they are dug into limestone rocks. Yes, a little like Turkey’s Cappadocia . They are believed to be some of the first settlements in the Italian peninsula because some of them date back to 7000 BC.

While in Matera, see Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano. This is where you will see the loveliest landscape. Matera was the main shooting location for the James Bond movie – No Time to Die.

Sant’Andrea

food road trip italy

Drive to Sant’Andrea from Bari or Polignano a Mare to visit my favorite beach in Italy. The drive will take you around 1 hour 45 minutes so leave early.

Torre Sant’Andrea beach is stunning and it has many sections. There is a nice sandy part that’s perfect for families and several rocky parts that are super stunning.

Make a day trip here and spend a few hours here exploring this area. You can also cliff jump here.

food road trip italy

Lecce is called the Florence of the South. It is an ancient city that I absolutely fell in love with! All the buildings here are beige and it is amazing to walk in Lecce’s old town. It definitely isn’t as busy as Florance.

Lecce has its own style of Baroque architecture, it is called Barocco leccese (Lecce baroque). Be sure to see Basilica di Santa Croce. It looks like it is right out of a Dan Brown book, and as per Marchese Grimaldi it looked like a lunatic was having a nightmare. Makes you curious to see it?

I have an entire post about visiting Lecce , be sure to check it out.

If you do end up visiting Lecce, walk around here and enjoy the stunning old town. Get a table outside in one of the restaurants and enjoy Lecce’s famous foods – Cozze Gratin, Frutti de Mare Pasta/risotto, or Pizza and Pasticciotto.

Tips for Italy Road Trip:

  • Keep a small overnight bag ready in your car for places where you need to park your car and move further by train, like the Cinque Terre or Venice.
  • You will find free water in designated water fountains in every single town or village in Italy. Make the most of it and drink this water.
  • Parking can get very expensive in famous cities like Rome, Venice, etc – so feel free to skip them. More than just difficult, sometimes it isn’t possible to find a parking spot at all.
  • Observe the traffic rules, even if the locals around you aren’t doing so. The fines are heavy and sometimes people also receive a 1-3 day driving ban.
  • The alcohol limit is 0.50g/L and is zero for those who are under 21 or have a driving license that’s not older than 3 years.

PS: Drifter Planet  contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.   We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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Thank you for your in depth work and sharing your personal experience! This is our first visit to Italy and always like to drive where possible to give me the flexibility to change my itinerary where needed!

Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed our Italy itinerary and I hope you include our suggested places in our road trip route.

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Hello Travelers!

Sonal of Drifter Planet

Namaste, Guten Tag! I'm Sonal from India, living in Germany and exploring Europe. I've been writing about my travels since 2015. I often travel alone (and sometimes with family of 3).

I love European city breaks, nature, adventure, hiking to viewpoints, Yoga, and road trips. I have a think for creating the most amazing travel itineraries and in-depth destination guides which will help you make the most of your trip.

Not sure where to start? Start with some of my most popular posts .

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Last Updated on September 21, 2023 by Drifter Planet

The Geographical Cure

2 Weeks In Italy Itinerary, The Ultimate Italy Road Trip

Planning a trip to Italy for 2 weeks? You are at the right spot! I’ve been exploring Italy for decades. So I have all the hands on experience and tips to give you the best 2 weeks in Italy itinerary. 

Italy is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and is home to some of the most beautiful towns, cities, and experiences on offer in Europe.

Italy is probably my favorite country to travel in. You’re engulfed in history, can admire some of the world’s best art, and eat some of the world’s best food. What could be better?

Pinterest pin for 2 weeks in Italy itinerary

Overview Of 2 Weeks In Italy Itinerary

This 2 week Italy road trip itinerary starts in Venice and ends in Naples. It’s a perfect itinerary for first time visitors to Italy.

Venice’s airport is terrific and typically inexpensive to fly into. The city’s Santa Lucia and Mestre train stations connect to just about everything south with high speed service. 

You can pick up your car leaving Venice or leaving Bologna. Alternatively, you can also do the entire 2 weeks in Italy by train.

With this Italy itinerary, you’ll have 5 bases: (1) Venice; (2) Bologna; (3) Florence; (4) Rome; and (5) Naples.

cute lane in Sorrento

If you need a break from the city, instead of staying in Naples, you can base yourself on the Amalfi coast for 3 days and day trip from there.

The cliff top town of Sorrento makes a perfect springboard for visiting the Amalfi Coast. From there, you can day trip to Pompeii, Positano, Capri, and even Naples.

  • Day 1 : Venice
  • Day 2 : Venice
  • Day 3 : Bologna
  • Day 4 : Bologna, day trip to Parma or Modena
  • Day 5 : Florence
  • Day 6 : Florence
  • Day 7 : Florence, day trip to Siena
  • Day 8 : Rome
  • Day 9 : Rome
  • Day 10 : Rome, Vatican City
  • Day 11 : Rome, day trip to Orvieto
  • Day 12 : Naples
  • Day 13 : Naples, day trip to Pompeii
  • Day 14 : Naples, day trip to Amalfi Coast

view from the Palazzo Manfredi in Rome

Where To Stay With 2 Weeks In Italy

Here are my hotel recommendations for the cities listed as bases.

Venice : Gritti Palace , Hotel Danieli , St. Regis , Aman Venice (my favorite), Bauer Palazzo

Bologna : Grand Hotel Majestic Gia Baglioni (my pick) Il Portici , Art Hotel Orologio

Florence : Il Touranbouni ,  Hotel Brunelleschi , Portrait Firenze , Palazzo Vecchietti , Villa Cora (my favorite in the Oltrarno)

Rome : Li b ert y Boutique Hotel ,  H o t el  M aalat ,  De co  Ro ma ,  Hotel H a s s ler Roma , Pa lazzo Man fr edi  (my favorite)

Naples : Grand Hotel Vesuvio , Romeo Hotel , Hotel San Francesco al Monte (my pick)

typical street in Venice, which is a must visit city on your 2 weeks in Italy itinerary

2 Weeks In Italy Itinerary: 14 Days Of Exploring

Ok, let’s dive right into this 2 week Italy itinerary. If you’re landing in Venice, the easiest way to get to the city is via a private water taxi transfer .

Day 1: Venice

Kick off your 2 weeks in Italy in the magical floating city of Venice. Even though Venice is very touristy, there’s a reason for its popularity.

Venice is a natural film set. It’s like no other city in the world.

Start your day in Piazza San Marco. Visit the pink marble Doge’s Palace, which is the very symbol of Venice.

You can traipse up the famed Scala d’Oro, the world’s fanciest staircase, admire the Doge’s apartments, and see the world’s largest painting by Titian.

Click   here  to book a skip the line ticket to avoid a long queue. I also loved the Secret Itineraries Tour , which take you to secret spots in the palace you can’t see on a regular tour.

St. Mark's Basilica

Then, move on to one of the world’s most unique and stunning churches, St. Mark’s Basilica. It’s absolutely essential to book a skip the queue ticket . You can also purchase an  after hours ticket  for fewer crowds and to get access to some places you can’t see during the day.

The basilica is famous for its almost blinding golden mosaics from the 5th century B.C. They blanket the walls, covering 90,000 square feet.

Then, take a ride along the Grand Canal. It’s one of the most iconic things to do in Venice. You can also hop on and off the Vaporetto yourself.

Along the way, you can check out Ca’Rezzonico, Ca’ Foscari, and Ca’ d’Oro. In addition to housing some great art, the palaces offer up great views of Venice.

You can book a  1 hour guided boat tour . You can also book a  3 hour guided tour   of the St. Mark’s area that comes with a boat cruise.

a gondola ride is a must do with 2 weeks in Italy

Day 2: Venice

On day 2 in Venice, take a stroll through the Rialto neighborhood. Snap a classic shot on the Rialto Bridge, check out the Fish Market, and myriad shops. You can also take a  lunchtime tour of the Rialto Market and other foodie hot spots .

Next, head to the Dorsoduro neighborhood. Stroll around the pretty streets, check out the shops and eateries, and then go to one of the neighborhood museums.

The two I love are the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Galleria Accademia .

The Guggenheim is for people who want to see some of the greatest works of modern art from the 20th century. It’s a star studded lineup compiled by the eccentric American heiress, who helped launch Jackson Pollock’s career.

This museum will be packed. Click  here  to purchase a skip the line ticket. Click  here  to book a private guided tour of this extraordinary collection of art.

The Galleria Academia is for travelers who love old masters. It houses the world’s best collection of pre-19th century Venetian painting. You’ll find works by luminaries such as Veronese, Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo, Bellini, Canaletto, and Giorgione. 

Galleria Accademia

The museum is not usually crowded, so you won’t have to worry about buying tickets in advance. But, if you’re a fan of Renaissance art, you may want to book a 2 hour  guided tour of the museum .

If you want to see the “Sistine Chapel of Venice,” head to the San Polo district to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. It’s decorated wall to walk with dramatic paintings by Titian.

Then, spend some time in the Cannaregio district. you can escape the crowds, poke in and out of cute lanes, and grab some cicchetti , Venice’s version of tapas.

Cannaregio is an excellent neighborhood to sign up for a   f ood and  wine  tour . You can also book an  evening food tour and gondola ride .

For more information, you can check out my 2 days in Venice itinerary . It has detailed information on gondola rides, how to use the vaporetto, and how to get to the other Venetian islands in the lagoon.

Piazza del Nettuno in Bologna

Day 3: Bologna

On day 3, head to beautiful Bologna. This food-loving city is underrated and absolutely deserving of a spot on your 2 weeks in Italy itinerary. It’s sandwiched between 3 major cities — Venice, Florence, and Milan — and is often skipped.

Don’t skip it! To me, Bologna just oozes old world medieval charm.

It has all of the charm of Italy with none of the tourists! Bologna is filled with striking architecture, beautiful piazzas, endlessly photogenic streets, porticos, and a swathe of palaces and towers.

Most of the must see attractions are clustered in or around the city’s main square, Piazza Maggiore. On one end of the piazza is the massive Basilica of San Petronio, honoring Bologna’s patron saint. On the other is the swishy Palazzo dei Rei Enzo.

Piazza Maggiore in Bologna, a must visit city with 2 weeks in Italy

You can also climb Bologna’s leaning tower, Asinelli Tower, for views. Since it’s a rickety 500 steps to the top, you’ll deserve a gelato afterward.

Be sure to meander through shops in Bologna’s medieval Quadrilatero neighborhood. You can also visit FICO Eataly World . It’s part farm and part theme park, with 20 acres of food and livestock stalls, restaurants, grocery stores, and food labs.

There are lots of fun tours to take in Bologna. Naturally, most of them food related:

  • classic food tour
  • 3 hour FICO Eataly food and wine tour
  • food tour with factory visits and a gourmet lunch
  • history tour and learn food secrets
  • e-bike tour with cheese and wine

pretty street in Parma

Day 4: Bologna, Day Trip To Parma & Modena

On day 4, take a day trip from Bologna to either Parma or Modena. Both are foodie towns that are pretty and un-touristy.

Underrated Parma is just too cute for words. It’s one of Italy’s most beautiful cities , a foodie haven, and home to the greatest works of the famed Renaissance artist Correggio.

Parma has a gorgeous Romanesque cathedral and pretty pink octagonal Baptistery. The entire town is dotted with red, pink, and yellow walls. Purple flowers decorate the Ponte Verdi.

Parma is tailor made for art lovers. The town was home to Correggio, the opera composer Giuseppe Verdi, and the conductor Toscanini. In 2022, Parma was chosen as Italy’s Capital of Culture.

Correggio frescos in Parma Cathedral

Precious frescos by Correggio literally blanket the city. There are art-filled palaces, a famous opera house, and a world class museum.

Parma will also appeal to traveling foodies. It’s home to some of Italy’s best known culinary products — parmesan cheese, prosciutto, fresh pasta, and other delicacies. All this goodness has led the town to be dubbed the heart of the “Italian Food Valley.”

You can easily spend one day in Parma just popping in and out of food shops, taking a food tour, and having some memorable meals. Check out these cool food tours in Parma:

  • 5 hour prosciutto and parmesan tour
  • 7 hour cheese, ham, and balsamic tour
  • 3.5 hour traditional food tour
  • 2 hour tour of parmesan cheese factory
  • 2 hour tour of dairy and prosciutto factory

main square of Modena

Modena is a hidden gem in Italy , an elegant little city that’s well worth a visit.

If you’ve heard of Modena, it’s probably because of its food. Modena is a foodie haven. It’s famous for hams, cheeses, and barrel aged balsamic vinegar. You can sample the dark elixir in shops around the town. 

But Modena isn’t just about food. Modena is beautiful and immaculate.

Piazza Grande is its eye catching main square. It’s home to several monuments, including a Duomo, town hall, a picturesque 15th century clock tower, and medieval relics.

beautiful street in Modena

The 12th century Duomo is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture. It comes complete with a slightly leaning bell tower called the “Ghirlandina.”

Modena was also the birthplace of Luciano Pavarotti. His titular museum,  Luciano Pavarotti Museum ,  is located about 20 minutes from city center on the estate where the famous tenor lived.

Since Modena is for foodies, you may want to book a  guided food tour , do a  balsamic vinegar tasting , or  tour Italy’s most famous cheese factory .

Modena is just a 45 minute drive from Bologna. You can also visit on an 8 hour guided day tour from Bologna.

street in the old town of Florence near the Duomo

Day 5: Florence

Ah Florence . It may be Italy’s most beloved city, even over Venice. The “Cradle of the Renaissance” is beautiful from every angle.

You can content yourself with just absorbing the beauty and street life. But there are so many amazing attractions in Florence, you won’t be able to resist them.

Start your day at one of Florence’s hotspots, the Galleria Academia . It’s home to the world’s most famous statue, Michelangelo’s David , and his prisoners.

The lines are epic here, so you should definitely pre-book a  skip the line timed entry ticket .You can also opt for a  1.5 hour guided tour with fast track ticket .

Princes Chapel in the Medici Chapels

For even more Michelangelo, head to the Medici Chapels. Inside, you’ll see the over-the-top Prince’s Chapel and the New Sacristy with 7 Michelangelo sculptures.

You’ll need to  pre-book a ticket  with a time slot reservation. These fill up fast, so don’t delay. You can also book a  guided tour of the chapels . This isn’t a bad idea because there’s not much explanatory signage.

After lunch, it’s time to tackle the Florence Cathedral complex . This consists of 5 separate sites: Florence Cathedral, Brunelleschi’s dome, the Baptistery, the Duomo Museum, and the Giotto Bell Tower. 

If you buy the  Brunelleschi ticket , you have entry to all the sites. You can only enter each attraction once, but you have 3 days to use the pass. I suggest you visit them all this afternoon. 

There’s a lot to absorb at these wonderful attractions. You may want to  book a guided tour  to get the full scoop.

view from Brunelleschi's dome

Go the Duomo Museum first. It’s the best cathedral museum I’ve ever visited. It’s chock full of stunning statues by Donatello and will give you a primer on how Brunelleschi built the iconic dome of the cathedral.

I would climb either Brunelleschi’s dome or the Giotto bell tower. It might be a bit much to do both in one day.

Giotto’s bell tower might offer slightly better views. But, if you climb Brunelleschi’s dome, you can admire the Giorgio Vasari frescos on the way up.

In the evening, take a stroll through Piazza della Signoria and admire the statues in the piazza.

If you want, you can visit the Palazzo Vecchio (right in the square) in the evening because it’s open late. Inside, you’ll find Medici apartments, a Michelangelo sculpture, and room after room of Vasari frescos.

>>> Click here to book a skip the line ticket for Palazzo Vecchio

interior of Sant Croce Basilica, a must visit attraction with 2 weeks in Italy

Day 6: Florence

On day 6 of you 2 weeks in Italy itinerary, begin with a visit to the Basilica of Santa Croce . It’s Florence’s most stunning church and a mausoleum for its most famous citizens.

The basilica opens at 9:30. You should arrive with a pre-purchased  skip the line ticket . You’ll have to dress modestly with knees and shoulders covered or you won’t be let in. They’re very strict on this score.

Click  here  to book a skip the line ticket for the basilica. You’ll need one in high season unless you can brave the lines. There’s so much to see that you may want to  book a guided tour of Santa Croce .

After Santa Croce, head to the  Uffizi Gallery . The gallery is Florence’s premiere museum and one of the best museums in the world. This is where you come to admire Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo.

Botticelli's Birth of Venus

The museum is huge and just stuffed with world famous masterpieces. You could spend hours there. The most popular rooms are the two Botticelli Rooms and the Raphael and Michelangelo Room.

You won’t be able to visit the Uffizi, almost in any season, without pre-booking a  skip the line timed entry ticket . Once inside, keep the ticket with you because they ask for it at several checkpoints.

You may want to book a guided tour of the museum. The last time I was there, I booked a  2+ hour private guided tour . My husband, who’s not an art lover necessarily, loved it!

Piazza della Repubblica

After admiring the fine art, take a stroll through the Piazza della Repubblica and stroll over the iconic Ponte Vecchio. The bridge takes you to the Oltrarno neighborhood , which is a more authentic and less touristy part of Florence.

The main attraction here is the Pitti Palace . It’s another Medici palace stuffed with world class art. You’ll need to book a skip the line ticket in high season.

You should also hit one of Florence’s viewpoints for panoramic views of the city — Piazzale Michelangelo (or 10 minutes further uphill) San Miniato al Monte . I would opt for San Miniato. It’s less crowded and one of Florence’s most ancient buildings.

Have apertivo and dinner in the Oltrarno. I thought this neighborhood had some of Florence’s best restaurants. Check out my one day in Oltrarno itinerary for more details and restaurant ideas.

beautiful orange toned buildings in Siena

Day 7: Florence, Day Trip To Siena

It’s tough to leave Florence, I know, but Siena is also fabulous. It’s one of the most beautiful medieval cities in Italy and is effectively an open air museum.

Plus, Siena is full of first rate art and stunning architecture. It central square, Il Campo , is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. This is where the annual Palio horse race is held.

You can admire the city’s art-laden  Siena Cathedral , gaze at a famous fresco cycle in the  Palazzo Pubblico , and stroll the vibrant streets full of artisan shops and boutiques.

horses racing past Palazzo Pubblico during the Palio

You should  book a ticket to the Siena Cathedral complex . Then, I would add on a  ticket to the Palazzo Pubblico . It’s worth it just to see the stunning  Allegory of Good and Bad Government  frescos.

If you can, try to stay for dinner in the evening. The day trippers will be gone and you can stroll the pretty lanes in peace.

Siena is just a one hour drive from Florence. You can also  book a guided day tour   to save you the hassle of arranging transportation. This tour also takes you to the gorgeous medieval town of San Gimignano .

Colosseum

Day 8: Rome

From Florence, it’s time to move on to Rome, the Eternal City, where you’ll stay for 4 nights. I’ve been to Rome many times and written dozens of articles on the city, which you can check out on my Rome page .

On your first day, I would tour the imperial ruins. That includes the Colosseum , the Roman Forum , and Palatine Hill . I’ve linked my article on each place, which describe everything you can see at each stop.

You can’t really visit these sites without a skip the line ticket . You’ll also need to make a separate timed entry reservation for the Colosseum. There are plenty of tour options as well.

  • 3 hour guided tour and entry to all 3 sites
  • tickets & tour of all 3 sites + underground Colosseum access
  • 4 hour private day tour of Ancient Rome
  • skip the line private guided tour with an art historian
  • skip the line private tour of all 3 sites + the underground Colosseum

ancient street in Monti

When you’re done touring the ruins, head to the nearby Monti neighborhood for a stroll and lunch. You can also pop into the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore .

Then, head to Piazza Venetia. You can admire the Vittorio Emanuele Monument and take an elevator up for views.

Don’t miss the Capitoline Museums . It’s surely one of Rome’s ancient art museums . It boasts a vast repository of ancient sculpture that’s just incredible.

>>> Click here to book a ticket to the Capitoline Museums

In the evening take a stroll in Trastevere, Rome’s most beautiful neighborhood. You can admire the ochre colored buildings and ivy clad facades. This is also a great place to book a food and wine tour .

Church of Sant Agnese in Piazza Navona

Day 9: Rome

On you next day in Rome, take a classic  walk through central Rome . You might consider booking a  3 hour walking tour  or  private walking tour to get the full historical backdrop on all the sites.

Start at Campo de’ Fiori and end at the Spanish steps. Along the way, you can stop to admire some of Rome’s most iconic monuments — Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Piazza Colonna, and the Trevi Fountain.

Grab some lunch and then head to Rome’s best museums, the Borghese Gallery. It’s one of the world’s greatest small museums. You’ll find the most famous sculptures of the Baroque artist Bernini and paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, and Correggio.

Caravaggion's David with the Head of Golia

Here’s my  complete guide  to the Borghese Gallery . You’ve got to  pre-book a timed entry skip the line ticket  to visit this magnificent museum.

When you’re done admiring the art, I recommend heading over to the west side of the Borghese Gardens, towards the Piazza del Popolo. The view from the Pincio Terrace is quite beautiful, particularly at sunset.

Consider ending your day with a food tour. There are a bunch of great options:

  • a  food tour of the trendy Testaccio district
  • a  food tour in the off the beaten path Pratti district
  • a   food tour in the beautiful Trastevere district
  • a  market food tour and pizza class
  • a   food and wine tour in the historic center

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City

Day 10: Rome, Vatican City

On day 10 of 2 weeks in Italy, it’s time to explore Vatican City. I’ve written a detailed one day in Vatican City itinerary . So won’t repeat myself too much here.

St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums are heart and headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

St. Peter’s Basilica is the most famous church in Christendom. Designed by Bramante, Raphael and Michelangelo, it’s a true Renaissance masterpiece.

The basilica is the burial place of St. Peter and past popes. It houses the famous Bernini Baldachine altar, scads of sculptures, and Michelangelo’s tragically beautiful  Pieta .

iew of St. Peter's Square from the dome

For a panoramic view of St. Peter’s Square and Rome, you should climb the dome. Here’s my complete  guide to St. Peter’s Basilica , with tips for visiting. You can take a  guided tour  of St. Peters. You can only visit the  underground grottos on a guided tour .

The Vatican Museums hold one of the world’s greatest art collections. Some of the most famous art works on the planet are there, including Michelangelo’s frescos in the Sistine Chapel .

You absolutely must pre-book a  skip the line ticket  for the Vatican. Or else you’ll be stuck in line for hours unless it’s the dead of winter.

Here are some sample Vatican tours you might consider taking:

  • a  2.5 hour overview on a skip the line small group guided tour
  • a  3 hour no  w ait tour that also includes the Raphael Rooms
  • a  3.5 hour tour Vatican visit with a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica
  • a  3 hour Friday night tour of the Vatican
  • a  Vatican tour that includes a climb of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica

street in Orvieto

Day 11: Rome, Day Trip To Orvieto

Day 11 sees you day tripping to Orvieto, a hill town in southern Umbria . I personally just loved Orvieto and you can check out my one day in Orvieto itinerary for the full scoop.

Orvieto’s most famous attraction is its glamorous Duomo, Orvieto Cathedral . It has one of the most colorful and art-filled facades of any church in Italy. Inside, you’ll find one of the most famous fresco cycles in Italy by Luca Signorelli.

You’ll also want to take a stroll through Piazza della Repubblica and climb the Torre del Morro.

But part of the charm of Orvieto is just aimless strolling. Wherever you look in Orvieto, there’s a picturesque lane, quaint shop, or terrific displays of flowers.

the beautiful Orvieto Cathedral

Every once in awhile the medieval lanes part and you can glimpse a brilliant slice of the Umbrian countryside.

Last time I was in Orvieto, I booked a  2.5 hour guided private walking tour . My guide was Emma and she was excellent, making the cathedral and its beautiful art works come to life. 

You can also book a  3 hour small group walking tour  that includes the cathedral, the old town, and Orvieto’s underground.

view of Naples from Castel Sant'Elmo

Day 12: Naples

From Rome, venture on to Naples. It’s about 2.5 hours by car or 1:10 by train.

This Mediterranean capital is lorded over by the still-kicking Vesuvius volcano. Naples is unpretentious with chaotic streets, Baroque excess, and layers upon layers of history.

The historic center is brimming with striking architecture, fascinating museums, and lively piazzas.

Naples Cathedral has a 13th century Gothic church with Baroque frescos. The Santa Chiara Cloisters are simply gorgeous, with hand-painted Majorca tiles covering benches and columns. The Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore is chock full of Greco-Roman ruins.

Art lovers will want to take the shuttle to the Capodimonte Museum , which is one of Italy’s best museum s . It features works by Caravaggio, Correggio, Masaccio, Titian, Raphael, El Greco, Bruegel, and Sebastiano del Piombo.

obelisk in Piazza Cardinale Sisto Riario Sforza

History buffs should head to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale , which is truly one of the world’s best archaeological museums. 

You can see original mosaics and frescoes from Pompeii and Herculaneum. The most famous piece is the  Farnese Bull , which once decorated Rome’s Baths of Caracalla . In high season, you’ll definitely need a skip the line ticket .

Naples is famous for its cafe culture and as the inventor of pizza. One of the most exquisite cafes is Caffe Gambrinus. For pizza, the two most famous spots are Gino Sorbillo and Antica Pizzeria da Michele.

Naturally, in Naples, you can go on a street food tour , take a walking tour of the street markets , or take a pizza making class .

As an alternative to basing yourself in Naples, you could stay in the Amalfi Coast instead and day trip into Naples to see the museums and sample the pizza.

READ : One Day In Naples Itinerary

frescos in the Villa of Mysteries

Day 13: Naples, Day Trip To Pompeii

On day 13 of your 2 weeks in Italy, head to Pompeii. The site is Italy’s most famous archaeological treasure. It’s a 2,000 year old living museum.

In 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the city in 60 feet of ash. The city was entombed and preserved for many centuries. Beginning in 1748, archaeologists began painstakingly excavating the ruins.

Today, you can see dazzling frescos in ancient abodes. The House of the Vet just opened to the public in January 2023 and the frescos in the Villa of Mysteries are newly restored.

It’s definitely easiest to visit Pompeii on guided day tour from Naples . I recommend this  guided walking tour with an archaeologist  to learn everything abut Pompeii. But if you can do it yourself, you’ll at least need to book a skip the line ticket .

I advise getting the longest and best tour possible so that you can see everything at Pompeii (the new frescos) and not just walk down the main drag, as some tours do.

For the complete scoop, here’s my complete guide to visiting Pompeii .

Positano

Day 14: Naples, Day Trip To Amalfi Coast

On your last day of 2 weeks in Italy, head to the Amalfi Coast. It’s a stunning 30 mile stretch of the Italian coast where cliffs tower above pebbly coves and villages cling to steep slopes.

One day isn’t much time to explore this area. And it isn’t easy to get to. You will drive down a precarious road and take ferries and buses.

With one day, if you take a guided day tour from Naples, you can more efficiently get a quick peak at Positano, Amalfi, and or Ravello.

Positano comes complete with sherbet colored cliffside homes, stunning beaches, and tiny cobbled lanes. It’s considered Amalfi’s most picturesque town, cut into a cliff with views galore.

view from the Wagner Terrace of Villa Rufolo

Called the “mountain pearl,” Ravello is suspended between the sky and sea. Ravello is known for its stunning views. You can get them at the town’s two stunning medieval villas Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo.

Amalfi town is a lively port city. It’s known for the stunning Amalfi Cathedral , which is one of the most beautiful churches in Italy. You can visit the cloister, church, and the Diocesan Museum.

Positano and Sorrento are the most touristy towns. If you’d like to avoid crowds, you can try the towns of Ravello, Praiano, Maiori, or Minori.

view of the Faraglioni rocks in Capri

Alternatively, you could visit the island of Capri from Naples. Capri is one of the most dazzling and seductive islands in the Mediterranean.

Capri is known for its soaring cliffs, shimmering emerald water, whitewashed towns, and historic landmarks. It’s a great place to hike. And it’s known for its natural wonder, the Blue Grotto.

You can take the ferry or get to Capri on a guided day tour from Naples .

cozy cafe in Rome

Alternative 2 Weeks In Italy Itinerary

For a slightly different spin, here’s an alternative two weeks in Italy itinerary. This itinerary drops Bologna and gives you more time in southern Italy.

  • Day 3 : Florence
  • Day 4 : Florence
  • Day 5 : Florence, day trip to Siena & San Gimignano
  • Day 6 : Rome
  • Day 7 : Rome
  • Day 8 : Vatican City
  • Day 9 : Rome, day trip to Orvieto & Civita di Bagnoregio
  • Day 10 : Naples
  • Day 11 : Naples, day trip to Pompeii
  • Day 12 : Amalfi Coast
  • Day 13 : Amalfi Coast, day trip to Capri
  • Day 14 : Matera

Marina Grande in Capri

Tips For Spending 2 Weeks In Italy

If you need tips for visiting Italy, you should check out some of my relevant articles:

  • 40 tips for visiting Italy
  • Tips for visiting Rome
  • Tips for visiting Florence
  • Tips for visiting Venice
  • Tips for renting and driving a car in Europe

I hope you’ve enjoyed my 2 weeks in Italy itinerary. You may enjoy these other Italy travel guides and resources.

  • 12 Ways To Spend 1 Week in Italy
  • 5 Ways To Spend 1 Week In Sicily
  • 10 Days in Southern Italy Itinerary
  • 10 Day Tuscany Itinerary
  • Tips For Visiting Italy
  • 7 Day Road Trip From Venice To Milan
  • 130+ Bucket List Experiences in Italy
  • Historic Landmarks in Italy
  • Most Beautiful Towns in Italy
  • Best Museums in Rome
  • Hidden Gems in Rome
  • Best Museums in Florence

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Last Updated on October 17, 2023 by Leslie Livingston

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There's a lot to love about Italy. Whether you're in it for the ancient Roman history, the designer fashion, or the charming coastal villages, every tour of Italy is a foodie tour. If you're mainly in it for the food, these are the hotspots for you!

Italy foodie map

Click here or on the map to view this route in our Trip Planner.

Cities visited in this trip:

2. Emilia-Romagna

3. Florence

For this itinerary we recommend:

  • Interrail Pass: Italy Pass
  • Travel days:  6 days within 1 month

risotto

A popular rail gateway to Italy from the rest of Europe, Milan is also a gateway for Italian fashion around the world. It's popular cathedral and Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" are also high on tourists' lists when it comes to attractions. The foodies, however, come for other reasons.

What to eat: Risotto alla Milanese.  There are plenty of variants, but one could argue that among Northern Italian risottos, Milan-style risotto is king. Featuring a yellowy colour achieved with the gradual addition of saffron during cooking, Risotto alla Milanese is usually a first course or accompaniment for another Milanese delicacy, Ossobuco , or wine-braised veal shanks.

Local tip:  If it's still a bit early and you need something to hold you over until dinner, head out in the afternoon for a Milanese  aperitivo . Something akin to a happy hour, you'll find little snacks appearing with each negroni, spritz, or other orange, appetite-rousing cocktail that you order. These drinks usually feature bitter or sweet Italian liqueurs and/or vermouths in varying combinations.

tagliatelle

Emilia-Romagna

Despite this region being home to some of Italy's fastest automobiles, such as Lamborghini and Ferrari, you'll want to take it nice and slow when it comes to appreciating the never-ending culinary variety that arguably makes it the culinary center of the country.

What to eat: Everything. Choosing one or even a handful of things to eat in Emilia-Romagna is like picking your favourite few stars out of the sky. It's one of those places where you really cannot go wrong no matter what you eat. That said, it's especially known for specialties like Bologna's  tagliatelle al ragù and mortadella , Parma's parmesan cheese and prosciutto , and Modena's  tortellini and balsamic vinegar.

Emilia-Romagna is also a prominent wine region where lambrusco , a lightly-sparkling red wine, is the bottle of choice in most restaurants.

Local tip:  Emilia-Romagna's products use unique recipes and techniques that sometimes date back centuries. Artisan producers throughout the region offer tours of their facilities giving visitors a unique opportunity to really connect with the history behind each food. It's a great way to support small, local producers while at the same time gaining profound insight into their processes.

bistecca

The capital of Tuscany has a lot of connotations: beautiful Renaissance art, architectural wonders around every corner, literature, fashion, and the list goes on and on. Where so many creative minds have collided over the centuries, there's bound to be some good food. Florence doesn't disappoint.

What to eat: Bistecca alla fiorentina. You can't consider yourself a steak-lover until you've heard of bistecca alla fiorentina or Florentine steak. This huge t-bone steak from Chianina breed cattle usually weighs in at over 1 kilogram. It's seasoned simply, grilled at high temperatures, and served the way the chef prefers, which is almost always rare. Pair it with a chianti classico wine and you can't go wrong.

Local tips:  Florence has a special street food reserved for the adventurous foodies who can "stomach" it. Lampredotto sandwiches are made with a soft bread and filled with tender, thinly-sliced tripe and your choice of sauce. Go all the way and get the bread dipped in the broth for the full Florentine experience.

Florence certainly has carnivorous inclinations, but vegetarians can find solace in Florence's fabulous porcini mushroom and truffle tagliatelle pasta or ribollita , a vegetable and bread soup.

pizza

Naples is the capital of the Campania region in Italy, making it a great central point whether you're in the neighborhood for Mount Vesuvius or for mozzarella. Close proximity to Pompeii, Sorrento, and the island of Capri leaves plenty of opportunity for adventure. Culinary adventurers will feel equally at home.

What to eat: Pizza.   When it comes to foods that are loved all around the world, there's always something special about going back to basics. That is why going to Naples is a pizza-lover's pilgrimage. Here you can try the original pizza which is carefully regulated to adhere to strict local norms for ingredients and production. The thin-crust pizza allows for limited ingredients including locally-sourced tomato, mozzarella cheese, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil.

Finish off your meal in Naples with a lovely  limoncello , a lemon-based liqueur intended as a digestivo , or post-meal drink, to aid in digestion. 

Local tips:  Naples is also a fantastic city for coffee-lovers, with some saying the coffee here is the best in all of Italy. If you've got a bit of a sweet tooth, order your coffee with cremina , a creamy mixture of whipped-up sugar and coffee.

arancini

The next stop on our list is the island of Sicily. Boasting culinary influences from around the Mediterranean, Sicily is all about fresh, local ingredients.

What to eat: Arancini.   These stuffed balls of rice may   stem from Arab traditions, but the present-day  arancini  have evolved into a dish that is purely Sicilian. Fillings can include meats, vegetables, cheese, or sauces. Once assemled, the balls are breaded and fried until they resemble little oranges, hence the name arancini.

Local tips:  Fresh fish is abundant in Sicily, and you can find light, simple seafood dishes all over the island that make for an equally delicious alternative to the heavy arancini. Pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines) is a very common option.

When it's hot outside, cool down with a granita,  a refreshment made with ground ice, sugar, and fruit. Sometimes, the fruit is substituted with coffee, pistachio, or other delicious flavours.

carbonara

You didn't think that we'd skip the Eternal City in our Italy foodie lineup, did you? Here, you can find plenty of variety from around the whole country, but when in Rome, you've got to do as the Romans do. 

What to eat: Pasta  Carbonara.   An emblematic prepation of pasta with a cheesy, egg-based sauce and pan-fried guanciale (cured pork cheek). Different restaurants use different pastas, but go for a thicker variety that can stand up to the richness of this indulgent sauce. If this sounds delicious, but you prefer to skip the meat, cacio e pepe,  made with pecorino romano cheese and black pepper, is a very suitable and equally delicious alternative.

Local tip:  Start the day off right with a maritozzo for breakfast. These sweet bread rolls with fresh whipped cream make for a winning beginning of a day spent sampling Rome's delicious variety.

pesto

As you make your way up Italy's western coast, you'll come across countless charming Ligurian villages, such as those of Cinque Terre, begging for a nice hike to get that perfect photo from one of the jagged cliffs that meet the Mediterranean. This is the perfect way to work up an appetite for dinner in Genoa.

What to eat: Pesto alla genovese .   This Italian classic is a nice break from some of the heavier items on this list. Usually served as a sauce for pasta, Genoese pesto is a fresh and fragrant blend of basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil. There's beauty in simplicity, which is why pesto alla genovese is such a favourite.

Local tip:  The city's seaside location makes a wide variety of seafood dishes readily available, so keep an eye out for unique soups, stews, and salads featuring fresh seafood. Genoa is also the birthplace of focaccia bread, so don't leave without trying some!

Start dreaming about your foodie adventures

You could spend a lifetime uncovering the great culinary secrets of Europe, so now is as good a time as any to start dreaming. Check out our Ultimate Foodie Itinerary as a solid foundation for foodie must-eats.  As they say in Italy, Buon appetito!

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Wanderlust Chloe

The Ultimate Italy Road Trip Itineraries: Routes, Sights, Guides, Maps And More

From the stunning scenery of lake como and the culture, art and beauty of florence and rome, to the epic views along the amalfi coast and traditional italian towns of puglia, this italy road trip has it all.

Road tripping past vineyards, dramatic coastlines and historic cities sounds like a pretty perfect holiday doesn’t it? When it comes to European holidays, Italy is always one of my top recommendations. I love the views, the buzz, the people. And don’t get me started on the food – I mean, delicious Italian cuisine for brekky, lunch and dinner? That’s enough of a reason to visit in itself! 

Whether you’re interested in art, architecture, history, food or fashion, a trip to Italy will no doubt appeal. Spend leisurely days floating beneath the Rialto Bridge in Venice on a gondola, window shopping in Milan’s boutiques, standing where gladiators once fought in the Roman Colosseum or staying in a traditional Trulli house in Puglia.

Cinque Terre, Italy

And the best part about an Italy road trip? The freedom! You don’t have to stick to the obvious routes. While I’ve created an Italy itinerary on the maps below, I’d encourage veering off course from time to time. That’s when you’ll find the hidden gems, the towns the tourists don’t know about, and no doubt some delicious Italian food too.

It’s also worth remembering that some of the interior parts of the country are as pretty as the coasts, with vineyards, sunflower fields and gorgeous hilltop towns. Going on a road trip means you’re pretty much guaranteed to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in Italy too.

So, rather than create one epic Italian road trip, I’ve divided it into a northern Italy road trip and a southern Italy road trip. That way you can just pick one and break the country up into manageable chunks. Got a while? Join the two up and continue down the coast from Rome to Milan.

Click through to take a look at each itinerary, and figure out which one is right for you…

The Ultimate Italy Road Trip Itinerary

From driving along the Amalfi Coast and enjoying traditional pasta in Puglia, to enjoying lake views in northern Italy and the incredible canals of Venice, it's time to plan the ultimate Italy road trip! 

food road trip italy

The Ultimate Northern Italy Road Trip: Routes, Sights, Guides, Maps And More

From the stunning scenery of Lake Como, dramatic coastlines of Cinque Terre and the canals of Venice, to the culture, art and beauty of Milan, Florence and Rome, it’s time to plan the ultimate northern Italy road trip!

food road trip italy

The Ultimate Southern Italy Road Trip: Routes, Sights, Guides, Maps And More

From the vibrant city of Naples and the awe inspiring views of the Amalfi Coast, to the traditional Italian towns of Puglia and Sicily’s beaches, volcanoes and cuisine, it’s time to plan the ultimate southern Italy road trip!

When Is The Best Time To Visit Italy?

Italy has a Mediterranean climate and is a lovely destination to visit all year round.

Temperatures vary by region, but as a quick example, you can expect average temperatures of around 0°C in around Cortina (a ski resort in the mountains) in January, and as high as 37°C in July in cities such as Milan and Venice. Temperatures in the south remain mild in winter, making destinations like Puglia and Sicily great options for a winter holiday.

If you’re wondering when is the best time to visit Italy, I’d suggest planning a trip between April and June, or in September or October, just after the peak summer season.

The weather tends to be consistent in these months, but isn’t too hot. Plus, as you’re missing peak season, you should benefit from lower prices and fewer people.

What to pack for your road trip

If you’re wondering what to pack for your trip, this guide to road trip essentials has you covered. From portable chargers to ways to stay entertained on long journeys, it’ll help you create your road trip packing list.

I hope you’ve enjoyed checking out my Italy road trip itineraries! Let me know where you decide to go and what your highlights are…

Enjoyed this post? Pin it for later… 

Ultimate Italy Road Trips-min

Chloe Gunning

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Italy Road Trip Itineraries: Routes, Sights, Guides, Maps And More”

I am obsessed with Italy! I really want to visit Milan and Lake Como so I think that will be my next trip! xoxo Jess

Hey Jess – that’s a great route to take and super easy! I’ve just got back from Trentino which is also stunning!

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6 beautiful road trips in Italy: drive the country's best routes

Duncan Garwood

Nov 16, 2023 • 7 min read

food road trip italy

Explore the best of Italy with these scenic road trips © Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

The drive along Italy 's Amalfi Coast, preferably in a vintage Alfa Romeo Spider, is the stuff of travel legend.

And it's just one of dozens of epic road trip routes in this fascinating, richly layered country. Don't be put off by stories of impatient local drivers – the countryside here was made for exploring by road (and stopping every few hundred yards to take another photo).

With an extensive network of well-maintained roads that weave between snow-capped peaks, trace plunging coastlines, and meander through rolling farmland and vineyards to scenic lakes and historic towns, pretty much every journey in Italy is a scenic odyssey, but some road trips stand out as being particularly memorable.

To set the scene, we've chosen six classic road trips ranging from gentle Tuscan jaunts to hair-raising mountain adventures. Some are a little challenging, but they all make for unforgettable experiences! Here are the best road trip routes in Italy.

Positano is a cliffside village on southern Italy's Amalfi Coast. It's a well-known holiday destination with a pebble beachfront and steep, narrow streets lined with boutiques and cafes.

1. The Amalfi Coast

Best classic Italian coastal road trip Salerno–Sorrento; approx 75km/46 miles, 1 day

Experience Italy's most spectacular coastal scenery on this white-knuckle drive along the Amalfi Coast . From Salerno , the main southern gateway to the coast, strike west to Vietri sul Mare , a small town famous for its ceramics and the start point of the coastal road proper. From here, the driving becomes more challenging as the road narrows, the curves become tighter, and the views become ever more dramatic.

After about 20km (12 miles), you'll arrive in Amalfi , the coast's main hub. Stop here to look around the landmark Cattedrale di Sant'Andrea and then head up to Ravello in the hills above. Pause for lunch here, perhaps at the Ristorante Pizzeria Vittoria , and enjoy heady panoramas from the town's lush gardens.

Next, push on to Positano , a chic, near-vertical town where colorful, steeply-stacked houses cascade down the precipitous hillsides. Beyond Positano, the route leads inland, up and across the hilly interior to Sorrento , a lively tourist hot spot overlooked by the dark, brooding bulk of Mount Vesuvius.

Planning tip:  It's a popular drive, so try to come out of season to avoid the traffic. With another day to spare, you can continue north to Naples via the ruins of Pompeii .

A male and female couple ride on the back of a motorbike through the Tuscan countryside as the sun sets

2. The Tuscan tour

Best road trip for art and architecture  Florence–Orvieto; approx 210km/130 miles , 2–3 days

Taking in two of Italy's great medieval cities, the wine treasures of Chianti  and swathes of classic Tuscan scenery, this two-day route leads from Florence to Orvieto in the neighboring region of Umbria . Whet your appetite for the road ahead by feasting on fine art and Renaissance architecture in Florence before striking south to Chianti wine country.

Stop for a tasting at the Enoteca Falorni in Greve and to sample the region's celebrated bistecca (steak) at L'Antica Macelleria Cecchini in Panzano. From here, follow the backroads to Siena , a stunning medieval city centered on an awe-inspiring Duomo and a 12th-century square, the famous Piazza del Campo . Recommended overnight options here include the Pensione Palazzo Ravizza .

In the morning, head to Montalcino to stock up on Brunello di Montalcino, one of Italy's most revered red wines. A short drive to the east, the Val d'Orcia provides quintessential Tuscan landscapes with its billowing green hills, cypress trees and hilltop towns. Lunch in Pienza, then continue through Montepulciano to Orvieto, a striking hilltop town famous for its remarkable Gothic Duomo .

Planning tip:  While you could easily do this route in two days, consider adding an extra overnight stop to explore the region in more depth.

Calamosche; Vendicari; Coastline; Fun; Nature; Noto; Noto - Sicily; Relaxation; Day; Europe; Horizontal; Outdoors; People; Photography; Sand; Sea; Sicily

3. Southeastern Sicily 

Best road trip for exploring Sicily's charming towns Catania–Ragusa; approx 165km/103 miles , 2 days

Hunt UNESCO-listed baroque treasures on this two-day tour of Sicily 's rugged southeast. Start by investigating Catania's grandiose historic center and brilliant fish market. After a seafood lunch, hit the road and make for Syracuse where you can trawl through ancient Greco-Roman ruins at the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis and stroll elegant baroque streets in the Ortygia district. Overnight at the stylish Hotel Gutkowski .

On day two, continue to Noto , home to what is arguably Sicily's most beautiful street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which is dotted with churches and charming cafes. Once you've digested this masterpiece of urban design, turn inland to Modica , a bustling town wedged into a deep canyon. Stock up on the town's famous chocolates before pushing on through the rocky hinterland to Ragusa and the handsome historic center known as Ragusa Ibla.

Planning tip:  To round the trip off on a high note, book ahead and treat yourself to dinner at the Ristorante Duomo , one of Sicily's top restaurants with meals prepared by chef Ciccio Sultano.

A view over La Villa, a settlement in a green valley with a mountainous Dolomites backdrop.

4. The Great Dolomites Road

Best road trip for stunning mountain vistas Bolzano–Cortina d'Ampezzo; approx 125km/78 miles; 2 days

The Grande Strada della Dolomiti provides some of Italy's most exhilarating driving. Running from Bolzano to Cortina d'Ampezzo, it boasts superb scenery as it snakes past craggy, saw-tooth peaks and over lofty mountain passes in the Dolomites.

From Bolzano , head eastwards toward Ponte Nova, where you'll get your first sight of the Dolomite's mighty granite peaks. Continue to Val di Fassa, a magnificent valley framed by forested slopes and gigantic rock summits, and up to the 2,239m (7,345 ft) Passo Pordoi. The descent from here is slow going, but you'll be rewarded with stunning views as you corkscrew down to La Villa in the spectacularly sited Val Badia.

From here, you could push directly on to Cortina d'Ampezzo , the chic resort that marks the end of the road, but for a more relaxed trip, stop for the night at the Dolomit B&B and take some scenic detours around La Villa on day two.

Planning tip:  This is serious country for outdoor activities with superb winter skiing and wonderful summer hiking .

Woman admiring sunset over Lake Como and Bellagio old town, Italy

5. The southern shore of Lake Como 

Best springtime road trip Como–Bergamo; approx 112km/70 miles; 1 day

Surrounded by Alpine peaks and wooded hills, Lake Como (Lago di Como) is the most picturesque of Italy's northern lakes. This leisurely one-day drive takes in elegant art nouveau villas and lush waterfront gardens along the lake's southern shoreline.

The obvious starting point is the town of Como itself. Once you've explored the charming historic center and the nearby Villa Olmo , take the swooping road up to Bellagio . Stop at this charming lakeside village to explore the grounds of neoclassical Villa Melzi d'Eril and have lunch at Terrazza Barchetta .

Suitably refreshed, leave your car and jump on a ferry to Tremezzo, home of the 17th-century Villa Carlotta and its spectacular gardens. Back in Bellagio, pick up your wheels and strike southeast, following the scenic lakeside road down to Lecco and on to historic Bergamo , where you can rest up in style at the Hotel Piazza Vecchia .

Planning tip: Time your visit for April and May when the area is awash with spring color.

6. Highlights of Abruzzo

Best road trip for unspoiled landscapes Rome–Sulmona; approx 240km/150 miles, one day

Just over an hour's drive east of Rome , the little-known region of Abruzzo is a world apart from the big city, with wild, empty valleys and unspoiled mountain landscapes. From the capital take the A24 autostrada to Fonte Cerreto, from where it's a twisting climb up to Campo Imperatore, a highland plain overlooked by the Apennines' highest peak, Corno Grande (2,912m/9,553ft).

Continue on to Santo Stefano di Sessanio, a remote, semi-abandoned village high in the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga. If you're traveling during the weekend you can lunch at the Locanda Sotto gli Archi ; otherwise, pick up picnic supplies in the village.

In the afternoon, push on to Sulmona, a graceful town set in the shadow of the Morrone massif. Famous for its delicacy confetti (sugar-coated almonds), Sulmona makes a good base for exploring the region's rugged southern reaches, offering good accommodation at the Legacy Casa Residencia and filling food at local restaurants such as Il Vecchio Muro .

Planning tip:  We strongly recommend spending a day or more in Sulmona, exploring the surrounding hills by car or on foot away from the tourist crowds.

This article was first published May 2019 and updated November 2023

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Wander With Alex

Wander With Alex

Food to Try in Italy on Vacation

Posted: December 12, 2023 | Last updated: February 5, 2024

With every bite and sip, travelers are transported to the heart of Italian culture, surrounded by centuries of culinary mastery.

Italy's Culinary Delights: Food, Drink, and Dessert to Try on Vacation

Vacationing in Italy is an extraordinary experience for foodies, as the country offers a wealth of traditional culinary delights and drinks to savor. Every meal becomes an unforgettable journey through Italy's rich gastronomic heritage, from the first bite of a freshly baked pizza Margherita to the last sip of a velvety espresso. 

Exploring the regional specialties is a must, whether indulging in the delicate flavors of risotto alla Milanese or savoring the robustness of a Tuscan bistecca alla Fiorentina. Accompanying these exquisite dishes are traditional drinks like limoncello, grappa, and the beloved Aperol Spritz, perfectly complementing the flavors and creating a truly immersive culinary experience. 

Italy's three major regions— Northern Italy , Central Italy , and Southern Italy —offer unique and distinct food and wine experiences. With every bite and sip, travelers are transported to the heart of Italian culture, surrounded by centuries of culinary mastery.

<p>Sicilian specialty of deep-fried rice balls stuffed with various fillings like ragù (meat sauce), mozzarella, and peas.</p>

A Sicilian specialty of deep-fried rice balls stuffed with various fillings like ragù (meat sauce), mozzarella, and peas.

<p>A Milanese dish of braised veal shanks cooked with vegetables, white wine, and broth, traditionally served with gremolata (lemon zest, garlic, and parsley).</p>

A Milanese dish of braised veal shanks cooked with vegetables, white wine, and broth, traditionally served with gremolata (lemon zest, garlic, and parsley).

<p>Tuscan bread salad made with stale bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and basil and dressed with olive oil and vinegar.</p>

Tuscan bread salad made with stale bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and basil and dressed with olive oil and vinegar.

<p>A thick-cut T-bone steak from Florence, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled to perfection, often served rare or medium-rare.</p>

Bistecca alla Fiorentina

A thick-cut T-bone steak from Florence, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled to perfection, often served rare or medium-rare.

<p>A Roman pasta sauce made with guanciale (cured pork jowl), tomato sauce, Pecorino Romano cheese, and chili flakes, traditionally served with bucatini or spaghetti.</p>

Amatriciana

A Roman pasta sauce made with guanciale (cured pork jowl), tomato sauce, Pecorino Romano cheese, and chili flakes, traditionally served with bucatini or spaghetti.

<p>Large pasta tubes filled with meat, cheese, or spinach, baked in the oven with tomato sauce and cheese.</p>

Large pasta tubes filled with meat, cheese, or spinach, baked in the oven with tomato sauce and cheese.

<p>A simple pasta dish from Rome made with spaghetti, Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper, and olive oil.</p>

Cacio e Pepe

A simple pasta dish from Rome made with spaghetti, Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper, and olive oil.

<p>A creamy rice dish made with Arborio rice, saffron, butter, and Parmesan cheese, originating from Milan.</p>

Risotto alla Milanese

A creamy rice dish made with Arborio rice, saffron, butter, and Parmesan cheese, originating from Milan.

<p>A Sicilian dessert made with sponge cake, sweetened ricotta cheese, candied fruits, and marzipan, often decorated with colorful icing.</p>

Cassata Siciliana

A Sicilian dessert made with sponge cake, sweetened ricotta cheese, candied fruits, and marzipan, often decorated with colorful icing.

<p>A silky dessert made with cream, sugar, and gelatin, often flavored with vanilla or topped with fruit coulis or caramel sauce.</p>

Panna Cotta

A silky dessert made with cream, sugar, and gelatin, often flavored with vanilla or topped with fruit coulis or caramel sauce.

<p>Italy’s famous frozen dessert is similar to ice cream but with a denser texture and intense flavors. Try flavors like pistachio, hazelnut, or stracciatella.</p>

Italy's famous frozen dessert is similar to ice cream but with a denser texture and intense flavors. Try flavors like pistachio, hazelnut, or stracciatella.

<p>A refreshing and bubbly aperitif made with Aperol. Aperol is an Italian orange-flavored liqueur known for its vibrant orange color and bitter-sweet taste. </p>

Aperol Spritz

A refreshing and bubbly aperitif made with Aperol. Aperol is an Italian orange-flavored liqueur known for its vibrant orange color and bitter-sweet taste.

<p>A classic Italian cocktail made with equal parts gin, Campari (an Italian bitter liqueur), and sweet vermouth, garnished with an orange twist. It has a bitter and herbal flavor profile.</p>

A classic Italian cocktail made with equal parts gin, Campari (an Italian bitter liqueur), and sweet vermouth, garnished with an orange twist. It has a bitter and herbal flavor profile.

<p>A sweet dessert wine traditionally produced in Tuscany. It’s made from dried grapes and often paired with biscotti or other sweet treats.</p>

A sweet dessert wine traditionally produced in Tuscany. It's made from dried grapes and often paired with biscotti or other sweet treats.

<p>A full-bodied red wine from the Piedmont region known for its rich flavors and aromas of cherry, truffle, and licorice.</p>

A full-bodied red wine from the Piedmont region known for its rich flavors and aromas of cherry, truffle, and licorice.

<p> A lemon liqueur made by steeping lemon zest in alcohol and sweetening it with sugar. It’s typically served chilled as a digestif.</p>

A lemon liqueur made by steeping lemon zest in alcohol and sweetening it with sugar. It's typically served chilled as a digestif.

<p>A sparkling wine from the Veneto region, light and refreshing, often enjoyed as an aperitif or used in cocktails like the Bellini.</p>

A sparkling wine from the Veneto region, light and refreshing, often enjoyed as an aperitif or used in cocktails like the Bellini.

<p>A strong, clear brandy made from grape pomace, a byproduct of winemaking. It’s often enjoyed as a digestif.</p>

A strong, clear brandy made from grape pomace, a byproduct of winemaking. It's often enjoyed as a digestif.

<p>From the captivating aroma of freshly baked bread to the vibrant colors of farm-fresh produce, every meal celebrates Italy’s culinary heritage. Each region boasts its own distinct specialties, inviting you to embark on a gastronomic adventure that reveals the diverse culinary traditions throughout the country. </p> <h2 class="simplefeed_msnslideshows_more_article">More Articles From Wander With Alex</h2> <ul>   <li><a href="https://wanderwithalex.com/things-to-do-in-paris-france/">Lovely Things to Do in Paris, France on Your Vacation</a></li>   <li><a href="https://wanderwithalex.com/things-to-do-in-amsterdam-netherlands/">Things to Do in Amsterdam, Netherlands + Day Trips</a></li>   <li><a href="https://wanderwithalex.com/things-to-do-in-munich-germany/">13 Things to Do in Munich, Germany + Day Trips</a></li>  </ul>

From the captivating aroma of freshly baked bread to the vibrant colors of farm-fresh produce, every meal celebrates Italy's culinary heritage. Each region boasts its own distinct specialties, inviting you to embark on a gastronomic adventure that reveals the diverse culinary traditions throughout the country. 

This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex .

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Vagrants Of The World Travel

15 Incredible Italy Road Trip Itineraries (with Driving Tips)

By: Author Kate O'Malley

Posted on Last updated: June 3, 2023

Home >> Europe >> Italy Travel Guide >> 15 Incredible Italy Road Trip Itineraries (with Driving Tips)

A road trip through Italy is the trip of a lifetime. We have enjoyed numerous Italian road trips and never tire of exploring one of Europe’s most charismatic countries by car.

Italy offers glorious road trip possibilities with beautiful historic cities, stunning countryside, majestic lakes and mountain regions, and quaint coastal towns and islands. And, of course, such varied regional cultures and cuisines to explore.

A vintage moped scooter parked on. cobbled street in front of a yellow building with big wooden doors in Italy.

Whether it’s an extended road trip from north to south or one region of Italy, we’ve rounded up some fabulous itineraries for each area – from a few days to four weeks to help you plan the perfect Italian road trip.

Table of Contents

Tips for Renting a Car and Driving in Italy

  • Always take photos when you pick up your rental and when returning it. Some agencies may try to accuse you of damaging the vehicle after you have returned it.
  • Read your rental contract, and be aware of the excess fees and type of insurance.
  • If possible, rent a small car . Streets can be narrow in small towns, and parking garages in cities and larger towns can be very tight.
  • Collecting your rental car from an airport is always less stressful than in a city.
  • Download the Parclick App to pre-reserve parking all over Italy (and Europe). It can save you up to 50% on parking fees . Select the garage that suits you, book for the required days, and show your reservation (or use the license plate recognition) on arrival. You can come and go from the garage as much as you like during your booked time. We have used it all over Europe and saved ourselves so much stress and money when parking in cities and larger towns.
  • Be careful not to drive into any restricted zones in historical centers . They are called ZTL zones (Limited Traffic Zones) and are monitored with cameras. You can check for the zones online before arriving in a city. Unauthorized vehicles will automatically be issued hefty fines.
  • When it comes to speed limits in Italy, while many people don’t seem to respect them, you can get hefty fines if caught on camera, and there are a lot of speed cameras in Italy.
  • The same goes for parking. It can be difficult to work out where you can or can’t park sometimes but never risk it – In Italy; you will either get a huge fine or worse – they just tow you away. Always look for the ticket machine or park in a paid garage.

Find the Best Car Rental Deals for Italy

When we travel, we always use Discover Cars for car rental as they aggregate the best local deals, have no hidden fees, and offer free cancellation.

Tip:  Always check if you have car rental insurance included on your travel insurance or with your credit card company before paying any additional to the rental car company. 

Search for the Best Car Rental Deals in Italy .

The orange hued houses and buildings in the city of La Spezia Italy.

16 Fabulous Italian Road Trip Ideas

Northern italy to southern italy-south tyrol to bari.

  • Recommended Duration : 3-4 Weeks
  • Distance : Over 1400 Kilometres
  • Destinations : South Tyrol – Venice – Bologna – Brisighella – San Marino – Perugia – Sorrento – Amalfi Coast – Naples – Capri – Pompeii – Ischia – Matera – Bari

For the ultimate Italy road trip, head from north to south. This Italian road trip itinerary starts at the border with Austria, visiting South Tyrol and ending in Bari in the south, where it is possible to head over to Croatia if you choose.

The lush green Italian countryside with medieval villages view from the top of a castle in Brisighella.

Covering over 1400 kilometers and traveling through many regions of Italy, you need to allow 3-4 weeks for the optimal experience.

The best time of year is spring – May/June and autumn – September/October for great weather without the summer crowds. However, this itinerary is great at any time – winter is especially good in South Tyrol for skiers.

Suggested Itinerary

  • Start in South Tyrol for stunning mountain scenery and a mixture of Austrian and Italian culture. The German-speaking towns add a very different feel to this slice of Italy. Hike Lago do Baies to see the best of this area.
  • Next, head to Venice for the quintessential Italian bucket list experience. Take a gondola ride, walk over the Rialto Bridge, and experience the unique ambiance of Venice. We have a fabulous Venice itinerary if you can allow at least a few days in the magical city.
  • On your way south, stop in at Bologna . Bologna is renowned for its fantastic food, so indulge in the region’s typical dishes while exploring the atmospheric Old Town.
  • Brisighella is the perfect rural stop to enjoy the Italian countryside. This gorgeous town has the must-visit Rocco Manfrediana fortress.
  • Pop out of Italy for a moment with a stop on your way south at San Marino . One of the world’s ten smallest countries at 61 sq km, this tiny republic is the world’s oldest surviving sovereign state with glorious views and a beautifully preserved medieval walled town.
  • Soak in the history of Perugia. The center is gorgeous, with interesting museums and many historic churches.
  • Next up is Rome . There is so much to do in Rome (we have a great 3-Day Rome Itinerary to help you plan your stay). From the Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Vatican City , Rome is a highlight on any Italian itinerary. If you need a budget-friendly Rome itinerary, there are many great things to do in Rome for free .
  • It’s now time for southern Italy with a week in the Sorrento/Amalfi coast area – one of the most romantic places in Italy for couples . Make a day trip to Naples and Capri , explore the towns of the Amalfi coast by sea, and head to Pompeii and Ischia . There is so much to do in this region, so spend as much time as you can spare. For those that like walking and hiking, see our Amalfi Coast hiking guide .
  • Finish up with a final stop at Matera before getting to Bari . Matera is famous for its cave dwellings which have been inhabited for 9,000 years. It’s amazing to walk around.

Recommended by Sharon Gourlay – Dive Into Germany

Northern Italy Road Trip Itineraries

Road trip through piedmont italy.

  • Recommended Duration : 7-10 days
  • Distance : 290 Kilometres
  • Destinations : Turin – Bra – Barolo – Alba – Asti – Biella – The Sanctuary of Oropa

The  Piedmont region of Italy  is situated in northwest Italy, bordering France and Switzerland. Backdropped by the majestic Swiss Alps, its rolling hills and vineyards eventually give way south to the Ligurian sea.

Town of Barolo among green terraced vineyards in Italy

Piedmont has everything a traveler could want, from welcoming small towns, unique cuisine, and amazing wine, the most famous of which is Barolo, the King of wine.

Highlights of the Trip:

  • Turin, the Imperial capital of Piedmont
  • Bra – Birthplace of the Slow Food movement
  • Barolo – Taste Barolo wine and local cuisine
  • Alba – Home of the rare white truffle
  • Asti – Much more than Spumante wine
  • Biella – Famous wool town supplying the fashion capital of Milan
  • The Sanctuary of Oropa
  • Start your 290 km road trip in Turin , a large but walkable city with dozens of Savoy Royal Palaces to tour, loads of historical attractions, decadent chocolate, and the outstanding Egyptian Museum.
  • Drive 74 km south of Turin to Monforte d’Alba , a hilltop town with many enotecas, restaurants, and historic sites. It’s a perfect base to explore the surrounding wine towns of Bra, Barolo, and Alba .
  • Spend a day in Asti drinking the sweet Moscato wines for which the town is named, then head north to Biella , 125 km north of Asti.
  • Biella is known for producing wool and exquisite cashmere, surrounded by rambling rivers and mountain scenery. Be sure and visit the Sanctuary of Oropa , one of the many sacred mountains in the region.
  • Sixty kilometers north of Biella on the eastern shore of Lake Orta is the quaint medieval village of Orta San Giulio and a great place to end your road trip. Tour the Sacre Monte of Orta and Isola San Giulio just offshore. You can stay at the centrally located Hotel Rocco San Giulio and walk anywhere in town.

Travel to Piedmont in late Spring through Fall to avoid wintery road conditions.

Recommended by Lori Sorrentino – Travlinmad

Northern Italy’s lakes

  • Recommended Duration : 10 days or more
  • Distance : 700 Kilometres. Circular route starting and finishing in Milan.
  • Destinations : Milan – Lake Garda – Lake Como -Lake Maggiore – Cannobio – Lake Orta

An easy circular route from Milan’s airport,  a road trip through northern Italy’s lakes  is a must-try bucket list experience. You’ll cover approximately 700 km in one week, though extending the itinerary to 10 days or more is easy.

Overlooking a small Italian lake side village with a small castle on the edge of the blue lake.

  • The first four days must be dedicated to Lake Garda , the largest lake in Italy. Boasting enchanting coastal towns and beautiful natural scenery, you’ll want to stay forever.

Focus each day on another part of the lake – visit the unique Lemon orchard of Limonaia del Castèl in Limone sul Garda, take a morning stroll around the turquoise Lake Tenno, roam the colorful Malcesine, enjoy wine tasting near Bardolino, climb the Scaligero Castle in Sirmione.

  • Continue to the luxurious Lake Como for one day. Visit the picturesque towns of Varenna and Bellagio and the stunning Gardens of Villa Melzi.
  • Next, spend a day on the lovely Lake Maggiore . Base yourself in the city of Stresa , and opt for a boat tour to the nearby Borromean Islands, one of the most beautiful islands in Italy . See the picture-perfect centuries-old villas and gardens still owned by the noble Borromeo family.
  • Have a relaxed last day with a visit to the serene town of Cannobio and a final cup of coffee in the medieval Orta San Giulio on Lake Orta before returning the car to Milan.

Late spring or early fall are the ideal times for this road trip in terms of weather and crowds. Also, many attractions in the area are only open from April to October.

Recommended by Or – My Path in the World 

Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, and Piedmont. Bologna to Milan and Turin

  • Recommended Duration : 7 -14 days
  • Distance : 370 Kilometres.
  • Destinations : Bologna – Modena – Parma – Milan – Turin

This fantastic road trip through historic Northern Italy is perfect if you want to taste some of the best ingredients and dishes produced in the country.

A narrow street with orange hued buildings in Bologna reveals a church tower at the end of the street.

The entire distance of this Italian road trip itinerary is only 371 Kilometers, which means you will have plenty of time for small side adventures if you spread it out over two weeks. You could, of course, stay to the major stops and complete it comfortably in a week.

One thing is certain; there is no way you will finish this road trip hungry. You will wish you had just a bit more time to try just one more dish.

  • The trip starts in Emilia Romagna, where you will make stops in Bologna, Modena, and Parma for a whirlwind culinary tour of the region. 

Some must-experience stops include learning how Parmigiano Reggiano is made in Parma and tasting 100-year-old Balsamic in Modena . 

Bologna is a highlight of the road trip, with historic sites like the Piazza Maggiore, its Renaissance buildings, the city’s incredible food scene, and charming cafes.

  • From Emilia Romagna, head northwest toward the Lombardy region for a stop in Milan , the world’s fashion capital and home to the famous Risotto Milanese. 
  • The road trip then continues to the city of Turin in the heart of the Piedmont region . You will want to take some time to go truffle hunting or take a day to taste some Barolo or Barbaresco.

The best time for a road trip through these regions is during truffle season in the late fall – you will experience fewer crowds and accommodation, and car rental prices are lower. It is also a great time of year for food festivals after the harvest season.

Recommended by Gabriel – Chef Travel Guide

Pisa to Genoa

  • Recommended Duration : 2-7 days
  • Distance : 330 Kilometres.
  • Destinations : Pisa – La Spezia – Cinque Terre – Portofino – Genoa

One of Italy’s best coastal road trips is from Pisa to Genoa. This road trip starts in Pisa in the region of Tuscany, tracing the Ligurian Coast to the capital of Liguria, Genoa.

Overlooking the bay surrounded with the colourful cliff side village of Vernazza in Cinque Terre.

It is possible to complete this road trip in two days, with an overnight stop in one of the Cinque Terre Villages.

However, this itinerary would be lovely spread over a week, allowing for at least one night at each destination between Pisa and Genoa. We have a fantastic two-night Cinque Terre itinerary to help you plan extra time in the famous five villages.

  • See the Leaning Tower of Pisa and climb to the top
  • Visit the Technical Naval Museum in La Spezia
  • Enjoy the viewpoints and  Instagrammable places in Cinque Terre .
  • Go to Castello Brown in Portofino
  • Taste focaccia in Genoa
  • On the first day, you’ll discover Pisa and the remarkable monuments in the so-called “Square of Miracles, including the iconic leaning tower.
  • Head to La Spezia , the second largest city in Liguria and the gateway to the famous Five Villages. The pretty coastal city of La Spezia is also home to a major Italian naval base and the Technical Naval Museum.
  • Head north to Cinque Terre to stay in one of the five villages for a night or two. Make sure you try tasty bruschetta at Nessun Dorma in Manarola and catch the sunset from one of the villages.
  • Visit one of the prettiest fishing towns on the Italian Riviera, where the colorful village clusters around a small harbor. Since the late 19th century, Portofino has attracted European aristocracy and the celebrity jet set to its pristine shores, high-end restaurants, and glitzy boutiques. You never know who you might see in Portofino.
  • You can spend an evening (or two) in Portofino or head directly to the final destination, the capital of Liguria, Genoa .

This road trip is best in the shoulder seasons to avoid summer traffic and crowds. However, if you plan to take advantage of the stunning coastal beaches, try for early or late summer. Avoid August if possible.

Recommended by: Dymphe Mensink – Dymabroad

Sanremo to Cinque Terre

  • Recommended Duration : 3-5 days
  • Distance : 260 Kilometres.

Embark on a memorable Italian road trip from Sanremo to Cinque Terre. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the Italian Riviera as you drive along the Mediterranean Sea. This road trip itinerary can be completed in as little as 2-3 days or stretched over a week.

Small boats moored on clear blue water in front of the colourful village of Portofino.

  • Sanremo is a charming and animated town right next to the French border. It’s a perfect starting point for an Italian road trip after exploring the south of France . You will find good restaurants and bars to get a first taste of the culinary talent and kindness of the locals.
  • Drive along the Ligurian Coast from Sanremo for two hours until you reach Genoa , the capital of Liguria. Spend the afternoon visiting the Royal Palace Museum, Piazza De Ferrari, or Cattedrale di San Lorenzo.
  • For the second day of your road trip, head to the marvelous Portofino, less than one hour from Genoa. You will be mesmerized by the colorful waterfront houses that line the harbor of the beautiful coastal town.
  • You can spend the rest of the day (or overnight) in Portofino or head to the world-famous cliff-side fishing villages of Cinque Terre . 
  • You should spend at least two days in Cinque Terre to see it all. Explore each colorful village, from Monterosso al Mare to Riomaggiore, making unforgettable holiday memories while savoring some of Italy’s best seafood dishes. 

Recommended by: Soline Le Page – On the Road Diary

Central Italy Road Trip Itineraries

Rome to pisa along the tyrrhenian coast.

  • Distance : 350 Kilometres.
  • Destinations : Rome – Cerveteri – Santa Severa Beach – The Tarot Garden – Argentario Peninsula – Elba Island – Pisa

A road trip along the Tyrrhenian Coast from Rome to Pisa is especially pleasant in summer. Traveling between the cities along the ancient consular road Aurelia allows you to discover beautiful beaches and small villages off the beaten path.

A stone arched walkway lined with cafe tables leading to a plaza in the old town of Elba Island.

  • Start in Rome, where the city’s historic center is dense with things to see. Aside from the main attractions – the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, there are wonderful piazzas, such as Piazza Navona and Piazza del Popolo, to explore.
  • From Rome, head to Cerveteri . One of Rome’s most popular day trips , it is home to a UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site, the Etruscan Necropolis of Cerveteri—a fascinating city of the dead with thousands of tombs carved into the rock.
  • Santa Severa Beach is the most beautiful beach near Rome. The beach is home to a well-preserved medieval castle and is washed by a clear sea.
  • The Tarot Garden is a contemporary art park a few kilometers from the town of Capalbio . The park is home to 22 fascinating sculptures representing the tarot’s major arcana. The creator is French-American contemporary artist Niki De Saint-Phalle .
  • Visit the peculiar Argentario Peninsula linked to the mainland by three narrow strips of land. The perimeter of the Argentario peninsula hides small bays bathed by crystal-clear sea, accessible by fairly steep walking paths. Cala Gesso is the most picturesque of these bays.
  • Visit the largest island in the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, Elba Island . Take one of the regular ferries from the port of Piombino to explore the island’s unique and glorious beaches, such as Fetovaia Beach, and discover Elba’s rich history and the legacy of its most famous resident, Napolean Bonaparte.
  • Finish in Pisa . The small city full of artistic treasures can be toured in a day. Its heart is the Piazza del Duomo, which houses the Leaning Tower, the Cathedral, and the Baptistery.

Tip: Pay attention to the speed limits along Aurelia road, as there are many speed cameras.

Recommended by Lisa –  Travel Connect Experience

Siena Region of Tuscany

  • Recommended Duration : 2-3 days
  • Distance : 70 Kilometres. Siena and Florence are the possible start and finishing points.
  • Destinations : Montalcino – Pienza – Montepulciano – Cortona

One of the quintessential Italian experiences is a Tuscany road trip. The  Tuscan region of Siena  borders the province of Florence in the north, the province of Arezzo to the northeast, Umbria and Lazio to the south, and Pisa to the west. 

Rolling green and gold hills in the Tuscan countryside.

You can complete this road trip as a loop, starting and finishing in Siena. Or as this region is one of the most popular and accessible day trips from Florence , you could start or finish in Florence.

  • You can start from either Siena or Florence.
  • First, head for the tiny hilltop village of Montalcino , famous for its delicious Brunello wine. Visit the wine-tasting room in the fortress of Montalcino, where you can sample most of the local producers in one place. 
  • Next, head to Pienza , the hilltop UNESCO-designated town, arriving through the sublime landscape of cypress trees and gently rolling hills. On the way, stop at Cipressi di San Quirico d’Orcia, a scenic viewpoint. Pienza, known for its Pecorino cheese, is a well-preserved Renaissance town that has remained untouched since the 15th century. Linger over a long meal at La Terrazza del Choistro or Osteria Sette di Vino. 
  • Visit the pretty village of Montepulciano . Sip on some of the village’s finest wine in one of the cozy wine-tasting cellars dotted throughout the town.
  • The last stop is Cortona , the town made famous by the book  Under the Tuscan Sun  by Francis Mayes and the subsequent movie. The town’s buildings span the 11th to 15 centuries.  Grab a gelato from the delicious Gelateria Snoopy and lose yourself in Cortona’s endless winding alleyways and epic views of the Tuscan countryside. 
  • Return to either Siena or Florence.

For a relaxing road trip to this part of Tuscany, plan for 2 to 3 days and enjoy a lovely stay at  Siena House , a charming boutique B&B or explore some of Tuscany’s best wine hotels in the region.

Recommended by Renee – Dream Plan Experience 

Tuscany-Round Trip from Florence

  • Recommended Duration : 7 days
  • Distance : 471 Kilometres. Starting and finishing in Florence
  • Destinations : Florence – Lucca – Pisa- Siena – Cortona – Arezzo – Val d’Orcia – Chianti

A road trip through one of Italy’s most famous regions, starting and finishing in one of Italy’s most beautiful cities, Florence.

Rolling hills of Tuscany with a large red brick monastery in the centre surrounded by trees.

Spring, summer, and fall are particularly beautiful in Tuscany. The hills will be green in the spring, and poppies will bloom in the countryside. In the summer, sunflower fields are a draw, and the golden, bare rolling hills look stunning after the autumn harvest. 

From a weather perspective, spring and fall offer the most pleasant temperatures, with fewer crowds than in the summer. 

Highlights of a  road trip through Tuscany  include:

  • Charming hilltop towns that offer historical landmarks, local cuisine and culture, and charming ambiance.
  • See the world-famous art in Florence.
  • Wine tasting at some of the renowned wine-growing areas in the region, including Chianti and the Val d’Orcia.
  • The opportunity to photograph one of the most picturesque regions in Italy, with its rolling hills, stately cypress rows, and picturesque farmhouses.
  • Taste the region’s cuisine with its pasta, cheeses, meats, and the famous  ribollita  soup.
  • Driving in a loop, you’ll start and end this Tuscany road trip in Florence. You can find our guide on what to do in Florence here .
  • Head west of Florence to the city of Lucca , famous for its well-preserved Renaissance walls encircling the cobbled maze of the historic city center.
  • On to Pisa , a small city best known for its leaning tower in the Piazza del Duomo. The so-called “Square of Miracles” is a treasure trove of remarkable landmarks, including the cathedral, baptistery, and the  camposanto (cemetery).
  • Make your way south toward the stunning medieval city of Siena to explore the city’s 17 historic districts that extend outward from the unique fan-shaped central square, Piazza del Campo. Visit Palazzo Pubblico, the Gothic town hall, and the 14th-century Torre del Mangia for sweeping views of the city.
  • Continue on to the Val d’ Orcia region for stunning landscapes and local wine – Plan some tastings in Montepulciano and Montalcino in the Val d’Orcia, where you can also taste the local pecorino.
  • Head east to visit Cortona . The walled hilltop town, one of Tuscany’s prettiest towns, is famous for its beautiful medieval center and the Etruscan museum.
  • Continue on to Arezzo in the east, an elegant city with an easy-going atmosphere often bypassed by tourists . Yet, the beautiful city is rich with monuments, parks, archaeological remains, churches, and historic squares.
  • Make your last stop in the famed wine region of Chianti just south of Florence before heading back to the city.

If you have more time, you can add many small picturesque towns along the route to your itinerary.

Make sure you book at least one stay at an agriturismo. They capture the region’s essence and allow you to appreciate the countryside.

Recommended by Dhara – It’s Not About the Miles

Chianti Region Tuscany

  • Distance : 100-150 Kilometres.
  • Destinations : Montefioralle – Monteriggioni – San Gimignano – Radda in Chianti

One of Italy’s finest short road trips is a 2-3 day drive around the Chianti region of Tuscany. Chianti is situated between the tourist hotbed of Florence and the stunning medieval city of Siena .

A tree lined narrow winding road weaves through green rolling hills with a small village in the distance.

A road trip between the two cities through Chianti only covers about 100-150 km, but there are so many beautiful places to see along the way that you won’t want to cover more ground. 

A region of rolling hills covered in vineyards and stone masonry villas, Chianti is what many people think of when they imagine Tuscany.

Chianti is mostly known for its wine. The region produces some of the finest wines in the world, especially the local specialty Chianti Classico . Vineyards are scattered throughout the region, mixed in with fairy-tale Tuscan villages and ancient castles.

Plan your road trip to avoid the motorways. While driving the winding back roads, be sure to include the following towns and villages in your itinerary:

  • Montefioralle
  • Monteriggioni
  • San Gimignano
  • Radda in Chianti

Most importantly, stop by some of Italy’s best wineries. Just be sure there is a sober driver in the group, as the local wineries can be generous with the pours.

Some of the top picks for Chianti region wineries are:

  • Castello di Verrazzano
  • Pogglio Amorelli
  • Azienda Agricola Campocorto
  • Fattoria di Montemaggio

Be sure to contact the wineries before visiting to arrange tours or tastings. Most of the more popular wineries require reservations. For a true Tuscan experience, spend the night at a castle vineyard like Castello Vicchiomaggio . 

A road trip through Chianti will leave you longing for more time in the Tuscan hills.

Recommended by: Chris Heckmann – Around the World with Me

Val d’Orcia Tuscany

  • Recommended Duration : 4-7 days
  • Distance : 350 Kilometres Starting in Florence or Siena.
  • Destinations : Florence or Siena – Pienza – Montepulciano – Monticchiello – Bagni San Filippo thermal baths

The charming  Val d’Orcia in Italy  is a true jewel of Tuscany and a fantastic Italian road trip destination.

Most start their tour in Florence (approximately 1.5 hrs from Val d’Orcia), but you can also start or finish in Sienna (approximately 1.20 hrs from Val d’Orcia). You can plan around 350 kilometers for the entire route and 4-7 days.

Hay bales on golden fields with a farm house ruin and cypress trees on the hill in the distance.

On a road trip through Val d’Orcia, you will discover Tuscany you only know from movies. Endless hilly landscapes, breathtaking viewpoints along the panoramic roads, and the typical cypress avenues conjure up a picture-perfect ambiance. 

The stunning landscape dotted with small medieval villages and Renaissance towns is considered so unique it was given UNESCO World Heritage status in 2014.

  • Explore the numerous small, charming Renaissance villages, where you can stroll through medieval alleys and discover Tuscany from its most beautiful side.
  • Pienza is considered the cradle of the Renaissance. Make sure you try the local pecorino di Pienza cheese.
  • The medieval walled town of San Quirico d’Orcia is considered one of the prettiest villages in Tuscany.
  • Montepulciano . The stunning medieval hilltop town is a paradise for wine lovers. Make sure to try the delicious local red Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
  • Montalcino is another beautiful town for wine lovers. The town’s vineyards produce some of Italy’s most famous and delicious wines, Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello di Montalcino.
  • The beautiful village of Monticchiello, with its famous winding road, becomes an open-air theatre in summer with performances by the local inhabitants.
  • For the onward journey, it is best to choose the Strada Provinciale 146 between Pienza and San Quirico , considered one of the most beautiful panoramic roads in the region with its numerous viewpoints.
  • visit the Bagni San Filippo thermal baths – beautiful natural hot springs in a peaceful forest setting. The water is loaded with calcium, giving the water a milky blue/white color like milk, and leaves white calcium deposits on the rocks, creating a stunning setting to bathe in.

You will find lots of lovely agrotourism accommodations to stay overnight, which will add to the Tuscan experience. A road trip through Val d’Orcia is a wonderful mix of landscape, culture, and wine, which should not be missed on any trip to Tuscany.

Recommended by Martina – PlacesofJuma

Southern Italy Road Trip Itineraries

Puglia road trip.

  • Distance : 580 Kilometres.
  • Destinations : Bari – Manopoli and Polignano a Mare – Alberobello – Locorotondo – Ostuni – Lecce

A Puglia road trip is the best way to explore one of Italy’s most charming regions. The ideal time for this road trip is around seven days in spring, early summer, or early autumn.

A typical white house in Puglia Italy with the cone shaped slate roof.

Visiting Puglia, you can fly into one of two airports, Bari or Brindisi (in the South). Both airports have car rental options to begin your 580 km road trip around Puglia’s best sights.

Suggested Itinerary for Puglia

  • It’s worthwhile beginning your Puglia road trip in the historic city of Bari , Puglia’s capital. Bari has beautiful architectural sights, including the Basilica San Nicolo and Bari Cathedral.
  • From Bari, head to Manopoli and Polignano a Mare , where you will find the region’s best beaches.
  • Head inland to see the famous trulli houses of Alberobello . The white cone-shaped houses of Alberobello are a recognized Unesco World Heritage Site.
  • Locorotondo , a picture-perfect town (often missed by tourists), is a real treat. Visit during holidays such as Easter and Christmas when the locals adorn the town in traditional decor.
  • The white city of Ostuni is a maze of white-washed buildings, sitting below a hill-topped citadel with ancient fortified walls.
  • Before heading back to Bari, if your Puglia road trip itinerary allows, stop at Lecce , known as the ‘Florence of the South,’ with exquisite baroque architecture, including the Piazza del Duomo.
  • It’s also worth stopping in Gallipoli : an old fishing village with a stunning port backed by ancient walls and pretty beaches.

Recommended by: Jasmine – The Life of a Social Butterfly

Calabria in the Toe of Italy’s Boot

  • Recommended Duration : 7-9 days
  • Distance : 153 Kilometres.
  • Destinations : Costa degli Dei and Costa Viola – Pizzo – Zambrone – Marinella – Michelino – Tropea – Costa Viola – Bagnara Calabra

Often overlooked by visitors to Italy, Calabria is a fabulous region in Italy’s south. If the idea of visiting picturesque villages perched in the Pennine mountains, the glowing sun, and relaxing at the beach sounds like your type of road trip, Calabria is perfect.

A small beach with clear blue water and beach umbrellas, surrounded with green vegetation.

If you find yourself in cities such as  Venice  or Rome, you can take an internal flight to Lamezia Terme Airport. Your road trip will start from here and ends in Scilla.

Taking between seven and nine days, you can drive 153 kilometers down the Costa degli Dei and Costa Viola.

  • First, stop in Pizzo , where you can taste the delicious Tartufo (a gelato based dessert).
  • Visit the beaches in Zambrone, Marinella, and Michelino, then the last stop along the Coast of the Gods, Tropea. The tourist town of Tropea is worth visiting for its lovely old city set on high cliffs overlooking the sea. Don’t miss trying the typical Calabrian pasta dish, Fileja alla Tropeana, when in Tropea.
  • Continue towards the Costa Viola with Bagnara Calabra, known for its long stretch of sandy beach and Scilla.
  • In Scilla , you can spend some time snorkeling in some of Italy’s most crystal clear waters and visit Chianalea , the charming fishing village. Make sure you try a swordfish sandwich in Scilla.

The best time of year to be in Calabria is in June or July, right before it gets too busy in August.

This Calabria road trip is an alternative way to explore the Tyrrhenian coast and includes popular places and lesser-known villages.

Recommended by: Maddalena Visentin – Venice Travel Tips

  • Recommended Duration : 2 weeks
  • Distance : 600 Kilometres.
  • Destinations : Cagliari – Villasimius- Cala Goloritze – Gorrupu – Orgosolo – Cala Luna – Cala Brandinchi – Olbia – La Maddalena – Alghero – Bosa

A Mediterranean island road trip through Sardinia offers some of the world’s finest beaches, picturesque hikes, breathtaking natural beauty, and charming towns. 

A trip to Sardinia is an incredible Italian road trip experience.

Secluded Sardinia Beach with clear water and white sand.

A suggested 600 km, two-week itinerary would be to start in the capital city of Cagliari and end in Bosa. The best stops are Villasimius, Cala Goloritze, Gorrupu, Orgosolo, Cala Luna, Cala Brandinchi, Olbia, La Maddalena, and Alghero. 

  • Once you have explored the capital Cagliari , drive along the coast to Villasimius , where you can enjoy the famous Sardinian beaches.
  • Another must-see spot is Cala Goloritze , where a hike leads to one of the island’s most spectacular beaches with crystal-clear water.
  • Gorropu , an impressive canyon, is a reminder that Sardinia has more to offer than just beaches. Inland villages such as Orgosolo , known for its street art and political graffiti, also provide a glimpse into the “real Sardinia.” 
  • Another highlight includes the stunning La Maddalena Island . While there, visit Caprera Island, Cala Coticcio, the Garibaldi Museum, and Cala Napoletana.
  • Finally, back on the mainland, visit the charming city of Alghero, Neptune’s Grotto, and the colorful town of Bosa. 

The best time for a road trip around Sardinia to avoid the crowds and enjoy milder weather is the shoulder season from May to June and September to October. It is still warm enough to go to the beach, but there are fewer crowds to battle – Sardinia is extremely busy in the summer months. See here for more tips on visiting Sardinia .

Recommended by: Rachel – Average Lives

Western Sicily

  • Recommended Duration : 10-12 days
  • Distance : 580 Kilometres. Starting and finishing in Palermo
  • Destinations : Palermo – San Vito Lo Capo – Trapani – Marsala – Caltabellotta – Agrigento – Enna – the Parco delle Madonie.

Sicily is the ideal setting for an Italian road trip. This efficient itinerary starts and ends in Palermo and makes a tidy loop around the western part of the island.

We also have a 10 day Sicily road trip looping the entire island.

The main square with an historical cathedral and town hall in the town of Marsala in Sicily.

Covering both the coast and the lush interior, stops include San Vito Lo Capo, Trapani, Marsala, Caltabellotta, Agrigento, Enna, and the Parco delle Madonie.

This road trip covers a distance of approximately 580 km and requires a minimum of 10-12 days to complete.

The best time of year to explore this part of Italy is early autumn when temperatures are pleasant, the summer crowds have dissipated, and harvest festivities sweep through the vineyards.

  • Embarking on a street food tour of Palermo
  • Swimming and snorkeling at San Vito Lo Capo
  • Exploring the salt flats near Trapani
  • Shopping for traditional Sicilian souvenirs at the carpet ateliers in Erice
  • Doing a fortified wine tasting in Marsala
  • Getting lost in the ancient streets of Caltabellotta
  • Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Valley of the Temples
  • Touring the incredible Cathedral of Enna
  • Hiking in the Madonie Regional Natural Park
  • After a few days in Sicily’s biggest city, pick up your car and depart Palermo . Follow the coastal road to San Vito Lo Capo, where gorgeous white-sand beaches and ultramarine waters await.
  • Continue along the coast to Trapani , the ‘City of Salt and Sail’, to explore the crystal pans before continuing to Marsala , a picturesque city of honey-colored stone known for its fortified wines. For a unique experience, tour the cellars at Cantine Florio.
  • Detour inland to spend a night in the tiny village of Caltabellotta before making your way down to Agrigento , the departure point for exploring one of Sicily’s most important archaeological sites, the Valley of the Temples.
  • Turning inland, make a quick stop in medieval Enna before spending a few nights on the fringe of Madonie Regional Natural Park , where you can enjoy the area’s hiking trails before returning to Palermo.

Recommended by Emily – Wander-Lush

Italy is such an incredible country to explore leisurely by road. With so many incredible and diverse experiences, it’s hard to choose just one Italy road trip itinerary.

Groovy Mashed Potatoes - Travel Blog

Groovy Mashed Potatoes - Travel Blog

Unique travel experiences, fun itineraries & offbeat places to help you plan your dream trip

South of France and Italy Road Trip 'Wine-tinerary'

South of France and Italy Road Trip 'Wine-tinerary'

If you're a wine and food lover, you've found the right itinerary for your South of France and Italy road trip. Your journey starts in the heart of Provence, continues along the glamorous Côte d'Azur and finishes in Piedmont, an underrated region in northwestern Italy renowned for its wine and culinary scene.

Not only does this South of France and Italy itinerary focus on wine and culinary treasures, it also includes local cultural experiences and brings you through gorgeous landscapes that bring a sense of relaxation to your trip.

Best time to visit the South of France and Italy

Blonde girl in white dress looking at ochre coloured buildings in the village of Roussillon

For your trip to the South of France and the Piedmont region of Italy, we recommend traveling May-July or September. Some months have benefits over the others:

  • To see lavender in bloom in Provence, the best time to visit is early July, however this is also one of the busiest times of year in the South of France and it can get hot.
  • For less crowds, visit the South of France and Piedmont in May.
  • We don't recommend coming in the off-season from November - March, as it's cold and some places aren't open.
  • August isn't recommended since many wineries in Piedmont take around a 2 week break for summer holidays.
  • Note that once harvest starts in September, it gets busy in Piedmont and tougher to arrange winery tastings.

How to get from the South of France to Italy

Green hills and a vineyard with the blue Alps in the background of Piedmont

Did you know that bringing your rental car from France and dropping it off in Italy can double the price of your rental? We saved 50% by dropping our first rental car off in Monaco and hopping on a train to Savona, Italy. The train system connecting France to Italy is fast and easy.

In Savona, we rented a new car for the next portion of our trip in Italy. The Langhe wine region of Piedmont is just a 1.25 hour drive away from Savona.

South of France and Italy Road Trip Map

  • Days 1-4: pick up your rental car at the Marseille Airport for a road trip into the heart of Provence.
  • Day 5: drop off your rental car in Monaco and spend the night in glitzy Monte Carlo or nearby in the seaside town of Menton.
  • Days 6-8: take the train to Savona, Italy and pick up your next rental car for a road trip into the Langhe wine region of Piedmont.
  • Day 9: drop your car rental off at Turin Airport

South of France and Italy Itinerary

Days 1-4: Provence | Day 5: Côte d'Azur | Days 6-8: Piedmont

Days 1 - 4: Provence

Drive through the serene countryside to discover hilltop villages and vibrant local markets, taste rosé wines and eat fresh Provencal cuisine

food road trip italy

Gordes, Roussillon and Lourmarin village in Provence

Your first four days bring you to the Luberon region in the heart of Provence. The Luberon region has a rich historical background, with charming hilltop villages and vineyards that reflect centuries of tradition. It's a place of tranquility, where local markets, quaint Provencal-style restaurants and rosé winemaking have played a major role in shaping the culture of Provence.

If you're longing for a peaceful escape, the Luberon region not only offers stunning vistas, culinary treasures and immersive cultural experiences but also serves as a living history book, reflecting the very essence of Provence.

What to do in Provence

Blonde girl in white dress having a picnic on a concrete picnic table overlooking the grassy and hilly countryside of Provence

See our comprehensive 4 Day Provence itinerary , which includes where to stay, where to eat and unique spots you don't want to miss .

Here are the highlights:

🎨🍷 Visit Chateau La Coste to see its unique combination of contemporary art, nature, wine and gastronomy.

🥖 🧺 🎵 Discover Lourmarin's creative culture, enjoy a picnic at a 15th-century castle and experience the village's bustling local market and vibrant old-centre square.

👀 Explore the picturesque hilltop villages of Bonnieux, Menerbes and Roussillon.

🪻👨‍🍳 Drive the scenic countryside to the stunning village of Gordes and discover Goult and Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt's culinary scene.

Read the full 4 day itinerary here

Day 5 - Côte d'Azur

Continue your journey to the French Riviera and stay in either the glitzy Monte Carlo district of Monaco or in the laidback seaside town of Menton

Getting from Provence to the Côte d'Azur

A pool and lounge chairs at a yacht club overlooking Monte Carlo's harbour

The Côte d'Azur (also known as the French Riviera) runs along the coastline between Saint Tropez and Menton and is about a 2.5 hour drive from the Luberon region. We recommend dropping your rental car off in Monaco and either staying in Monte Carlo or Menton for the night. The train is only 11 minutes between the two places.

For glitz and glamour choose Monte Carlo, for laidback seaside village vibes, choose Menton.

Option 1: Experience the glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo in Monaco

food road trip italy

Monte Carlo district in Monaco

Monaco, known as the "playground for millionaires," offers a glimpse into the high-flying lifestyle. With Porsche taxis and Ferraris casually cruising the streets, it's a fascinating and sometimes peculiar destination to experience.

In Monaco, not only will you check another country off your list, you'll uncover opulent architectural treasures and iconic spots you won't find anywhere else. Plus, there is the cool James Bond appeal, since the Monte Carlo district has been used as a filming location in these movies many times.

Monaco is a good fit for you if you don't mind splurging on a few things and if dressing up for a glamorous night out excites you.

See our comprehensive 1 Day Monaco itinerary , which includes where to stay, unique things to do and exciting places to see.

 🛥️ Walk along Port Hercule to see the mega-yachts

🌞 Walk around Place du Casino plaza at golden hour and admire the Beaux-Arts architecture

🎷🍸 Listen to live jazz at a Gatsby-inspired cocktail bar

♥️ ♠️ Dress to the nines and people-watch at the legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo

Read the full 1 day itinerary here

Option 2: Hangout in the laidback seaside village of Menton

food road trip italy

The charming town of Menton

If Monaco's swanky over-the-top lifestyle is not for you, instead stay in the relaxed seaside town of Menton. Often overlooked for its famous neighbours along the French Riviera, Menton is a local favourite known for its historic Old Town, Baroque-style architecture, high-quality lemons and scenic Mediterranean coastline.

A bonus is that Menton is a lot cheaper than other places on the French Riviera. Take your time walking through the narrow passageways to see colourful historic buildings, stroll along the beaches, pop into the small boutiques and sit at sidewalk cafes to soak in the atmosphere.

  • Hotel de Londres
  • Ibis Styles Menton Centre

Day 6 - 8: Piedmont, Italy

Unwind in the Italian countryside, taste world-renowned Barolo and Barbaresco wines and discover the slow food movement in Italy's underrated wine region

food road trip italy

The Langhe wine region in Piedmont, Italy

Piedmont, Italy's second-largest region, remains a hidden gem for most international tourists. But its fame is on the rise, thanks to its prestigious Barolo and Barbaresco wines, drawing Italians seeking a wine getaway amidst nature.

Known as Piemonte in Italian, Piedmont is making waves with its new sustainable luxury hotels, culinary scene dedicated to the slow-food movement, and one-of-a-kind wine and truffle experiences. Combine this with its captivating landscape of sprawling vine-covered hills and backdrop of the Alps, and you have a true Italian treasure.

For your last 3 days, we recommend spending your time in the Langhe wine region, home to Piedmont's most renowned wines: Barolo and Barbaresco.

To get to Piedmont , take the train from Monaco or Menton to Savona, Italy and pick up your rental car there. From Savona, it's a 1.25 hour drive to the Langhe wine region of Piedmont.

What to do in Piedmont

Round tables and chairs outside overlooking Barolo vineyards at Palas Cerequio hotel

See our comprehensive 3 Day Piedmont itinerary , which includes scenic places to stay, the best wine tasting experiences, unique eateries and charming villages to explore.

🍷✨Taste prestigious Barolo wines at Ceretto, one of the world's best wineries

🍇 Visit Ca' del Baio, a small family-owned winery making some of the best Barbaresco wines

🏘 Explore the charming villages of Barbaresco, La Morra and Barolo

🥩 🥗 Enjoy Piedmontese cuisine at some of the best restaurants in the stunning Langhe wine region

Read the full 3 day itinerary here

Day 9: Fly to your next destination from Turin Airport

From the Langhe wine region, it's about an hour drive to the Turin Airport where you can drop off your rental car and fly to your next destination!

Trip extension option: you could also drop your rental car off in Milan and spend a few days in the fashionable city. Milan is about a 2 hour drive away.

Enjoy your scenic South of France and Italy road trip!

Get started on booking your road trip to the South of France and Italy

  • 🌃 Accommodation: Book your stay in Provence , Monaco / Menton and Piedmont . Booking.com is our go-to for finding places to stay. Sort by top reviewed.
  • 🚙 Reserve your car rental in the South of France: see Rentalcars.com to compare car rental prices across different companies.
  • 🚆 Book your train from the South of France to Italy: compare rates with Trainline
  • 🚗 Reserve your car rental in Italy: see Rentalcars.com to compare car rental prices across different companies.
  • 🤠 Browse tours with local guides: through Viator and GetYourGuide .

Check out our other Italy and France itineraries with wine experiences:

  • Ultimate 2 Weeks in Italy
  • 7 Day Paris and Provence itinerary
  • 3 Day in Florence and Tuscany itinerary
  • 4 Days in Florence and Tuscany
  • 5 Day Tuscany itinerary
  • 7 Day Florence and Tuscany Itinerary

Save and pin this South of France road trip itinerary for later:

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