The beauty of an Italian road trip is that the relatively small size of the country means journey times are kept to manageable lengths (meaning the risk of map-related arguments is, critically, also kept to a minimum). The other beauty is, well, the beauty. Few countries offer such stunning scenery, picturesque towns, historical sites, and of course, perhaps the most delicious food and drink in the world (discuss) to enjoy along the way. Each of our top three Italian road trips explores a different region of the country, so whether it's natural wonders or ancient history that takes your fancy, we can suggest the best route for you.
A Sicilian Sojourn
Spend eleven days exploring the ball to Italy's boot on a luxury road trip, visiting ancient ruins, sampling traditional cuisine and admiring the island's beautiful scenery along the way. Start with a day or two on the south coast in the town of Agrigento, exploring the area with the help of a local guide. From here drive southeast towards Ragusa for a relaxing stay on a country estate, which can act as the perfect base from which to explore the tiny village of Chiaramonte Gulfi, known as the Balcony of Sicily for its brilliant views which stretch as far as the Mediterranean Sea to the south and Mount Etna to the north. It would be rude not to indulge in some local delicacies while in an area famous for its fantastic wine and olive oil, and this is the perfect opportunity to do just that. Then it's onto explore the baroque towns of Ragusa and Modica and, once you've taken in your fair share of culture and countryside, head to the coast, and more specifically, the town of Syracuse. Here you can discover some ancient Greek history at the Catacombs of St John (which date back to the fourth century), and explore the labyrinthine streets of the city's old town of Ortigia. Last up on this road trip is Taormina, another coastal town, this one flanked by mountains and in easy reach of Mount Etna, so you can round off your trip with a hike up to the crater of the largest active volcano in Europe.
Puglia boasts miles of beautiful sandy beaches, quite unlike the Amalfi Coast on the opposite side of the country, so start your road trip on the north coast near the town of Monopoli. Make the most of having your own car and go on day trips around the area; be sure to explore the Valle d'Itria which is famous for the iconic trulli houses (traditional dry stone huts with conical roofs) that dot the landscape. Next head inland and into the countryside to the outskirts of Martano, where you can expect rolling hills dotted with fig plantations. The food throughout Puglia is fantastic but this part of the region in particular is great for sampling plenty of fresh, seasonal produce, including the local figs. Continue your journey inland with some time in Lecce, Puglia's cultural capital and a place that feels like a vast ancient city crammed into a tiny labyrinth of winding cobbled streets; the brash baroque architecture and limestone buildings practically burst out of the city's seams. Highlights include the Basilica di Santa Croce and the Roman Amphitheatre. The final stop on this Puglian road trip, the town of Matera, isn't technically in Puglia but we'll let that slide as it's certainly worth a stopover while you're nearby. While here, a local guide will help you explore the Sassi di Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its cave dwellings. This should be the perfect round-off to an eleven-day highlights reel of Puglia.
Scenic Stopovers: Lakes, Mountains and Canals
If it's jaw-dropping scenery you're after this is the road trip for you, with stops at three of Italy's most stunning lakes followed by time spent hiking in the Dolomites, all rounded off with a couple of days in Venice, one of the most spectacular natural settings of any European city. Begin your trip driving from Milan to Lake Como, where you can take in the beauty of your surroundings on a boat trip around the lake. Next it's onto Lake Iseo, which is far less touristy but just as beautiful, and is surrounded by vineyards and wineries to explore. Last on the lakes tour is Lake Garda, the largest of the three, where you can enjoy a boat trip or swim in the clear waters, and visit the laidback town of Desenzano del Garda on the edge of the lake. You might be feeling lake-d out by now so it's time to head to the mountains. The Dolomites certainly aren't just for skiing, and in the summer months you can enjoy fantastic walking, mountain climbing, road biking and more, so for those wanting to add an element of adventure to your Italian road trip, this is the time. Last up is the floating city of Venice, where you'll get a break from the driving and can spend some time exploring the city's streets and canals.