Best Road Trips In Italy
Last Updated: June 1, 2021

Best Road Trips In Italy: Tuscany, Sicily & More

Road tripping around Italy should be on everyone’s bucket list. The stunning country has so many different things to offer, from spectacular scenic views of the Amalfi coast to the enchanting rolling hills of Tuscany.

We’ve got six road trips for you and each of them focuses on something different. Whether you want to explore the big cities, head out to more peaceful Italian regions, or just drive on the best roads the country has to offer, you will find the perfect Italian road trip below!

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi

Route: Sorrento – Amalfi / Sorento – Salerno

Distance: 30 kilometers / 55 kilometers

Driving Time: 1 / 2 hours

Highlights: Positano, Grotta dello Smeraldo, Salerno Cathedral

The astonishing Amalfi Coast is undoubtedly the best road trip in Italy. Discover the Sorrento Peninsula while admiring enchanting panoramic vistas, charming villages, and some of Italy’s best-hidden gems. But be careful and don’t get too distracted by the scenic views – the road gets very narrow with quite a lot of hairpin bends.

Amalfi Coast Sorrento to Amalfi is a 30-kilometer drive that can be done in about an hour if you’re in a rush. But that’s no way to experience the Amalfi coast, so you should take at least four days to do this road trip. Don’t be afraid to take detours, and definitely plan to spend at least one night in Positano. And you won’t regret anything if you extend your stay in the village.

Positano is one of the highlights of the road trip. The cliffside village is a popular holiday destination with a pebble beachfront, terraced villas, and charming streets lined with cafes and shops. Everything about Positano is breathtaking, from the spectacular Byzantine church to the scenic hiking trails on the edge of the village.

Positano

Another highlight is Grotta dello Smeraldo – a scenic grotto just off the side of the road. Go on a boat tour of the grotto to see all the stalagmites, stalactites, and surreally green water. Before you get back to your car, be sure to check out the pottery store nearby to get beautiful Amalfi coast souvenirs.

If you have more time, continue driving on to Salerno. It’s an hour’s drive along the same scenic coast to one of Italy’s most charming cities. The town is a melting pot of different architectures and influences, with the Salerno Cathedral as the prime example. The medieval church was built on the remains of a Roman temple and it features a baroque crypt, Byzantine doors, and a marble altar. The entire town is incredibly picturesque and certainly worth the long drive.

Tuscany

Tuscany

Route: Florence – Pisa – Livorno – Volterra – Siena – Florence (optional)

Distance: 240 kilometers / 320 kilometers

Driving Time: 3 hours 30 minutes / 5 hours

Highlights: Leaning tower of Pisa, Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Palazzo dei Priori

Road tripping around Tuscany is the stuff from bucket lists. The region’s rolling hills are postcard-worthy, there are so many wineries you might as well turn this into a long-distance hike, and you get to visit some of Italy’s most beautiful cities.

Discover the spectacular city of Florence, head to Pisa to see the iconic leaning tower, and stop by Volterra to walk through the cobblestone streets of an ancient town.

Florence

Florence is easily the highlight of this road trip. The beautiful city is home to so many spectacular sights from the iconic Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore to Michelangelo’s David sculpture. It’s also one of Italy’s bigger cities, so plan to spend at least two nights in the area if you want to explore a good part of it.

Ideally, you would start at Florence and then take the longer northern route to Pisa. The longer router passes through Lucca, which is another worthy detour just 20 minutes outside Pisa. The town is best known for the Renaissance walls that encircle its old town, tree-lined pathways, and the Guinigi tower with its sweeping views of the town. Or just head straight to Pisa and try to get a perfect shot of the iconic tower.

Pisa

From Pisa, take the coastal route to Volterra. There are a few different routes you can take but the coastal one is certainly the most rewarding. It’s about 95 kilometers and the first stop is Livorno. The port town is absolutely stunning with its checkered Terazza Mascagni that will blow you away. After a quick detour, get back on the road and head to Volterra. It’s worth noting that there are ample opportunities to stop at the side of the road and take in the views, so don’t worry about missing anything.

Volterra is a walled town with distinctly medieval architecture. See the remains of the Etruscan Acropolis, visit the Guarnacci Etrurian Museum, and don’t forget to stop by Palazzo dei Priori. Try to climb the bell tower as well, to get some phenomenal views of this town and of Tuscany’s rolling hills.

Volterra

From Volterra head to Siena. It’s a 55-kilometer drive so you’ll get there in under an hour driving on the SR68. Siena is best known for its medieval brick buildings, Gothic towers, and the exquisite 13th-century cathedral. I’d recommend spending a night in Siena over Volterra, simply because the town is bigger and there are more things to see.

You can end the road trip there, or you can head back to Florence. It’s another hour through the hills back to Tuscany’s capital – if you have the extra time, definitely make this a round trip!

Stelvio Pass

Stelvio Pass Driving

Route: Trafoi – Bormio

Distance: 35 kilometers

Driving Time: 1 hours

Highlights: Stelvio Pass, Stelvio National Park

Driving along the Stelvio Pass is something only people who actually like driving will enjoy. If you’re not happy when you’re behind the wheel you’ll want to skip this one, especially if you’re driving a stick. Stelvio Pass is a mountain road with hairpin after hairpin after hairpin – you get the idea. The legendary mountain pass features 46 hairpins and it’s one of the highest mountain passes in the Alps. It was dubbed as the best driving experience in the world by Jeremy Clarkson, which made Stelvio Pass famous overnight.

The highlight of this road trip is simply the experience of driving down the hairpins. Whether you’re heading up the mountain or going down, the views along the way are absolutely phenomenal.

Stelvio Pass

The ideal route for the trip is from Trafoi to Bormio, so some 35 kilometers of mountain road. Because of the steep road and the many hairpins, it will take you at least an hour to drive the 35 kilometers. You can’t really go faster than 30 km/h, but it’s hard to complain – going slow really lets you enjoy the spectacular views.

No road trip is complete without a night spent at a fabulous location, and in this case, that’s Stelvio National Park. The protected area in the central Alps encompasses the town of Bormio, and it’s a phenomenal place to enjoy the more peaceful side of Italy. Spectacular nature, abundant wildlife, and ample hiking trails are a sharp contrast to the cities explored on other routes. It’s almost as if time is passing much more slowly here, allowing you to slow down for a bit and really take in everything.

Swiss National Park

It’s worth noting that the Stelvio Pass is very close to the border with Switzerland. If you have the extra time, why not head to Switzerland and explore the Graubünden canton while you can. Climb the tall peaks, lounge by the Alpine lakes, and visit Switzerland’s only national park. It’s a little more than an hour from Bormio to Swiss National Park, so consider going on this detour if you enjoy hiking and being outdoors.

Sicily

Sicily

Route: Catania – Syracuse – Modica – Agrigento – Trapani – Palermo – Messina – Taormina

Distance: 870 kilometers

Driving Time: 11 hours

Highlights: Norman Palace, Valley of the Temples, Taormina Ancient Theater, Mount Etna

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and one of the most iconic Italian regions. With a rich history, extraordinary architecture, and some of the best views of your life, you’ll be tempted to sell everything you own and just move to this paradise.

Messina, Palermo, Catania, Trapani, and Syracuse are just a few of the stunning places on the island worth visiting. I’ve done my best to shorten this road trip as much as possible, but if you really want to explore Sicily you can do an epic one-month road trip around the island. That would give you enough time to see a good chunk of the island, but it would still leave many stones unturned.

Palermo

The perfect road trip in Sicily is 15 days and it starts in Catania. The coastal roads take you to Syracuse, Modica, Agrigento, Sciacca, Trapani, Palerno, Cefalù, Messina, Taormina, and the spectacular Mount Etna. You can choose which towns you want to pass through and which you’d like to explore further – Sicily really caters to adventurous travelers. Hit the road without any reservations and just find accommodation in the towns that impress you the most.

Palermo is the obvious exception as the island’s capital. It boasts the 12th-century Cathedral, the Norman Palace, and the wonderful Teatro Massimo. It’s an incredible city and you will certainly need more than just a few hours to explore it.

Valley of the Temples

Another must-see is the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. Featuring some of the most incredible examples of Greater Greece art, this UNESCO World Heritage Site remains the most popular attraction on the entire island. And this is just one of the dozens of spectacular sights in the area, so you will want to take your time exploring the southern coast of the island.

Additionally, don’t cut it too close at the end. Taormina is one of the final stops of the road trip, but it’s still an incredible place. It features the Ancient Theater of Taormina that was built in 3rd century BC, and which remains of the most incredible sights on the east coast of the island.

Mount Etna

Avid hikers will be thrilled to know that they can hike to Mount Etna without any guides! And you can do it in one day – just drive straight to the parking lot at the base of the mountain and set out on the 18-kilometer adventures. It’s a difficult and physically challenging hike, but it’s without a doubt worth it.

Take your time while exploring the island of Sicily, and feel free to do it however you want. Take a day just to lounge on the beach, skip the boring towns, and spend more time at those places that really connect with you.

Lausanne To Milan

Lake Geneva

Route: Lausanne – Montreux – Chamonix – Aosta – Turin – Milan

Distance: 430 kilometers

Driving Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Highlights: Lake Geneva, the French Alps, Sforzesco Castle

Starting on the bank of Lake Geneva and ending in one of four fashion capitals of the world, this road trip through Switzerland, France, and Italy is extremely easy to enjoy. The first part of the drive follows the bank of Lake Geneva all the way to Montreux, with lots of detour-worthy spots. Stop at Vevey and visit Chaplin’s World, head to Montreux to admire the view that inspired Freddie Mercury to write so many iconic songs, and stop at Orsières to admire some incredibly picturesque lake views. And that’s all while you’re still in Switzerland!

The next stop is Chamonix, right after you cross the French border. The resort area at the foot of Mont Blanc is famous for spectacular skiing, drawing in avid skiers from all over the world. The cable cars are open year-round, so even if you’re passing through in the summer, you can ride to the top of the mountain and enjoy some breathtaking views.

Chamonix

The next stop is just about an hour away from Chamonix. Aosta is a beautiful little town worth a quick stop. With Roman ruins, botanical gardens, and scenic mountainous surroundings, a few hours in this town is exactly what you need to recharge your batteries.

Head to Turin next and spend a night in the area if you have the time to make this a longer road trip. The city is beautiful and well worth the visit, especially if you are into art and museums. Turin is home to the Egyptian Museum, Museum of the Resistance, and quite a few art museums that will get you excited about all the masterpieces you’re about to see in Milan.

Milan

The Lombardian metropolis is just astonishing in every possible way and it’s a great reward for the four-hour drive. The Gothic Cathedral, the Sforzesco Castle, and the many museums holding some of the greatest artworks in history are just a few of the highlights. Milan is a city that you will fall in love with quickly and easily, so plan to spend at least three or four days there.

Rome To Venice

Rome View

Route: Rome – Florence – Bologna – Padua – Venice

Distance: 530 kilometers

Driving Time: 5 hours

Highlights: Colosseum, Scrovegni chapel, the Great Canal

Rome to Venice is one of the longer road trips here and the best one to do if you’re staying in Italy for at least ten days. It covers most of the famous sights with some optional detours that are included in the other road trips.

The road trip starts in Rome, which you should explore thoroughly before you hit the road. Italy’s capital is extraordinary in every way with countless historic places that are worth visiting. Don’t get in the car before you’ve seen the Colosseum, Campo de Fiori, Piazza di Spagna, the Vatican Museum, and the Roman Forum at the very least.

Rome

You’ll pass through Florence on the way and that’s one detour worth doing if you opted for this road trip instead of the one through Tuscany. Florence is a beautiful city with countless stunning sights, and it’s certainly worth your time. Spend a night or two in town and you’ll be able to properly explore it.

The next must-stop is Bologna. The historic city features medieval towers, sprawling city squares, spectacular museums and art galleries, and beautiful parks. Stay in Bologna for at least one or two nights so you can see all the major historic attractions, and then hit the road again.

Bologna

Another detour opportunity awaits in Padua, a city just 40 minutes outside Venice. Featuring exquisite frescos in the Scrovegni chapel, an imposing 14th-century basilica, and a massive public square with an island in the middle, Padua will not leave you indifferent. You can stay here for a few days if you want but it’s not necessary. The city is not very big and you can see all the main attractions in a single day.

Padua

It’s about 40 kilometers from Padua to Venice, the iconic sinking city where you will no longer need your car. Instead, you’ll get around the city in river taxis, wondering if you’ll ever get the opportunity to visit it again before it sinks entirely. Venice is slowly disappearing thanks to climate change, so be sure to make the most of your time there.

Venice Italy

Visit the museums, go to Doge’s Palace, walk the Rialto Bridge, spend some time at St. Mark’s Square, and definitely go for a ride down the Great Canal.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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