the best destinations for summer road trips in italy

March 14, 2024

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With scenic routes taking you through diverse landscapes, stunning coastlines, and picturesque countryside, Italy is an exceptional destination for summer road trips. You can explore iconic cities like Rome and Milan or venture off the beaten path to discover historic villages and vineyards. With its rich history, cultural treasures, and warm Mediterranean climate, Italy provides the perfect backdrop for unforgettable road trip adventures.

Here are the best destinations for summer road trips in Italy.

1. Rome

Rome is a fantastic place to explore in summer. Aside from enjoying warm weather, the city comes alive with outdoor concerts, cultural events, and vibrant street art. The best way to fully enjoy Rome in summer is on a road trip. As you navigate through the city's cobblestone streets and ancient alleys, enjoy a captivating tapestry of iconic landmarks, vibrant culture, and culinary delights. 

Starting at the majestic Colosseum, a testament to Rome's grandeur and architectural mastery, travel back to the era of gladiators and emperors. From there, follow the road winding past the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum and the majestic Pantheon, each site reminiscing centuries of history and intrigue.

As the sun sets, continue your journey towards the banks of the Tiber River, where charming neighbourhoods like Trastevere stand out with their quaint cobblestone streets and lively piazzas. Here, stop to savour authentic Roman cuisine at family-run trattorias and indulge in gelato from artisanal shops.

No road trip in Rome is complete without a visit to Vatican City, home to the awe-inspiring St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums. Marvel at Michelangelo's masterpieces in the Sistine Chapel and be in awe of the city's artistic legacy and cultural richness.

2. Sicily

Your summer road trip in Sicily will take you on an enchanting journey through an island of contrasts. Discover ancient history, stunning landscapes, and culinary delights, leaving you with a truly unforgettable road trip experience. 

Starting from Palermo, the vibrant capital, explore the city's bustling markets, majestic palaces, and ornate cathedrals, each bearing witness to Sicily's rich cultural heritage. Drive through the scenic roads to take you to the picturesque countryside, where you'll encounter charming hilltop towns like Taormina, perched on cliffs overlooking the sparkling Ionian Sea. Wander through narrow streets lined with medieval buildings on a private guided tour of Sicily, exploring ancient Greek theatres, and savour panoramic views of Mount Etna, Europe's tallest active volcano.

As you continue along the coast, the journey leads to the stunning beaches of the Aeolian Islands, where azure waters lap against rugged cliffs and pristine sands. Indulge in swimming, snorkelling, and sunbathing or explore hidden coves accessible only by boat.

No road trip in Sicily is complete without sampling the island's world-renowned cuisine, from savoury arancini and fresh seafood to decadent cannolis. Along the way, stop at roadside trattorias and family-run agriturismo to sample authentic Sicilian dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.

3. Lake Garda

As one of Italy's most stunning regions, Lake Garda is the perfect place for enjoying a summer road trip. As you navigate the scenic roads, marvel at the breathtaking views of the lake's azure waters, surrounded by majestic mountains and charming villages.

 Begin on the lake's southern shores, home to the quaint town of Sirmione, renowned for its medieval castle and thermal baths. As the road winds northward, passing through olive groves and vineyards, encounter charming lakeside towns like Desenzano del Garda and Salò, each offering panoramic views and waterfront promenades lined with cafes and gelaterias. 

Continue along the eastern shore, where your journey leads to the scenic town of Malcesine, nestled at the foot of Monte Baldo. Take a cable car ride to the summit for breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding countryside. Drive further north, towards the charming villages of Limone sul Garda and Riva del Garda. Wander along their narrow streets lined with colourful buildings and bustling harbours.

Between your road trip, indulge in water sports like sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking, or relax on the shores of the lake, soaking up the Mediterranean sun. As the sun sets over the tranquil waters of Lake Garda, marvel at the sun casting a golden glow over the stunning landscape.

4. Milan

Known for its cosmopolitan flair and historical charm, Milan is the perfect luxury vacation. And if you're here for a road trip in summer, you will appreciate the city even more. The city centre alone is home to iconic landmarks like the magnificent Duomo di Milano, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture adorned with intricate spires and statues.

As you traverse Milan's bustling streets, encounter elegant boutiques, charming cafes, and vibrant neighbourhoods like Brera and Navigli. Park your car to discover world-class museums like the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, and wander through picturesque squares and hidden courtyards, soaking in the city's vibrant atmosphere.

No road trip in Milan is complete without savouring the city's culinary delights, from traditional Milanese risotto to delectable pastries and gelato. Along the way, stop by roadside trattorias and trendy bistros offering authentic Italian dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.

5. Sorrento

Sorrento is a picturesque coastal town in southwestern Italy, overlooking the Bay of Naples. Situated on cliffs, it offers panoramic views of Mount Vesuvius and the island of Capri, making it a scenic place to explore on a summer road trip.

Navigate the road winding along the stunning coastline, where you encounter breathtaking viewpoints overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, and stop to admire the rugged cliffs plunging into the crystal-clear waters below.

For those seeking relaxation, visit Sorrento's pristine beaches and hidden coves, offering tranquil spots for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkelling. You can also explore historic sites like the ancient ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum or embark on scenic hikes along the rugged coastline, revealing remote beaches.

Along the way, stop at roadside trattorias or family-owned restaurants to savour authentic Italian cuisine made from quality ingredients, providing a true taste of Sorrento's culinary heritage.

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