How to Plan the Perfect Summer Road Trip in Italy
Words simply cannot describe how beautiful Italy is, and if a road trip isn’t on your bucket list, you might want to make some adjustments to your plans. Boasting an extensive network of well-maintained roads that weave along the coastline while travelling through historic villages, Italy is one of the best places to embark on a driving adventure. Each stop allows for the chance to sample irresistible carb-filled dishes and the opportunity to explore architectural feats which all make for an unforgettable experience.
Driving in Italy is one of the best ways to see the country, which is why we’ve narrowed down the most important tips to plan the perfect summer road trip. All that’s left for you to do, is to search for the hidden trattorias or vineyards during your travels.
1. Decide how you will get to Italy
As one of Europe’s most popular destinations, there are plenty of options for you to think about as to where you should start your road trip. The best option for most travellers would be to fly into Rome, Milan or Florence, as these are among the largest airports in Italy. But, don’t be tricked into booking the cheapest flight without considering if there might be a catch; including long layover times, additional visas or complicated transport arrangements. No matter what route you choose, you’ll want to make sure that everything is booked well in advance of your trip – especially during the peak season.
2. Plan the first stop on your road trip
If you’ve never been to Italy before, it can be overwhelming planning the trip of a lifetime. If you’re short on time, consider the big draw cards: Rome, Florence and Venice, and you could easily tick off all three in a week along with a few hidden stops in between. Both Rome and Florence have major airports and the options for rental vehicles will be endless. If you have more time, you can get further acquainted with the small stops, or from Rome, you could extend your trip and travel south via Naples and onwards to the Amalfi Coast – arguably one of Italy’s most beautiful coastlines.
3. Figure out the best time to visit
While some of us have the luxury of being able to travel whenever we want, and others might be bound by limited annual leave or other personal restrictions. The peak season – July, August and September – are the months where Italy comes alive, but it will be busy and prices will increase. Something else to keep in mind, is that the weather will be hot, with average highs of 29-33°C, so if you don’t fare well in the heat; avoid the months of July and August as the temperatures will soar. If you’re looking for a less intense driving experience where the roads quieter, consider travelling in May or June, or later in the year from the end of September to October.
4. Pick your rental vehicle carefully
If you’re booking your vehicle in advance, you’ll have the luxury of choosing what type of car you want to drive. Remember; the wheel will be on the left-hand side of the car, and the majority will be manual. Automatic cars are available, but it will come at a much higher cost. Most importantly, while you might feel safer in a huge SUV, remember that the small winding roads were made for smaller vehicles so bigger, is not always better…
5. Read up on the required permits
If you don’t have a licence back home, you might find yourself in trouble; so you should probably sort it out. Italy also requires you to obtain an International Driving Permit which only costs $20, and allows you to legally drive across Italy. As for age, the minimum requirement to hire a car is 18, but, if you’re under 25 you will typically be charged at a premium.
6. Learn the road rules
This might sound easy enough, but, before you start planning, there are a couple things that you must know before you drive in Italy. The laws and regulations may be different compared to your home country, and other rules along the way might be different from your expectations. By now, you’ve probably heard that the roads are pretty intense, but it’s nothing that you won’t be able to handle as long as you’re careful. A few things to keep in mind; Italians drive on the right-hand side of the road, they tend to drive fast (but you don’t have to), there will be speed cameras everywhere, and the standard speed on most highways is 130 km/h, 110 km/h on non-major highways and 90 km/h on local roads.
7. Ditch the chain hotels and opt for unique, local accommodation
With a car, you’re free to stay at lakeside campsites, family-run hotels, boutique off-the-beaten-track accommodation, hidden villas or remote farmhouses that overlook a vineyard. If you’re booking in advance, make sure to inquire about parking.
8. BYO GPS
Yes, you can rent a GPS with your vehicle, but it’s probably going to be outdated as the roads are constantly changing. Your best option is to use Google Maps – just don’t forget a car charger!
9. Triple check your packing list
Make a list, and check it once, twice or even three times to make sure you have everything you need.
Did we forget anything? Share your road trip planning tips below.