Italy is famous for its delicious food, art cities, stunning coastline, historical sites, and hot summers. But have you ever considered visiting in the winter? There are virtually no crowds, prices are much lower, temperatures are cooler, and you can even book at the last minute. The only drawback is you might not feel like having gelato if you head to the north.
Here are 13 ideas for Italian road trips to take in the winter.
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1. Western Sicily Tour
Winter is the perfect time to visit Italy’s southernmost island, which can reach temperatures over 100 degrees in the summer. If you’re into history, spend ten days touring Western Sicily. Start from Palermo and head West to Castellammare, Trapani, Marettimo, and Agrigento. Stay in Agrigento for a few days to visit the Valley of the Temples with its necropolis area. Head back across the island via Caltanissetta and Cefalù.
2. Rome to Florence
This is a short route with many quaint stops to make. It takes you through the beautiful bucolic landscapes of Umbria and Tuscany. We recommend dedicating about five days to it. Pick and choose which historical towns to visit along the way, like Orvieto, Montepulciano, and Bagnoregio. Don’t forget to taste the incredible local wine and cuisine.
3. Italian Lakes Road Trip
The Italian lakes are known for their mild climate and breathtaking Alps views. This 7-day itinerary will take you to lakes Garda, Como, Maggiore, and Orta. Stroll by the shores on the narrow, cobbled streets and visit castles, cathedrals, and villas. Winter in Northern Italy is admittedly cold, but the lack of crowds will more than make up for it.
4. Amalfi Coast Drive
Drive on one of Europe’s most stunning coastal roads. The Amalfi Coast Drive is only 60km long but packs many amazing destinations and experiences. The drive starts from Sorrento and ends near Salerno. Take as much time as you need to visit Positano, Praiano, Furore, Conca dei Marini, Amalfi, Atrani, Scala, Tramonti, Ravello, Minori, Maiori, and Cetar. Make sure to eat at least a Neapolitan pizza before you leave, and if you have more time, head to Pompei.
5. Piedmont Wine Tour
Visit some of Italy’s most famous wine towns in the Piedmont region. This 203-mile tour starts and ends in Milan and goes through the towns of Alessandria, Genoa, Alba, Turin, and Biella. Along the way, you will visit UNESCO vineyard landscapes, taste the best Barolo, walk the shores of Lake Orta, and take in pristine alpine views. In the winter, the mountains are covered in snow.
7. Tuscany Road Trip
Visit one of Italy’s most iconic regions to enjoy enchanted farm stays, superb wine, and local delicacies. Start from Florence and head to Siena, Val d’Orcia, San Gimignano, Volterra, Pisa and Lucca. You will feel like you’re on a movie set the whole time; think of the Gladiator or Quantum of Solace.
8. Tour the Heel of the Boot (Puglia)
This 124-mile tour starts from Bari and ends in Otranto and will take you through one of the country’s most breathtaking and least touristy areas. You’ll be able to enjoy golden beaches and countless charming villages. We recommend stopping in Posigliano a Mare, Monopoli, Alberobello, Lecce and Torre dell’Orso. Plan to take at least seven days – Puglia is a big region.
9. Sardinia Road Trip
The whole island of Sardinia is gorgeous with its stunning white beaches, crystal-clear waters, and colorful villages. For a 1-week itinerary, we recommend visiting Cagliari, Alghero, Bosa, San Teodoro and Cala Gonone. This tour offers a beautiful mix of history and nature. Here, you’ll have to taste the rich goat’s cheese on some pane carasau – a traditional flatbread.
10. Eastern Sicily Tour
There’s a second option for touring Sicily. This route starts and ends in Catania and is 310 miles long. It takes you through the Messina, Taormina, and Siracusa provinces. International tourists travel less on this side of the island, and it offers the possibility of hiking up Mount Etna – an active volcano! Don’t forget to try a gelato brioche and the unique granita (the Italian version of slush).
11. Tuscan-Emilian Appennines
This 134-mile tour takes you from Bologna (the town to which Bolognese sauce has been attributed) and ends in Vignola. Drive south of Bologna and stop in Marzabatto, Lama di Reno, Grizzana Morandi, Poretta Terme, Badi, Tolé, and Vignola. Along the way, you can dine in typical Trattorias (informal eating establishments), visit many historic buildings, dip in thermal spas, and explore ancient castles.
12. Portofino to La Spezia
Explore the tiny towns of the Italian Riviera with their stunning seaside views and charming old villages. This 68-mile itinerary stops at the edge of the famous Cinque Terre National Park, which you can visit by train or speedboat. Starting from Portofino, drive East and stop at Santa Margherita Ligure, Sestri Levante, Monterosso a Mare, and La Spezia. Don’t leave before having had focaccia bread and pesto sauce.
13. South Tuscany Tour
If you’d like to explore less traveled areas of Tuscany and take it slow, we recommend this 37-mile tour, which takes you through Medieval villages, hot springs, and idyllic Tuscan countryside. Spend 5 to 7 days driving between Saturnia, Sovana, Sorano and Pitigliano. Be sure not to miss the natural healing hot springs in Saturnia!
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