Thursday, October 11, 2012

Exploring North and South Italy by Car

Exploring North and South Italy by Car

Italy is split in two by the Appenini Mountain range and either side of its rocky midriff is a country that’s easy to fall in love with.  Rent a car here and you’re free to explore anywhere in the Bel Paese (Beautiful Country).

The best way to enjoy Italy in its entirety is from the top down, beginning at one of the most loved driving roads in the world – the Stelvio Pass.  Tucked beneath the Swiss border, this awe-inspiring, peaceful and trafficless strip of road can set you off from Bornio, through Parma to the city of Milan – one of the coolest places on the planet.

If you want to skip the raw Italian inland and get straight to the coast, start your holiday in Pisa.  The Leaning Tower isn’t the only draw to the beautiful shoreline city – there’s up to 20% off car hire from Pisa Airport if you book in October.

Go through Holiday Autos Car Hire to get the discount – you can have a two-door mini from £9 a day and it comes with air-con which is a godsend in the Mediterranean heat.  So, once you’re finished driving your mini around the cobbled streets of Pisa’s city centre, re-enacting scenes from the Italian Job, you’re free to head south in style…but don’t enter the Mezzogiorno (Southern Italy) without spending the night in Rome first.


The capital city is just 3.5 hours down the western coastline from Pisa and is home to the mesmerising Colosseum, Spanish Steps and Vatican City.  Rest up for the night in a hotel along the moonlit River Tiber and look forward to experiencing your very own Rome the next day.

You can choose to stay in Rome for the rest of your holiday, with so much to do and see there, nobody could blame you.  Still, if you want to continue south then you have to start the day with a wood-roasted coffee at Sant Eustachio – the best cafĂ© in Rome (and probably Italy). It’s a family-run business founded in 1938 and the device they use for making the coffee has been functioning for over 60 years. Plus it’s just 10 minutes away from Vincenzo alla Lungaretta, a bistro marking the next stop on the tour.

The narrow street isn’t short of street performers and charming rose sellers but it is a nice, secluded spot for some brunch before the big drive out the city and towards the toe of the ‘Big Shoe’ that is Italy.

The South

Southern Italy begins in Naples and becomes even more beautiful and raw the further south you travel.  The beauty of a car rental in Italy is that you can reach this hot, almost tropical side to the country and be back up to Pisa or Milan the next day.

While you’ve got the car, make the most of your time in the south and hit the Amalfi Coast.  Set off in either direction and you’ll be spoilt with paradisiacal scenery: You can visit the Castello di Arechi to get the best views and photos of the Mediterranean possible or park up at Spiaggia Del Fornillo beach, just make sure you’ve packed some towels in the boot. One thing is for sure, before you leave the area get a natural lemonade from a roadside stall – the best thirst quencher ever.

There is far too much of Italy to fit into one blog but hopefully, you’ve got a better idea about just how individually amazing both the north and south can be.  The Apennines split the country down the middle and we’ve only discussed the western side here, travel back up on the East coast and you’ve got a host of Adriatic Sea towns to explore all the way up to Venice – a blog worthy location in itself.

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