Italy's six best road trips

With a network of well-maintained roads that weave through a landscape of snow-capped peaks, plunging coastlines, lakes and historic towns, Italy offers plenty of epic driving.

And while some routes are undeniably challenging, they all make for unforgettable experiences.
Here are six classic Italian road trips.

The wilds of Abruzzo

Just over an hour's drive from Rome, the little-known region of Abruzzo boasts wild, empty valleys and unspoiled mountain landscapes. From the capital take the A24 autostrada to Fonte Cerreto.

From there it's a twisting climb up to Campo Imperatore, a highland plain overlooked by the Apennines' highest peak, Corno Grande (2912m). Continue on to Santo Stefano di Sessanio.

Queen’s Baths, Eleuthera, Bahamas

It's a semi-abandoned village high in the Parco Nazionale del Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga. Lunch at the Locanda Sotto gli Archi on weekends, or pick up picnic supplies in the village.

In the afternoon, push on to Sulmona, a graceful town set in the shadow of the Morrone massif. It makes a good base for exploring the region's rugged southern reaches.

The Grande Strada della Dolomiti provides some of Italy's most exhilarating driving. Running from Bolzano to Cortina d'Ampezzo, it boasts superb scenery.

The Great Dolomites Road

From Bolzano, head east to Ponte Nova, and see the Dolomite's mighty granite peaks. Continue to Val di Fassa, a valley with forested slopes and rock summits, and up to the 2239m Passo Pordoi.

The descent from here is slow going but you're rewarded with stunning views as you head down to La Villa in the Val Badia. This is serious sports country with winter skiing and summer hiking.

From here you could push directly on to Cortina d'Ampezzo, the chic resort that marks the end of the road, but for a more relaxed trip, stop for the night at the Dolomit B&B.

Surrounded by Alpine peaks, Lake Como is the most picturesque of Italy's northern lakes. This one-day drive takes in art nouveau villas and waterfront gardens, and is best in April and May,

Picture-perfect villas on Lake Como

The obvious starting point is the town of Como itself. Once you've explored the charming historic centre and the nearby Villa Olmo, take the swooping road up to Bellagio.

Stop at this lakeside village and explore the neoclassical Villa Melzi d'Eril and lunch at Terrazza Barchetta. Leave the car and get on a ferry to Tremezzo, home of the 17th-century Villa Carlotta.

Back in Bellagio, pick up your wheels and strike southeast, following the scenic lakeside road down to Lecco and on to historic Bergamo, where you can rest up at the Hotel Piazza Vecchia.

Experience Italy's most spectacular coastal scenery on this white-knuckle drive along the Amalfi Coast. From Salerno, the main southern gateway to the coast, strike west.

Stunning views on the Amalfi Coast

There you'll find Vietri sul Mare, a town famous for its ceramics and the start point of the coastal road. From here the driving becomes more challenging as the road narrows and the curves tighten.

After about 20km, you'll arrive in Amalfi. Stop to see the landmark Cattedrale di Sant'Andrea and then head up to Ravello in the hills. Lunch here and enjoy heady panoramas from the town's gardens.

Push on to Positano, where colourful, steeply-stacked houses cascade down the hillsides. Beyond Positano, the route leads inland, up and across the interior to Sorrento, a lively tourist hotspot.

Hunt Unesco-listed baroque treasures on this two-day tour of Sicily's rugged southeast. Start off by investigating Catania's grandiose historic centre and brilliant fish market.

Baroque treasures
in Sicily

After a seafood lunch, hit the road and make for Syracuse where you can trawl through ancient ruins at the Parco Archeologico della Neapolis and stroll elegant baroque streets in Ortygia.

On day two, continue to Noto, home to what is arguably Sicily's most beautiful street – Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Then turn inland to Modica, a bustling town wedged into a deep canyon.

Stock up on the town's famous chocolate before pushing on to Ragusa and the historic centre known as Ragusa Ibla. Treat yourself to dinner at the Ristorante Duomo, one of Sicily's top restaurants.

Taking in two of Italy's great medieval cities, the wine treasures of Chianti, and swathes of Tuscan scenery, this two-day route leads from Florence to Orvieto in the neighbouring region of Umbria.

A taste of Tuscany

Sample art and architecture in Florence before heading to Chianti wine country. Do a tasting at the Enoteca Falorni in Greve and try the region's bistecca at L'Antica Macelleria Cecchini in Panzano.

From here, follow the backroads to Siena, a stunning medieval city centred on an awe-inspiring Duomo and a 12th-century square, Piazza del Campo. Overnight at the Pensione Palazzo Ravizza.

Next morning, head to Montalcino to stock up on Brunello di Montalcino, one of Italy's revered red wines.

A short drive to the east, the Val d'Orcia provides quintessential Tuscan landscapes with its billowing green hills, cypress trees and hilltop towns.

Lunch in Pienza, then continue, via Montepulciano, to Orvieto, a striking hilltop town famous for its remarkable Gothic Duomo.

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