Top 5 drives in Italy

Italians are passionate about their driving, and in the country that produces some of the greatest luxury cars, it is clear to see the roots of this passion. Italy has some of the finest roads in Europe, taking you through breathtaking scenery. Although Italian drivers have a reputation for being risk takers, they actually happen to be great drivers and driving in this stunning country is fast, exciting and serious fun.

Amalfi Drive – the most beautiful coastline
Location: between Sorrento and Salerno, Campania

Meandering along one of the most beautiful stretches of shoreline in the world, Amalfi Drive was originally built by the Romans, and is carved out of the side of the coastal cliffs. With a succession of dramatic hairpin bends winding through the famous picturesque villages of Positano, Ravello and Amalfi, and over secluded bays and deep gorges for which this region is renowned, driving this road never ceases to thrill. But whilst driving here is immensely enjoyable, you do sometimes need patience to cope with the volume of traffic.

Chianti (Via Chiantigiana) – the picturesque wine road
Location: between Florence and Sienna, Tuscany

A picturesque “wine road” dating from the 1700s, the Via Chiantigiana as it is known locally, crosses the Chianti region between Florence and Siena, west of the Pesa valley and the Elsa valley. Driving this road is a bit like driving through a Van Gogh painting with swaying cypress trees, rolling hills, and pretty hilltop villages that are simply stunning. This region is once again renowned for its wine and some of Italy’s most famous wine producers are located here – in fact most roads seem to lead to an award-winning vineyard or other.

Stelvio Pass (Passo dello Stelvio) – the world’s greatest driving road
Location: between Bormeo and Stelvio, Italian Alps

Having gained fame in recent years as BBC Top Gear’s ‘greatest driving road in the world’, this is one of the most dramatic and challenging roads to drive in Italy, with 60 hairpin bends forming the pass up and down the mountain. Originally built in 1820-25 by the Austrian Empire, little has changed along the route, except today you can expect to see an impressive array of fast cars navigating the repetitive twists and turns. The road is amazing, but the pleasure of the Stelvio is not just in the driving; it is the natural beauty of the place and the view is incredible.

Via Aurelia – the glamorous Italian Riviera
Location: between Bordighera and La Spezia, Liguria

This coastal drive traverses the Italian Riviera. Glamorous in an old-fashioned way, the Italian Riviera has an air of elegance and luxury that has long faded from many other European resorts. This route will lead you to a wealth of beautiful villages and towns, such as the luxurious resort of Portofino with its dramatic tree-lined cliffs, ocean views and wonderful restaurants, not to mention the best Bellini’s in Italy. Via Aurelia really is a pleasurable drive – the road is narrow, and prone to the inevitable congestion, but it is in great condition.

Great Dolomite Road (Grande Strada delle Dolomiti) – breathtaking mountain views
Location: between Bolzano to Cortina d’Ampezzo

Finally, the ‘Strada delle Dolomiti’ is a 100 km drive from Bolzano to Cortina d’Ampezzo that cuts through the most scenic peaks of Dolomite mountain range in the Italian Alps. There are three ways to follow the ancient trade route; by car (the fastest), hiking across the mountains and during the winter following the pistes of Dolomiti Superski ski area on skis. The road can be driven in three hours although to really appreciate the scenic beauty it is recommended to take detours to visit some of the villages and mountain views along the way. The scenery is stunning, the little towns are charming and this corner of Italy is truly pristine.

Clare Haward is Marketing Manager for Europe Luxury Car Hire.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Andrea says:

    I drive on the Amalfi coast every week for my job and I always find it marvellous. Apart from the traffic, I really enjoy its narrow road with sharp turns, its high cliffs. A really exciting driving experience for a tourist. And it’s really a pleasure when you see Amalfi, Positano or Ravello suddenly appearing on the hillsides after a turn. To me the most beautiful tract is that leading to Amalfi.

    • Marg says:

      We are visiting next May, from Australia. Are there places to pull off the road to take photos/appreciate the views?
      I’ve read that we should do this road by bus, for a much better, elevated view?

  2. Mark S says:

    While driving in Italy can be a great pleasure while on vacation I have heard many stories of people renting cars and getting a ticket in the mail months later. It seems as though many cities and towns have areas for local traffic only and many people can’t read the signs stating this and drive where they are not supposed to be so I would advise anyone who is thinking about driving in Italy to take some time and try and learn a little Italian and try and find a web site that has Italian road signs so you will know what to expect once you get there.

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