Ah, Italia. The land of slow food and fast cars. For as long as the automobile has been around, Italy has been the epicentre of epic drives. With mountain ranges, snaking lakes, rolling hills and rocky tundra, there’s barely an inch of the boot-shaped country that isn’t ideal for driving.
With the summer trips fast approaching, here’s our guide to the greatest driving roads in Italy….
Great St Bernard Pass
Remember the opening scene of The Italian Job? Of course you do. Who could forget the sight and sound of the Lamborghini Muria humming its way up an empty mountain pass as Matt Monroe serenades us on the stereo.
While it’s one of the greatest moments in motoring cinema, it’s also remarkably easy to recreate as the Great St Bernard pass is one of the main roads up to the Alps. Snaking its way up to a height of 2,469m north of Turin to Switzerland, the pass flows through tunnels, hairpin bends and bridges with breath taking views the whole way up.
While Como is usually the first port of call for any tourists looking to escape the heat of Italy’s northen cities, head a little further east to Lake Garda to be rewarded with some stunning driving roads.
Passing glorious lakeside villas as the water laps at the shoreline, the SS45 and SR249 carve their way through rocky outcrops, following the path of the lakeside. Peel off and twist your way up the towering hillsides to the villages above for some added fun and hairpins before descending back down to the water’s edge.
Florence to Sienna
The road from Florence to Sienna is enjoyable at any time of the year, not least because it winds its way through one of Italy’s greatest wine regions. Avoid the motorways and pick your way through the backroads, heading south from Florence to discover picture perfect Tuscany at its most glorious.
Bouncing between hilltowns and villages, soak up the views over the vines and wine estates as you navigate the switchbacks and flowing bends. Its a heady mix for any driving enthusiast.
Amalfi Coast Road
No guide to great Italian driving roads would be complete without mentioning the Amalfi Coast. One of the most photographed stretches of coastline in Europe, the Amalfi lies along the southern flanks of the Sorrento Peninsula, jetting out from the Bay of Naples.
Passing through the hotspots of Amalfi, Positano and Ravello, the meandering coastal road is made up of tight hairpins that cut their way through the cliffs with with sheer drops down to the turquoise Mediterranean sea below. With such picturesque scenery, it’s easy to your eyes off the road but watch out for traffic as you navigate your way along the narrow, seaside stretches.
Great Dolomites Road
Built at the start of the 20th Century, the Great Dolomites Road links up Bolzano to Cortina d’Ampezzo and snakes its way through one of Europe’s greatest mountain ranges. Switchbacks, hairpins and hills give drivers the chance to stretch their car’s legs as you pass, through charming towns and stunning mountain scenery.
At 110k, it’s one of the longer options but worth it for the views alone. Stop off and sample some of the local delicacies en route to fuel up for the next stint behind the wheel. The Dolomites certainly don’t disappoint.
Want more Italy recommendations? Le Sirenuse turns 70…
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