My Drive Around Italy

My Drive Around Italy

by Charly

In 2011, I went to Italy for a month with just me, myself and I. A single, mature woman, 50+ years young, spent 6+ months planning my dream trip of a life time and opted to rent a economical 4 door hatchback diesel with manual transmission. Why you may asked? Well I was just starting out with photography and wanted to stop when I felt like it to capture what spoke to me. I’m not the touristy type. I wanted to go where I chose to. And most importantly, I couldn’t wait to drive those great Italian mountain roads.

Wow! Those mountain roads were great to drive with a stick shift! In case anyone is wondering, they drive on the right side of the roads, not left side like the UK, Ireland and other countries do. The majority of Italy’s roads are wonderful to drive, with a few exceptions. I did drive the A super-highways twice to save time, but mostly drove the backroads and smaller highways. Studying their rules of the roads was interesting, like keep left turn signal on until you move over to right lane, which could be for miles) and fairly straightforward. The one thing I didn’t learn in my research was shoulders are pretty non-existent in many places. Not good for one that stops a lot to capture a moment! But I made due. ;)

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My drive around Italy itinerary was such that I could change it a bit. A couple of times didn’t have hotels booked so I could meander.

• Fly into Rome International Airport, take taxi to rental car and drive from there
• Drive to Ostia to my hotel on the Ligurian Sea
• Take train to Rome and Ostia Antica while in Ostia
• Head down the western coast towards Paestum, find a place to stay 1 night
• Stay in Paestum to see the ancient Greek Ruins and drive south down the coast
• Drive towards Assisi and spend the night (this was NOT long enough!)
• Drive to the Tuscan villa I rented for a week (on the mountainside above Lamporecchio) While at villa: drive to Lucca, Pisa, Vinci, Volterra, and many other places
• Drive onto Cinque Terre. Stayed in Vernazza in an apartment, traveled to other villages by train. Monterosso al Mare, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore
• Drive to Verona stay, take train to Andrea Palladio’s home of Vicenza
• Drive to Venice stay in an apartment, take boats and do lots of walking
• Start towards Rome again, find hotel around Florence
• Stay near Rome International Airport for night, take car back, fly home

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For my trip I purchased some of Rick Steve’s books that were highlighted in a lot, an Italy road atlas and some maps. I carried my camera equipment including carbon fiber tripod in my Tamrac slingback backpack and to ease my mind when I didn’t want to carry it around, bought a PacSafe bag protector. I also kept the bag protector on all throughout my time in Rome. (Words in green are links to click on)

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Unfortunately like most places nowadays, it’s always good to stay alert and watchful. I didn’t encounter any serious problems, though had a couple of minor ones in Rome. That was the only place in Italy where I stayed ultra alert to my surroundings, did my best to stay clear of the pushy street sellers that were around tourist spots and didn’t walk around at night alone. Everywhere else was perfectly laid back and most enjoyable.

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Overall my trip was spectacular! Italians are great people! They are quick to help, were kind/patient with me speaking little Italian poorly and were great drivers! Every place I stayed was exceptional with great service and staff!

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“Il mio cuore saranno sempre in Italia”

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My tips for Italy:

1.) If at all possible make up your own itinerary and rent a car

2.) Get lost every chance you get! Or you’ll miss so much!

3.) Take your time to “see”, “experience” and “love” Italy!

4.) If you have a short time in Italy, pick one or two places to visit! A
month was nowhere near enough time for me! Next time it will be 2
month minimum!!!! :)

5.) Try to stay away from the tourist traps and spend your money on more
important things! Like taking a Vespa ride in the country or finding
that out of the way fantastic restaurant or teatro (theater). Hey even
rent a Red Ferrari and enjoy those mountain roads!!!!

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