Road trip around Italy

IMG_1085Biking around Amsterdam with half my family. BTW that’s my mum on the right!!

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been a very bad blogger of late. I apologise! However, in loo of blogging I’ve actually been traveling, eating copious amounts of food, gaining inspiration for the blog and enjoying some family time.

For the last six weeks I’ve had several family members visiting from Australia (my immediate family plus my aunty, uncle and two cousins). So as you could imagine, I’ve had a very full house — and full stomach.

To clarify, I don’t actually live in a house. Like majority of people in Italy, I live in an apartment. A TWO bedroom apartment! So that was fun, trying to fit nine people in my average sized two bedder. Let’s just say there were a lot of sprawled bodies across my living room floor. But it was all fun and games though right, family?

This trip had been in the works for a while, and given that I live in Italy, the planning fell to my lap. This was equal parts exciting and stressful considering there were nine of us altogether. Plus my English bulldog who even came on a few trips with us too!

IMG_1207Vernazza, Cinque Terre.

The biggest struggle I found was choosing countries and cities that none of us had been to before. My family are very fortunate enough to have travelled to Europe and Italy a couple of times previously, so all your typical Italian tourist hotspots like Rome, Florence and Venice had already been ticked off.

But once I knuckled down the itinerary, the rest of the planning fell into place and actually became quite fun. I should start charging for this stuff as I’ve actually become a pro at it now 😉 Travel agent and guide as a new career move?

Anyways, unlike Europeans or even Americans, when most Aussies holiday in Europe they tend to spend a lengthy amount of time over here to make the price of airfares and length of travel worth it. So my family thought this guide would come in handy for those down under thinking of embarking on a European adventure.

IMG_0849Snow fall in Cervinia, Valle d’Aosta. 

Find a base or starting point

Living in Italy made things a lot easier in terms of getting around and logistics. It also saved my family a bundle of money, as when we weren’t travelling we were staying at my house. So if you have any friends currently living in Europe, I would definitely recommend asking them if you can use their place as a base for your travels.

Not only does this make things easier in terms of flights, as you can book a return flight to and from the same city but also helps you to narrow down your itinerary and places you might like to visit.

As well as having a base, it is also a great excuse to road trip as opposed to flying or training. Most of our little getaways were road trips to countries and cities close by. That’s the beauty of living in northern Italy I guess, drive three hours in any direction and you can be in several different countries or several amazing Italian cities.

Obviously, we don’t all have friends and family living overseas so this might not apply to you but for those lucky enough, it definitely makes a difference. Alternatively, if you’re still keen on the road tripping idea, simply choose a city to fly into and start working your way around from there. You could even come full circle and work your way back to your starting point. This might even help keep costs of hire cars down too!

IMG_1371Store fronts in Siena. 

So where did we go? 

Given the fact that my family arrived in Italy on Christmas Day, we opted to spend the first week at home, only doing day trips as opposed to over nighters. Here is the list of cities we visited during their entire stay.

IMG_0380A grey and misty Venice. 

Road trip route 

Week 1 

As mentioned, we only did day trips in our first week. We explored my home town of Padova for a couple of days. And also Venice, Verona, Lake Garda, Arqua Petrarca and the Colli Euganei Hills. Throw in a day or two celebrating Christmas and New Year’s and a Juventus V Verona soccer game and we had a pretty full on week.

Other cities you might like to see close to Padova include:

  • Vicenza
  • Chioggia
  • Treviso
  • Bassano del Grappa
  • Abano Terme and Montegrotto
  • Cittadella

IMG_0269Juliet’s balcony in Verona. 

Week 2 

In our second week I chose to do Slovenia and Croatia. I had never been to either of the capitals, always opting to spend my time in the coastal towns like Piran, Split and Dubrovnik, so it was a nice change to see the cities. None of my family had visited either countries, so these were a no brainer.

This was our route: Padova to Ljubljana, Slovenia for two nights, Ljubljana to Zagreb, Croatia for two and then back to Padova.

Other cities you might like to stop off at include:

  • Trieste, Italy
  • Lake Bled, Slovenia
  • Piran and Portoroza, Slovenia
  • Plitvice National Park, Croatia

IMG_0752Dolac Markets in Zagreb. 

Week 3 

One of the only requests from my family was a snow trip and boy did I deliver! Usually at Christmas time, my fiancé and I spend the week in the Dolomites, in northern Italy, but for whatever reason in the last three years we’ve never had snow.

So this year, I chose a town called Cervinia in Valle d’Aosta. It is one of the highest points in Italy and according to my numerous google searches, was guaranteed snow! It also neighbours with Matterhorn and Zermatt in Switzerland. In fact, you can even catch a ski lift to the Swiss alps from Cervinia.

We spent two nights in Cervinia, and one fun yet terrifying day where we were instructed to stay inside due to a category five avalanche warning. Oh and also the roads were closed in and out of the resort town so even if we wanted to flee, we couldn’t. (Watch this space for a more detailed post about Cervinia later)

IMG_0859The amount of snow we had in Cervinia!

Other cities you might like to stop off at include:

  • Milan, Italy
  • Lake Como, Italy
  • Brescia, Italy
  • Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Matterhorn, Switzerland

The rest of week was spent in Amsterdam. This was the only getaway of the trip that we flew to. We spent three nights, four days there.

IMG_1020Bikes and canals in Amsterdam. 

Week 4 

This was the last week for half of my family who were leaving on the Friday. But this didn’t mean I was going to give them a rest. We did a Tuscan road trip to some of Italy’s prettiest towns and my personal favourite, Cinque Terre.

Our route was as follows: Padova to La Spezia (Cinque Terre) for a night, La Spezia to Siena for a night, followed by Bologna on our way home from Siena.

Other cities you might like to stop off at include:

  • Florence, Italy
  • Pisa, Italy
  • San Gimignano, Italy
  • Assisi, Italy
  • Modena, Italy
  • Parma, Italy

IMG_1146Riomaggiore in all its glory. 

So there you have it! That was our nearly four week road trip around Italy and surrounding countries. Obviously, there were numerous other cities listed that we could have stopped off at but in the end we just ran out of time. My parents and younger brother stayed on for an extra two weeks and we also visited a number of other cities including Florence, Treviso and Brussels.

I hope this was helpful for everyone! And, if anyone has any questions or wants some help planning their own itinerary, I’d be more than happy to help.

 

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8 thoughts on “Road trip around Italy

    1. Thank you! Really? I know a lot of people that travel to Calabria (and Sicily) and it’s definitely on my bucket list. Although, I feel like a lot of the Italians I know from back home in Oz have Calabrian or Sicilian backgrounds. You’re welcome! I’m always on the look out for great Italian blogs, I can’t get enough of them =) x

      Liked by 1 person

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