Italy is home to some of the most impressive roads and stunning natural landscapes in the world. As a nation with a long history of automotive achievement and a popular passion for driving, Italy’s motorways are essential to the local culture.
So whether you’re a visitor or native resident, there are countless incredible drives to discover. From vertiginous climbs to hairpin turns to relaxing cruises along the seaside, there’s something to delight and inspire almost everyone – whether seeking thrills or tranquility. These five epic dream drives in Italy stand out as the nation’s best, but represent just a handful of what the country has to offer:
As the highest drivable pass in the Eastern Alps, Stelvio Pass is an iconic landmark amongst Italy’s highways. Linking South Tyrol to Bormio, this gorgeous region near the Swiss border, punctuated by towering jagged peaks, is a world-famous winter ski center. The peak above the pass, called the “3 Languages Peak” is also a significant cultural landmark, as it marks the meeting point of the Italian, German, and Romansh languages.
Named the “Greatest Driving Road in the World” by Top Gear UK and one of our Dream Test Tracks, Stelvio Pass offers dozens of hairpin cutbacks as it winds it way up and down the steep mountainside, past crystal clear lakes, trickling streams, and some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes on the planet.
For those seeking a more tranquil journey, the Valpolicella wine country offers visitors the opportunity to amble through rolling hillsides wherein vineyards stretch to the undulating horizon in every direction. Whether you choose to explore the region on your own or hire a car to curry you from vineyard to vineyard, the “Valley of Many Cellars” will introduce you to quaint villages, ancient hamlets, winding streams, and historic churches (including Negrar’s famous church of St. Peter the Apostle). Southwest of Verona, the region encompasses the Fumane, Marano, and Negrar valleys, and features dozens of ancient Roman ruins.
Traversing the heart of the Dolomites, a region UNESCO recognizes as one of the most important natural landscapes in the world, SS48 offers unforgettable scenery. Along the way, you will cross the Passo di Sella, which connects Trentino to South Tyrol, and is famous for its annual bike races and world cup ski racing. Between the beautiful forests, craggy peaks, and windy roads, travelers are sure to be awed by the drive along Grande Strada della Dolomiti.
This narrow, winding road skirts the Italian Riviera coastline between Rome and Pisa, passing seemingly endless rows of palms, stunning gardens, terraced vineyards, and centuries old Etruscan villages perched vertiginously on seaside cliffs. Built by the Romans in 241 BC, Via Aurelia is one of the most historically significant routes in the Mediterranean, and offers visitors the opportunity to visit the remnants of Roman bridges and important ruins. Don’t forget to stop for a coffee in the quiet town of Castagneto Carducci to unwind in the cobblestone piazzas and get a glimpse of life outside Italy’s big cities before continuing along your way!
Linking Florence and Siena, the Strada Chiantigiana winds through Tuscan landscapes, undulating vineyards, stunning red-tile roofed villas, and the beautiful backroads of the Chianti wine region. Be sure to stop in Greve and visit the medieval village of Castellina in Chianti along the way.
These routes are amongst the most unforgettable and historically significant roadways in the world. From high alpine peaks to the edge of the Mediterranean, driving in Italy is a delight for the senses and a unique opportunity to glimpse life outside the often over-crowded tourist haunts. So what are you waiting for? Why not embark on your epic adventure today!
Contributed by Ben Collins who’s touring the length and breadth of Italy in an Aston Martin Vanquish, and currently staying in a gorgeous Rome apartment.