This article, written by Krisanne Fordham, appears on Condé Nest Traveler.
1. Amalfi Coast
Known for its dramatic bluffs, pastel-hued villages, and cliff-hugging roads, the Amalfi Coast is arguably Italy’s most scenic stretch of coastline. From Salerno, drive west to the charming village of Vietri sul Mare, the starting point of the 30-mile coastal road proper (the SS163 Amalfitana). You’ll take this all the way to Sorrento, but be careful: The roads become increasingly narrow—and the views increasingly distracting—the closer you get to Amalfi.
Where to stop: Positano, for its surreal, steep geography and show-stopping views; Ravello, for the romantic gardens at Villas Cimbrone and Rufolo; and Amalfi, for its touristy-but-charming seaside village, home to the spectacular Duomo di Sant’Andrea.
Where to eat: A’ Paranza in Atrani for fresh seafood and Cumpà Cosimo in Ravello for Mama Netta’s reliably delicious homemade pasta.
Where to stay: The iconic Le Sirenuse; the glamorous, celebrity-studded Belmond Hotel Caruso; or the blissfully secluded, 20-room Monastero Santa Rosa—one of the world’s most beautiful clifftop hotels.
2. Tuscan Wine Country
Tuscany’s bucolic, vineyard-dotted landscape makes for the quintessential Italian road trip. Start in Florence and cruise south on the SS22 for 30 minutes until you reach the heart of the Chianti wine region. Take your time winding through Strada and Greve towards Siena, stopping at cantine along the way (we recommend these ones). Depending on how much time you have, spend the night in Panzano before circling back up to Florence the next day, or head further south to Montalcino, Montepulciano, and the spectacular Val d’Orcia—arguably the most beautiful stretch of countryside in Tuscany.
Where to stop: Ruffino’s sprawling Poggio Casciano estate for truffle hunting and tasting; Antinori nel Chianti Classico for its Instagram-worthy glass-and-steel winery and equally show-stopping wine; Tenuta Il Greppo, where the first Brunello di Montalcino was bottled in 1888.
Where to eat: Officina della Bistecca in Panzano-in-Chianti for the best steak in all of Tuscany; Re di Macchia in Montalcino for its classic, hearty Tuscan cuisine like white bean soup and wild boar pasta.
Where to stay: In castles, always. We like the intimate, art-filled Castello di Ama in Gaiole in Chianti and the lavish, hilltop Castello Banfi il Borgo in Montalcino, which has an infinity pool overlooking the vineyards.
3. The Northern Lakes
Want to mix road tripping with a little romance? Head to Italy’s postcard-perfect Lake District and spend a week cruising leisurely from east to west, stopping to explore a new lake each day: Garda first, then Iseo, Como, Lugano, and Maggiore (each is spectacular in their own way). Short on time? Como’s 31-mile shoreline—strung with beautiful villages, lavish Renaissance palazzi and ancient ruins—is worthy of a road trip all on its own.
Where to stop: Villa Melzi in Bellagio on Lake Como for its dreamy, azalea-filled gardens; the 17th-century Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo for its sculptures and equally Instagram-worthy gardens; Castello Scaligero in Sirmione for its sweeping views over Lake Garda; Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore for its Baroque Palace and lovely fishing village.
Where to eat: Market Place in Como serves up great seasonal cuisine that’s simple yet sophisticated (the current dinner menu includes squid-ink spaghetti and cod with anchovies and artichokes). Silvio, a Bellagio mainstay since 1919, is known for its terrific seafood, caught fresh from the lake daily.
Where to stay: The sleek and newly-Hot Listed Il Sereno; the iconic and palatial Grand Hotel Tremezzo; or the lovely, low-key RivaLago on the quieter (and significantly more cost-effective) Lake Iseo.
Continue reading at Condé Nest Traveler.
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