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Anyone with experience of driving to Italy?

(25 Posts)
sweetheart Thu 20-Feb-14 15:53:03

Dh and I will be driving to Italy this summer with our 2 DC's and I would love any recommendations on the best route and somewhere nice to stop along the way for a day or two to break up the journey.

Magix Thu 20-Feb-14 15:54:41

Sorry no advice only I have been a passenger in Italy and they drive line maniacs !! shock

sweetheart Thu 20-Feb-14 16:21:11

I have driven in Italy before so no worries there - just never driven from Uk to there before.

Chopstheduck Thu 20-Feb-14 16:28:58

I've done it. From Calais we went East, into Belgium, towards Brussels, via Luxembourg (very cheap petrol), down through Germany ( I think we stopped at the nurburgring track too) via Karlsruche, through Austria, stayed a week in Zell am See near Salzburg then over the Alps and down to Lake Garda for a week.

We came back via Lake Geneva, so headed west then up to Geneva for 3 ngihts, then up via Luxembourg city and back through Belgium. We tried to avoid France mostly because of the toll roads. Though we did have to pay for an Austrian vignette and the Swiss road tax.

It def needs breaking up a bit both ways, and it would probably be quicker to go down via France, but expensive in tolls, and we wanted to visit Austria. The road from Austria over the alps was stunning too.

sweetheart Thu 20-Feb-14 16:32:33

Thanks, hadn't thought of going via Germany but might be good for dd to practice her GCSE German wink
Had planned to head through Switzerland I think, assumed that would be the best scenery.

Chopstheduck Thu 20-Feb-14 16:34:36

oh and if you do go via Austria, the Austrian roads are very slow and winding! You can't drive it very fast and would need to allow at least an hour on top of the journey estimate.

Chopstheduck Thu 20-Feb-14 16:38:53

switzerland is lots and lots of tunnels, so not really - it gets a bit tedious tbh. Austria def better for scenery.

We've driven there twice, and I think we went through Switzerland the second time. Though Bern is lovely and so is Zurich.

We've driven lots around Europe, so it's hard to remember all the exact routes!

PortofinoRevisited Sun 23-Feb-14 09:26:34

We drove to Tuscany a few years back from Brussels. We stayed overnight in Oberwesel on the Rhine then a couple of nights with friends in Bavaria. We then drove through Austria and the Dolomites for another overnight in Valpolicella - lovely place with a pool and view over the vinyards. Then on to Tuscany. On the way back we stopped at Lake Como for a few days then drove through the San Gottardo tunnel and a scary mountain pass to Lake Brienz in Switzerland. The vignette costs about 40 euros. Then a night in Alsace on the way home. It was a fabulous trip - but we did it over 3 weeks.

lbrady Thu 09-Jul-15 23:51:59

Hi, we are thinking of driving to Italy this summer with our 2 children (3 and 9) as an adventure. We would like to stop at a variety of locations on the way. Is this possible? How long does it take? Any ideas what the best route is? We would LOVE to end up in Naples! Many thanks and any advice would be HUGELY appreciated as we have never done anything like this before! X

Sgtmajormummy Fri 10-Jul-15 00:49:23

ibrady I think you need to decide which route to take once you leave Calais. We always do it through France (Calais, Reims, Lyon, Ventimiglia) as our destination is Liguria. For us it's 20 hours behind the wheel and we break our journey in Troyes. However, we look on it as a necessity, not part of the holiday!
Italian drivers on the motorway are pretty reliable, but as a British driver you might get a shock at the disregard for the right of way of pedestrians on zebra crossings! Most Italian towns were not built for cars, so parking problems and slow moving traffic often happen.

Naples is an absolute nightmare for drivers (no exaggeration). Lots of mopeds zipping in among the cars. They actually start to drive when the lights change to red and driving without insurance is more common the further south you go. In Rome a "tourist's" car is tempting to break into for possible valuables (young vagrant kids are often encouraged to do this as an alternative to picking pockets).

This is the worst case scenario, obviously, but if it's your first trip you need to be clear about the risks.

honeyroar Fri 10-Jul-15 04:03:02

I used to live in Tuscany many moons ago. My parents drove over twice and I came home with them. We went via the lakes, into Switzerland, through a corner of Germany, I think, then across Belgium to Zebrugge and sailed across to Hull (we live in the North). It took two days.

When I was working in Italy my boss said that there are two types of drivers in Italy that you give way to. The first are Venetians because they're only good in boats, and the second from Naples because they're simply nutters on the road (this was in the days when the numberplates showed the town).

castlesintheair Fri 10-Jul-15 08:51:39

We are going via Annecy (probably) and Mt Blanc tunnel to just south of Cinque Terre.

Purplehonesty Fri 10-Jul-15 08:54:06

We went from Paris via Switzerland to Italy, lake como and Savona.
It was the most amazing holiday as we did Monte Carlo. Monaco then Cannes
Not sure I would have liked it so much with dc!

revealall Fri 10-Jul-15 21:59:15

Outing myself but did this two years ago.
Went lunchtime on the Chunnel to Calais so we weren't knackerd.
Drove to Durbury in Beguim. V nice little resort village with a massive chateau lots of bars food etc. stayed the night and drove to Germany at 9am.
Got to Dachau at 3ish did a beer festival stayed the night.
Looked round camp and left at 1pm. Had lunch in Austria and drove through Itay.
Lovely dinner in super motorway stop( unbelievable compared to crap over here). Down to Fresole for the posh hotel in time for swim at 9 pm.
Left at 9am and got to Rome for lunchtime after not finding car park we had booked.

Drove to Milan and stayed the night. saw leonardo's the last supper. Drove past lakes to Switzerland through to Alsace.Stayed the night.
Drove to Chamagne Region stayed the night had a fantastic dinner.
Drove to Calais and back in Kent for lunch ( we wanted to turn and go back England was so bad in comparison),
Easiest journey ever. Got a major car repair done for free in Francr and all the motorway services were outstanding.

revealall Fri 10-Jul-15 22:02:48

Sorry did this with a 9 year old but let them have front seat to do tolls and avoid sickness.
Parked outside Rome and got bus in and stayed for 4 days. Driving only took times mentioned and felt easy. And I hate driving.

lbrady Sat 11-Jul-15 19:58:36

Thank you. My husband has driven in Italy a few times so we know how mad they are. I just wasn't sure how long it would take us and whether we should book places to stop on the way or just go for it!

GoofyIsACow Sat 11-Jul-15 20:04:06

We do it regularly and are again in august.
The most direct route is calais to reims then down past lyon, across to the mont blanc tunnel, however france is dull to drive through.
This time we will go that way on the way there as we will drive at night.
On the way back we will come up through germany.
We usually book our accommodation so we have a destination each night, plus we have 3DC's so just turning up at a hotel might prove awkward!
It's fantastic, i would chose it over flying every single time.
We see it as part of the holiday and a great adventure.

Alibabsandthe40Musketeers Sat 11-Jul-15 20:15:28

lbrady we have done the trip a few times, it is a lovely lovely journey!

Personally I would book stops - you don't want to be flapping around for a hotel at 5pm when the DCs are hungry and you're all sweating!

Troyes is lovely for a stop - we had two nights in a hotel a few miles east of there last year and did a day trip to the city which is beautiful.

You could either go through the mont blanc tunnel and stop in the Aosta valley, or carry on a bit and stop in Milan.
Or go down further through France and cross the border further south.

lbrady Sat 11-Jul-15 21:30:07

Thank you. Do you all drive as far as Naples? X

TigerWhoCameForGin Sat 11-Jul-15 21:32:04

Stop in Chamonix before the MB tunnel. It's lovely.

Breadkneadslove Sat 11-Jul-15 21:51:20

I second Chamonix as a beautiful place to spend a couple of days even if you are not a mountaineer you would be hard pushed not to be in awe of its beauty and spectacularness. It's an 8 hour drive Calais to Chamonix, doable in a day or stop off in Troyes as others have suggested.

Once through the montblanc tunnel into Italy it's a 3 hour drive to the Italian coast you can stop which is stunning.

GoofyIsACow Sat 11-Jul-15 21:56:03

Yes, we have driven to Naples, we stayed south of Naples, Santa Maria di Castellabate (beautiful, highly reccommended)

lbrady Thu 16-Jul-15 00:35:52

Thank you all who have replied. We have booked 3 stops so far based on your recommendations. We are very excited as a family about the 'road trip'. If anyone else has places which they think we should visit and would like to share that would be great. Enjoy your summer. X

TigerWhoCameForGin Fri 17-Jul-15 18:48:29

We stopped in Pisa too, v touristy but lots of fun

revealall Sat 18-Jul-15 20:59:53

I would really recommend seeing "The Last Supper " in Milan if Milan isn't on your mini break list. It's massive and in an old church. So amazing seeing it "live". Much better than Mona Lisa as an experience.

It's only available to view pre booked and you see it in a group of 16. Perfect for a in and out road trip.
Park on the outskirts and get the tube in. We stayed in a nice hotel and did it in the morning plus had a look round the cathedral.

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