Italian adventure: worth the drive?
Stacks Image 519
The ultimate destination for the Grand Tour: there is so much to Italy, and going in your own car opens so much more of the country.

Five things that really make Italy worthwhile for a driving holiday:

- Splendid historic centres

- Evocative architecture - everywhere just looks so ... 'Italian'

- Some breathtaking roads - including the autostrada, many of which are just a sequence of viaduct, tunnel, viaduct ...

- That indefinable 'dolce vita' - certainly helped if the weather behaves;

- (compared to Spain) - sensible eating times, and a cuisine we all know and love
But - on the basis of admittedly limited experience (see box on right), there are some significant downsides that touring motorist needs to be aware of:

-
Expensive fuel - prices almost as high as in the UK!

- A heavily-trafficked road network - often finished to a poor standard

- Frequently terrible signposting

- Autostrada tolls - not the highest in Europe, but very few long distance roads are toll-free

- (my biggest bugbear:) Urban sprawl - the periphery of Italian towns suffers from a real planning free-for-all


But there are still real pleasures from the open road in Italy: photo below is the SS1 'Via Aurelia', a restful alternative to the tolled A12 alongside, just north of Pisa:
I cannot claim to know Italy for driving as well as I do Germany, France or Spain: only some three or four trips under my belt, most recently a June 2015 tour from Lake Maggiore, to Umbria and Le Marche, then cutting back across Tuscany to the southern edge of Liguria.

The barrier of the Alps can make for some fantastic driving en route - but remember the expense and frequent congestion of some of the main transit routes (and reckon with having to invest in a Swiss or Austrian
vignette if you're going to use any decent through route).
Stacks Image 521