A car tour through italy – la dolce vita

Where to go on your next summer vacation? Sri Lanka, South America? Or why not simply make a round trip through Italy with your own car – the land of pizza, pasta and good wine? Our experiences, route and tips for 3 weeks in Italy!

Plan a round trip through Italy by yourself: Which means of transport?

We wanted to make a round trip with a camper for a long time. Therefore, we flirted for a long time with renting a VW camper on paulcamper.com. Since we were on the road in the high season and the daily rentals of these campers explode at this time of year, this was also unnecessary for us. Finally we borrowed a car privately. The rear seats removed, it offered incredibly much place for our whole equipment. We throw in a mattress and nothing more stands in the way of our round trip through Italy.

By car through Italy

A car means 100% mobility. And that’s exactly what we enjoyed very much during our round trip through Italy. No dependencies on schedules, delays and the flexibility to pull over at a beautiful place and enjoy the view. The Italy round trip with the car saved us laborious lugging of pieces of luggage. With each onward journey our camping equipment could simply be thrown into the trunk and on we go. Of course, this mobility also means a responsible use of the vehicle and the willingness to sit behind the wheel for a few hours.

Italy round trip by train – The Interrail Italy Pass

At the beginning of our travel planning we wanted to buy an Interrail Italy passport. This can be purchased from 3 to 8 travel days (days on the road). Travelers up to 27 years of age receive the youth rate. Interrail is a cheap way to travel around Italy by train. In the end, however, we decided against the Interrail Pass for the following reasons:

  1. We wanted to be as mobile as possible
  2. Interrail travel requires light packing and tedious hauling of necessary camping equipment
  3. Some campsites are located outside the city centers, which would have made it difficult to get to campsites (Ggf. Here would be additional costs due to necessary cab rides on us)

But for travelers who move within city centers and rather stay in apartments or Airbnb’s, instead of camping places, the Interrail Italy Pass is a super (and maybe the better) alternative!

By plane to and through Italy

For those who can easily commit to a few Italian places or do not have three weeks to spare, various Italian cities can also be easily reached by plane. Surrounding sights can then be reached by public transportation.

Planning an individual round trip through Italy by yourself – Where to go?

Southern Italy, Tyrol, Veneto or Tuscany? Since we had more than 2.5 weeks time wanted to
we do not limit ourselves to any of the Italian regions. On the Internet you can find between the countless package tour providers only in painstaking research work great sites that tell of their experiences and their Italy highlights as individual travelers.

An individual car tour through Italy – Our itinerary for 3 weeks

(1) Lake Garda – Lazise – Camping Spiaggia D’Oro with direct location at the lake
(2) Umbria – Preci – Camping Ill Collacio
(3) Calabria – Tropea – Camping Marina del Convento with direct access to the beach
(4) Salerno with a side trip to Pompei
(5) Adventure Amalfi Coast ending in Sorrento. Camping Nube d’Argento on the outskirts of the town with incredible views of the Gulf of Naples
(6) Tuscany – Siena – Camping Colleverde. Via the Route del Chianti to Florence
(7) Tuscany – Florence
(8) Trentino – Lago di Tenno (Tenno Lake) – Camping Lago di Tenno with a few minutes walk to the lake and as an ideal starting point for hikes.

Our round trip through Italy leads us via Lake Garda (1) first to Umbria (2). Umbria is the green heart of Italy and is characterized by the many mountains, the lush greenery and the small villages, located in the midst of green hills. To anticipate: This first stop should remain one of our favorites. We stayed at the campsite Il Collaccio on the edge of the National Park Monti Sibillini. The area near the sleepy village of Preci offers many signposted hiking trails that invite you to hike for hours. The friendly staff is happy to help with questions and has a lot more helpful info and tips for travelers.

From there on to the tip of the boot – 900 km and 10 h night drive further south to Tropea (3). Here we spend hot days on the beach, stroll through the higher town and make a trip to the beautiful Capo Vaticano.

From there it only goes north. We continue by car to Salerno (4), which will be the starting point for our adventure on the Amalfi Coast. Further on to Sorrento (5), a pretty little fishing village situated on the Gulf of Naples. Our campsite Nube d’Argento, is located a few minutes outside Sorrento but offers incredible views of the sea and Vesuvius.
Via Pompeii and its ruins we continue by car north into Tuscany to Siena (6). In the midst of Tuscany and the Route del Chianti we continue from Siena to the Tuscan capital Florence (7). From Florence we set off for our last stop on our round trip through Italy – Lago die Tenno (8). A mountain lake with turquoise water, not far from Lake Garda.

17 days, 3900 km later, with many impressions and great memories we arrive home again.

The best travel guides for a round trip in Italy

Similarly difficult as the online research was the search for a suitable Italy travel guide for our car tour. In bookstores you can find many travel guides of the different regions – Sicily, Veneto, Tuscany. The search for a suitable, appealing travel guide for the whole of Italy, on the other hand, was much more difficult. Due to few alternatives I decided to use the National Geographic Italy travel guide. In terms of content, you can certainly find higher quality travel guides. Through the appealing design and the placement of many pictures though, this travel guide offered us a lot of inspiration for our Italy round trip and an incredibly good overview of the individual regions of Italy, which are highlighted in different chapters separated by color.

For a round trip by car, the ADAC travel guides are of course always a good choice. If you want to limit yourself to a single region of Italy, you have a wide choice and can help yourself to countless different publishers: From Lonely Planet, to MMV to Marco Polo.

Our insider tips for a round trip through Italy

Italy offers such a variety of landscapes. Between lush mountains, barren landscapes with scorching heat and azure sea, there is something for every taste. As highlights and also insider tips we would like to present a few of the less known places in Italy.

Our Italy Highlights: Umbria in the heart of Italy

Our first stop should remain our highlight of the Italy round trip. Umbria is a little touristy, beautiful and certainly underrated area. The lush hills on which the small Italian villages perch offer great views on the many beautiful hiking trails in the region. In the small town of Preci you can get delicious coffee for 1 EUR. Here we stay at a wonderful campsite, with one of the most beautiful views a place to sleep can offer.

Our Italy Highlights: Lago di Tenno in northern Italy

You still want to relax at the end of your Italy round trip but don’t want to join the tourist crowd of Lake Garda? Then drive a few kilometers further north into the mountains to Lago de Tenno. Only a few minutes from the lake is a beautiful camping site. Besides swimming in the turquoise waters surrounded by mountains, the town offers countless other activities such as stand up paddling and hiking.

Our Italy Highlights: Tropea at the tip of the boot

The region of Calabria in the south is one of the poorest regions in Italy. In some places tourism has entered since a few years. The picturesque town of Tropea is one of them. Directly at a steep coast this beautiful place with the small lanes and innumerable restaurants with Italian flair is enthroned. The beautiful sea invites you to swim all day long.

A trip to Capo Vaticano not far from Tropea offers incredibly beautiful views of hidden bays between hundreds of prickly pears.

Helpful hints for a round trip through Italy

  • The toll roads: In the beginning we wanted to avoid the expensive toll roads. On long distances we have resorted to this one or the other time nevertheless. But sometimes this is unnecessary! Before you continue your trip, check your navigation system to see how long it will take to drive on country roads and highways. On a few stretches, it simply wouldn’t have been worth it to pay the toll, as driving on the country roads doesn’t take significantly more time.
  • Great impressions on country roads: In fact, the country roads of Italy make the journey an experience. You catch glimpses of rural life and you can pull over, which would not be possible on the highway.
  • Camping equipment: Most campgrounds have wonderfully shady spots and you can get comfortable under lush trees. Nevertheless there are also exceptions. So be sure to pack a sun awning that can be attached to your trunk. We often had to fight with the heat in the Italian July sun.
  • The car battery: The fuse of the car should be removed immediately after arrival at the campsite, so that you are not prevented from continuing your journey due to a dead battery. Through open doors and chargers, we had to jump start before we got the idea to take the fuse out of the parked car.
  • Fuel prices: When taking a trip to the very touristy areas of Italy (such as the Amalfi Coast), be sure to refuel beforehand. On the Costa Amalfitana we found only one gas station, which shrinks the purse with 1.90 EUR/liter very quickly.
  • Gas stations: Gas stations are very unevenly distributed in Italy. In the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna you can find them on every corner, while in other regions you have to travel several kilometers to the next gas station. A small canister of engine oil also doesn’t hurt, in case the oil light starts to glow while driving through the Italian pampas.
  • Travel planning: Take the days of the week into account when planning your trip! This mistake was our undoing on the Amalfi Coast. Do not travel to the most touristy places in Italy on weekends and if possible, even outside the main tourist season.

Do you have any other helpful tips for a round trip by car through Italy? Then let us know!


Super tips.. Thanks! We want to do an Italy round trip with our family of 4 next year with our bus and a tent!

Many greetings
Christina Barrotta

this is a great idea! & We enjoyed Italy very much, especially Umbria was great and very relaxing. Have a great time and all the best until then.

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