How many of us have dreamed of packing up a vehicle and driving across the country? As one can imagine if you have a pulse, you would be on this list due to the life-changing experience that comes from this kind of cross-country journey. Now lets up the ante and take that road trip to Italy for a cultural experience you won’t soon forget. Coast to coast and back again, each time taking a different route; road tripping through Italy is beyond all imagination thanks to the number of iconic cities, historical landmarks, national parks and let’s not forget the mouth-watering food that you will find at each stop along the way. Even though a trip of this magnitude demands quite a bit of time, planning and freedom, it can and absolutely will change the way you look at travel for the rest of your life.
As the wheels of our plane touched down on Italian soil the anticipation started bubbling and a feeling of excitement quickly made its way to the forefront. Before our trip, the first priority was to find the perfect vehicle for this type of trip that checked every box. After doing some research and conferring with friends who had done the trip before starting in Venice was the best option. For a painless experience to go through it is easy and seamless to grab a rental car, especially having already pre-booked through wisecars.com. After a quick process at the check-in counter, we loaded up the car with all of our luggage and were on the road to our first destination, Pinzolo Italy located in the heart of the Italian Dolomites.
Venice to the Italian Dolomites
Average Driving time: 3 hours
Most of us that live in Southern California have made a road trip to Big Bear or Lake Arrowhead and this drive was just as easy as it gets for a fun-filled getaway! The excitement building each mile that brings you closer to that mountain-filled fresh air is one that never gets old. There is nothing better than getting lost in the miles of trees before your eyes as you come over that last bend and into the quaint village of Pinzolo. It is no wonder tourists flock here from literally all parts of the world with the unending ski trails, authentic dining, cute local shops, and more!
Book a table at Grual for Sustainable Gastronomy
It is a well-known fact that Italy is world-renowned for its wide array of incredible restaurants. So many choices-how does one pick a winner? When visiting the Dolomites, you can’t miss Grual inside Lefay Resort & Spa. This celebrated concept from Executive Chef Matteo Maenza, and Resident Chef Mirko Pistorello pays homage to innovation and classic Italian origins – an era of glamour showmanship, and exceptional service which is the real showstopper. With the perfect combination of hospitality and local ingredients, the Altimetric Menu provides a step-by-step guide to the mountain trails just outside the resort door. Impeccable service is guaranteed during each course with options from twelve to eight divided into three different attitudes to choose from. Select the High Mountain when looking for items like Artic Char, Trout and Deer, or the Valley Floor which includes Whitefish, Radicchio and Lake Sardines. With contemporary cooking techniques served day in and day out with an idyllic mountain vibe, it simply doesn’t get better than Grual for creative and expressive Italian dining.
Best Place to Stay: Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti
Lefay is an internationally-inspired spa hotel perfect for those who love the great outdoors but prefer to enjoy it in an exclusive and relaxing setting. The building is set within the serene natural scenery of the Dolomites, surrounded by ski slopes and snow-capped peaks overlooking the village of Pinzolo. With over 50,000 square feet of natural well-being and innovation, spa days are the helm of this warm and inviting environment. Escape with friends or loved ones and enjoy the expansive treatment selection. Offering signature treatments created by combining traditional Eastern and Western The attentive and enthusiastic staff will allow you to enjoy the comfort of a home away from home without the hassles of daily life. Choose from a Junior Suite to the Exclusive Spa Suite all fully furnished with natural fabrics and local materials, an oversized bathroom, and a private balcony that serves perfectly as you rise in the morning coffee in hand gazing out onto the village below.
After a beautiful scenic drive back down the mountains to the Marco Polo airport showcasing the countryside just like a painting and in full exploration mode just taking it all in you will notice that the Dolomites is one of the most amazing geographic wonders of the world. Passing rolling hills of vineyards, Lake Garda and the occasional deer, this route through the great outdoors is truly magical. This mountainous drive is filled with incredible landscapes and offers nature at its best depending on the time of year. If you are traveling in the winter months, be fully prepared for winter conditions as you will be climbing to high elevations which can be dangerous at times. As you make your way through one of the most majestic mountain ranges in Italy you will be surrounded by natural beauty in any direction you look, snow-capped mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and more, it simply doesn’t get better than this.
Next Stop: Sardinia
A short flight from Venice to Sardinia brings you to the Island of Myth & Magic
Alghero to Castelsardo
Average Driving time: 1 hour
After securing your next rental from wisecars.com and leaving Alghero Airport you will find your way to the coast as your travel partner switches from googling waterfall stopovers to finding the best beaches. Another change of scenery is on the horizon, and this is what truly makes this road trip one for the ages. With the GPS set to Castelsardo a whole new level of excitement kicks in as the dreamy villages of Sardinia have so much to offer from deep-rooted culture, unbridled history, and some of the best seafood in the country!
The drive from Alghero to Castelardo can be especially enjoyable, particularly at the end of summer when the sizzling heat has somewhat subsided. From the natural beauty of the area’s terrain to historic landmarks there is quite a bit to see, take your time, stop by a hole-in-the-wall restaurant for some locally influenced pizza and enjoy the ride. With a multitude of wineries, and local shops throughout your journey will be more than glad that you gave yourself that extra bit of time to find a few hidden gems along the way.
Continue East to find the Beverly Hills of Sardinia
Castelsardo to Porto Cervo
Average Driving time: 1 hour 45 minutes
From the luxurious resorts at Costa Smeralda where the rich and famous come to spend their vacation days, to Carthaginian and Roman archaeological sites and world-class museums, Sardinia has plenty to offer. Embraced by the warm waters of the Mediterranean, the diverse coastal area of Costa Smeralda showcases a plethora of beachfront resorts, rental villas, boutique hotels, chic marinas, shopping areas and vibrant nightlife. Located roughly between the villages of Baja Sardinia and Porto Rotondo, the Emerald Coast consists of picture-perfect bays, coves and white sandy beaches.
Start your adventure in Porto Cervo a luxurious seaside resort in the northeastern section and the main center. Created in the 1960s upon the request of Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, this small center flourished quickly, especially after the new tourist port was built.
Deemed one of the most opulent and expensive resort cities in the world, the area of Porto Cervo is a natural fit for the rich and famous. The Porto Cervo Marina is where yachts come to dock making it extremely accessible by sea. Stroll around town through the luxury boutiques or sip a cocktail at a posh club and you will likely see a celebrity or two.
Next stop and our final destination: Cagliari, the capital city of the island.
Porto Cervo to Cagliari
Average Driving time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Cagliari is the capital of Sardinia and is located on the south coast of the island. Uniquely combining the ancient with the modern, the sunny city is famous for its rich history and impressive monuments. Like many Italian cities, Cagliari has a rich past. Traces of its long and eventful history are everywhere, from the elegant buildings and century-old churches to the beautiful works of art and the language. Full of chic restaurants, clubs and old cafés, the historic center bustles with life.
LATM Tip: The city has six limited traffic zones where access to non-registered vehicles is prohibited during certain hours. To avoid getting fined, make sure that you check the timetable for each zone.
Best Place to Stay: Lantana Resort
Located just a short drive from the city, in the heart of Pula, Lantana Resort was a quiet reprieve that was just what we needed. The rooms and apartments on property are surrounded by a Mediterranean park, shaded by lush palm groves, and overlook green gardens embellished by succulents and water features. Comprised of 24 rooms the hotel features all the comforts one could need including free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a minibar, a hairdryer, a safety box, and satellite TV and the Apartment area which houses 32 furnished apartments are surrounded by a quiet garden and overlook it through furnished private terraces and patios.