Scenic Roads: the Italian wonders that make driving an immense pleasure!

Are you ready to start your engines? Fasten your seat belts because you are about to leave for an exceptional journey to discover the most beautiful scenic roads in Italy!

Why settle for the usual gray highway to move from one location to another?

 

Italy offers roads with breathtaking views and glimpses for an unforgettable experience aboard your car.

 

There is something for all tastes: long and straight overlooking the sea, winding and narrow immersed in the high mountains!

 

Are you ready to start?

Here is our TOP 5 of the most beautiful panoramic roads in Italy to make driving a real pleasure to be discovered:

SR 222 - Chiantigiana Road

Between Florence and Siena lies one of the best known and most visited wine-growing areas in the world, Chianti. A hilly countryside designed by olive trees, rows of San Giovese and dotted by castles and small stone villages that preserve its history.

Greve di Chianti

 

Taking the Chiantigiana, from Florence, the first village you meet along the road is Greve, the heart of the Chianti Classico.

 

Its main square, Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, surrounded by characteristic arcades animated by historic shops, small bookshops and bistros, was once known as the “Mercatale di Greve” because the most important market in the entire Chianti took place here. A place of meeting and exchange frequented by the local merchants and businessmen of the nearby castles of Lucolena, Cintoia, Panzano and Montefioralle.

 

Even today, every Saturday, the square with its characteristic triangular shape hosts a lively and colorful market.

 

 

Castellina di Chianti

 

Gently perched on its hill overlooking the Val d’Elsa, Castellina in Chianti is a further 30 minutes drive.

 

Leaving the car outside the town, a few steps along via Trento and immediately you enter a small world suspended in time where the art of slow living can be breathed everywhere.

 

The heart of Castellina is the ancient fortress. Built in the 1400s to defend the village from attacks from nearby Siena, it now houses the Archaeological Museum of Chianti Senese. In its rooms tell the history of Chianti through a path that exhibits stories, data, objects and archaeological materials from the municipalities of Castellina, Gaiole, Radda and Castelnuovo Berardenga.

 

A fascinating journey through time in the Etruscan Chianti. During the visit, you can walk along one of the Rocca’s walkways and get to the tower’s top to admire the beauties of the Val d’Elsa, the Chianti Mountains, the Amiata Mountains and Cetona.

 

To taste the flavours of Castellina and its lands, the street to go is Via Ferruccio, an alternation of historic shops, wine bars and emporiums where you can taste the best labels of local wines, excellent cold cuts, oils and pickles, jams and honey, truffle specialties and many other km0 delicacies.

 

 

Monteriggioni

 

The last stop on the way to Siena is Monteriggioni, famous for its appearances in the cinema and even in the video game Assassin’s Creed. The small fortified village is still completely surrounded by walls, interspersed with fifteen mighty towers.

 

Inside the walls there is Piazza Roma, where the Church of Santa Maria Assunta stands. The throng of tourists leads to a short visit, but the charm of this village remains unchanged.

 

Make some time  to visit the medieval abbey in nearby town of Abbadia a Isola.  Along the route of the Via Francigena, the abbey provided restore to pilgrims and crusaders travelling from Canterbury to the Holy Land.

vineyards along the Chiantigiana

Val d'Orcia

Medieval villages, soft ochre hills, cypresses that mark the sinuous curves of panoramic roads made of ups and downs. A unique landscape that inspired Renaissance paintings, and has been recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 2004.

 

There are five Sienese municipalities that make up the Natural and Cultural Artistic Park of the Val d’Orcia, and which are the natural stops of this 110-kilometer-long itinerary, which winds above all along the SP146 and SR2.

 

A little more than a hundred kilometres, but really dense: to visit these towns so small, but so rich in history and art (as well as prestigious wineries along the road), it is better to consider at least four days of travel.

Castiglione d’Orcia

 

It starts from the slopes of Mount Amiata, in Castiglione d’Orcia, to immediately stop in its southern hamlet, Bagni San Filippo, famous for its thermal springs and natural calcium carbonate sculptures, such as the waterfall of the “White Whale”.

 

 

San Quirico d’Orcia

 

Return north, on the fil rouge of the thermal springs, to see the “Piazza delle Sorgenti”, a sixteenth-century rectangular basin of steaming volcanic water, right in the center of the village of Bagno Vignoni, a hamlet of San Quirico d’Orcia, another stop.

 

 

Montalcino

 

From here, you move east to Montalcino, where you can taste the Brunello. What is the most famous wine of Tuscany and among the most renowned in the world is accompanied by a cuisine with a strong identity: an on the road in Val d’Orcia is also a journey into tasty food, including Cinta Senese cured meats, homemade dishes of Pasta with Aglione sauce – a huge garlic head typical of the Sienese, and forms of Pienza’s Pecorino cheese.

 

 

Pienza

 

Pienza is the next stop and is worth at least a day of rest: its historic centre was declared Unesco World Heritage Site in 1996. The merit? To be the “ideal city” of the Renaissance, as Enea Silvio Piccolomini, that is Pope Pius II, who was born here in 1462, when the village was still called Corsignano, wanted it to be designed.

 

 

Radicofani

 

Going south, you pass the Lucciola Bella Nature Reserve, before arriving in Radicofani. Here, you may relax in the shadow of its imposing fortress.

Val d'Orcia driving through Tuscany

Rural Puglia: Itria Valley

Sunny countryside with olive groves as far as the eye can see are the backdrop to this itinerary in the Itria Valley: three days and about 180 kilometers are enough to discover the secrets of rural Puglia, the most authentic one.

 

You often drive along the characteristic dry stone walls and the landscape, dotted with white trulli, invites you to take numerous photo breaks.

Alberobello

 

First stop, the limestone Caves of Castellana and then reach the tourist star of the area, Alberobello, the village which, thanks to its unmistakable trulli (about a thousand), has entered the Unesco World Heritage Site. The best glimpse of this expanse of white houses with a conical stone roof is from the Belvedere dei Trulli, near Piazza del Popolo.

 

 

Locorotondo

 

Continue on the state road 172 towards Locorotondo, where you can stop for a tour in its beautiful historic center with a circular plan (hence the name). Martina Franca also calls for a stop, for the beautiful Baroque buildings and the white houses in the alleys of the ancient village.

 

 

Cisternino

 

The food stop in Cisternino is a must, where the “ready stoves” of the trattorias and butchers await hungry tourists: it is customary to have the meat grilled on the spot and also eat it as street food.

 

Absolutely not to be missed are the famous “little bombs” of meat.

 

 

Ostuni

 

The view of Ostuni, perched on the rock like a white nativity scene, is irresistible and an out of season visit can reserve beautiful surprises even for those who know it. That, for example, of walking along semi-deserted cobbled streets and seeing, a little hidden in a recess of the main street, the Civic Museum.

 

Inside, one is moved by the skeleton of a woman who died in childbirth 28,000 years ago, lying next to her child. This is the most important discovery that took place during excavations in the Grotto of Santa Maria d’Agnano, now an Archaeological Park two kilometers from the city.

 

And it is also a pleasant surprise to admire the splendid façade of the Cathedral, comfortably seated at the tables of the Borgo Antico pastry shop, while ordering a coffee with pasticciotto, a typical Salento shortcrust pastry filled with custard.

 

For a dinner in a highly evocative setting, go to the Osteria del Tempo Perso, housed in a 16th century cave once used as an oven, or to the Taverna della Gelosia, with intimate and cozy rooms and a small terrace in the heart of the historic centre.

Alberobello

Baroque Sicily: Val di Noto

The Baroque is the common thread of these over two hundred kilometres that lead to the exploration of South Eastern Sicily in four or five days.

 

To surround the golden monuments that have earned this area the inscription in the Unesco Heritage list (as a widespread site, entitled “Late Baroque Cities of the Val di Noto”), expanses of olive and citrus groves, the landscapes of the Iblei mountains and the Ionian coast.

Catania

 

It starts from Catania, with its buildings of black and gray stone: the city has Mt Etna in its DNA and its peak is a bulky presence on the skyline for kilometres and kilometres.

 

 

Siracusa

 

Once in Siracusa, you need to take into account at least one day of rest to visit its historic centre, the island of Ortigia, where the Baroque is layered on the remains of a Greek-Roman, Arab and Norman past. A striking example are some columns of a temple from the 5th century BC, dedicated to Athena, now incorporated into the splendid Cathedral with a Baroque façade.

 

 

Noto

 

Another stop that is worth a day is Noto where the sandstone gives the most beautiful show declined in the Sicilian Baroque: the whole city uniformly embodies this style, because it was rebuilt after being completely razed to the ground by the 1693 earthquake. Dominating the main square is the Cathedral of San Nicolò.

 

 

Modica

 

Continue to Modica, famous for its salty chocolate. But the stop, in addition to satisfying every gourmand, also allows you to discover a well-preserved medieval historic center and several Baroque buildings. One of all, the wonderful Cathedral of San Giorgio, a masterpiece by the architect Gagliardi.

 

 

Scicli

 

Not far away, about 10 kilometers, is Scicli, where the Town Hall has become a television star, as the location of the series Il commissario Montalbano.

 

Ragusa

 

Final destination, Ragusa: here you park your car to walk into the labyrinth of Ragusa Ibla, the historic center, between shady alleys and magnificent squares where the light of Sicily becomes blinding.

The mythical Western Gardesana Road

The western Gardesana, one could say the mythical western Gardesana, is the road that runs along the Lombard shore of Lake Garda.

 

Seventy splendid kilometers on the Lombard shore of Lake Garda along the renowned towns of Sirmione, Desenzano, Gardone, Limone and Riva del Garda.

 

Starting from Sirmione, the most beautiful villages of Garda line up on the shore, connected by a road that in the first section rises and falls from gentle hills dotted with olive trees, vines and cypresses, while in the final section, from Gardone to Riva del Garda, it runs alongside the lake along the steep mountains of white limestone that overhang the water.

Sirmione

 

Our itinerary starts from the A4 Milan-Venice motorway at the Sirmione tollbooth; exiting the junction, turn right towards Sirmione and soon the large luminous basin of Lake Garda appears, the mildest of the lakes in northern Italy.

 

Already walking along the narrow isthmus that connects Sirmione to the mainland, a vast panorama opens up over the large southern basin of the lake and already the vegetation suggests of being by the sea rather than close to the Alps.

 

Sirmione is perhaps the most suggestive town on Lake Garda , built at the end of a peninsula and already famous in Roman times (Catullus celebrates it) when various villas were built there and then in the Middle Ages an important Scaliger and then Venetian stronghold.

 

In fact, the Rocca Scaligera (1259) is noteworthy, a well-preserved castle that defends the access to the citadel; continuing on you will come across the church of S. Maria Maggiore (15th century), the thermal baths of sulphurous water, the Romanesque church of S. Pietro in Mavino from the 15th century. XII and finally, on top of the promontory, the ruins of a Roman settlement.

 

 

Desenzano sul Garda

 

Back in the car, head to Desenzano which can be reached in a quarter of an hour. Leave the car in the parking lot next to the pretty internal harbor and take a stroll along via Roma and via S.Maria surrounded by ancient houses (including the palace of the Venetian Superintendent of the 16th century and the remains of the Roman villa with interesting mosaics) until you reach the castle at the top from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the village and the lake.

 

 

Salo’

 

Continue along the Garda area along a stretch that rises and falls through hills dotted with olive trees and cypresses until you descend with a few hairpin bends to Salò, an important town in medieval times (in the 14th century it was the capital of the Magnifica Patria, a league of independent municipalities) and today a tourist centre of primary importance.

 

The fourteenth-century Palazzo della Magnifica Patria, the Palazzo del Capitano e Rettore Veneto and the 1453 Cathedral line up on the beautiful lakeside promenade.

 

 

Gardone Riviera

 

Continue to Gardone, a lively lakeside village, with beautiful houses overlooking the lakefront. On the hills behind the village is the Vittoriale, the extravagant residence where Gabriele D’Annunzio spent the last years of his life: in addition to his house (with all the original furnishings) you can visit the ship Pola (which he had rebuilt in part), the Mas of the mockery of Buccari, the theatre, the tomb of the poet placed on top of the hill and surrounded by the urns of the legionaries of the Fiume enterprise. Not far away is the Hruska botanical garden, with more than 2000 plants.

 

Resuming the drive, you will soon reach Maderno, an important village during the Middle Ages (it was the capital of the Magnifica Patria before Salò) which today preserves the 12th century Romanesque church of S.Andrea, one of the most remarkable in the area: as beautiful as always the lakeside promenade.

 

 

Limone sul Garda

 

Continue along the road that runs alongside the shore with beautiful views of the lake that narrows here and of Monte Baldo on the Venetian shore. Here begins the most beautiful stretch: the road follows the shore closely, sometimes at the water’s edge, sometimes rising and entering the tunnel as the mountain approaches the lake increasingly steeply, offering scenarios of suggestive beauty.

 

You pass Gargnano (here Mussolini had his residence in the days of the republic of Salò), Campione del Garda and you reach Limone: in this section, pay attention to the narrow streets that descend to the lake, reaching isolated beaches among the rocks, ideal for a swim.

 

Limone is today a renowned tourist resort but in the past, as the name suggests, it was a citrus cultivation center thanks to the very mild climate of the lake which also allowed an important production of olive oil.

 

 

Riva del Garda

 

Continue along the road always leaning against steep walls of pale rock and finally you reach Riva del Garda, another important tourist resort very popular with German tourists who come from Brenner and wind surfers and kite surfers who find ideal conditions here. wind.

5 must-stops along the Amalfi Coast

A distillate of pure beauty in just about 40 kilometers: the SS 163 runs along the entire Amalfi Coast from Positano to Vietri sul Mare (even if the road originates before the Salerno coast, in Meta, in the province of Naples) and is, with good reason, considered the most beautiful panoramic road in Italy.

 

Villages overlooking the sea dotted with colorful domes, coves lined with cypresses and bays that forcefully invite you to dive, orderly terraces of lemon groves and areas of Mediterranean scrub where nature is not subject to the laws of man: a scenery unique and unrepeatable, Unesco Heritage since 1997.

 

The state road of the Amalfi Coast is called “Blue Ribbon” not by chance: thrilling hairpin bends that plunge into the blue, tunnels that become frames of real landscape paintings, ups and downs where the sea, however, always remains the most faithful traveling companion.

Positano

 

It starts from Positano, with its peach-colored and terracotta houses perched on the cliff, to then meet Marina di Furore, at the base of the famous fjord, a narrow inlet of the Lattari mountains.

 

 

Amalfi

 

After Conca dei Marini, we stop in Amalfi: the center is small and it doesn’t take long to visit the Cathedral with the splendid Cloister of Paradise. But it is worth taking a whole day to fully savor the slow rhythms and sunshine of this village that was once a powerful maritime republic. And there is also a walk in nearby Atrani.

 

 

Ravello

 

Instead, you can take your car back up to Ravello, to visit Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone, where you can look out over the famous Infinity Terrace.

 

 

Cetara

You return to sea level descending towards Minori and Maiori, and then make a short stop in Cetara, a picturesque fishing village where you can taste the typical anchovy sauce.

 

 

Vietri sul Mare

 

This “on the road” trip ends in Vietri sul Mare, famous for making beautiful ceramics.

Furore
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