This itinerary includes some of the most sparkling gems that Northern Italy has to offer travelling from the big cities to the superb coastline. From the Cinque Terre on the Italian riviera through the jaw-dropping beauty of Tuscany, you will pass through Pise, Florence, Sienna as well as Lucca and Genova. A customised van is ideal for getting around the hilly, sometimes tricky, countryside.
Sounds good ? Contact your agent who will give you plenty of tips on where to park for the night and what to do during the day throughout your island road trip.
The Cinque Terre is a group of centuries-old villages on the Italian coast.
Rooted in the past, these five fishing villages (Monarola, Riomaggiore, Montessoro, Corniglia, Vernazza) seem to remain untouched by modern influences. The charm of these villages lies in their colourful, typical and picturesque houses. In the past, the villages were mainly inhabited by fishermen. Seafood is therefore part of the local gastronomy. The Sentiero Azzurro cliff path connects the villages and offers a panoramic view of the sea.
Monterosso is undoubtedly the most important village of the Cinque Terre and has a very large beach where you can bask in the sun. The Church of the Capuchins is the most important monument of the village, its beauty has survived the ages and remained intact.
Vernazza is an ancient stronghold that had a strategic position to control the coast. The Doria castle is one of the only remains of the village’s military past. The maritime landscapes will surely not leave you indifferent as they are breathtaking!
Now let’s go to Corniglia! The first thing you notice is that the houses are slightly different from the other villages, they are smaller and are concentrated around the same place. It is also noticeable that unlike the other villages, it does not directly face the shore.
Once in Manarola, you can’t miss the gothic church of Saint Lawrence which is an architectural marvel from the 14th century. The funny thing about this village is that in order to develop, the houses had to cling to the hill, which makes for a rather unexpected setting.
Then go to Riomaggiore via the path of love. After walking a good kilometre you arrive at the village of Riomaggiore. On the heights of the village you will find the Sanctuary of Montenero (Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montenero) which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. And so our Cinque Terre journey comes to an end in style!
To prolong the pleasure of the place: go to Portovenere, a charming little village with turquoise waters and colourful houses!
Advice for your nights: you can trust Park4night and spend the night on the parking of the strada provinciale. Or if you want more comfort, you can spend your nights at the Acqua Dolce campsite in Levanto.
Reach Lucca, a city with a medieval style that has a lot of charm.
Indeed, as you stroll through its streets you can admire the city walls that surround the city, but also its cathedral churches. The most important monument of the city is undoubtedly the Clock Tower (Torre delle Ore) which dominates the city. If you feel like stopping for lunch, we invite you to taste the grilled pork which is a typical speciality of Lucca’s surroundings. For dessert we recommend the Necci pancakes, made with chestnut flour, which will delight your taste buds and offer you a delicious moment.
After filling your belly it is already time to leave to see the famous leaning tower. Let’s go to Pisa!
Pisa’s tourism focuses on the Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) and of course includes the famous tower. The advantage of such a place is that there is not only one monument to see but at least three. You can choose between the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Duomo (the large building in the square which is the cathedral) and the Baptistery (a domed building). The last two will allow you to enjoy a welcome coolness as the square heats up in the sun.
A little less popular but well worth a visit is the Camposanto which is a closed cemetery in the city and houses some of Tuscany’s most popular works.
We now head to Siena to continue our roadtrip.
Sleeping tip: If you want to get off the beaten track and away from the city, you can spend the night in a small piazza in Buti on the edge of a very lightly traveled mountain road where you have a great view of the Tuscan plain.
Let’s continue our journey to Siena, a splendid gothic city, which lies in the heart of a valley.
The Piazza del Campo, the historical centre of the city with its main activities and attractions, where you can, if you are lucky enough to come across the most famous event in Tuscany, at the beginning of July and middle of August, participate in the Palio. The peculiarity of this square is that it is leaning like an amphitheatre. Walking down the square you can admire the Palazzo Publico which is a perfect representation of the architectural style of the region. To finish your visit to Siena you should also visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (or Santa Maria Assunta). Romanesque and Gothic styles are mixed together to create an impressive result!
On the way to Florence, we strongly recommend a stop at the pretty Tuscan hilltop village of San Gimignano. You can even spend the night there and sleep in the middle of nature. More info here.
First of all, you should know that it is difficult to park overnight near the city centre and the streets are narrow. You may want to try the stadium car park, 30 minutes from the centre of Florence.
Florence is a breathtaking and culturally rich city. There are several monuments to visit and luckily they are very close!
Just go to Piazza del Duomo (Duomo Square) where the stunning Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral is located. Much of the building was made with marble in various colours (green, white, and pink-red), so the exterior is beautiful but the interior is just as striking. The interior, which can be discovered free of charge and in its quasi totality. Indeed, to access the largest Dome in the world (nearly 45m) you will have to pay 10€*, however this price also gives you access to the large tower that you must have seen when passing in front of the cathedral. This is Giotto’s Campanile. You can climb the many steps to the top and see Florence from high above!
You can also cross the famous Ponte Vecchio.
For lunch we can recommend some local specialities: – A bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine beef rib), a quality meat prepared just right! A real treat for the palate.
– For lovers of pasta and meat we recommend Pappardelle sulla lepre. This is a very large pasta which is often accompanied by rabbit and a hare sauce.
And of course you can taste (in moderation): Chianti, a local but world famous wine. Fruity, sweet and pleasant on the palate.
It is already time to think about the return journey and to head for the French-Italian border. Before saying goodbye to Italy, we stop in Genoa.
Genoa is above all a port city, so we can only advise you to stroll along the port and let your eyes marvel. If you have time you can visit the city’s aquarium. Species of all sizes and colours can be discovered in this unique place. It is the largest aquarium in Europe!
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