Plunge head first into European history, gain 10 pounds just by looking at all that delicious food, be seduced by that oh-so-sexy Italian accent and witness first hand what ‘dolce far niente’ really means.

When you go to Italy, it doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, you just know life will be good.

My last ‘big’ trip to Italy was a 18-day road trip through the north. It was the middle of July and since it was my boyfriend’s first time in Italy, I visited all the highlights. So I won’t lie – yes, it was touristic and yes I would have prefered having some of the places a little bit more to myself. But there’s a reason why all those people come here. And you can’t honestly blame them for loving Italy, can you?!? 

So get in your car and let’s go!! Oh and stay tuned, I’ll be writing more detailed articles about many of the destinations below!

ITINERARY

Road trip Northern Italy 18 day Itinerary

Day 1-2: Dolce far niente in Bellagio, Lake Como

Fall in love with what’s probably the prettiest village along the shore of Lake Como. Slightly hidden and only accessible through a small path along the lake, Bellagio is no place to go if you want to “do” things. So rather than preparing a whole list of activities from your guidebook, just come here to relax.

Stroll around, get lost in the tiny alleys and eat pasta and drink Spritz all day – well maybe for the Spritz you should at least wait until noon 😉

Read more about Bellagio

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Day 3 – 4: Drive from Bellagio to Bergamo and visit lovely Bergamo

Road trip Northern Italy 18 day Itinerary

It’s only 60 km but it takes over 2 hours to get from Bellagio to Bergamo. First there’s the narrow road alongside Lake Como from Bellagio to Lecco, and from there the trip continues on quite congested regional roads. But it’s definitely worth it, as Bergamo is not only cute but it also has some beautiful sights to offer, like the Cappella Colleoni or the church of Santa Maria Maggiore.

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Day 5-8: Drive from Bergamo to Florence and immerge yourself in history and art!

That first glimpse of the Duomo at sunset is enough of a reason to visit Florence all by itself. But don’t stop just there as there’s so much to see here! Stay tuned for my city guide on how to spend 4 days in Florence, with all the practical information you need about sights, accommodation, food and transportation.

Road trip Northern Italy 18 day Itinerary

Road trip Northern Italy 18 day Itinerary

Day 9: Drive to Siena through the winding roads of the Chianti region. Visit Siena and head to Lucca in the evening.

The most beautiful cathedral I’ve ever seen. That’s what Siena has to offer alongside its cozy city center and atypical central square. Only a 1h15 drive from Florence on the highway, you can’t miss this when you’re already that close! If you don’t want to rush, don’t take the highway but drive through the Chianti region instead. It’ll take some more time but you’ll get some amazing views for it in exchange.

Road trip Northern Italy 18 day Itinerary

Day 10: Rent a bike for a visit to beautiful Lucca

You can drive all the way around Lucca on the wall around the city. It’s a nice change to all that driving and walking and gives a perfect view of the city. I’ll write a seperate post about it with all the details and sights, so come back later to check it out!

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Day 11-13: Head back north to Venice and stay a couple of days

Venice… I guess you either love it or hate it. Me, I still feel that special vibe that makes me want to come back here over and over again. I still manage to look passed all those tourists and all that fakeness and just see the beauty of the place. I don’t care about the rest, because it’s Venice, and I’ll always love it.

Road trip Northern Italy 19 day ItineraryWhether you just stroll around the streets, visit San Marco Square with Saint Mark’s Basilica and the magnificent Doge’s palace, take a boat up and down the Grand Canal or do a day trip to Burano and Murano, I’m sure that with an open mind, you can still fall in love with Venice.

Thinking about visiting Venice, Murano and Burano? Click on the link for more information!

Day 14-18: Time to relax in Sirmione, Lake Garda

On your way there from Venice, make a detour to visit Asolo and the beautiful Villa Maser and don’t forget a day trip to Verona and a drive along the lake.

Road trip Northern Italy 18 day Itinerary

OTHER IDEAS TO COMPLETE YOUR ITINERARY

Here’s just a couple of places I’ve visited on different trips to Italy and that are also worth a visit (especially option 2, my goodness that Ligurian Coast…).

#1 Spend a day in Milan, Bologna or Parma on your way from Bergamo to Florence or from Lucca to Venice.

#2 Instead of taking the fastest option between Bergamo and Florence, which is via Milan and Bologna, drive along the Ligurian Coast. Stop in breathtaking places like Cinque Terre, Tellaro and Portovenere. From here, switch the order of your visit to Florence, Sienna and Lucca to get a logical itinerary.

#3 From Lucca or from the Ligurian coast, a day trip to Pisa is also an option.

WHAT I WOULD CHANGE IF I HAD TO DO IT AGAIN

In short: nothing… except maybe add 8 weeks, add the 3 options above and continue the trip further down to the south! Hey, a girl can dream, right? 🙂 All the places on my itinerary were just perfect, and all different enough from each other to keep it diverse and interesting. The whole itinerary and the extra ideas to extend your trip are obviously just a few of the many possible options… because who can ever get enough of a country like Italy?!?

So how about you? Have you been to Italy? What did you visit and what did your itinerary look like? I wana know all about it in the comments! 

 

23 thoughts on “A ROAD TRIP THROUGH NORTHERN ITALY – 18 day itinerary”

  1. It is a very interesting article and great pictures! I was intrigued. Hope to visit Northern Italy and your guide is very handy! We’ve been in Rome, Venice, and Florence. Your are right about the crowds of tourists but they all come for reasons such as beauty, history and the uniqueness of Italy.

  2. Siena is the hidden jewel of Italy. We didn’t had any expectations before going there and then….surprise! We immediately fell in love with the city and enjoyed sitting on the sunny piazza. Love the article.

  3. Pingback: Tellaro and Portovenere, Ligurian Coast, Italy

  4. I have just come back from Lake Como, Mennagio, Varenna, Bellagio, Como ,Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta, Milan. Packed it in like you. Sounds like you had a great trip & like me love Italy. I have travelled all over Italy , my favourite country.

  5. Hi my name is Mehak and I am planning a 10 days trip to Italy with friends this November.
    Kindly help Me with an ideal itinerary that includes road and train journeys to cover maximum city and countryside attractions Italy can offer.
    Regards

  6. Truly Italy is one of the gorgeous places worth everyone’s visit. Been dreaming of visiting this place, perhaps soonest. Thank you for inspiring me.

  7. We just returned rom our trip to Italia. We flew into Rome, visited the highlights, headed down the Amalfi coast. Breathtaking cities! Positano, Amalfi, Capri & Anacapri, Sorrento, & Ravello. From Naples we rented a car & drove to Pitigliano in Tuscany. We stayed at an old farmhouse (Villa). Using that as our home base, we went to Sovana. Sorano, Assisi and several little medieval villages along the way. After our week in Tuscany we drove to Pisa and ultimately found our way to the Cinque Terre which was amazing! After three weeks we drove back to FCO and flew back to the USA. Northern Italy is our next adventure!

  8. Firstly I just adore Italy top to bottom Amalfi coast, Liguria coast, Adriatic coast and Sicily. Rome Naples, Milano, Venice Tuscany are all beautiful I can’t seem to pick one place over another. We usually come for a month to get aquatinted with the people. Lately In the last ten years I have been doing art retreats in Le Marche and Luciagno. That’s where I will be in September can’t get enough of Italy, maybe I should move there.

  9. Hi , Lili! How are you? I’m Andres and I am from Italy, and it was a pleasure to read this post about my home country. I’m also a traveler, so I haven’t been home in a long, long time and I’m getting kind of homesick… This post contributes!
    I lived an hour away from Venice, so I get what you say… Some people love it, but not those who live there!
    Anyway, thank you for writting this. Of course, there is a lot of more places to visit in Italy’s North, but you did a pretty good job narrowing down to an 18 day’s itinerary.
    But I would like to add Treviso to that list. It’s a beautiful city with lots of things to do.
    I’ll keep reading your posts!

  10. Very interesting article, i’m italian and I live near Venice, in this city there is a church called “Church of San Giorgio Maggiore” built by an italian architect “Andrea Palladio” who lived in my city “Vicenza”…

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