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Are you planning an early trip to Italy and would like to travel from northern to southern Italy in a week to visit a number of great cities from Milan to Rome? Well, in this post I wanted to share with you my packed Italy road trip for 1 week from north to south, starting in Milan and ending in Naples (or Rome).
This road trip will help you see some of the best places in Italy at your own pace. However, don’t expect to see all of Italy in a week to explore this beautiful country, it will take years. Every village and town in Italy is beautiful and full of history! I’ve been to Italy 8 or 9 times and still can’t say I’ve seen enough. However, a road trip from north to south will help you get to know the country a little better, especially if it is your first experience in Italy. I would say you need 2 weeks for your road trip. However, if you only have a week in Italy, don’t worry, you will still be able to see a lot, but you might get tired after this vacation.
To have a similar trip through Italy You have to buy one-way flights to Milan and depart from Rome. Alternatively, you can buy multi-city tickets if it is cheaper and the airline you fly with allows it. You can Check the prices and availability of such flights online here.
Before I explain the optimal itinerary for the one-week trip to Italy, we want to clarify two things first.
Tips for driving in Italy
I assume that you will drive in Italy yourself. If you need to rent a car, I recommend using Rentalcars.com and opt for their full insurance option. This is probably the cheapest way to rent a car in Italy. However, if you prefer to rent directly from a car rental company, you can use advice and register online for comprehensive insurance. Pick a supplier that allows you to drop it off at a different location and doesn’t charge too much.
We had a good experience with Avis beforehand and would recommend it.
Driving in Italy is fairly easy – although Italians are known to drive faster and crazier (sometimes), it’s not like Lebanon or India, where driving is crazy. All motorways are equipped with a speed limit and speed cameras. Therefore, drive carefully and do not exceed the speed limit.
Don’t forget that roads in Italy are chargeable, so make sure to provide 100 EUR or more for a week-long trip from northern to southern Italy!
Another tip for drivers in Italy is not to reach the city center by car.
We did it in Bologna and had a huge fine. In many cities, entering the city center is not permitted, but you will not notice the signs, as in many cases there are none. It is safer to leave the car in a large parking lot near the city center.
Finally, you should take a smaller car, as parking on the street in Italy can be complicated. There are many cars and there is limited space on the street. The smaller your car is, the more likely you are to find a parking space near your accommodation (unless your hotel has a parking space).
What is the best time to travel for a week-long road trip to ITALY?
If you are wondering which season is best for a road trip through Italy, there are no bad seasons in Italy. Italy is always beautiful, in every season. The north of Italy, e.g. Milan will be very cold in winter. We visited Milan and Bergamo in January and oh my god we were freezing. However, the south could be warm and beautiful. We had about 16 degrees in Rome in February and I didn’t even need a jacket.
In my opinion, the best season for the road trip in Italy would be in late March to early May and early October to mid November. It can be very hot in summer. We were in Tuscany in summer and it was over 40 degrees Celsius in July. While some people think it’s the perfect weather, I have to say that sightseeing is almost impossible and I don’t know how I walked around the city all day in Florence (I hid at Palazzo Pitti for a while) a few hours).
Okay, without further ado, let’s start with the crowded Italian road trip for 7 days – from Milan to Rome or Naples!
Road trip through Italy in 7 days: from north to south
Day 1: Milan and Bergamo
I expect you will land in Milan on the first day (or you can arrive by car). As I mentioned before, you can rent a car from Milan Airport Rentalcars.com. advice or hertz (or another provider you like the most).
When you arrive in Milan Malpensa, the journey to downtown Milan takes about an hour. It would be exactly the same time when you arrive from Milan Bergamo. However, if you have the opportunity to land in Bergamo, this way you can explore the beautiful city of Bergamo.
3-4 hours in Bergamo
I have to admit that I liked Bergamo a little more than Milan. Milan is a huge city, while Bergamo is a very compact city that is on several levels. When you take the funicular (or ascent / ride) up, the views are breathtaking. I created this post about the most photogenic places in Milan and BergamoSo be sure to check out how beautiful Bergamo is!
I would recommend spending at least 3-4 hours in Bergamo. I know it’s in a hurry, but as I warned, this itinerary is packed. If you had 2 weeks in Italy you could stay longer! During 3-4 hours in Bergamo you can take a funicular to Citta Alta (high town) to see Piazza Vecchia (Bergamo’s main square) and Then take another cable car to St. Vigil for even better views of Bergamo, If you stroll through Bergamo, you will see many beautiful basilicas and museums.
1 week Italy road trip: Milan
After you’re done with Bergamo, you’re ready to head to Milan. I recommend parking the car in one of the central parking lots, e.g. Car central car park (yes, that’s the name)
THE BEST TOUR IN MILAN: If you like to go on excursions (hiking or cycling), I would recommend do this tour Learn more about Milan and the most important highlights. This tour will help you too Visit Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper without having to buy the ticket months in advance. If you prefer to explore on your own, read on.
What to see in Milan in 1 day?
You can explore the famous ones Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II right after your arrival. If the weather permits, you can enjoy an Aperol Spritz in a café with a view of the cathedral. It’s always very busy, so it doesn’t matter what time of day you want to visit.
How do you see Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper?
If you want to see Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, you must book tickets online in advance. You can do it Here, After reviewing the booking system, I can see that the only places available are in 2 months and then a few places are available 3 months in advance. You can also buy the ticket & tour from a reseller In this case, availability is almost the next day. Check availability and prices here,
Another highlight of Milan is the Teatro Alla Scala. If you want to buy Alla Scala tickets, you can buy them on the website official website of the theater.
One of my favorite areas in Milan is the Brera. Brera is a very photogenic district with narrow streets full of shops and flower shops, colorful buildings and restaurants.
Where to eat in Milan
If you are looking for restaurants in Milan I can recommend a few. For lunch I recommend something from EAT – It is a huge supermarket with some restaurants and delicatessens. We tried pizza from there and it was delicious.
You can book available seats for dinner via the fork app, I used this app in Florence and Milan and it was a lifesaver!
Where can you stay in Milan if you drive through Italy for a week?
If you have a car, you have the privilege of staying practically anywhere. The general rule of hotels in Milan is the same – hotels that are far from the city center are more affordable.
Day 2: Verona and Venice
Make sure you get up early (this Italian road trip is packed too, which means you’ll probably need another vacation after this one, but you’ll see a lot in Italy in just 1 week). If you leave Milan around 8 a.m., you will be in Verona, our next stop at 10 a.m.
Verona is a beautiful city famous for Romeo and Juliet and a small Colosseum (Verona Arena) in the city center. I recommend staying in Verona for a few hours. You can park the car in the city center and explore the beautiful streets of Verona.
THE BEST TOUR OF VERONA: If you fancy a tour of Verona, I can recommend this tour,
Make sure to visit Juliet’s house (Be prepared, however, that it will be very full). Another great place in Verona is that Castelvecchio Museum, You don’t have to go in if you don’t want to. You can just walk around and enjoy the view from the castle.
After you’re done with Verona, it’s time to travel to Venice.
Venice is the most famous city in Italy after Rome and it would be bad not to visit it. Venice is beautiful in every season. However, it is better to visit it out of season. If you plan to take a road trip in summer or early autumn, be prepared for the fact that most cities in Italy are heavily frequented and Venice is probably the most heavily frequented.
In Venice you have two options: you can either leave your car in Mestre or book a hotel in Mestre with parking and leave your car there (as we did) or you can go to Venice and try to drive the car on the Tronchetto Parking lot to leave.
Leave your car in Tronchetto parking A lot of things may not be cheap, and Venice hotels are also quite expensive compared to Mestre. So if you are on a budget, I recommend option 1.
THE BEST TOUR OF VENICE: If you are interested in a tour in Venice I would recommend this tour,
If you want to go on a gondola ride, you can also Book it online here,
Otherwise, just stroll through the beautiful streets and bridges of Venice and don’t forget to visit St. Mark’s Square!
DAY 3: Bologna and Cinque Terre
On the third day of the Italian road trip we will finally drive from north to south and start with Bologna and then drive to Cinque Terre, one of the most important highlights in Italy.
The journey from Venice to Bologna takes around 1.5 hours and is quick and easy. Bologna is often overlooked, but is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. In contrast to many other cities, Bologna is more indigenous than touristy and beautiful for a change. We had the option to stay in Bologna for two days, so we had a little more time. However, you can also see the main sights of Bologna in 3-4 hours. Make sure you arrive in Bologna by 9 a.m.
BOLOGNA’S BEST TOUR: If you want to take a tour of Bologna, I can recommend it this,
Otherwise go to Two towers from Bologna, check the Piazza Maggiore and Basilica di San Petronio and go to the galleries of Bologna. Bologna is a unique city – you can walk almost the whole city through the galleries. It is especially useful when it rains so that you never (almost) get wet in Bologna.
Take a car and drive up to Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca – It is a breathtaking church on top of the hill and the view from there is breathtaking.
Read more about our adventures in Bologna in this post.
After visiting Bologna you have to go again, this time to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is 3 hours away, but it’s one of the highlights of Italy and shouldn’t be skipped. If you have left Bologna around noon or 1pm, you should arrive in Cinque Terre around 4pm. I recommend you to stay in La Spezia and leave your car there. Exploring Cinque Terre by car is not great and the trains are reasonably priced.
Once you have checked in and parked your car, you can drive to the train station and take the train to one of the buses 5 fabulous Cinque Terre villages, You can start with the villages closer to La Spezia, such as Riomaggiore and Manarola. The sunsets in Riomaggiore are breathtaking and there are also many dining options. Be sure to book the restaurant in advance. You can use The Fork app or website again to book a restaurant for dinner. Some of the best places to eat and drink are La Cantina de Macellaio and Vertical lounge bar, Trains run late into the night, but it’s always worth checking the schedule in advance.
Day 4: Cinque Terre and Florence
On the fourth day of your week-long trip to Italy, you can get up early and explore the rest of the Cinque Terre, the beautiful villages of Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso Al Mare, If you want, you can also swim in some of these places. If you want to know where to swim best, read my post Bathing in Tuscany and in the Cinque Terre.
After you’re done with Cinque Terre around 1pm, you can head to Florence. Florence is only 2 hours away and a must in Italy. I recommend a few days for Florence. Florence is also my favorite city in Italy and one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
ACCOMMODATION IN FLORENCE: I recommend staying in Villa Olmi. We were lucky enough to stay there for 2 days and it was an unforgettable experience. The villa is like a museum and even has a swimming pool. The only downside is that Villa Olmi is a little out of town. However, if you drive to downtown Florence and leave the car in the parking lot, that’s fine.
There is so much to see in Florence! I suggest spending the afternoon and evening exploring the area of Florence with the Palazzo Pitti and Giardino Boboli and then driving to Piazzale Michelangelo to enjoy the breathtaking panorama of Florence.
In the evening you can have dinner in one of the best restaurants in Florence – Trattoria Za Za, You need to call to get advice (usually it is enough to book 1 day in advance).
5th day of the one-week drive in Italy: Florence and drive to Rome
On day 5 I recommend you to continue exploring Florence. You can walk around and see the best sights on your own or take a tour like the following.
THE BEST TOUR OF FLORENCE: I recommend taking it This tour of Florence if you want to learn more about the history of the city.
I really enjoyed the tour and my tour was really geared towards Dante, but it was great. Florence is one of the cities where I think the tour is a must.
However, if you are not in the mood for a tour, you should definitely visit the most important sights. If you have some time left Visit the Uffizi Gallery. You must book your ticket to the Uffizi Gallery in advance. However, just like in Milan, you can buy the skip-the-line last-minute tour or buy the ticket that gives you access to the Uffizi Gallery. This tour includes both a walking tour and entry to the Uffizi Gallery,
If you are done with Florence (although you are never done with Florence, there is so much to see and do), you can go to Rome. Rome is about 3 hours away. Do not leave Florence later than 5 or 6 p.m. Drive safely and arrive in Rome.
WHERE TO STAY IN ROME:
Rome has more than 8000 hotels and apartments, so there is plenty to choose from. Some great budget hotels with parking are those Radical Hotel Roma and Princeps boutique hotel, However, It is best to bring your car back to Rome and continue to visit Rome without a car. Driving in Rome is a bit crazy and public transportation is super convenient. If you’d like to drop off your car early, you can stay in one of the great, centrally located hotels and B & Bs B & B lost in Trastevere or Scipioni Suites,
Day 6 and 7: Rome
I recommend spending the last 2 days of the 7 day trip to Italy in Rome. Rome is a huge city and you probably need a week to explore it all. I don’t have a very informative post about Rome, although I’ve been to Rome twice and spent a total of 5 days there. However, I have a post about a romantic weekend in Rome (don’t hesitate to check it out).
THE BEST TOURS FROM ROME: You can take this tour of Rome This shows you some of the most important highlights. It is a bike tour that will help you see most of Rome since Rome is huge and it is impossible to go anywhere.
There is another big one Segway Tour it is worth being admitted to Rome.
If you plan to visit many sights in Rome, it makes sense to buy the city pass for Rome and the Vatican. You can buy it online Here,
As a bonus, you can use public transport for free with one of these cards.
The Vatican visit is also likely to take half a day, so I’m sure you can easily fill out your two days in Rome.
You can fly back from Rome with your ticket to multiple cities or a one-way trip.
Summary of the trip from Milan to Rome:
I hope you found this crowded Italy road trip useful for 1 week. If you want to see Italy from Milan to Rome, however, you have to book some tours and tickets in advance, as Italy is very touristy, especially in high season. I hope you enjoy your upcoming road trip through Italy and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.
Other posts you might like:
How much is Rome? A budget for a trip to Rome
10-day European road trip: from Italy to Germany
3-day road trip on the French Riviera
Over 10 instagrammable castles in Europe
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