Road Trip Guide: Along the Coast of Italy
Say Buongiorno to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world found on the coasts of Italy. Buildings jutting out over rugged cliffs, sunbathers lying out on the sand just below, and hiking trails all within a few feet of one another. Tourists flock to the coasts during summer to soak up the sun and the gorgeous weather. but why stay in just one area? With so much to see, a drive along the coast can provide a calming or adventurous vacation without the crowds. Let's get started!
We’ll begin our trip in Genoa on the northwest coast of Italy. Explore the historic old town to see ancient landmarks dating back hundreds of years. Visit the Romanesque Cathedral of San Lorenzo with its famous black and white façade or walk down smaller side streets for a delicious, cool gelato on a hot day. With a rich history in shipping, learn more about Genoa’s importance at the Maritime Museum.
From Genoa, drive down the coast towards Livorno. The views along the drive are beautiful but it’s a long way down. Since Livorno is located in western Tuscany, the food and wine are excellent. Make your way through town with stops at local trattorias where you can sample the cuisine of the area.
For an active adventure, walk along the coast to Cala Del Leone, with its beautiful waterfront lined with flowers. There are secluded spots and coves great for a romantic picnic, perhaps with a bottle of the regions’ famous wine. At the end of this walk look up to see an imposing castle on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the water. While in the area, head to nearby Pisa for an iconic photo with the Leaning Tower.
Next, we’ll drive from Livorno further down the Italian coastline to Naples. The scenery and small towns in between this long drive make it worthwhile. Stop in Rome for a day or two to visit iconic historical landmarks like the Colosseum. Once you arrive in Naples, you’re greeted with quaint streets, friendly locals, and pizza. Being the birthplace of this sacred pie (or so they say), you’ll find the crispiest crust, freshest mozzarella, and finest tomatoes.
Stroll down the streets and grab a slice or two for the road. After eating lunch, you can rest and aboard the Aerial Tram, which will take you up the hills for views of the town and sea from the top. Walk around Largo San Martino until you reach the Spanish Quarter, affixed with splendid houses and small shops to find a souvenir or take a photo.
Drive from Naples through the countryside lined with vineyards and farms to the port city Bari, located on the Adriatic Sea. This small town is thousands of years old and still has relics and ruins from the time. Visit the Basilica of Saint Nicholas built in the 1100s, which holds some of his remains, and the Cathedral of San Sabino to see beautiful architecture. The streets are long and narrow with old buildings lining your path.
Just off the ocean is a small port favored by sunbathers during the warmer months. You'll find small cafes just off the shore, but if you really want an adventure, plunge from the cliffs into the crystal blue waters and swim back to shore. From here you can dry off with a bike ride around town or in the warm sun.
From Bari, you can drive up the eastern coast of Italy to Termoli. For outdoor lovers, a stop in Gargano National Park is a must. It’s not a big tourist destination but has the same amazing scenery and cliffs as other towns in the country. Since it’s a protected area, wildflowers, woodlands, and animals abound.
Once you reach your destination, it’s a tight squeeze. Termoli has some of the most narrow streets in all of Europe, and that’s saying something. Houses are vividly painted in bright pastels and there’s always fresh produce in the port. When you’re at the port, see the authentic and original trabucchi, wooden structures used to catch fish without boats. You can’t get on (probably a good thing), but you can watch people at work using the same methods as their ancestors. This small town is almost untouched by foreigners, so you may need to brush up on your Italian before a visit.
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