Road trip in Italy - on your own through Central and Northern Italy is written by Jesper Munk Hansen.
Road trip in Italy - Italy around on your own
Finally it was summer and we could travel again. It was also a year ago we were last at an airport.
Now the trip had come for the summer holidays in Italy, where we had booked 13 days in three different accommodations in central and northern Italy.
I'm the type who's not much for staying in the same place for a week or two. I would like to experience some different things, so therefore we booked three different hotels in the days we were there.
The first stop was Locanda Poggioleone in Castiglione del Lago on Lake Trasimeno - Lake Trasimeno in Danish - which is Italy's fourth largest lake. Here we were to stay for five days and experience parts of the regions Umbria og Tuscany.
We had rented a car at the airport in Pisa and we had it available every 13 days.
After a single day of relaxation at the hotel, we went on day two for wine tasting south of Assisi. It was booked from home and lay far out in the country on a hilltop between Assisi and Spello.
It was a great wine tasting with five different kinds of wine including food. It can no doubt be recommended to try a real wine tasting at a local winery in Italy.
Assisi - the holy city on the mountain
Subsequently, the trip to Assisi went 15 kilometers away, where the rest of the day was spent. Assisi is a small town on an Italian scale with almost 30.000 inhabitants and an exciting city with a lot of history. It is especially known to Francis of Assisi, who lived in the city and on the nearby mountain in the 1100th and 1200th centuries.
A really good thing about Assisi is - besides the story - that you can go in peace for cars inside the city, as it is mostly only vans that drive in there. That way you can walk around calmly without taking traffic into account.
If you want to experience a small and cozy Italian city with a lot of history, Assisi is an obvious choice.
Thermal baths in southern Tuscany
One of the places I have long wanted to visit is the thermal baths in the south of Tuscany, Terme di Saturnia. But of course it should be the hot springs out in nature, Cascate del Mulino, where you see the more natural springs. Terme di Saturnia is a spa resort, while Cascate del Mulino are the hot springs of nature. So we chose the hot springs.
Two hours drive each way to a place where they did not speak a single word of English at all. But luckily I know a little Italian, so it went without the big problems when after a day in the hot springs we went in to the nearest village to have dinner.
During the time we lived at Lago Trasimeno, we were also in the nearby town, Montepulciano, which can really be recommended. We were only there a single night to eat, but it is a city I would like to experience more of at some point.
Bologna - Italian madby nalways
After 5 days, the trip went on to Bologna, where we had booked four nights. It is a very different experience to go from living in the countryside, where the nearest town has 1000 inhabitants, to being in Bologna, where 350.000 live. Bologna was also a place I have had on my 'bucket list' for several years.
The first day in Bologna started with a 'Free walking tour', which we often use. The concept is that you book a walk in the city, and then you pay the guide a self-chosen amount. This time we had the guide all to ourselves due to a late cancellation. An hour and a half had been set aside for a guided tour of Bologna, but it ended up taking over two hours. As the guide said, we had a little extra time because it was just us.
A 'Free walking tour' can definitely be recommended, no matter what city you are in. You can just search on Google for "Free walking tour" followed by the city name. Then more options emerge.
We spent a total of four days in Bologna exploring the city. There is a lot to experience in Bologna, which is considered Italy's number one food city. I experienced this myself when I wanted to order Tortellini and an Aperol Spritz at a restaurant. There I was told by the waiter that it did not fit together, so I had to get white wine. Aperol Spritz he refused to serve for me. So much so that they go so far as to say that food and drink should go hand in hand.
Lago di Garda - it feels like coming home
The last stop on the trip in central and northern Italy was an old acquaintance in the form of Lake Garda - in Danish Lake Garda.
Here by Italy's largest lake I have been many times. Both in the northern part with the high mountains and in the southern part with the flatter terrain.
Lago di Garda has just been given a 'floating cycle path' all around, so you can cycle the 140 km around the whole lake.
We had three days by the lake this time and stayed in a nice hotel, Grand Hotel Liberty, in Riva del Garda right up in the northern part of the lake. It is a fantastic 4 star hotel where breakfast was included in the price.
We had booked the hotel many months in advance and therefore we got the hotel for about 50% of what the price was when we arrived. It can be recommended to book well in advance. I had no doubt that, despite the situation, we could easily travel in the summer of 2021, and therefore it was booked early.
The plan for our road trip in Italy was actually that one of the days we wanted a trip to Verona 80 kilometers away, but since we had so few days at Lago di Garda, we chose to stay near the lake and the water instead of walk around inside a major city in the heat. We had a part of it in Bologna, so now we wanted to stay by the water.
Lago di Garda is something very special to me. I have visited Italy 21 times and have been to many different cities and regions. But Lago di Garda will always mean something special to me because it was here I was the first time I visited Italy and have been here several times since. It feels like coming home.
As mentioned, we stayed at a hotel in Riva del Garda. A city with 15.000 inhabitants, which is a larger city when compared to the other cities by the lake.
The town and the lake in general are decorated according to tourists. Not the other way around. Luckily it was full of people and it was not noticeable that it was an unusual travel year. It was great to be surrounded by many people in a country where you could not feel at all that anything was different. Everything felt normal.
In general, the atmosphere in Italy was good and things were very relaxed - just as we know it from previous years. I was very pleasantly surprised by the state of affairs in Italy, when over the past year one bad news after another has been received from the country. It was not noticeable at all. I relaxed throughout the trip.
I can only recommend taking a trip to Italy. Both now and in the future. Whether you are for sunbathing, city breaks, wine tasting, dining experiences, exploring small communities or something completely different. Italy is a fantastic country that has so much variety to offer in the different regions.
I am going to Italy again in January 2022, where for the first time I will experience Italy in a different way than I usually do. I have to live in a ski area in the small region, Valle d'Aosta close by Switzerland. Italy can ski to a great extent as well.
Good holiday and good road trip in Italy!