ITALY THE GUIDE
For three weeks we drove all the way in our Mini Cooper from Haarlem to Sicily and back. We passed through the beautiful Italian alps, the olive fields of Tuscany and an active volcano in Sicily. All this in a 3399 km long roadtrip. Fasten your seatbelts and lets go!
Day 1 Netherlands – Dolomites
Day 2 Dolomites
Day 3 Dolomites
Day 4 Dolomites – Cinque Terre
Day 5 Cinque Terre – Tuscany
Day 6 Tuscany
Day 7 Tuscany
Day 8 Tuscany – Amalfi Coast – Reggio Calabria
Day 9 Reggio Calabria – Messina (Sicily)
Day 10 Aeolian islands
Day 11 Cefalu
Day 12 Palermo
Day 13 Caltagirone
Day 14 Etna
Day 15 Ostuni
Day 16 Alberobello
Day 17 Trento
Haarlem – Dolomites
– August 2020 –
Here we go! In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic we had to be flexible. This was our 4th try of traveling. First we booked tickets to Iceland but they where cancelled only one day before departure.
Ah well, like we said, we had to be flexible. We decided to travel by car so we could change plans quickly if needed. We didn’t had The Rover at that time so we went with our Mini Cooper!
Our plan was to drive along the coast of Italy and completing the boot. So this day we had to drive around 10 hours and 50 minutes to reach our first destination Hotel Albergo Posta Pederoa in La valle, dolomites in Italy.
After a good night of sleep, this mountain air makes you sleep like a baby, we joined breakfast. We ate so much to prepare for a day full of hiking, eating and more hiking. Oke, especialy eating. The food in this hotel is outstanding we are really recommending this hotel.
From our hotel we drove to our first highlight of the day: Lago di Braies. Some say this is the most beautiful lake in Europe. We left early so we could avoid the crowds. After a 50 minute drive we arrived at the parking lot. Definitely not the first one!
We hiked around the lake. And yes it is absolutely pretty but don’t know if its the prettiest. Especialy the crowd makes it feel like a big attraction. In front of the big hotel they rent out little boats. Could be nice to do, but it was so busy we skipped it.
After our hike we wanted to go to Lago Dobaccia, but first coffee. We stopped at this little pretty village called Dobbiaco Toblach. We definitely recommend this idyllic alpine town.
Lake Dobaccia was a little bit of a let down compared to Lago di Braies. We only stayed for a few minutes.
After two lakes we set our navigation to Cortina d’Ampezzo. The place where you buy a Gucci ski outfit instead of Protest. A town for the rich.
We had lunch in the town square and ate our first pasta. After lunch we took a beautiful mountain pass back to our hotel and chilled for the rest of the day.
– Lago di Braies
– Hiking in the mountains
Ahhh so good to wake up knowing to have such a good breakfast. Today our plan was a lot of hiking.
We drove to Rocca Pietore. In winter an awesome ski area, in summer a heaven for hikers. We took the skilift up to Station Sciatica Arabba Marmalade. When we got out of the lift, on top of the mountain, you can choose to go left and hike straight up to the viewpoint or go right and do a longer hike.
We first started with the longer hike on the right and took awesome drone footage of the area. We also did the viewpoint. Check the photo’s for this awesome area.
As a treat to ourself we ate pizza for lunch in Mazzin. The first pizza of our trip. Good, not the best.
We went back to our hotel where they organized a wine tasting with aperitivo. Afterwards we chilled in our hotel room and enjoyed dinner again.
This day we had a lot of kilometers to cover. This was the last day in the hotel and the end destination of today was Cinque Terre.
But first we went to a place we looked forward too for a long time: tre cime di lavaredo, or in English the three peaks.
The beautiful peaks stand out in the surroundings. The hikes are insanely beautiful. We parked our car at the general car park at Auronzo Hut.
7 km up to the parking area next to the Auronzo hut, at the Tre Cime base. Be aware that the road is not free though. The toll road to the Three Peaks of Lavaredo in 202o costs 30€ per car.
We hiked the shortest trail because we didn’t have the time to explore more. We were so impressed by the beauty of the three peaks we are definitely returning here with the Rover.
After the hike we set course to Cinque Terre. The famous 5 villages on the cliffs of the mediteranian.
We past by Venice around lunch time and found this awesome restaurant Osteria al Diplomatico. It was really busy with locals, always a good sign. We managed to get a table. The food was delicious.
After a few more hours of driving we arrived at our Air B&B Rifugio Cinque Terre in Ri0maggiore. The year before we also stayed at this B&B and this was one of our favorite stays ever.
If you like spectaculair views, epic piano music and real Italian food and drinks. This is the place for you. The owners have a vineyard where the make their own wine. The owner was also a professional piano player. So sometimes, when you are drinking the perfect wine you also get treated by the beauty of the piano.
After some drinks, food, more drinks, more food and limoncello. We went to sleep.
Dolomites – Cinque Terre
– Tre Cime
– Views from Rifugio Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre – Tuscany
Our host advised us to do the Monesteroli hike. This is just around the corner of the bridge z § =b&b, the hike consist of a long way down of … steps and stairs where you get awesome views en a great swimming area.
The way down is not that hard, off course. Its the way up where you leg muscles really get torterred. When we did the hike it was also pretty warm. But look at the views and you get rewarded with a private beach! Winnings! There is a natural Pool in the cliffs. The waves are not so hard because the break on the rocks before it.
We had to continue our journey to our next destination: Tuscany. But after a tiring hike you need a proper lunch. That’s no problem in Italy. Our host gave some good advice again a fish restaurant where all the locals go. The restaurant was in La Spezia and was crowded! That’s a good sign. We had a great Italian lunch and continued to Montespertoli.
We booked in a B&B named … It is located on a old farm and they still make there all pasta. They also have a restaurant. I feel I get repetitive but all this food in Italy. Its insanely good everywhere. Offcourse we made use of the restaurant the first evening!
On day 6 we went for a visit to San Gimignano.Visible from the bends of the highway, San Gimignano announces itself from above with its famous towers. Truly a little gem, it is so precious that UNESCO has declared it a “World Heritage Site.” Walking through the Old City means plunging into the Middle Ages and getting a taste of what the city must have been like more than seven hundred years ago.
We visited the local stores and got an ice cream for the award winning ice cream shop. This was our first gelato by the way, end defiantly worth the calories.
The rest of the day we avoided the heat and went for a relaxing midday at the swimming pool of our B&B. We got a family visit in the evening and enjoyed Italian dinner, again.
– San Gimignano
We stayed a bit longer in Tuscany. We visited the beautiful city Sienna. This is likely Italy’s loveliest medieval city, and a trip worth making even if you are in Tuscany for just a few days. Siena’s heart is its central piazza known as Il Campo, known worldwide for the famous Palio run here, a horse race run around the piazza two times every summer.
The horses weren’t there when we visited. We parked our car on the parking lot from the city football stadium. From here it was only a 10 minute walk to the city center.
We are not a big fan of touristy places. But even with all the tourist this is still a lovely place to visit.
Around lunch time we headed back to base camp, the weather was beautiful. So we ordered a beer and relaxed by the pool.
Tuscany – Amalfi Coast – Reggio Calabria
– Food 😉
So if you are a follower of our journey you maybe noticed we have some odd travel routes. Sometimes we drive hours back or we skip whole parts.
If you didn’t notice yet, you will now…
We had a regular Italian vacation wake up ritual. Sunny morning, breakfast and good views. Today we planned to head up to the Amalfi Coast. We wanted to do some hikes there before we continued to Sicily.
This day was suppose to be a traveling day and we had to cover around 6 hours of driving. We like driving long distances. In the background we had a podcast about the roman history which fitted perfect in the surroundings.
We reserverd a camping spot at … where we had a tent on the cliffs with a sea side view.
When we arrived at Amalfi Coast we already noticed the small roads and steep cliffs. The drive along the cliffs was Beautiful!
Then we arrived at our campsite, where we had a lot of trouble finding a parking spot because of the narrow roads and the limited spots.
When we checked in the employe insisted they wanted our car keys so they could move our car. We where not comfortable giving our car keys away, because our insurance doesn’t allow third party drivers.
Beceause we understood the situation that in curtain situations the car had to be moved we offered they could call is if needed because we where not planning of leaving that day.
But they didn’t want that, they owner got irritated and really unfriendly.
So we thought, fuck it we don’t want to be here. We drove 416 km extra to Seminara in Reggio Calabria so we could take the next morning ferry to Sicily.
On our way we found this hotel next to the highway. It looked a little bit creepy, it felt like a scene from a good mafia movie.
But damn! This food! One of our best and cheapest meals!
We took one of the first ferry’s from the Italys mainland to the island of Sicily. It was pretty easy. You go to a drivethrough ticket machine, line up for the ferry. 40 minutes later you are there.
The first few minutes on the Sicilian road was a little hard and I had to get used to the Sicilian driving style. Which is a little rougher then in Holland.
We drove for … minutes to Messina and found this awesome B&B! We parked our car before the B&B and had a warm welcome from the owner. We could leave our luggage at our room even though we where a little early.
He advised how we could go to the Aoylian Island. And quickly we took the next ferry to the small island. It is an epic place if you want te read more about the island read this.
After a long day of hiking and scootering around the island we took the last ferry back to the B&B. We went our for dinner, got some ice-cream and went to bed. If you want to learn more about a day trip to the Aoylian Island, read this blog.
– Aeolian Islands
Pool of Venus
We woke up really early around 06:00 to visit a place we found on, you will never believe it, instagram. It was called The pool of Venus and its a natural swimming pool along the cliffs of the beach.
Because we where so early we where the first there. It is a beautiful place and defently recommend it.
From out B&B it was only a 15 minute drive and when we returned we enjoyed a great breakfast.
Our next drive was around … long drive to the south of the island. We booked this awesome B&B for a few days to relax and chill. Heads up: this was one of our best B&B’s ever!
We stopped at the coastal town of Gioisa Marea and had lunch at …
I had the pasta with swordfish and damn it was good.
After lunch we drove the last 20 minutes to Piraino where our B&B was, JustB&B.
We took a cabin with sea side view, the owner gave us a warm welcome and a glass of champagne. The rest of the day we enjoyed our awesome view. We didnt had a spectaculair dinner: just some yogurth.
waking up with a beautiful sunrise from our bed we had breakfast. The owner of Just B&B does everything in such a good way and the breakfast is no exception.
If you have come this far in reading the blog post I am very sorry to have to let you down. I didn’t find the motivation to finish it (yet). Maybe one day when you come back to this page. Until then, contact us on Instagram and we will tell you where we went…..