This trip was something that I had been dreaming of doing for quite a while (like most I am sure). The iconic boot shape of Italy has its toes in the Mediterranean Sea at its Southern tip, snow-capped Alps at its Northern top, stunning beaches and culturally enriched cities in the middle zipper part. It’s an amazing country full of ancient ruins, historical museums, and wonderful, friendly culture. And if that isn’t enough to make Italy on the top of list, its delicious cuisine will surely get you there. I honestly don’t think I’ve met one person in all my life to tell me they don’t like Italian food. And a drive-at- your-own-pace through the country is the perfect way to see (and eat) as much of it as you can!
You all know how much I love road trips, so being able to drive pretty much the entire country was a dream come true. If you’re curious what cities were on our not-miss-list, where we stayed, and how much a trip like this costs, stick around.
The Amalfi Coast
View from Le Sirenuse
We decided to start our Italian adventure in the south and work our way up North. We flew into the Naples airport, picked up our rental car from the airport, and headed to our first stay, the Amalfi coast.
We rented our car from Hertz. The airport offers a free shuttle from the airport to car rental place right outside the airport. We rented a skoda hatchback and the cost of a 10-day rental came out to $400 total. Which wasn’t too bad in my opinion if you think about how much it costs to rent a car in the U.S. What really killed us was the price of gas. Let me tell you, gas in Europe is EXPENSIVE. Oh, and not to mention the tolls. But absolutely worth it.
My dad is from Portugal so I spend quite a lot of time there and as small of country as it is we usually end up paying just as much in gas as we do in the U.S going a way shorter distance. Same goes for Italy. Gas prices varied from region to region but it was usually around $6.00 per gallon or 2.00€ per liter… yep, not easy to get use to when you’re use to paying $2-4 per gallon.
I believe we ended up paying $360 in gas and $70 in toll fees.
There’s just something about driving from place to place opposed to flying though! You literally get to see the entire country. The good and the bad, the local spots and tourist hotspots alike. Let me warn you driving in Italy can be challenge. Narrow streets, limited parking, and crazy aggressive drivers made it insane at some places. That being said, I am still so glad we decided to drive, if at least once in Italy. I can’t tell you how many times we just saw a spot and I was like “pull over now! I need to see this!” My husband was definitely a good sport haha.
The Amalfi coast was probably the most challenging place to drive because there is literally no parking. Luckily our Airbnb was outside the really touristy spots so we were always able to find parking near our place. If I could do it over I definitely would take a bus into places like Positano. I think we got two parking tickets in Italy and both were from Amalfi. Its super confusing, there may be open spots but doesn’t mean it’s legal to park. They have different colored lines to “inform” you if is ok to park or not which we ended up finding out about after the fact. We had no idea what a green or blue line meant. Definitely would have been more enjoyable if we just ditched the car at our bnb and took a bus in.
For more in depth driving tips & laws I recommend taking a look at this link.
We stayed in Sorrento in the Amalfi coast and was about a half hour away from Positano. Much more low key and much more local, which I loved. Staying outside of Positano means we were able to stay at a really nice Airbnb for half the cost. We loved the cute place we stayed in Sorrento for only 68€. Linked here.
Spiaggia Grande Beach
Seriously, can you believe places like this exist! Positano has to be one of the most postcard perfect places ever! Bougainvillea everywhere, glistening deep blue ocean, and cute little homes stacked up on top each other — doesn’t get more picturesque! We had 3 days in Amalfi and spent two days here. Unfortunately, I got super sick right when we landed in Naples so it was really a struggle to do everything I wanted to do here so we basically just took it easy. We ate, swam, and took in the amazing views. One thing I am really regret not doing is taking a boat tour of the grottos and going to Capri! Its definitely on the must do for next time!
We were here near the end of September and it was still insanely packed mid-day. We hung out at the main beach — Spiaggia Grande in the early morning and by 12 pm it was fully packed. There are few other beaches around that are probably not as packed, such as Fornillo, Laurito, and Arienzo. Check this blog for a more in detailed list of the “hidden beaches” of Positano.
Where to eat?
- Chez Black — One of my must do’s was eating at Chez Black. We had a candle lit pizza/pasta dinner right by the water and was amazing just as expected! This was one of the pricier meals we ate, also as expected being in touristy Positano. Also, they make heart shaped pizza so obvi worth it- jk kinda…
- Albergo California — They do an amazing buffet style brunch for around 10€. Amazing views of course.
- Limoncello/Limoncello gelato — They have this tasty sour/sweet treat all over and is a must while here.
Rome was the only city in Italy that I wasn’t as impressed with as I thought I’d be. It was pretty run down with graffiti. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a city that you must visit soley for the amount of history. It was for sure a surreal experience walking the streets in a city where the center of world was centuries ago. We pretty much did all of the touristy things; Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and ate our fill of pizza and gelato, and I wasn’t mad about it one bit. I feel like those are just things you must do at least once and when we come back we can do the more off the beaten path things.
I did have a big bucket list moment- pizza date in front of colosseum with my love. It was amazing to just sit and take in all the history of this iconic city whilst eating its most famous dish. I felt like I was in a movie and it’s definitely a moment I’ll never forget.
Where we stayed?
We stayed at a shared Airbnb and I’ll be honest it was not the nicest place. 5 other travelers were also staying here so it was cramped. But it did the job and saved us a few bucks. When you are literally just sleeping it doesn’t really make sense to splurge on a nice place. It was also close to everything, which was a huge perk.
Where to eat?
- Giolitti — Hands down the best gelato we ate in Italy and we made it our mission to eat gelato daily if not twice a day.
- Fourme — We picked this joint because it was right by the Colosseum so we could just walk to it and then have our picnic in front of the Colosseum. Im sure there are plenty of spots near by you can choose from. I’d give it a solid 7.7/10
That’s it for Part I of our Italy road trip! You can find Part II here! I’ll be talking about Tuscany, Cinque Terre, and the Dolomites! Be sure to leave me a comment if you have any questions or having anything to add. I’d love to hear your experiences at these beautiful places!