Welcome to Part II of our road trip through Italy. In the first part of our trip we visited the Amalfi coast and Rome. If you want to read up on those places check it out here. I also go over the cost of this road trip (cost of the rental, gas, tolls) as well as the logistics of traveling by car in Italy.
On to the next! We continued our journey up the country stopping in Tuscany, Cinque Terre, and finally the Dolomites. If you’re curious about what cities were on our not-miss-list, where we stayed, and beautiful photography spots , keep reading!
Next on our list was central Italy— home to rolling hills, and the historic cities of Florence and Siena. It’s a place of art, delicious local dishes, and hilltop towns that overlook breathtaking valleys. When you ask “What is Tuscany famous for?” the list is endless.
The first thing I had to check out was the Saturnia Hot Springs. I heard mixed reviews about this spot, but in my perspective I was pleasantly surprised and it surpassed my expectations! Another obsession of mine along with road trips are hot springs so I was thrilled to be adding this one to my list! Milky blue waters and mild tempertures. I loved how this springs had different tiers so it was almost like having your own tub even if it does get crowded. Which it does get very packed! We got there for sunrise and there was already quite a few people.
Where we stayed: Agriturismo La Meria
We stay at this Airbnb and I highly recommend it. Super cute place, pool, gorgeous views, affordable and complementary breakfast. It’s also only about 15 mins from the hot springs.
I also saw a few people camping right near the hot springs we didn’t have any camping gear so that wasn’t something we couldn’t really take advantage of but if that’s more your style and want to be there first thing, it may be something to look into.
This was something I just had to see: cypress lined paths and rolling hills. Honestly this is my mental image when I think of Tuscany. We didn’t stay long— just a pit stop onto Florence, but it was a must just to take a couple drone shots (& eat more gelato of course).
Location: down the street from the airbnb (Campo di Marte)
Florence— home to Tuscany’s capital. It is the birthplace of many renaissance masterpieces. One of the most iconic architecture, the Duomo. A Cathedral with a terracotta-tiled domed. The Galleria dell’Accademia displays Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture. The Uffizi Gallery exhibits Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation”. There’s so much culture and history which is why when we go back to Italy this is definitely one of the first cities we return to.
Location: Piazzale Michelangelo
Where we stayed: Campo di Marte
We rented a cute bnb with in biking distance from the Duomo & the host was the nicest lady. The place was a small studio apartment with a pull out couch bed and it was honestly very comfortable. The only hard part was we had no ac. There was a fan but didn’t help much at the end of summer.
Cinque Terre translated means five lands— comprised of five small coastal villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso located in the Italian region of Liguria. In each of the five villages lie colorful houses, creeping vineyards along terraces, and harbors are filled with fishing boats. The Sentiero Azzurro cliffside hiking trail links the villages and offers sweeping sea vistas.
Of course I would have loved to have visit every single one of the lands but alas not enough time. I think I could live in taly for years and not get to see everything I want. But for now seeing Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Monterosso will have to do!
Where we stayed:La Corte di ValEmi 4- Appartamento
We stayed in this Airbnb in Riccò del Golfo. A green valley behind Cinque Terre and only took us about 20 minutes to get into each of the Cinque Terre villages.
Another place we decided to ditch the car and go in by train. We learned our lesson from Positano and played it safe. It was such a breeze getting on and off the train and everything is very close.
Location: Lago di Braies
The Dolomites are Italy’s alps — located north east. They form a part of the south limestone alps and extend from the River Adige to the Piave Valley. The Dolomites are a popular winter destination as its best known for its snow sports, however even in the most popular months it remains relatively crowd-free since its Italy’s least traveled area. Which absolutely blows my mind because of its stunning beauty. It’s an incredible place for hiking in the summer and fall.
Location: View from airbnb (Sol e Nef Apartments)
Where we stayed: Sol e Nef Apartments
This was our view from the first airbnb we stayed at in the Dolomites. You can tell immediately that you are in a completely different part of the country when you enter the Dolomites. Felt more like we were in Austria rather than Italy, especially when more people were speaking German than Italian!
We had limited time here and were only able to spend time in two different locations: Lago di Braies and Lago di Sorapis.
Lago di Braies
Location: Lago di Braies— on the boat house
We were honestly pretty beat by the time we made it all the way here so we just took it easy. We walked around the lake and took all the views. We decided not to take a canoe and just walk the trails.
Where we stayed: Hotel Lago di Braies
Hotel Lago di Braies is the only hotel on the lake. We definitely took advantage of staying here. We ate meals out on our balcony and was so nice to be able to come in and out whenever we pleased. Another perk of staying here was that it was free for us to park. It was on the pricey side but well worth it if you really want to enjoy it. Prices change from season to season so you just have to make a request to get a quote.
Location: Hotel Lago di Braies— view from our room
Lago di Sorapis
Location: Lago di Sorapis— 10 mile round-trip hike
The trails begins at Passo Tre Croci, which is about 6 miles away from Cortina d’Ampezzo. At the end of the hike you will reach a chalet where you can grab food and a drink.
I did a quick google search of this hike on our way here and one of the first links that popped up was a blog titled “easy hike”. Perfect I thought, this will be a nice little morning hike and we will be back by lunch. Very quickly we realized that this was not a hike you did on a whim.
My converse were definitely not cutting it on the 45 degree rocky incline path. There are even sections of via ferrata, which include some cables and ladders. Definitley not “easy” as stated by the professional hiker. At least not in my converse. We began seeing other hikers descending with full on hiking gear— I’m talking boots, walking poles, those unzippable pants, etc! The looks we were getting were quite hilarious and my husband, Mitchell, who is not the biggest fan of hiking (under-statement of the year) was slowly getting more and more pissed off.
5 miles in and probably about a mile of re-tracking we finally make to Lago di Sorpis! Its beautiful! It’s everything I imagined it would be. Striking mountain peaks and dreamy, milky blue waters. The first thing I want to do is jump right in! I’m drenched in sweat and nothing sounds better than some brain-freezing glacier water. I don’t even notice I am the only one in the water, But the second I get out I see a sign that says “no swimming” oops. I’m sorry I don’t even regret it. Ignorance is bliss right?
That concludes our Italy adventures! Please let me know if you have any questions or let me know which area in Italy were your favorite if you’ve been below!