Regions in Italy Perfect for Exploring by Car

Travel Italy By Car

Perfect Regions of Italy for Exploring by Car

There’s never been a better time to get behind the wheel and explore the Italian peninsula by car. Whether you’ve been to Italy before or are planning your first trip, including a rental car in your travel package is an excellent way to get in touch with the authentic side of Italy. While not all parts of the country are easy for visitors to navigate on their own, there are certain areas that are best explored by car. From verdant vineyards to countryside scenes and coastal escapes, let’s take a virtual road trip through Italy.

1. Palladian Villas and Wine Testing in Veneto Region

Though the most well-known city in Veneto is Venice, this northeastern Italian region is filled with many other treasures worthy of a spot on your bucket list. From history and culture to food and wine, Veneto is a destination our travelers fall in love with year after year. In addition to major cities, such as mesmerizing Verona, there are two distinct parts of the region that offer truly unique experiences for those traveling by car.

First and foremost, Veneto preserves the legacy of native son Andrea Palladio, a revered sixteenth century architect. Drawing inspiration from Ancient Greek and Roman architecture, Palladio’s distinct style influenced countless other architects in Europe and North America over the centuries. Today, the city of Vicenza and 24 Palladian villas in the Veneto region are collectively a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In Vicenza, our expert local guides can’t wait to share the majesty of the famed Teatro Olimpico and other Palladian palaces and villas, such as Palazzo Chiericati, with you. After exploring the streets of Vicenza, continue your voyage along the banks of the Brenta River, which are dotted with Palladian villas and other villas commissioned by the Venetian aristocracy over the centuries. Your guide will point out the unique characteristics of each structure and explain the unifying elements of the Palladian villas, such as white columns, monumental staircases, and pediments.

One unforgettable way to take in the beauty of Palladio’s architecture and the surrounding scenery is to enjoy a cruise along the Brenta River. For true aficionados, it’s even possible to spend the night in a Palladian villa surrounded by the wondrous designs of one of Italy’s most influential architects.

Another local claim to fame is Veneto’s extensive wine-making tradition. From Soave to Valpolicella, there are several wine areas tucked away in the region’s hills that are just waiting to be explored. One of the most famous is located in the province of Treviso between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Referred to as the Prosecco Hills, this area is the birthplace of Italy’s most beloved sparkling wine.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019, the dramatic scenery of the Prosecco Hills — punctuated by steep slopes and tapered ridges — is truly a sight to be seen. Amongst these landscapes, travelers can cruise along the Strada del Prosecco (Prosecco Road), which extends over 55 miles and connects the area’s centuries-old wineries where unforgettable wine tastings await. Get to know the winemakers themselves as they let you in on a few of their secrets. Along the way, there’s no shortage of picturesque countryside villages to explore from historic Collabrigo to Refrontolo, which is renowned for its ancient water mill that is still in use.

Much like its wine, Veneto is a region meant to be savored and experienced at a slower pace.


2. Wild Coastal Scenery and Etruscan Villages in Maremma

Italy’s Tuscany region typically conjures up images of rolling hills covered with vineyards and cypress trees. While those parts of the Tuscan countryside are certainly alluring, the region is home to varied landscapes, with some of the most internationally underrated found in the Maremma area. Located in the southern part of Tuscany, Maremma extends along the coast of the province of Livorno into the northern part of the Lazio region and ends in the province of Viterbo.

Mainly visited by Italian and European travelers, Maremma’s rugged natural beauty remains largely untamed. The landscape, once virtually uninhabited marshland, is now known for its protected natural areas and beaches favored by the locals. Visitors may enjoy hiking through the parks with a knowledgeable nature guide and learning about the local butteri, horseback herders native to Maremma, of which only a small number remain.

Quite a few of the towns in the Maremma area can trace their origins back to the Etruscans. This millenary history is best explained by someone who grew up in the area, has studied its past extensively, and knows these enchanting villages carved into tuff rock like the back of their hand. With the assistance of a local guide, you’ll have the opportunity to admire fascinating towns tucked away in the countryside that might have otherwise been missed.

A few examples include Saturnia, which is characterized by its historic hot springs, and Pitigliano, which is home to Etruscan ruins, medieval and Renaissance architecture, and a historic Jewish community. Other must-sees include the charming cliffside town of Sorano, the Etruscan tombs of Tarquinia, and Viterbo, which hosted the papacy for part of the thirteenth century.

Among the most unique examples of architecture in the area is Villa Farnese. Located in the province of Viterbo, this Renaissance palace dominates the surrounding countryside and features a remarkable pentagonal structure. Surrounded by lush gardens, the interior is home to detailed frescoes and grand staircases.

While visiting Maremma by car, travelers have the opportunity to stay in authentic countryside accommodations. From farmhouses to country estates, these historic structures surrounded by gardens or even vineyards are the best way to connect with the friendly locals and truly appreciate the natural surroundings.

For an unmatched mix of culture, ancient history, and natural beauty, look no further than the Maremma area; and, with a few extra days on hand, Tuscany’s iconic landmarks, such as Florence, Siena, and the Chianti area, can be worked into the same itinerary.


3. Rolling Hills and Historic Castles in Marche

A region of cliffs, beaches, hills, and mountains, Marche’s natural scenery is incredibly varied. We’ve touched on the incomparable beauty of the hilltop city of Urbino before. Known for its Renaissance architecture, the birthplace of Raphael perfectly embodies the rich history and undeniable appeal of the Marche region. And yet, Urbino is just one of the region’s many pearls.

With the Apennines to the west and the Adriatic Sea to the east, the Marche region is defined in part by the nature found within its borders. The interior territory is primarily composed of mountains and hills with stunning natural parks and reserves, such as Monti Sibillini National Park and part of the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park. Tucked away in the hills are small medieval towns full of charm, such as Corinaldo, which is renowned for its defensive walls and undulating streets that make it one of the most picturesque villages in all of Italy.

Along the coast, Parco del Conero amazes visitors with its rugged cliffs and tranquil bays. Hiking trails lead to the summit of Monte Conero where jaw-dropping views of the coast can be admired. Among the principal coastal cities are Pesaro, the hometown of opera composer Gioachino Rossini, and Ancona, the lively capital of the Marche region.

The Grotte di Frasassi, or the Frasassi Caves, are one of the most noteworthy natural wonders in the region and among the most extensive cave systems in Europe. During a guided tour of the Frasassi Caves, travelers can admire wondrous stalagmites, stalactites, a crystallized lake, and the captivating Ancona Abyss, a large cavern that reaches a height of 656 feet. It is estimated that the natural phenomena in the caves took over 1 million years to form.

The Marche region as we know it today has been greatly shaped by its past. The territory once served as the frontier of the Holy Roman Empire, and, as a result, the countryside is dotted with historic castles and defensive structures. Among the most renowned is the thirteenth-century Castello di Gradara (Gradara Castle), which served as the setting for the tragic story of Paolo and Francesca featured in Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Growing up, our guides from the Marche region played in the shadow of the Gradara Castle and today share their local insight with those who visit. Characterized by imposing walls and panoramic ramparts, the castle watches over a medieval village and offers stunning views of San Marino and Rimini. Other striking castles worthy of a stop during a road trip through Marche include the well-preserved Rocca di Mondavio and Rocca Ubaldinesca, which is perched above the Foglia River.

Though not as well-known among international travelers, the Marche region offers unparalleled and authentic experiences amid nature and history that will not disappoint.


4. Charming masserie and whitewashed towns in Apulia

With a gorgeous coastline, crystal blue waters, vibrant cuisine, and a rich history that dates back to the Ancient Greeks, Apulia is quickly becoming one of Southern Italy’s most desirable travel destinations. Located in the heel of Italy’s boot, this land rich in culture and traditions seems suspended in time.

From the lush countryside to the sparkling waters of the coast, Apulia offers incomparable experiences that awaken all the senses. As you drive through the winding roads of the region, be sure to stop in one of the traditional farmhouses native to Apulia. Known as masserie, these stone structures have stood the test of time. Originally constructed as rustic abodes for local farmers, today some masserie have been given upscale renovations, while others appear as they did centuries ago. Most are surrounded by typical Apulian countryside scenery with endless rows of ancient olive trees and a unique reddish soil dominating the landscape.

The masserie lie at the heart of Apulian culture offering once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. For a delightful and highly authentic experience, our travelers to the region might choose to spend a few nights in a masseria. If you prefer to stay in one of the region’s charming towns or along the coast, you could still visit a masseria to participate in unique local experiences, such as a hands-on cooking class led by a local nonna eager to share the culinary traditions that have been part of her family for generations.

Apulia’s charm also lies in the numerous captivating whitewashed towns that would be right at home in a fairy tale. From Foggia in the north through Locorotondo and Ostuni down to Otranto and Gallipoli, it’s possible to cross the majority of the region while admiring the crisp, white structures of each town. Though Ostuni is officially known as “The White City,” each of these destinations is defined by stunning white buildings that stand out against the background of the blue sea or verdant countryside.

As for food, we’ll guide you through the region’s best vineyards and olive groves where high quality wines and olive oil have been produced for centuries. Learn about the traditional processes passed down from generation to generation directly from the locals themselves. Listen as master winemakers and olive oil producers share the secrets of their craft with great pride.

Don’t miss the chance to literally break bread with the locals as you taste pane di Altamura, or Altamura bread. Hailing from the Altamura area in the northern part of Apulia, this historic bread is made following set protocols that define the specific type of wheat and production process. The result is a fragrant loaf of bread with a thick crust and a soft interior.

Whether you choose to stay in a countryside masseria, one of the stunning white towns, or a coastal resort, the Apulia region — one of Southern Italy’s brightest gems — is sure to leave a lasting impression.


5. Seaside paradises and pristine countryside in Sardinia

The enchanting island of Sardinia beckons to those who prefer to take the path less traveled. While the tourism infrastructure found in other parts of Italy isn’t present in the majority of the island, it’s precisely Sardinia’s untouched nature that makes this region attractive to travelers with an adventurous spirit.

If beach time and relaxation are your priorities, drive along the Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast, which is positioned in the northeastern part of the island. This glamorous area is home to upscale resort towns, such as Porto Cervo. The clear blue water and white sands combined with elegant restaurants, bars, and clubs have attracted the jet set and celebrities from all over the world for decades.

To truly get in touch with the local culture, be sure to venture into the rustic countryside. Though Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean, its sparse population results in a wild landscape largely free from the influence of man. Nature lovers will enjoy hiking their way through the hills and mountains of the island’s interior. You can also delve into Sardinia’s past by visiting one of the numerous nuraghi scattered throughout the countryside. These prehistoric stone structures date back to the Bronze Age and have become a symbol of the island.

During your time in Sardinia, don’t miss the chance to stay in an authentic agriturismo, which is a modest accommodation set on the grounds of a working farm. Here, the locals will be happy to show you how products such as cheese are still made following centuries-old traditions. There’s no better souvenir to take home with you than a small bottle of olive oil or vinegar made with care by your new friends.

Whether you come for the history, the beaches, the scenery, or all of the above, Sardinia is a place that remains part of you long after you’ve left.


Taking the time to explore Italy by car allows travelers to set their own pace and fully immerse in the culture, history, and scenery of a particular destination. Imagine enjoying a special countryside picnic or having unlimited stops to capture those special moments and stunning sceneries on camera. If you’re an adventurer who enjoys a bit of spontaneity, traveling through Italy by car can offer unique opportunities that other methods of transportation do not. After learning about some of Italy’s best regions to discover by car, we hope you’ve found some new inspiration for your next road trip through Italy.

Travel to Italy and Green Pass Certificate

Italy is now Open for Travel

Travel to Italy from the USA: What you need to know

The moment we’ve all been waiting for is finally here — Italy is now welcoming U.S. travelers once more.
After a challenging year, the situation in Italy has drastically improved: restaurants and points of interest are fully open, curfews have been lifted, and, most recently, the requirement to wear masks outdoors was removed on June 28, 2021. If you’re ready to visit Italy, continue reading below to learn about the COVID-19 Green Certificate and the rules currently in place for travel to Italy from the United States.

What is the COVID-19 Green Certificate

Starting July 1, 2021, the European Union’s (EU) COVID Certificate regulation will be in effect for 12 months. The certificate allows for travel throughout the European Union without the holder being subject to quarantines or additional COVID-19 tests. The COVID-19 Green Certificate, also called Green Pass, Green Certificate, or COVID Certificate, confirms that the holder has either been fully vaccinated, has recently tested negative for COVID-19, or has recently recovered from COVID-19. Effective June 21, 2021, Italy’s provisions related to the Green Certificate apply to travelers from the United States.

Before departing, all travelers to Italy must complete a digital Passenger Locator Form or a paper-based self-declaration. To avoid a 10-day quarantine upon arrival in Italy, travelers from the United States may present a COVID Certificate from their local health authority that is compliant with EU and Italian regulations.

How the Covid-19 Green Certificate Works

The EU COVID Certificate is a standardized method to verify vaccination, a recent negative COVID-19 test result, or recent recovery from COVID-19. Under the regulation, EU Member States must refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on certificate holders, such as quarantines or COVID-19 testing. An exception would be to protect public health; EU Member States have the ability to reintroduce travel restrictions, even for certificate holders, if the epidemiological situation worsens quickly or if an elevated prevalence of variants is detected.

The COVID-19 Green Certificate and U.S. Travelers

Travelers from the United States who meet the requirements of the EU COVID Certificate will not be subject to quarantine upon arrival in Italy. To qualify, U.S. travelers must present one of three valid certificates to their air carrier upon embarking and to local authorities upon entering Italy. The valid certificates that satisfy Green Certificate provisions are as follows:

  • Vaccinated travelers may enter Italy starting 14 days after the final dose of an EU-approved COVID vaccine (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and AstraZeneca). Fully vaccinated travelers with a valid certificate should be exempt from COVID testing and quarantines when traveling to Italy. A COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card with the CDC logo will serve as proof of vaccination for U.S. travelers.
  • Unvaccinated travelers may enter Italy with a valid negative COVID-19 PCR or rapid antigen test result. Tests must be carried out no more than 48 hours prior to departure. A valid certification from the laboratory that performed the test must be presented.
  • Those who have recovered from COVID-19 should be exempt from COVID testing and quarantines while traveling in Italy for 180 days starting on the 11th day after their positive COVID test. These travelers must present a medical certificate with relevant details that attest to their illness and recovery.
  • Unvaccinated children over 6 years old will be subject to pre-departure COVID testing, while children under 6 years old are exempt from pre-departure COVID testing. Unvaccinated children under 18 years old traveling with a parent or family member who is not subject to quarantine will be exempt from quarantine as well.

The purpose of this post is to summarize information concerning the EU COVID Certificate as a courtesy to our travelers. The accuracy of the information contained herein is reported to the best of our knowledge. While we make every effort to keep this post current and updated, please refer to government authorities for specific details and the latest updates regarding the COVID-19 Green Certificate and international travel, which can also be viewed at the following official websites:

European Commission
Ministero della Saluta (Italian Health Ministry)
Travel State Gov
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Italy’s Best Underrated Archeological Sites

Italy's Archaeology Sites

Best Italy's underrated archeological sites

With a rich history that spans millennia, Italy is naturally home to hundreds of interesting archeological sites. Once you’ve admired the majesty of the Colosseum and walked through the preserved streets of the city of Pompeii, there are still plenty of noteworthy archeological areas throughout Italy to explore. The following list contains our favorite outdoor archeological sites that history and architecture lovers shouldn’t miss.

1. Aosta's Roman Ruins

Known as the “Rome of the Alps,” the city of Aosta is home to an impressive number of Roman ruins. Tucked away in the small region of the Aosta Valley along the border with France, a stroll through Aosta’s city center offers views of one remarkably well-preserved Roman monument after another, effectively making the city a large outdoor archeological site. Our knowledgeable and local guides who have extensively studied the city’s past and played among the Roman ruins as kids would love to show you around this ancient city.

Among the most evident vestiges of Aosta’s Roman founders are the imposing city walls, which continue to welcome visitors as they enter into the city. Amazingly, the thick concrete and stone walls are nearly fully preserved. Reaching a height of 21 feet, it’s possible to walk along the walls and admire the original Roman gates, two of which remain intact, as well as towers built during the medieval period.

As you begin exploring Aosta, take note of the streets. The orderly arrangement follows a Roman plan and your guide will explain how the city’s layout served the Romans from a strategic standpoint. Within the city walls are the ruins of the Roman Theater, which nowadays hosts concerts in the summer and the city’s annual Christmas market in the winter. Near the theater, remains of a later Roman amphitheater and marketplace have been uncovered.

With Augusta Praetoria Salassorum as the city’s original Roman name, it’s no surprise that a magnificent triumphal arch dedicated to Emperor Augustus stands just outside of the city walls. As one of Aosta’s most important monuments, the arch commemorates the Roman defeat of the Salassi tribe and the founding of Aosta. There are also two Roman bridges of note, one near the arch, called Ponte di Pietra, which once crossed the Buthier River, and the Pont d’Aël, which served as an aqueduct and transported water to the Roman colony. Today it’s possible to walk along the top of the latter bridge and admire views of the surrounding area.

With the exception of Rome, there’s truly no better place than Aosta to fully appreciate the vast history of the Roman Empire while experiencing countless ancient remains up-close.

2. Aquileia

Taking into account its current modest appearance as a small town in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, it can be hard to believe that Aquileia was once among the largest and most important cities in the ancient world. After its founding in 181 BC, Aquileia served as a trading center and military outpost for the Romans until it was destroyed by Attila in the fifth century. Subsequently, Aquileia became an important hub for the spread of Christianity throughout Europe.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998, Aquileia differs from other archeological sites in Italy as it remains largely unexcavated. Visible ruins are scarce and primarily include a bath complex, residential structures, funerary monuments, part of the amphitheater, and several columns of the Roman Forum — which have become a symbol of Aquileia.

In addition to these remnants, a treasure trove of Roman artifacts lies just beneath the vast green fields. As a result, Aquileia is one of the most important archeological reserves in the world. The ruins of the ancient city even extend to the port area. Aquileia’s strategic position on the Natiso River helped it become one of the wealthiest cities in the Roman Empire and various port structures can still be observed today.

Covering nearly 400 acres, the expansive archeological site is best explored with an expert guide. Our skilled guides provide historic context and ensure you don’t miss anything, which is especially important in Aquileia since most of the structures are still underground. To supplement your visit, stop by the National Archeological Museum where more than 2,000 ancient artifacts are on display.

Last, but certainly not least, travelers shouldn’t miss Aquileia’s Patriarchal Basilica, a medieval church built on top of an ancient complex. The current church houses a stunning fourth century mosaic floor, which is the single largest mosaic work in Italy.

Sitting at the crossroads of Ancient Roman and Early Christian history, modern Aquileia is a small town with an immense past.

3. Rock Drawing in Val Camonica

Italy’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site is tucked away amongst the Alpine valleys of eastern Lombardy in the province of Brescia. Known as Val Camonica, this area is home to over 140,000 figures and symbols carved into the local rock. Created over a period of more than 8,000 years, the drawings in Val Camonica are considered to be one of the largest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs in the world.

Because the carvings are spread across a large valley and encompass 8 local parks, touring the area with a local guide is a must. Trips 2 Italy guides, who have studied the drawings and local history for years, are eager to share their insight with you.

The petroglyphs themselves are diverse and depict a variety of important cultural aspects, such as hunting, in addition to symbols and geometric figures. Interestingly, the drawings also mark cultural shifts in the local population, such as the transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to farming. The interpretations of the drawings provided by your guide will be essential to understanding prehistoric customs and mindsets.

Discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, the rock drawings provide a valuable look at the history of mankind from the Neolithic Period to the Middle Ages. Visitors will be amazed by the level of detail achieved by our ancestors with primitive tools.

For a truly unique outdoor museum surrounded by pristine natural beauty that will satisfy both historians and hikers, look no further than Val Camonica.

4. Paestum

Often overshadowed by its neighbor to the north, Pompeii, the ancient city of Paestum is more than worth a visit in its own right. Founded by the Greeks as Poseidonia in the seventh century BC then conquered by the Romans, Paestum was eventually abandoned in the Middle Ages before being rediscovered during the eighteenth century. As a result, much of the original Greek city is intact, including three ancient temples.

While the ancient city once covered nearly 300 acres, nowadays approximately 62 acres have been excavated and can be visited. Spend a day exploring this incomparable archeological site with a local guide who will help you travel back in time to Magna Graecia.

Follow your guide through the ancient roads paved by the Greeks to experience Paestum through the eyes of a local. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to admire the nearly complete city walls, which span 3 miles, the amphitheater, and, of course, the temples that were constructed over a period from approximately 550 BC to 450 BC.

In addition to the Greek temples, it’s also possible to take in remains of the city’s Roman period including the forum, amphitheater, and a temple. Also of note are the painted tombs that date back to the Greek and Lucanian periods. The most renowned is the Tomb of the Diver, which is on display at the Paestum National Archeological Museum among other ancient works of art including painted pottery and terracotta statues.

With its immaculately preserved temples, Paestum is perhaps the best place in Italy to trace the history and culture of the Ancient Greeks who settled in the southern part of the peninsula.

5. Sicily

As far as archeological sites go, the island of Sicily has it all — the remains of ancient temples, theaters, villas, mosaics, and much more. While the majority of Sicily’s archeological sites are of Greek origin, one exceptional Roman monument can be found near the town of Piazza Armerina.

The Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, boasts one of the most extensive and highly regarded collections of Roman mosaics on the planet. Dating back to the fourth century, the intricately detailed and elaborate mosaics span more than 37,000 square feet. The mosaics are in an impeccable state of conservation and offer invaluable insight into Ancient Roman culture. Due to its scale and variety of mosaics, Villa Romana del Casale is one place that would be simply overwhelming to visit without the guidance of a local art and history expert.

As for Greek ruins, one must-see is the Valley of the Temples. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples is a vast archeological area home to some of the most well-preserved Greek temples in the world. With 11 magnificent temples and other ancient structures to explore, our local guides can’t wait to share their passion for this remarkable place with you.

Other noteworthy sites include the well-preserved Greek temple located just outside of Segesta, as well as the Greek amphitheater of Taormina, which today is one of Italy’s most evocative concert venues. Also not to be missed is Syracuse’s Neapolis Archeological Park, which features a Greek theater, a Roman amphitheater, and the Ear of Dionysus, a natural cavern with exceptional acoustics.

We’ve only scratched the surface of Sicily’s impressive array of archeological sites. In fact, the island is filled with gems that are best explored by car. If you choose to rent a car, your Trips 2 Italy travel package will include our personal off-the-beaten-path suggestions, while if you travel with a private driver, your driver will be more than happy to show you places only locals know about.

With so many archeological wonders to admire, a trip to Sicily offers unforgettable encounters with the island’s past.

From Roman ruins to Greek temples and prehistoric artwork, Italy’s outdoor archeological sites transport travelers back in time. Whether you’re a devoted history buff or simply take travel as an opportunity to learn about the world’s greatest ancient civilizations, there’s nothing quite like setting your eyes on a historic monument or work of art that has endured for thousands of years.

Of course, getting lost in some of Italy’s serious history doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy other legendary sites or leisurely activities all during the same trip. From guided city tours and skip-the-line museum entrances to winery visits and tastings or even hands-on cooking classes, Trips 2 Italy can design the ideal itinerary so you can fully immerse in the country’s rich culture and traditions. If you are interested in any of these historic sites but can’t decide which area of Italy to visit first, contact your Trips 2 Italy travel specialist to customize your perfect travel package.