The Perfect 10 Day Italy Road Trip Itinerary

Road trips can be a really cost-effective way to travel in a country and you get to set your own pace which is awesome. Many people don’t think right away of a Europe road trip, but it’s a great way to experience a country and get to know even better. Here is the 10-day Italy road trip itinerary I used for my summer trip.

Italy is one of my absolute favorite places in the world. I love the history, food, and nature in this country. It’s impossible to see everything in ten days and this road trip was actually my second time visiting.

Table of Contents

This 10 day Italy road trip itinerary is a trip I took after a few different visits with a friend who had never been. We wanted a great mix of exploring and relaxing, making this my favorite trip to Italy I’ve taken.

When I visited in high school, I got the chance to see most of the important historical places in Italy and so when I started thinking about planning a trip this past summer, I wanted to visit some of the more picturesque places in Italy and discover the unique places I had heard others love. That’s how this Italy road trip idea came to be.

There’s so much to see and do while in Italy; you’ll need some tips for Italy and some help along the way. I’m lucky enough to have friends who love to travel, and she definitely helped me plan this one out. One of the reasons this trip was so much fun is because I got to go with a good friend of mine from here in DC. Traveling is always fun when you’ve got a good friend by your side! Thanks, Elissa, for coming with me and putting up with all my craziness.

Costs:

  • Flight: $410
  • Car Rental: $180 ($90 per person)
  • Hotels: $845 ($422.45 per person)
  • Food: ~$30 a day per person (~$210)
  • Activities: ~$300 per person
  • Total Per Person: $1473

Tips for a Road Trip in Italy

Planning a road trip in Italy can be an exciting adventure, given the country’s diverse landscapes, rich history, and delicious cuisine. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your road trip and tips for renting a car in Italy.

Ensure you have navigation options:

  • Use GPS navigation or smartphone apps to help you navigate. Make sure to have a physical map as a backup.
  • For the most part, if you get an international data plan, your phone will work well in Italy, but I always recommend a backup just in case.

Driving Regulations:

  • Familiarize yourself with Italian driving regulations and road signs. Speed limits, parking rules, and other traffic regulations may differ from those in your home country.
  • Be aware of the ZTL (Zona a Traffico Limitato) zones in some cities where only authorized vehicles are allowed.

Renting a Car:

  • Choose a reliable car rental company and book in advance to secure the best rates.
  • Consider renting a smaller car, especially if you plan to navigate through narrow streets in historic towns.
  • The default for car rentals is a manual transmission. Automatic transmissions will likely be at least double the price. Make sure you look at the selection when reserving online.

International Driving Permit (IDP):

  • Americans are required to have an International Driving Permit. You can get one at AAA.

Fuel and Tolls:

  • Be aware of fuel prices and fill up when needed. Some rural areas may have limited gas stations.
  • Italy has an extensive toll system on highways. Keep some cash on hand for toll booths, as not all accept credit cards.

Parking:

  • Parking in city centers can be challenging. Look for public parking lots or garages.
  • In smaller towns, you may need to park outside the city walls and walk to the center. I give suggestions in cities throughout this itinerary.

Traffic and Driving Style:

  • Italian drivers can be assertive, and traffic in cities can be hectic. Stay alert and be patient.
  • Be prepared for narrow roads, especially in rural areas and historic city centers.

Cultural Etiquette:

  • Familiarize yourself with Italian traffic customs, such as the use of roundabouts and yielding to the right.

Emergency Services:

  • Save emergency numbers in your phone and know the location of nearby hospitals and pharmacies.

Weather and Season:

  • Check the weather forecast and be prepared for varying conditions, especially if traveling in mountainous regions.

Essentials to Pack

  • Foldable BackpackCarry essentials like maps, snacks, water, and a first aid kit in a day pack or this awesome backpack for Europe you can easily grab in your car. You don’t want to have to unpack your whole bag looking for something.
  • Reusable Water Bottle : Good for the environment and means you stay hydrated at all times! Most places in the US will have an easy place to fill up your water bottle on a trip.
  • Portable Charger with Fast Charging TechnologyEven if you think you don’t need it because your car has a plug, I still recommend bringing an additional charger. You want to make sure you have the ability to navigate and get help if needed.
  • Sunglasses: While you might think that drinking into the sunset sounds romantic, it’s not easy on your eyes. Get some good sunglasses!
  • Collapsible Cooler: Keep drinks, snacks, and leftovers cold with a collapsible cooler for easy storage and setup when needed. It fits easily in a suitcase!

Subscribe to access my editable road trip packing checklistDiscover what to pack for an international trip here, too.

10 Day Italy Road Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Day in Rome

Tour $50 – $150 USD or pay individually for entry $80

Rome has so much to do and see. If it’s your first trip to Italy, you’ll want to spend more than one day in Rome. I had already seen the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and museums in Rome. I did not get to go into the Colosseum or Forum when I was there previously, so I spent the day exploring the Colosseum and Forum with Walks and saw the things I missed.

I highly recommend their tours, whether it’s your first time there or your third. It was a fun way to spend the day, and I got all the insider tips/skipped the lines. When you’re only in a city for a few days, these things are key!

If this is your first time in Italy, consider spending two days in Rome instead of two days in Cinque Terre. My friend arrived a day before me so she could spend a day exploring more of Rome and not miss the must-see spots. Even two days is a short amount of time, but you can make it happen if you are prepared to do lots of walking. Most of the historical things in Rome are in two main areas—near the Vatican and near the Colosseum.

Spend your first day seeing the sites with a tour through Walks. Their Rome in a Day Tour will let you see all of the major sites!

I actually just went on this full-day tour with my now husband, and it was an amazing and effortless experience. We got to see the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Vatican, and more. They took care of everything on the tour, and we skipped the line for everything, so no time was wasted. If you have just one day and want to see the major sites, this is the tour for you.

Afternoon

Vatican: The Vatican is a huge tour and takes a lot of time to get through. Even after hours here, there’s more to explore. Our tour guide took us through the museum and into St. Peter’s Square. There, the tour ends around 4 pm but you still have time to see more of the museums and inside St. Peter’s Basilica once the tour is over.

Walk around St. Peter’s Square and go inside the Basilica. It’s the largest one in the world and spectacular to see. While you’re here, you can send a postcard from the Vatican (it’s technically it’s own country/province!). Stop at the post office before leaving!

Don’t forget to spend some time walking around Rome after dark. This is a city that seems to always have something going on and dinner is done late in the city, usually after 8:30. So the city stays alive after dark! There’s lots to do in Rome at night that you won’t want to miss.

Pro-tip: It’s super cheap to rent a car in Europe and pretty easy in Italy! You’ll need an international driver’s permit in Italy if you are coming from the US or many other countries. They are super easy to get at AAA or another similar service. Check your country’s rules before booking a car!

Consider using RentalCars.com to compare pricing; it’s pretty seamless. Look up companies before booking because many listed are actually partnered with American companies, so you need to be careful when you book.

Where to Stay in Rome

There are a lot of amazing places to stay in Rome with a view. Consider staying somewhere extra special on your trip! A few I’d highly recommend are:

Mercure Roma Centro Colosseo

Overview: 200 m from the Colosseum and from the metro station, not far from the Eur business district and from the major archaeological sites, monuments, and museums. The hotel offers 160 rooms, some boasting views of the Colosseum. Outdoor swimming pool and panoramic terrace (open from the end of May till September). Swimming with a view of the ancient Roman sites is amazing!

Relais Fontana di Trevi

Overview: The Relais Fontana di Trevi puts guests deep in the cobble-stoned heart of Renaissance Rome, with other landmarks such as the Spanish Steps and Piazza Barberini within easy walking distance. The ideal accommodation for an unforgettable romantic break with one of the best views of the Trevi Fountain.

Day 2: Pisa and Hot Springs to La Spezia/Cinque Terre

5 hour drive total free

We took our rental car and got out of the city. We made a stop at some really awesome hot springs in Saturnia. Parking and entry are free, which makes it really easy to walk around! Saturnia can get extremely crowded during the day.

People get incredible pictures who go really early in the morning, but the experience is the same whether there is a crowd or not. We found that most people were not tourists or were very relaxed there. We saw very few kids and just relaxed along the really interesting terraces.

Pro-tip: The ground is tough to walk on around Saturnia. If you can bring water shoes – do it! Your feet will thank you.

After this stop, we kept driving and made it to Pisa. We found parking very close to the Leaning Tower and Cathedral, just in time for sunset. It was absolutely stunning and a great way to experience the city.

Pro-tip 2: If you want to go inside the Leaning Tower and Cathedral, you’ll need to get there earlier in the day. We arrived around 5:30 and things were already closing. We only got to walk around

Day 3/4: Cinque Terre

We spent three nights and two full days in Cinque Terre, and it was just incredible. We had the cutest little Airbnb with the nicest host that I just couldn’t recommend enough. The view was beautiful, and our host left us limoncello and pastries to try. It was such a great spot!

Cinque Terre is probably my favorite place that we visited when I was in Italy this past time. It was so beautiful and unique. It offers everything that you could want – history, beautiful buildings, beaches, adventure, and delicious food.

We drove from Pisa to La Spezia that evening and spent time walking around town and grabbing a late dinner after we arrived. We chose to stay in La Spezia instead of in one of the five Cinque Terre towns for a few different reasons.

La Spezia is cheaper to stay in than the towns in Cinque Terre and easier to park a car in. It’s basically impossible to park in any of the five towns in Cinque Terre. It provides a good starting point for your trip, and there is a train that takes you into town.

If you are there over the summer, you can park at the school near the train for free or in the commuter parking in town. If you are there during the school year, you’ll have to park in a garage or along the street. Street parking was just $6 for the day, so it really is not a big expense! The garage would be about $20.

While in Cinque Terre, there is tons to do! I’ve got two posts about Cinque Terre where I go into more depth about everything you need to know. Spending two days here was awesome. A lot of people spend one day here as a day trip from Florence, but with a car, we felt there was more time we could spend here, and I think it’s a great idea to take more time to enjoy this beautiful area.

Things to do in Cinque Terre include:

It was my favorite part of the road trip, for sure!

Pro-tip: Getting a Cinque Terre pass is the best way to easily get around Cinque Terre. Trains run until 10 pm back to La Spezia, so you don’t have to feel like you are rushed even if you don’t stay in one of the five towns of Cinque Terre.

Day 4 Driving

You will drive from La Spezia to Florence, a 2 hour drive.

Day 5: Florence

We spent two nights but one full day in Florence. The hotel we chose was about $100 a night and included breakfast but not parking. We chose it because it had a more central location, making it easier to walk around, and we didn’t even have to take public transit.

The hotel was definitely outdated and while it was fine, we paid far less for other hotels on our stay and found them to be much nicer. Book far in advance for hotels in Florence. I’m choosing not to link it here as I do not think it is worth staying at honestly!

As I said, I’ve been to Florence before, so this was a recap for me. If this is your first trip to Italy, I highly recommend spending another day here if you can and cutting a day, possibly from Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast.

Florence is known for all the museums and some of the most famous painters in the world residing there. There’s tons to do in Florence, so below, I’ll list some of the must-visit things to do that I really loved!

If you have been like me, consider skipping some things that have long lines and spending more time wandering the streets. One of the best things about this city is that they recently outlawed cars in many downtown areas unless you have special permits. This means that there are no cars on the roads as you walk through the historic Renaissance streets. It’s pretty magical!

On my one day I went to Pitti Palace, the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, and Ponte Vecchio. Below you’ll find all the top things to do.

Some of the must-see spots in Florence include:

  • Florence Cathedral
  • Uffizi Gallery
  • Piazza della Signoria (open-air gallery)
  • Galleria dell’Accademia
  • Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (known simply as the Duomo)
  • Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
  • Ponte Vecchio Bridge

We didn’t have to drive once while in Florence! Everything is so close together and easy to get to. You also can’t go wrong and should just enjoy this city!

Planning out what to do in Florence is important because there’s so much to see! I definitely recommend booking things you want to do in advance and being prepared to stand in lines quite a bit!

PS Did you know there are a ton of amazing outlets in Italy? Many are located right near Florence and, with your car, easy to get to. If you’re a fashionista, then you’ll want to add this stop.

Pro-tip: There are tons of new road closures in Florence because of high tourism volume. All of the road closures in Florence are not listed on Google maps yet. This means that you’ve got to plan ahead and ask your hotel for specific directions if you plan to drive. We ended up driving around for over an hour trying to figure out how to get to our hotels because Google kept telling us to go down illegal roads!

Day 6: Tuscany to Amalfi

Drive Through Tuscany to Amalfi Coast, 6 hour drive

This is the longest driving day so it’s important you build in a few stops! There are tons of things to see in Tuscany – mostly awesome wineries. We chose to spend a day enjoying Tuscany on our way back down past Rome on the longest drive of the trip. What is a good road trip if you don’t get to spend some time enjoying the countryside?! We loved seeing the amazing rolling hills of Tuscany and all the cute little towns you go through.

We drove along some really awesome and windy roads as we went through the country side. The Chianti reason felt like the best place to stop because that’s one of our favorite types of wine. Chianti is just one of the regions you can visit in Tuscany along your drive back. If you have a specific type of Italian wine you love make sure you look it up!

Visiting wineries in Italy is different from the US and some other countries. You cannot go up to most wineries and simply enjoy a wine tasting. Most tastings must be booked in advance and reserved space is limited. It will typically include tastings of several wines, a tour of the winery, and light food to accompany the wines. They do sell out and most do not have wine tastings on a Sunday. It takes some planning and research to figure things out.

If you want beautiful views, consider more time on a road trip through Tuscany.

Initially, we thought we would just find a winery to go to, but after looking some more, we realized we couldn’t actually visit one with that method. We even looked some up online that said you don’t need a reservation and tried to go to one only to find out it was closed. Long story short, book in advance!

Reach out to wineries before you go. Some take a while to get back to you as they are mostly family owned businesses. We were messaging wineries up to the last-minute and got lucky finding one that would take us the day before and almost completely missed out on the experience.

Fattoria Veticcio is a family owned winery with beautiful scenery overlooking the town of Greve. It was $40 for the tasting, tour, and light food. Our GPS took us around the back causing us to get lost for a bit, but after a phone call to the winery, we found it with ease. They were so kind and helpful.

I imagine that it would be amazing to stay at this winery because there are two awesome pools there and several tasting rooms. The wine was so good we ended up buying three bottles each to bring back to the US with us! I haven’t gotten the courage to again drink this wine yet because I don’t want to waste it!

Day 7 – 9 Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast is one of those places that I heard so much about before visiting. I had really high expectations and wanted to love it. That being said, I did really like it but it didn’t live up to expectations. It was crowded, overpriced, and the driving was really scary! Also, I do not recommend driving past Sorrento unless you are an extremely confident driver. It can be really difficult to drive along the winding roads.

Pro-tip: The closest thing I can think to driving in Amalfi Coast is driving Route 1 in California. It’s a drive with beautiful views, but will cause the average driver anxiety. I chose to drive slowly and carefully despite many people whizzing past me. Be confident and careful on the roads, and you will be fine!

Day in Capri $80 per person

 

This was my favorite part of Amalfi Coast! The whole day was incredible and I see it as a must if you’re headed this way. We chose to do a full day trip with a boating/snorkel experience around the entire island. We did this because while there are affordable ways to get to Capri, they won’t take you all the way around the island and are still 30 Euros a person. Also, food on Capri can be very pricey and we wanted to make sure we got there and really relaxed.

We chose the first day of our time in Amalfi Coast to do a day trip to Capri because we didn’t want to be rushed when we got back or try to drive after spending all day in the sun and on a boat. It ended up being the best decision!

We got up the next day whenever we wanted and we enjoyed Capri stress-free. The only complaint I have about the tour was us trying to find it. The directions were not clear and it was very difficult to get there. We never got a confirmation from them or an email.

We ended up calling them multiple times before we were able to speak to someone. It was not ideal. The harbor we met them in was in Sorrento and it was easy once we were there to know what to do. We drove to Marina Grande and were able to park for $12 for the day. 

When there, we asked where the tour companies were and were immediately directed to the right place. We just didn’t hear from the company to know if we were going the right way.

Day in Sorrento

Sorrento is an awesome city with lots to do, I recommend it as your home base, especially if you are trying to visit Amalfi Coast without a car. I was surprised how much we loved our little hotel and place along the water. We stayed in Sorrento and I was so impressed! For just $80 a night we had a great breakfast, free parking (on the street), and a fabulous view from our hotel. Seriously worth staying here with everything it has to offer at the price.

Start by visiting a limoncello factory, I Giardini di Cataldo. Sorrento is known for its giant lemons, they are used to make all types of delicious lemon infused things! Limoncello is a classic and the factory does free tastings! Out back you’ll find tons of lemon trees that make a perfect setting if you decide to buy some and want a place to enjoy a drink. Walkthrough the cute streets and enjoy your time looking into the many shops that are found throughout the town.

Pro-tip: You will find lemon flavored things all over Amalfi Coast. They almost all sell the same products or type of products. Try getting something from the factory if you want it to be the freshest!

From there we went to spend our afternoon at one of the famous docks located on the water. We chose to hang out at one of the many decks/restaurants that are in the small port in downtown Sorrento called Delphino. The food was delicious and the view was perfect!

Eating lunch there gets you access to their deck where you get lounge chairs, changing stations, and places to jump in the ocean. Unfortunately, while we were there the deck area was closed due to high winds. Instead, we hung out on the beach and rented chairs for just 4 Euros. It was cheap and lots of fun to hang out there!

From here, we went back to our hotel and headed off to Amalfi for a fancy day on the coast.

1 1/2 hour drive to Amalfi

We arrived around 5 pm in Amalfi. We stayed at a hotel with a beautiful view called Holiday House Le Palme. While it had an awesome view, it was not ideal. You had to drive up a cliff side for over 1 1/2 from Sorrento to get there. Then once there, you have to park along the side of the cliff and walk down 300 stairs to get to the place. There is no food there and the closest place to walk to is 30 minutes away.

Otherwise, you have to drive back down the cliff for about 2o minutes to get to town and try to find parking. The hotel was beautiful, but there were tons of mosquitos. Also, there was loud music all night long, and roosters woke us up early in the morning. It was the worst night’s sleep of the whole trip!

 

We went to dinner here from our hotel on Amalfi and spent an evening relaxing in Atrani, mostly because the place we were staying at would drive us there and I could handle no more driving those tiny streets that day. They have a huge beach area that is cheap to rent a chair from if you have time during the day. This town is quieter than others.

Pro-tip: There are ferries that go between all of the towns on Amalfi Coast. They are an easy and hassle way to get from town to town. They also give you great views of every town. I actually recommend staying in just Sorrento if you can and taking ferries instead of doing a night in Amalfi or Positano for a road trip. The driving was stressful and what you can get for even $250 a night is not ideal.

Day in Amalfi/Positano

We started off the day by spending the morning in Amalfi. It is actually a town as well as the name of the region. This confused me when I looked it up at first! It is a really gorgeous town and has a very resort feel to it. The beaches are long and there are two large harbor areas where boats are docked. There is also an incredible cathedral located in the middle of town that you can see.

From Amalfi, we took a ferry to Positano for 20 Euros round trip (16 if you visit Amalfi in the fall). It was the perfect way to see Positano because it’s not a cheap city! We walked from the lower part of town to the top to get the iconic view and grab lunch. In the afternoon, we walked around and spent some time on the beach.

I saw more pictures of Positano than anywhere else along the Amalfi Coast. Positano is a beautiful and picturesque town but it is overpriced. While here, eat some awesome food and enjoy the incredibly cute streets! Walking around the small streets, exploring shops, and seeing the cutest spots was worth it.

The private beach areas were much more expensive here than other areas. There were spots almost taking up the entire beach there with chairs. You’ll pay 24 Euros for the day (compared to the free ones we had on Capri and 4 Euro chairs we had in Sorrento) and that won’t even get you an umbrella or towel. The beach area here was not impressive and I feel like there are spots that are a better choice.

Day 10 Drive to Airport & Fly Home

(I flew on to Lisbon!)

This day speaks for itself a little bit but just know that this drive is a little scary and much faster if you do not take the coast. It’s about a 2 hour drive back to Rome and you’ll want to plan for traffic depending on what time you leave. Give yourself plenty of time as you get back into the city!

Ideas for Extending your Italy Road Trip:

  • Venice – there’s so much to do in Venice
  • Milan – the cathedral there is gorgeous
  • The Dolomites and explore the mountains
  • Lake Como is beautiful and would be an excellent addition
  • Continue your drive through Southern Italy for gorgeous towns and beaches. 
This 10 day Italy road trip is still one of my favorite trips I have ever taken. Seriously, Italy – you are my favorite! If you’re wondering what to pack for Europe, don’t fear there’s plenty of ideas to help you out. How do you feel about Italy? Let me know in the comments below!
A road trip is one of the best ways to experience all that Italy has to offer on a budget. This is a 10-day Italy road trip that you will love!
A road trip is one of the best ways to experience all that Italy has to offer on a budget. This is a 10-day Italy road trip that you will love!
A road trip is one of the best ways to experience all that Italy has to offer on a budget. This is a 10-day Italy road trip that you will love!
A road trip is one of the best ways to experience all that Italy has to offer on a budget. This is a 10-day Italy road trip that you will love!
Meghan

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