Shopping Mall in Italy
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping mall. Photo by Tuur Tisseghem from Pexels

There’s nothing better than a road trip in a hire car to discover the charms of Italy. The northerly region where you start your journey boasts the historic elegance of Milan, stunning countryside and fabulous driving roads.

You probably can’t wait to begin your journey, so let’s dive right into what you can expect from this amazing trip.

Arriving In Milan

Your adventure starts when you fly into Milan airport. We recommend that you take a taxi or public transport into the center of Milan as parking can be expensive.

Exploring Milan

Milan is widely known as a design, fashion and business hub. There’s plenty to feast your senses on: from the Gothic Duomo di Milano where you can view the entire city through spires topped with gargoyles, to sipping delicious coffee at Zucco bar in the covered shopping mall of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Give yourself time to explore.

Collecting Your Hire Car

Most car hire venues are south of the main Piazza near Missori metro station, or by the Stazione Centrale.

Once everyone’s on board, head north towards the Swiss border. Turn off the A9 just before crossing over into Switzerland and drive along the coastline, past towns, and villages that are jaw-droppingly beautiful.

Savouring Lunch Near Como

Keep travelling north from the city of Como until you decide to stop at one of the many restaurants en route. If you’re a foodie, then you’ll have fun sampling delicious local dishes, such as Risotto con Filetti di Pesce Persico, (pan-fried fresh-water fish served on white risotto) or Polenta con Uccelli Scappati (veal and pork with pureed cornflower).

Travelling to Turin

Once back in the car, head back towards Como but aim for Varese. You’ll see gorgeous lakes as you drive along the Swiss border. From Varese, go south towards Sesto Calende. Keep an eye out for signs for the A4 (E64) to take you right into the city of Turin. You can park your hire car under the Porta Nuova railway station across from Turin Palace Hotel for €16 a day.

Staying at the Turin Palace Hotel

We recommend staying at this recently renovated hotel as it boasts a roof terrace with spectacular views of the city’s rooftops and the surrounding Alps. It’s centrally located, but the rooms are quiet and peaceful. Some have private balconies for enjoying an early morning espresso.

Discovering Turin

The capital city of the Piedmont region in northern Italy, Turin’s boulevards are lined with baroque architecture, grand piazzas and plenty of historic cafes. Make sure you visit the Mole Antonelliana, a 19th-century tower which houses the National Cinema Museum. Another must-see is the Shroud of Turin at the Cathedral, a world-famous relic reputed to have covered the face of Jesus after his death on the cross.

Driving In Genoa

Along the 231-mile drive, you’ll discover a beautiful mountain pass, and one of the most stunning coastlines in the world as you wind through the seaside hills and valleys of the Italian riviera. Exit from the A10 motorway at one of the first junctions and take the SS1 road along the coast, through Bordighera and Sanremo.

En route, you’ll see seaside towns full of vibrantly coloured houses, family-owned restaurants, with medieval villages and castles dotting the hills. Rejoin the road near Imperia, and it will take you right to the ancient city of Genoa.

Sampling The Local Culture In Genoa

Book yourself into the Grand Hotel Savoia to experience some serious old-world glamour, including marble bar, antique furniture, and spacious, ornately-decorated rooms. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to dining, as there are plenty of fresh seafood restaurants nearby with seasonal vegetables locally sourced from producers. Try the Cappon Magro (seafood and vegetable salad) at the Antica Osteria Toe Drue where the bread, pasta, and desserts are all home-made.

Time to Return Home

You’re now at your journey’s end where you’ll need to drop off your hire car. Be sure to plan your trip carefully and you’ll have a memorable adventure, discovering the many wonders of this stunning region.