Rolling landscapes, rugged mountains and authentic villages. This road trip had it all. Actually, the plan is to go on a tour in South Africa, but the Corona virus makes this impossible. We choose to stay in Europe and go road tripping by car. The Dolomites, Tuscany and Austria are the spots that we will visit in the next 12 days.
The advantage of a car holiday is that the holiday already starts in the car! With a mileage of 61,932 we start our road trip to Italy. The first day mainly consists of making miles. We drive straight through Germany to our overnight hotel in Illertissen, near the Austrian border.
After our first night in Illertissen we drive through Austria to a dream hotel: the slightly overpriced Hotel Ambet in Maranza, Dolomites. We booked this hotel for 1 night and then we go back to normal. We enjoy a 6-course dinner at star level and sleep in a comfortable bed.
The most beautiful thing about this dream hotel is the heated infinity pool with an insanely view over the mountain peaks of the Dolomites! We never want to leave here. We really enjoy this area!
Because bad weather is expected in the Dolomites, we decide to drive further towards Tuscany. The advantage of booking 1 or a few nights is that you are flexible and can leave again.
Once on the road, the predicted bad weather overtakes us. We end up in a big cloudburst on the Autostrada in the middle of the mountains. For fifteen minutes we sat behind the wheel with pinched bottoms. It was a good choice to leave here and on to better weather!
After a five hour drive we arrive at Hotel Villa La Palagina in Figline Valdarno. Via an idyllic country road full of cypress trees we see the beautiful estate, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. The villa is located on a hill and from here we have a great view over the rolling Chianti countryside. In the coming days we will explore the Chianti region and Tuscany.
Luckily, our car never let us down! In contrast to our Dutch driving and navigating skills. The slope test is a fun challenge due to the steep roads in Tuscany. Who would come up with creating a temporary one-way road on a steep slope? This, in combination with the tailgating of the Italians, creates the necessary stress for the driver and co-driver. And Google Maps? I trust them more than my own eyes.
For example, we are at the gate of our next accommodation by car, but Google Maps reports that we are not there yet. So I continue on a mountain road full of holes and boulders. Unfortunately this road ended and I had to agree with my girlfriend. We have to go back on that mountain road. That means turning .. My girlfriend no longer dares to take it and has now gotten out and refuses to get back in there. A good time to show my driving skills. Well, Google Maps isn't always right.
It is clear to everyone that Italians can cook, and a holiday in this country provides a number of culinary delights. My preference is for local cuisine, combined with local wine. A nice culinary discovery where I shy away from any risk. Every now and then you will be surprised if you order something that you are not entirely sure about. This to the hilarity of my girlfriend who plays more safe. Bruschette dell 'Antico Forno Pogi sounds wonderful, but in reality you get dried bread with beans, chicken liver and garlic oil. Well .. that is also traveling.
Sometimes you just have to ask the locals where to eat. For example, the host of our accommodation pointed us to the pizzeria where he always goes out to eat with his wife and children. Once arrived at the pizzeria, it turned out that the whole village was going to eat pizza that evening. Fortunately there was still a table available, close to the open kitchen. The pizzas literally flew out of the oven. It was very busy. But what hospitality and what delicious pizzas.
We leave this beautiful part of Chianti behind and drive via Greve to Villa I Barronci in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Tuscany. We have been really looking forward to this accommodation, because it has a heated swimming pool! At the end of September it can still be 20+ during the day, but it cools down quickly in the evening. Having a heated pool at 30 degrees is perfect for taking a dip.
From this base we visit beautiful Tuscan cities, such as the picturesque San Gimignano and cosmopolitan Florence. What pictures to see!
San Gimignano is also called the Manhatten of the Middle Ages. Normally this town is visited by many tourists, but fortunately not out of season. This town is definitely worth a visit if you are in the region. San Gimignano has no fewer than 14 medieval towers that have been preserved, of which Torre Grossa is the most famous. At 54 meters, this is the highest tower in the town.
Tip: San Gimignano is beautifully situated between the Tuscan hills. Do you want to photograph this town? Then drive to the viewpoint at Punto Panoramico, (street name Strada Comunale di Santa Lucia) southeast outside the city. From here you have a perfect view of the high towers of the city.
World city Florence, art capital of the world. This city could not be missed on our road trip. We have 1 day to discover Florence. Quite a challenge and impossible to do. Parking is also difficult in Florence. Make sure you don't end up in a zona limitato traffico with your car. This can cause an unpleasant surprise when you return to the Netherlands with a thick print on your doormat. These zones can be recognized by a white sign with a red circle.
We therefore decided to park the car in Scandicci, a suburb of Florence, and travel here by metro (Tramvia tram) to the city center. This also made a difference in parking costs. In Florence you can easily lose 20 to 30 euros to park.
A tip is to park in the large parking lot of supermarket Coop in the Ponte a Greve district. Here you can park for free and the tram stop Nenni-Torregalli is right next to the parking lot. Then you are in Florence in 15 minutes, where Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station is the end point. The exact address of the supermarket is Centro Commerciale Ponte a Greve, Viuzzo delle Case Nuove 8-9, Firenze. By parking here you avoid the crowds with your own car and you only have to pay for a return ticket of 2.40 euros per person with the metro.
The light rail leaves every few minutes from the Scandicci district. Do not forget to stamp the ticket at the station before boarding. If you forget, you risk a fine and you might as well have parked in Florence.
In the city you will be inundated with impressive sculptures, which is also great to see if you don't like art. Of course, the Cathedral of Florence and the most expensive bridge in the world, the Ponte Vecchio, cannot be missed on this day trip to Florence. Not because this bridge is so beautiful (in reality I found the bridge disappointing), but more because of what happens on the bridge. Tip for the men: Do not visit this bridge with your partner, the Ponte Vecchio is known for the many jewelery shops located on the bridge.
If you have good legs, be sure to go to the viewpoint of the city at Piazzale Michelangelo. It is quite a climb up, but the view is more than worth it!
How time flies ... We leave Tuscany behind and slowly drive north towards home. Our first thought was that we wanted a combination of mountains and sun on our vacation. The first days the weather was bad in both the Dolomites and Austria. Fortunately, the weather gods were on our side in Tuscany, but the last days in the mountains also promise to be very sunny.
We decide to spend a few more nights in the mountains. We drive back to Austria over the Brenner Pass, where fortunately the toll booths open automatically for us again and enjoy the view. We have ordered a digital vignette for our trip in the Netherlands. The advantage of a digital vignette is that you no longer have to close at the back and if all goes well, the gates open automatically. You hope it goes well, but it really works!
Once driving through Austria we can't believe our eyes. Austria is so beautiful! We would also like to return here to explore the whole country. So if you have good tips for the most beautiful places in Austria. Share them with me by leaving a comment.
After a six-hour drive we arrive in Biberwier, a small town in Austria, an hour's drive from Innsbruck. In Biberwier we sleep in Hotel MyTirol. From here we take a very nice walk through the mountains the next day with the final goal: the Sebensee.
We start our hike via the Ehrwalder Almbahn. The lift has already helped us on our way up the mountain, but we really have to do the last 10 kilometers on our own. And that is quite tough, since we have to climb 500 meters during this walk.
After a two-hour walk, which you can also call a hike, we are finally there: the Sebensee.
We are one of the first that morning at the lake and fully enjoyed it. The sun is just over the surrounding mountain tops and shines on the water. This creates a beautiful bright green / blue lake. And there is even snow at 1,660 meters. We wouldn't have missed this!
The last holiday beer has now been spent and our suitcases are packed again: today we drive home in one line (nine hours' drive).
At home we take stock ... The mileage is 65,071 kilometers. Wow, we drove no less than 3,140 km this holiday. But how much we have seen and how beautiful it was!
Due to the whole Covid-19 situation we were somewhat limited in our holiday choice, but by being creative we mapped out a very nice road trip ourselves. It was a lot of kilometers, but at the same time you see many different countries and areas. I hope I inspired you with our road trip and the practical tips.
Now I am also curious about your experiences with road trips within Europe, leave a message with your road trip experiences. And where do I definitely have to go?