2020 is one hell of a year – so many things have changed in the past 8-9 month. Since traveling oversees was not an option we decided to get to know more about the beautiful countries in Europe. When you’re mostly spending your time traveling abroad, you tent to forget the amazing places close to home. Italy is certainly one of those countries! Our 12 days round trip by car covered 4 countries (Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Austria) and about 2.700 km.
The main goal for this trip was to visit the Amalfi Coast (seeing what all the fuss is about) and Pompeii – plus see as many cool places on the way as possible. I’m going to split the post into two, cause there was just so much I want to right about and not enough space to do so in one blog post.
Day 1: Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany to Tremezzo, Italy (362 km)
The first leg of our trip was from Freiburg to Tremezzo, crossing Switzerland and its beautiful landscape. Due to Covid we didn’t stop on our way through Switzerland – definitely need to go back! We arrived in Tremezzo right before sunset, which was perfect since we could watch it from the balcony of our hotelroom with a lovely view on Lake Como. We spent the night in the family owned hotel La Perla in Tremezzo and I can’t recommend this place enough. The rooms are great with a direct view on Lake Como (if you book a lake view room), there is a big terrace where you can enjoy your breakfast or cocktails and an infinity pool.
Day 2: Lake Como to La Spezia / Cinque Terre (375 km)
Since Lake Como was only a stop along the way we didn’t have time to fully explore all the wonderful things – we will definitely come back and stay longer. We decided the best way to at least see some parts if it was to surround the lake on our way south to La Spezia. We drove up to Ponte del Passo and made our way down on the other side. The lake is certainly bigger than I thought and really beautiful with lots of little towns and cool places to see. We left Lake Como in Lecco, circled Milan and made our way down to Genoa and further down the coast. We originally wanted to stay in a B&B in San Bernardina, but when we arrived and the place was not at all what was advertised online, we decided to drive back and down the coast to La Spezia – this is also one of the learnings: don’t try to stay in one of the villages in Cinque Terre but stay in La Spezia and take the train – it is so easy and comfortable. After searching for a new hotel for about 2 hours and almost giving up, we checked into Residenza del Cavaliere. This is a cute vacational rental with a secure parking space, a private terrace, an amazing and well equipped kitchen and a living room with a TV including Netflix. The bus stop for the train station was right in front of the house and it took us 10 minutes to get there. There is also a really cute restaurant called Pizzeria da Pipeo within walking distance with amazing pizza. After eating really delicious pizza we decided to call it a day and get up early the next morning to visit Cinque Terre.
Day 3: Cinque Terre
There will be a whole post about our trip to Cinque Terre – so stay tuned!
Day 4: La Spezia to Florence (160 km)
On our way from La Spezia to Florence we stopped in Pisa – cause I had to see the Leaning Tower at least once in my life. We found a parking lot right next to it (60 cents for one hour parking) and went to the Piazza del Duomo. There is an entrance fee to the cathedral and also one for climbing up the tower – since you have to make reservations in advance (about 3 weeks prior to the trip) we only visited the Piazza itself and walked around the grounds for a bit. I have to admit, the bell tower aka Leaning Tower looked more impressive in real life then I expected. Of course I had to take the obligatory photo trying to hold the tower with my hands, cause I’m a tourist after all 😉
After spending about half an hour we got into a huge rain shower and ran back to the car. We made our way to Florence from Pisa, which took us about 2 hours, and then another hour to actually get to our hotel. We decided to stay right in the city center: B&B Galileo 2000, which was good for exploring the city the next day, but bad for getting there with a car. The city center is a restricted area with lots of one ways and construction sites, which made it almost impossible to get to Piazza di San Firence; but eventually we managed.
After checking in and getting settled we decided to walk to the famous Cathedral, which was only three blocks from our hotel. We got there right before sunset – the Cathedral looks super impressive anyways but seeing it in the sunset sunlight was simply magical. We ended the day with an awesome dinner at Vetreria Ristorante Pizzeria right next to Piazza del Duomo.
Day 5: One day in Florence
There will be a whole post about our day in Florence – so stay tuned!
Day 6: Florence – Tuscany – Naples (529 km)
After spending a whole day in Florence it was time to get down to Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Before leaving Florence we had a little incident: during our stay my car was stored at a parking garage – when the company brought the car back, the battery of the electronic car keys were empty. We left the car running while packing our things and made our way to the other side of the city for the only Audi dealership in Florence. It was a nerve racking 45 minutes drive, cause my car was constantly and loudly 😉 reminding me of the empty battery during which time I was already going through possible scenarios where we might get stranded on the side of the road and where we would go from there. Thankfully we made it to the Audi dealership and they changed the battery of my keys (it took them about 3 minutes and it was 5 €) and we were good to go.
On our long way to Naples we wanted to stop in the medieval hill town of San Gimignano close to Siena, Tuscany. The drive up there was already breathtaking: the hills, small towns and especially the endless vineyards and olive gardens are simply amazing. Whenever I look at a picture I took that day, it doesn’t even look real but looks like a painting. We parked right outside the city gates (there are several public parking areas) and walked into San Gimignano. Since we only had about an hour, we wandered through the streets, ate some lunch and stopped at Gelateria Dondoli. You might ask yourself “why mention this gelateria” – it was awarded with the several World Champion titels and is famous around the world. Besides the normal flavors you can also find home made special and regional flavors like Crema di Santa Fia (saffron-pine nut-creme) or Champelmo (pink grapefruit and sparkling wine). Almost all ingredients for the ice cream are produced locally and are organic. I tried passion fruit and pink grapefruit and it was delicous – maybe the best ice cream I ever ate! The price is not cheap but compared to Florence not expensive at all; I paid 4 € for my two flavors.
After leaving San Gimignano we drove throught the countryside in Tuscany for about an hour before we entered the highway to Naples.
Do you want to read more about the trip? Stay tuned, part 2 is coming this week.
Thank you so much for reading the blog post – if you have any questions or want to add something please feel free to either comment or conntect me. If you want to see more pictures, feel free to visit my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anjatravelsandstuff/