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12 day driving trip all over mainland Italy

12 day driving trip all over mainland Italy

Old May 13th, 2022, 04:42 AM
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12 day driving trip all over mainland Italy

Hi there all,

I was looking for some advice on a trip I was planning for this summer starting August 4th. I thought it would a fun idea to drive from Cardiff, Wales into France and onwards to Italy, via some roads in Switzerland.

There will be 4 of us in a bmw 3 series saloon (Me, Wife and 12yr old and 7yr old). I will most likely add a roof box to take extra luggage and maybe kids foldable scooters.

Not sure if I'm trying to cram too much in for the days we have. So far my rough plan was:

Afternoon of 4th: Travel to Calais via Eurotunnel, go onwards and stay overnight in Boulogne Sur Mer. We came here back in 2009 before the kids were born and wanted to take them to the Nausicaa aquarium we visited.

Late afternoon/Evening of 5th: Travel south easterly to Givors (outside Lyon). Stay overnight. This is around 480miles, can it be done comfortably with 2 stops? Will we save a chunk of time by having a e-tag for the motorway tolls?

Morning/afternoon of 6th: Drive to Great St Bernard Pass, onto Furka pass (going around by lausanne), onto Stelvio pass. This part is mostly for me, but the kids also love great/dramatic scenery (they asked if snow will be visible anywhere in august). Is this too much for 1 days driving? We want to end up nearby Verona to use that as a base for trips to one of there lakes and Venice.

First Italian base: stay around Verona. Day trip to either lake como or garda.
Day trip to Venice - gondola ride around the sights/boat trip to burano/murano with either mask making or glass making stop for kids.
Day trip to Modena for a tour of Ferrari/Lambo/Pagani factories.


2nd Italy base: Drive to Rome, with detour along route to Pisa. Stay in Rome in Prati or Esquilino? I have been looking (in great detail lol) at all the ZTL areas in the places we are going to avoid any surprise gifts when we get home

We will try to see everything we want in Rome over 2 days.

Last Italy base: Naples. Day trip to Pompeii/Mt Vesuvius.
Day trip to capri by boat/blue lagoon.
Driving Day along Amalfi Coast with some stops.

Return from southern France: stop near Millau Viaduct (also saw this on our France trip in 2009 and want the kids to experience it).
Shoot straight up north to Calais and back to UK. Possibly a stop in Paris to see the Eiffel Tower again.

So sorry if theres too much dense details there, I am quite OCD and like to plan things (hope i left it early enough) beforehand so i know what to expect.

Will this be a feasible trip? I might be able to add an extra day or 2 if needed. Or should we cut some things out for a future trip?

Some details:
I will do most of the driving, my wife might do some motorway stints if needed.

Kids love nature, some historic things/sights. They don't mind walking around for most of a day as long as topped up with snacks!

No interest in seeing any Churches etc (sorry if that offends anyone).

Our last trip abroad was to Pakistan in 2019 (for a funeral) and Antalya, Turkey in 2017 before that. We might not get a chance for another overseas trip for 18-24 months due to my work, so really want to maximise this trip.

I have been reading the related topics on this forum the past 2 nights and still need some help.

Thank you in advance for any tips and advice!
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Old May 13th, 2022, 05:29 AM
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The e-tag isn't worth it unless you are going regularly to France. Just use the credit card gates.
You will need a vignet for Switzerland. This is valid for a calender year and quite expensive.
Personally I think you are doing too much driving with young kids but you know your kids better than me.
We are older and found driving six hours on French motorways exhausting even with a couple of stops.
Trying to fit all that into 12 days, including a black Saturday is very ambitious imho.
Not much chance for relaxation for you, or for the kids.

My son did a similar Italy trip last year, with two teenage boys, flew into Naples and out of Rome, with a rented a car. Maybe you should look into something similar and save France for another trip.
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Old May 13th, 2022, 07:27 AM
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If I'm understanding correctly. A day trip to Venice (By car???) that will include Venice itself and two of the islands. A single day? That alone shows you need to rethink things.

You could take the train to Venice. Scurry around with the crowds. Then take the train back. You'd miss all the best hours of Venice. Early morning and later evening. You won't get out to the islands. You won't see everything. You will wonder where on Earth all those other daytrippers came from.

Trying to cram everything into two days in Rome might be even more out there. I know you don't want to see any churches but are you really going to miss St. Peters? The Pantheon? Or countless other large and tiny places full of history and art?
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Old May 13th, 2022, 07:44 AM
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this would be a real pain in the butt I suspect. BMW seats are not that comfortable (to me, but of course you may be luckier) and this is one boring visit to motorways in one smelly car.

I've done car tours and the car gets pretty dirty pretty quickly and you begin to confuse the travel with a holiday.

I'd aim to find something a bit more "vacationy".

I used to do this sort of trip from Hull or Dover and really I found 5 hours was enough for me, then find an AirBnB or B&B or Gite with a pool, near a bunch of restaurants and some countryside to walk in and that used to do it for me. That would be Alsace or Mosel or Burgundy or Chinon on the Loire.

When I travel to Italy I fly and family who do the same travel the same way, the only f&F who travel to Italy by car come from Switzerland not the UK.
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Old May 13th, 2022, 08:31 AM
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This sounds to me like the travel equivalent of a Stephen King novel. Torture. But if it sounds fun to you, then just do it. Obviously lots of people like Stephen King.

It’s a mystery to me why people come here to ask if complete strangers think their idea is a good one. Many here will agree with me, some will admire your sense of adventure. Who cares. Just give it a try & see how it goes. If it is indeed a nightmare you’ll do it differently next time. Or you’ll go alone when your family refuses. In any case, I suspect you’ll do or try to do pretty much what you’ve planned, no matter what we say, & that’s the best way to find your own travel style.
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Old May 13th, 2022, 08:37 AM
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I am going to be straight up honest. This trip is a horrible idea, especially for a 12 and 7 year old. Add that is it in August, and it is even worse. A day trip to Venice from Verona in August to do any of the things you list is nearly impossible. Venice is an amazing and glorious experience if you stay there. During the day, however, I have actually been caught in crowd crushes at the vaporetto stop at San Marco and on Rialto Bridge. I was thankful I did not have a child with me. My DD did something similar to Venice from Switzerland with adults who were visiting her. They drove into Venice, parked and left after two hours and they all said they hated Venice. That is not the experience you want for your kids, I think.

With Summer traffic, these drives are going to take much longer. Rethink this entire adventure. Get it down to three or four hours drive time per day and day trips of no more than an hour each way. Look to see where trains that go city center to city center will be more efficient and relaxing, not requiring parking, etc.
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Old May 13th, 2022, 08:45 AM
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August? With all those other holiday makers on the same roads and in the same places as you? I think all the point-to-point driving times you're looking at are probably wildly optimistic. I'm sure your kids would be happy with some days here and there to just swim in a pool and run around without a schedule. If they "love nature," give them more of that and less sitting-in-a-car time.

In Italy, the huge summer holiday of Ferragosto officially begins on Monday, Aug. 15th, but families will doubtless begin their trips in the preceding days. If you're still in Italy at that point, there will be an increase in the already busy summer traffic. If you're in the Amalfi Coast area at that time, attempting to drive around (and find parking) could be a sign of insanity. In any event, temperatures would likely be way too high to enjoy Pompeii and safely attempt hiking up Mt. Vesuvius. In 2021, temps in Naples that week were at or over 100F.

If going to Pisa is to climb the Leaning Tower, you need to make timed reservations. Your 7 y.o. will not be allowed to climb.

Do some research on the Ferrari/Lambo/Pagani "factory" tours. The Ferrari factory tour does not include the assembly line; it's a bus ride through the company's office and factory complex just looking at buildings. Lambo is not currently offering tours of the production line, although this could change by August. You won't know until late June whether you can get Pagani reservations. If Modena stays in the Itinerary, don't make it a day trip from Verona. Stop in Modena on the way from Verona to Pisa (or to Rome if Pisa falls off the itinerary).
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Old May 13th, 2022, 08:47 AM
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I am going to be straight up honest. This bus passed OCD about 10 exits ago...
You asked if this is a feasible trip. Without programming it out to the split second with the arrival and departure of transportation, or when the crosswalk lights will turn green or if you'll have to wait to cross the street, I can't say for certain.

I can say that for me it would not be remotely enjoyable, alone, as a couple, or with kids.
But hey, I'm an experimentalist at heart and would love to know how that plan works for you to find out exactly what is feasible...
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Old May 13th, 2022, 08:50 AM
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We took our kids to Europe when they were 9 and 13. We rented a car but found we needed to keep the drives down to 4 hours tops and then stay at least 2 days in a location before moving on. Kids get bored easily on long drives and isn't the idea of the trip to have fun for the whole family? This is way too much driving. I would cut back quite a bit or add on at least another week.
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Old May 13th, 2022, 01:54 PM
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Your trip is not just through Italy. Most of it is driving through England, France and Switzerland, but you are not stopping to see/enjoy things in those countries.
Because I thought just maybe I was mistaken in my assessment of your itinerary (and time on my hands), I checked some drive times and looked at some maps. Now, I am absolutely certain it is a bad plan.
Some concrete stats:
August 4, Travel day. Drive time, 5&1/2 to 7 hours, depending on traffic and wait times at tunnel. + rest stops.
August 5, Travel day, Drive time, 7+ hours, + rest stops (some morning sightseeing - perhaps aquarium? 3 hours)
August 6, Travel day, Drive time, minimum 6+ hours, but through the passes you want, minimum of 8-9 hours. + rest stops. A very long, miserable day except for a person who loves that kind of driving! Some people would abandon you at that point if they could.

August 7,8,9, Verona with three day trips. None of which are good ideas, IMHO. (Considering heat, travel time, crowds, etc) If you were IN Venice, you could get up early, avoid mid-day crowds and have lovely, (somewhat) quieter evenings.

August 10, Travel day (with stop in Pisa) Drive times, Venice to Pisa (3&1/3 hours) Pisa to Rome (nearly 4 hours) total 7&1/2 hours + parking time. (Pisa will be an hour or so of hot, crowded sightseeing.)

August 11, 12, Rome
August 13, Travel to Naples area, 2&1/2 to 3 hours
August 14, 15, Naples and AC area.

August 16, 17, (18?), Travel back to Wales, straight drive time, 24 hours, so two, 12 hour drives or three, 8 hour drives. That is now day 14 without even going back up through Southern France and stopping in Paris.
13-14 days, 56 hours minimum drive time, (six or seven hard driving days) and, with all bits combined, a total of 8 days of sight seeing.

Can’t tell you what cut, what to keep, just re-think your whole trip. If it were just yourself, fine, but not with kids.

If Pisa is high on your list, you could stay overnight there or in nearby Lucca and go on to Rome the next afternoon.

You will be going near some beautiful places. Look at Peroges near Lyon, Chamonix, Annecy, just some examples, and others will have more or better ideas. Consider cutting most of Italy. I actually love the AC, even in August, but Never for driving around in a car, sitting in traffic fumes in Summer heat. Tour places like Pompeii early morning before the the heat of day. Walks in the cooler evenings. Enjoy a pool in the afternoon.

Churches, themselves, may not be so interesting to your kids, but they might enjoy going to the top of the dome in St Peters or (in Florence) a tour to see how the dome was constructed.
Another option. Just fly to Italy and rent a car for Northern areas, take train to Southern areas.
Could also fly to Naples, fly home from Rome, Venice, Milan, Verona, etc.


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Old May 13th, 2022, 02:15 PM
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Sassafrass - August 6th is known as Black Saturday, admittedly the second of two, but still the roads will be hell. Even 8-9 hours is optimistic.

As I said either fly to Italy, starting in Naples and working north or stay in France. Be prepared for a lot of heat in Italy, even if you are used to Pakistan, which will slow you down considerably. It ca get seriously and at times dangerously hot in Italy in August.

Would you prefer your children remember the fun time they had relaxing and playing with you in the pool of an agritourismo or gite or the hours of hell stuck in a car on a motorway going nowhere fast.

If you do decide to pursue this however make sure you have food and plenty of water, not soft drinks on board each and every day.
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Old May 13th, 2022, 02:42 PM
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I won't reinvent the wheel -- everyone above has made good points. You really do need to get back to the drawing board and reconsider everything about the trip. Either fly to Italy, rent a car, do JUST Italy, fly home. Even doing just Italy you will want one or two down days where you just laze around a pool . . . OR if you are set on driving from Wales -- stick to France and forget about Italy . . . OR do something in the UK
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Old May 13th, 2022, 08:01 PM
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Good lord... I completely missed the part about starting in Wales!

The drives on Aug. 4th, 5th and 6th total at least 30 hours on the road! The last two or three days (Naples to Millau Viaduct to Calais to Folkestone) involve at least another 25 hours in the car.

Based on how you describe the itinerary, I calculate this is already a 15-day trip, so I'm not sure if adding a day or two is possible. Anyway, I think you'd need to add a week.
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Old May 17th, 2022, 08:14 AM
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Thank you all for your thoughts!

May i first start with a quote: 'Assumptions are the mother of all *&$* ups!' - Bad guy from Under Siege 2

My assumptions for this trip were:
1. 400-500 miles drive possible in a day
2. No one else using the roads/being on holiday at same time

In the beginning i was just going mad like a small kid on google maps, linking places together that would have been nice to visit. Over the last week i have noticed that when the details are fed into ViaMichelin, the same route (say around 250mls) come up as 6-7 hours but 4-5 on google maps.

Not sure why i didn't that europe would also be on summer holidays in August.

Anyhow, I have started to rethink 90% of the trip. I would prefer to go towards Switzerland and Lake Como/Garda and just stay around there.

2nd option was to go along the western coast of Italy to Rome/Amalfi and then come back.

I have put down 4 days travel to get to Italy comfortably, breaking up the drive to around 200-250miles per day. With 14 days, that gives around 6 days in the middle to use hopefully from just one base. The 4 days down and up, we could do a trip/stop on route and do bulk of driving from 5-6pm onwards so kids still get to have some fun activity.

I hope I still don't come off as completely bonkers. Most of the flights for Italy I saw came to around 1500-2000 for the 4 of us with luggage. Then either a rental car or train travel would come to say 700 at least for the trip. This is why i proposed to drive the trip (around 1000 with fuel/tolls/roof box).

Me and my wife did do a 12 day trip by car around France back in 2009, most of which was lovely. The only (semi valid) reason for not just going around France is that I don't agree with the current political system in France that is to me, quite anti muslim. No issue with the people or the sites (I really do miss Paris and Versailles). Maybe my arm could be twisted to look at southern France.

Thanks again guys!
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Old May 17th, 2022, 08:16 AM
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As we would drive from Cardiff around 2pm for 6/7pm EuroTunnel crossing. I would say the Trip Starts in Calais/Paris on Friday 5th Aug morning.
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Old May 17th, 2022, 08:36 AM
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I have found Via Michelin to be more accurate for routes than Google maps. I don't know why that is. I always also try to factor in a bit extra time in case of road construction, traffic accidents. etc. We have been stuck several times on highways in Italy and delayed for an hour or two. Once we were in 104 degree heat and hadn't packed water, a mistake we won't make again.
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Old May 17th, 2022, 09:07 AM
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yikes, while it might be serious issue, I'd struggle to travel across europe scoring government on islamaphobia, especially since the individuals you meet are far more likely to be part of the interface rather than the government.

My own short experience when traveling with muslim friends would make me very slightly concerned by border officials in western Switzerland and Munich, but on the other hand the same friends had no problems with locals from the same area.

Good luck on your decisions

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Old May 17th, 2022, 10:33 AM
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The trip is entirely doable - to put it into perspective we regularly drive 874 miles in a day but ….this trip is split by a ferry journey of around 4 hours which I use to sleep - I’ve done the tunnel and in August it’s a shambles - this August will probably be worse than ever.

The ferry departure times are entirely controllable - you are given a departure time , arrive 90 minutes prior and the ferry company is pretty good at getting everyone on for a departure on time.

The tunnel is a shambles - you are given a train time which is a vague indication of the time at which you will take a train - you join a huge queue of people trying to clear undermanned immigration checkpoints - most people miss their designated train which leaves the whole system in chaos - last August we arrived at the required time and boarded the train 3 hours late. We swore never again I’m peak season as this wasn’t the first time.

The other two limiting factors are the age of your children and the time of year.

Our son is 16 and we now don’t inflict him with the drive - we put him on a Ryanair flight and he meets us in France. He hates it that much.

The second is August - the traffic in particularly France and Italy can be undoable - been the toll roads are busy as most of Paris, Milan, Rome etc try to get out of their cities - again I wouldn’t attempt a long distance trip through Europe during the day - too many bad memories - this is chaotic it gets - two years ago In August , one service station area was so busy with no parking spaces - somebody just dumped a car - blocking the exit to the motorway - gridlocked ensued and the owner couldn’t be found - I watched bemused as a French lorry driver simply pushed - with his lorry - the car out of the way - that day was like the film set of Mad Max - some days in August are that bad.
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