A coffee-fuelled road trip in northern Italy

Sunday, 10 November 2015 9:09 AM

For the law abiding driver, stopping for a rest break can be extremely frustrating when those around you are supping on cool pints of lager or indulging in a glass of fine red wine.

Not being able to imbibe certainly reduces the appeal of a holiday road trip, but international drink-driving laws need not scupper your car driving ambitions.

For example, in Italy alcohol is not the only liquid vice you can enjoy, with the country renowned as one of the best places to drink coffee in the world. By making a beeline for Italy's top coffee bars, you can have a journey to remember without worrying about going cold turkey.

Plus, thanks to its energy-boosting properties, coffee is the perfect drink for keeping you alert on the road in between stops - although it shouldn't be used as a substitute for sleep!

If you're interested in hiring a car in Milan or one of Italy's other main cities, Auto Europe can help get you on your way.

Once you've got your set of wheels, you can then get motoring around some of the finest countryside in Europe, making sure to stop regularly to indulge in Italy's incredible coffee culture - observing best etiquette at all times.

This dictates that milky coffees are only drank in the morning and never after meals, you ask for "un caffe" rather than an "espresso" and that you should stand to drink it rather than sit down. The last rule is certainly a good way of stretching your legs after driving for a few hours.

Before you've even left Italy's fashion capital you should certainly head to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, where you'll find both luxury haute couture and the spectacular Caffe Miani (aka Zucca), once frequented by Verdi. Shop until you drop and then sit down for "un caffe".

From Milan, you can head eastwards along the A4 until you reach Verona, home of Romeo and Juliet. Before visiting Juliet's balcony, prepare yourself for the day ahead with a cappuccino at the highly regarded - by both tourists and Italians - Caffe Borsari.

An hour and a half to the south along the A22 is Parma, where you have a chance to catch an operatic performance at the spectacular Teatro Regio. Of course, Parma is best known for its ham and cheese, but you can also get a fabulous cup of coffee at the T Cafe on Strada Duomo.

Another two hours to the south via the A1 is Florence, one of the most architecturally stunning cities in the world. Gems for coffee include Chiaroscuro on Via del Corso and Donnini Caffe.

To avoid heading too far from your starting point, you can then swing east from Florence to nearby Pisa, famous for its leaning tower. Even though its only an hour from Florence, you'll no doubt want to stop for a caffe latte before you start making your way north along the coast to Genoa, which is nicknamed 'the superb one' due to its impressive landmarks. These include the St Lawrence Cathedral, Piazza de Ferrari and the Doge's Palace.

Enjoy one last coffee, before hitting the A7 for the return leg to Milan where you can return your car and catch your flight home.

Luxury road trips in Italy

Luxury road trips in Italy

The beautiful country of Italy has much to recommend it, particularly its cuisine, rolling countryside and the azure-blue waters lapping its coastline. It is also a brilliant year-round holiday destination.

Enjoy fresh cuisine on holiday in Italy

Sample a taste of Milan on a refined getaway

When you go on holiday, you want to sample the best local wine, eat at fine restaurants and generally get a taste for the cuisine. The Italians are famous for their mouth-watering meals and in the city of Milan you will find plenty of refined establishments.

The hills of Tuscany are full of hidden gems

A guide to San Miniato

The small medieval town of San Miniato may not be a place you are familiar with, but if you're planning on visiting Tuscany then it's an absolute must-see. After all, this region of northern Italy is renowned for its quaint villages nestled among the rolling hills, and one thing that people tend to enjoy most about a trip to the area is the chance to discover some of these hidden gems.

Pisa has some wonderful spas

Soothe your senses in one of Pisa's spas

Spa holidays are a lovely way to relax, unwind and forget about your usual work and household chores. While the UK has an abundance of lovely wellness centres you can relax in, in order to really treat yourself, book a getaway to the Italian city of Pisa.

Visit the stunning Piazza del Duomo in Pisa

A guide to visiting Piazza del Duomo in Pisa

If you're planning to go on holiday to Pisa, there is one place that will be at the top of your itinerary - Piazza del Duomo. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is where some of the city's most famous attractions are housed, making it a must-visit.

Look out for a peregrine falcon in Livorno

Itinerary ideas for an excursion to Livorno

The Italian city of Pisa is packed with some of the most iconic attractions in the country. However, after seeing the likes of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, make sure you take a daytrip to nearby Livorno. Your 30-minute drive will be well worth it.

Milan Cathedral is a top attraction

3 must-visits when on holiday in Milan

When on a city break, you will strive to ensure you do everything that you want to in sometimes the few days you have. Milan is a destination where you could spend weeks exploring everything it has to offer, so you will no doubt be keen to visit the best places.

A guide to getting about in Milan

A practical guide to holidaying in Milan

If you have booked or plan to go on holiday to Milan in the near future, it is a good idea to read up on some practical advice to help your trip go as smoothly as possible. That way, you can enjoy everything this stunning Italian city has to offer.

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