Best of Italy in September: Your Ultimate 21-Day Road Trip Guide
10 min read

Best of Italy in September: Your Ultimate 21-Day Road Trip Guide

Italy
Sep 26
/
10 min read

Exploring Italy by car has been on my bucket list for a long time! Driving from beach to beach, exploring Roman cities, and waking up to a perfect espresso every morning. .... What more could you ask for?

If the idea sounds equally intriguing to you, or if you plan to explore the Italian wonderland, you can relive our 21-day trip with me. It was a captivating voyage of discovery that took us from the pristine north of Lake Garda south to the beautiful outskirts of Sicily and Puglia and then back north to visit the enchanting Gargano National Park and the iconic city of Venice. More than 5000 km in total! Let's check out some highlights of our Italian road trip adventure!

Sirmione: Stepping into Medieval Serenity

Our first stop, Sirmione, is a picturesque resort town on a peninsula on the southern shore of Italy's largest lake, Lago di Garda. Sirmione is known for its thermal baths and the majestic Rocca Scaligera, a medieval castle proudly overlooking the lake. The colorful sunset that greeted us upon arrival was truly a feast for the eyes.

Sunset at Sirmione (my girlfriend Andy and I with our princess Hanna).

Sirmione unfolded its charm once the sun had set through rustic alleys and beautiful gardens. The enchanting atmosphere made the experience memorable as we strolled through the medieval town. If you are looking for more peace off the busy streets, head to the end of the peninsula, where quiet resorts nestle in peaceful surroundings.

Remember, Sirmione's popularity often leads to crowded streets. The gastronomic offer seems to be aimed more at tourists. So be careful when choosing where to eat. But don't worry; you will be the first to know if we discover a recommendable restaurant. If you come by car, the best place to park in Sirmione is at the entrance to the city center, in front of the castle.

Ravello: A Panoramic Retreat on the Amalfi Coast

Our trip took us to Ravello, a picturesque resort town on Italy's Amalfi Coast known for its stunning cliff gardens. Due to Ravello's popularity, the town can get very crowded, especially in high season. So plan to arrive early and make the most of your time. Although Ravello is a popular tourist attraction, its distinctive location and verdant landscapes convey a sense of serenity. The perfectly manicured gardens and flora, combined with the incredible tranquility, make Ravello the perfect place to find peace and recharge your batteries.

Group photo against the beautiful backdrop of the Amalfi Coast (Jair, Andy, and me; from left to right).

In addition to its green spaces, Ravello is a photographer's paradise, offering breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast. The beautiful gardens create a picturesque backdrop for the most beautiful Insta-photos. Although Ravello is small, it invites you to enjoy its beauty, immerse yourself in the peaceful surroundings and taste homemade Limoncello. In case you didn’t know, Limoncello is an Italian liqueur made from lemon peel, sugar, and alcohol (usually vodka). Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit Villa Rufolo, a  Moorish-style villa with panoramic views, but perhaps you can add it to your itinerary.

Positano: An Opulent Haven on the Amalfi Coast

On our trip to the Amalfi Coast, we visited Positano, a popular cliffside village on the Amalfi Coast. The town is a famous retreat for the high society with its elegant maze of boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. The Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, a domed structure with a majolica-tiled facade, dominates the town.

Skyline of Positano at sunset.

Positano’s impressive architecture and cozy alleys deliver the town a unique charm. Stroll the winding streets, sample the local delicacies, or soak up the atmosphere. The town is usually crowded, and the beach is not the best place to swim as it is pure pebbles and quite small, but the overall experience is worth it.

Positano's elite status makes it an expensive place to eat. However, if you are looking for a quieter but equally beautiful spot, consider Praiano, a short drive away. We did not have the opportunity to visit Praiano; we only went past it. However, it is on the bucket list for our next trip.

Santa Maria: An Undiscovered Coastal Paradise

Stand-up paddling at Spiaggia di Grotticelle during sunset.

Santa Maria, a remote village near Capo Vaticano, was one of the highlights of our trip. Located near several beautiful beaches, this unassuming village was ideal for relaxing. Santa Maria was a welcome change, free from the usual tourist hustle and bustle and close to some of Italy's most beautiful beaches. My favorite beaches near Santa Maria are Spiaggia di Grotticelle, Spiaggia Praia I Focu, and Spiaggia Formicoli, all great for snorkeling, stand-up paddling, and relaxing.

I was snorkeling underwater at Spiaggia di Grotticelle.

The charm of Santa Maria does not end with the beaches. There’s plenty to do in the area. For example, you can visit the town of Tropea or eat Tartufo in Pizzo. When hungry, visit La Notte Pizzeria, a small family-run restaurant with delicious pizzas at fair prices. Remember that a car is essential to explore the area due to Santa Maria's remote location.

Tropea: The City of Red Onions

Tropea is a small town on the east coast of Calabria. It is located on a cliff and offers a great view of the nearby beaches. Did you know that Tropea is also famous for its red onions? The historic center is home to small shops and restaurants, which make it pleasant to stroll around. The main attraction of Tropea is its proximity to a beautiful beach with crystal clear waters right on the doorstep. However, in high season the beach is usually very crowded. Note that parking is usually expensive (€3 per hour). However, there are some free parking lots near the beach.

Panoramic view of Tropea Beach. The water is real!

Pizzo Calabro: The Home of the Famous Tartufo

Pizzo Calabro is a port town on Calabria's east coast, overlooking the Gulf of St. Euphemia. Pizzo is famous for Tartufo, a delicious Italian dessert made of gelato with tempting variations such as vanilla and chocolate, rum and white chocolate, or pistachio. Although the town is not spectacular, the only reason to visit Pizzo is the delicious Tartufo at Gelateria Ercole. A great place to stop by for a few minutes when passing through. It’s worth it! I had the "original" version of Tartufo with chocolate and vanilla ice cream; it was soooo good!

Tartufo Originale from Gelateria Ercole.

Matera: Italy's Oldest City

Matera is the oldest city in Italy and is over 6000 years old. It is one of the most spectacular cities I have ever visited and a highlight of our trip! Matera is famous for its historic center, the Sassi, an impressive complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside. Incredibly, the Sassi were inhabited until 1952! Then the Sassi were evacuated because of the deplorable living conditions. Today the Sassi has been turned into a museum that shows the old way of life.

Andy, Jair, and I at the Sassi of Matera.

When you visit Matera, I recommend that you do some activities in a certain order so that you can understand Matera and its rich history from the beginning.

  1. Casa Noha shows three films that explain the history of Matera and the Sassi.
  2. Casa Grotta consists of two rock houses where you can experience how people lived in the Sassi in the 1920s.
  3. The Belvedere di Murgia Timone offers one of the most beautiful views of the city and its surroundings. You'll even cross a short suspension bridge on this hour-long walk - nothing special, but hey - suspension bridges are fun!
Panoramic view of Matera and the Sassi from the Belvedere di Murgia Timone.

Be sure to wear sunscreen, as the reflection from the white-painted houses can be intense! If you're hungry, stop by Annina 1937 (go for delicious cheesecake with red fruit for dessert) and the Di Bitonto caffè luxury store, an excellent breakfast spot. The pastries filled with ricotta cheese are incredible!

Lecce: The Ideal Destination for Visiting Puglia

Located in the southern region of Puglia, Lecce is known for its baroque architecture and the Colosseum. The city's central location in Puglia makes it an ideal base for visiting the beaches of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The unique atmosphere of Lecce is pleasant, especially at night when the streets and restaurants fill with people.

In the surroundings of Lecce, there are many possibilities for activities. I want to highlight two beaches in particular:

—  Spiaggia Delle Due Sorelle: This beautiful beach offers a lot of wild nature. You can also climb the cliffs to enjoy the wonderful view of the hinterland.

View from the cliffs of Spiaggia Delle Due Sorelle at sunset.

—  Spiaggia di Pescoluse, also known as the Maldives of Italy, is a popular beach in Puglia and, therefore, quite crowded. However, it’s worth a visit.

Spiaggia di Pescoluse at sunset.

Although Lecce is an ideal destination in Puglia, we will choose areas closer to the beach next time. We stayed there for five days and found that sometimes it would have been nice to be closer to the beach to avoid long drives each day.

Some of my favorite restaurants around Lecce are

—  Il Carrettino: An excellent place for delicious burgers near the center of Lecce.

—  Spicchi d'Arte: This is a must-visit! I promise you will have the best pizza of your life! My recommendation: Pizza Margherita Gold! Good to know that they have two branches. We went to the restaurant in Gagliano del Capo. If that's too far, you can also find them in Tricase.

Pizza Margherita Gold at Spicchi d’Arte in Gagliano del Capo.

—  Pizzeria da Gabriel: Delicious pizza at a very good price. According to my girlfriend Andy, the wine was also excellent! She even took a bottle home.

More Pro Tips:

—  Visit the area in the off-season. Then you can get luxurious accommodations for little money. For example, a young couple we met one night in Lecce recommended the 4-star Hotel Don Alfonso in Racale, a bargain at 35 euros per night (including breakfast) in September. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed. Otherwise, we would have moved there immediately.

—  Punta Prosciutto is a popular beach but not worth the long drive.

—  Some people we met on the trip recommend beaches like Lido Pizzo, Spiaggia e Piscina Naturale di Marina Serra, and Cocoloco Stabilimento Balheare. Although we didn't have time to try them all out, I hope this list is helpful for you!

—  Grotta della Poesia is a waterhole near the beach that looks tempting in pictures but does not meet expectations. Although Google pictures show people in the water, bathing is prohibited, and the entrance fee is 3 € per person. Why pay for a waterhole if you have beautiful beaches nearby?

Alberobello: A Hobbit-like Experience in Trulli

Alberobello is located in southern Italy and is famous for its trulli - charming white stone huts with distinctive conical roofs. A stroll through this picturesque town may remind you of stepping into the pages of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Visit Trullo Sovrano, the tallest Trullo in Alberobello, which was once the home of a wealthy clerical family. Today it is a museum that shows how people lived in the past. Another must-see is the fascinating views of the Villa Comunale Belvedere.

Hanna is very curious and discovers Alberobello on her own.

The town is compact, so you can easily explore Alberobello in a day. I recommend sunscreen as the white trulli can intensify sun exposure and cause severe sunburns.

My favorite places to eat and drink in and around Alberobello:

—  La Bottega del Gelato: This little ice cream shop has the best ice cream ever! It was so good that my girlfriend Andy bought a second one right after she finished her first one.

—  Pizzeria Casa Pinto: Enjoy delicious pizza in Locorotondo, about a 15-minute drive from Alberobello.

Vieste: The Reclaimed Pirate Town

Located in the Gargano National Park in southeastern Italy, Vieste is a picturesque coastal town known for its history of pirate occupation in the 1700s. Vieste is close to idyllic beaches, nature, and coastal towns. This makes it a great destination for a variety of experiences. You can explore the famous "Scalinata dell'amore" (the staircase of love), which is not as romantic as it sounds, and discover the beautiful Spiaggia di Portonuovo, a wild beach just 5 minutes by car from Vieste. More gorgeous beaches are close to Vieste, but unfortunately, they are often privatized. What a pity! I recommend you stay 2-3 days in Vieste or extend your stay to 3-5 days to visit other nearby attractions, such as the Forest Umbra, a natural reserve.

Scalinata dell’amore (Staircase of love) in Vieste.

For accommodation, I highly recommend the B & B Dimora del Dragone, a boutique hotel in the heart of Vieste. The rooms are top-notch and good smelling. In addition, it offers a delicious breakfast served on a rooftop terrace with 360-degree views and an all-you-can-eat à la carte experience. Just order what you want, and the owner will prepare it with love! Choose from pane di Pomodoro (lovely bread with sauteed cherry tomatoes and oregano), eggs, yogurt, fresh fruit, homemade pastries, and cakes - this place will make you happy! If you have a more generous wallet, you can dine at the Michelin-starred restaurant next to the hotel. It’s best to come out of season, as B & B Dimora del Dragone can be expensive!

This secret photo spot at Spiaggia di Portonuovo you can find here.

Remember that a car would be useful in Vieste as it is quite remote, but be aware of the potentially expensive parking fees. Usually, you will have to pay €2.5 per hour and a maximum of €10 per day. Remember that if you move your car during the day, you must start paying again from the beginning. My recommendation: parking at the port is a bit cheaper and still within walking distance of the city center.

Venice: The City of 100 Islands

Venice, the capital of the Italian region of Veneto, is a memorable city built on over 100 small islands in the Adriatic Sea lagoon. Known for its intricate network of canals and its Renaissance and Gothic architectural splendor, Venice offers a unique atmosphere.

A lovely selfie at Venice downtown at sunset.

My favorite way to explore Venice is to get lost in the maze of Venice's streets and canals. The complex cityscape of Venice can be challenging even for Google Maps. Therefore, I recommend strolling around without technical help. Recommended places to eat include Antico Ristorante Cà Dolfin (great pasta dishes, especially Tagliolini Gambertti Funghi) and Aciugheta (wonderful pizza).

Parking in Venice can be very expensive, costing up to €50 per day. Park 280 offers one of the cheapest parking options with €25 per day.

Bella Italia Revealed – Why We're Returning and You Should Too

Those 21 days were some of the most memorable of my life. Every turn was a surprise, every taste a discovery, and every sight a story. Each destination, with its unique charm, left me wanting more, and I am sure I will return to this beautiful country someday. Traveling with our dog Hanna was also easy, making Italy the perfect country to explore with your four-legged friend.

We visited many more places than the few highlights in this blog post. If I were to go again, I would stay longer in fewer places instead of trying to see so many different places in such a short amount of time. Specifically, I would spend more time in Calabria and Puglia and skip places like the Amalfi Coast or Venice. I would also choose accommodations closer to the beach.

But for now, I say goodbye with a heart full of gratitude and a head full of unforgettable memories. Ciao, Italy!

Niklas Brenner
Adventure Travel Blogger

Nik is a travel blogger who loves to share his favorite experiences and dog-friendly travel advice. He is always hunting for the best food and world-class coffee.

Best of Italy in September: Your Ultimate 21-Day Road Trip Guide
10 min read

Best of Italy in September: Your Ultimate 21-Day Road Trip Guide

Italy
Sep 26
/
10 min read

Exploring Italy by car has been on my bucket list for a long time! Driving from beach to beach, exploring Roman cities, and waking up to a perfect espresso every morning. .... What more could you ask for?

If the idea sounds equally intriguing to you, or if you plan to explore the Italian wonderland, you can relive our 21-day trip with me. It was a captivating voyage of discovery that took us from the pristine north of Lake Garda south to the beautiful outskirts of Sicily and Puglia and then back north to visit the enchanting Gargano National Park and the iconic city of Venice. More than 5000 km in total! Let's check out some highlights of our Italian road trip adventure!

Sirmione: Stepping into Medieval Serenity

Our first stop, Sirmione, is a picturesque resort town on a peninsula on the southern shore of Italy's largest lake, Lago di Garda. Sirmione is known for its thermal baths and the majestic Rocca Scaligera, a medieval castle proudly overlooking the lake. The colorful sunset that greeted us upon arrival was truly a feast for the eyes.

Sunset at Sirmione (my girlfriend Andy and I with our princess Hanna).

Sirmione unfolded its charm once the sun had set through rustic alleys and beautiful gardens. The enchanting atmosphere made the experience memorable as we strolled through the medieval town. If you are looking for more peace off the busy streets, head to the end of the peninsula, where quiet resorts nestle in peaceful surroundings.

Remember, Sirmione's popularity often leads to crowded streets. The gastronomic offer seems to be aimed more at tourists. So be careful when choosing where to eat. But don't worry; you will be the first to know if we discover a recommendable restaurant. If you come by car, the best place to park in Sirmione is at the entrance to the city center, in front of the castle.

Ravello: A Panoramic Retreat on the Amalfi Coast

Our trip took us to Ravello, a picturesque resort town on Italy's Amalfi Coast known for its stunning cliff gardens. Due to Ravello's popularity, the town can get very crowded, especially in high season. So plan to arrive early and make the most of your time. Although Ravello is a popular tourist attraction, its distinctive location and verdant landscapes convey a sense of serenity. The perfectly manicured gardens and flora, combined with the incredible tranquility, make Ravello the perfect place to find peace and recharge your batteries.

Group photo against the beautiful backdrop of the Amalfi Coast (Jair, Andy, and me; from left to right).

In addition to its green spaces, Ravello is a photographer's paradise, offering breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast. The beautiful gardens create a picturesque backdrop for the most beautiful Insta-photos. Although Ravello is small, it invites you to enjoy its beauty, immerse yourself in the peaceful surroundings and taste homemade Limoncello. In case you didn’t know, Limoncello is an Italian liqueur made from lemon peel, sugar, and alcohol (usually vodka). Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit Villa Rufolo, a  Moorish-style villa with panoramic views, but perhaps you can add it to your itinerary.

Positano: An Opulent Haven on the Amalfi Coast

On our trip to the Amalfi Coast, we visited Positano, a popular cliffside village on the Amalfi Coast. The town is a famous retreat for the high society with its elegant maze of boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. The Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, a domed structure with a majolica-tiled facade, dominates the town.

Skyline of Positano at sunset.

Positano’s impressive architecture and cozy alleys deliver the town a unique charm. Stroll the winding streets, sample the local delicacies, or soak up the atmosphere. The town is usually crowded, and the beach is not the best place to swim as it is pure pebbles and quite small, but the overall experience is worth it.

Positano's elite status makes it an expensive place to eat. However, if you are looking for a quieter but equally beautiful spot, consider Praiano, a short drive away. We did not have the opportunity to visit Praiano; we only went past it. However, it is on the bucket list for our next trip.

Santa Maria: An Undiscovered Coastal Paradise

Stand-up paddling at Spiaggia di Grotticelle during sunset.

Santa Maria, a remote village near Capo Vaticano, was one of the highlights of our trip. Located near several beautiful beaches, this unassuming village was ideal for relaxing. Santa Maria was a welcome change, free from the usual tourist hustle and bustle and close to some of Italy's most beautiful beaches. My favorite beaches near Santa Maria are Spiaggia di Grotticelle, Spiaggia Praia I Focu, and Spiaggia Formicoli, all great for snorkeling, stand-up paddling, and relaxing.

I was snorkeling underwater at Spiaggia di Grotticelle.

The charm of Santa Maria does not end with the beaches. There’s plenty to do in the area. For example, you can visit the town of Tropea or eat Tartufo in Pizzo. When hungry, visit La Notte Pizzeria, a small family-run restaurant with delicious pizzas at fair prices. Remember that a car is essential to explore the area due to Santa Maria's remote location.

Tropea: The City of Red Onions

Tropea is a small town on the east coast of Calabria. It is located on a cliff and offers a great view of the nearby beaches. Did you know that Tropea is also famous for its red onions? The historic center is home to small shops and restaurants, which make it pleasant to stroll around. The main attraction of Tropea is its proximity to a beautiful beach with crystal clear waters right on the doorstep. However, in high season the beach is usually very crowded. Note that parking is usually expensive (€3 per hour). However, there are some free parking lots near the beach.

Panoramic view of Tropea Beach. The water is real!

Pizzo Calabro: The Home of the Famous Tartufo

Pizzo Calabro is a port town on Calabria's east coast, overlooking the Gulf of St. Euphemia. Pizzo is famous for Tartufo, a delicious Italian dessert made of gelato with tempting variations such as vanilla and chocolate, rum and white chocolate, or pistachio. Although the town is not spectacular, the only reason to visit Pizzo is the delicious Tartufo at Gelateria Ercole. A great place to stop by for a few minutes when passing through. It’s worth it! I had the "original" version of Tartufo with chocolate and vanilla ice cream; it was soooo good!

Tartufo Originale from Gelateria Ercole.

Matera: Italy's Oldest City

Matera is the oldest city in Italy and is over 6000 years old. It is one of the most spectacular cities I have ever visited and a highlight of our trip! Matera is famous for its historic center, the Sassi, an impressive complex of cave dwellings carved into the mountainside. Incredibly, the Sassi were inhabited until 1952! Then the Sassi were evacuated because of the deplorable living conditions. Today the Sassi has been turned into a museum that shows the old way of life.

Andy, Jair, and I at the Sassi of Matera.

When you visit Matera, I recommend that you do some activities in a certain order so that you can understand Matera and its rich history from the beginning.

  1. Casa Noha shows three films that explain the history of Matera and the Sassi.
  2. Casa Grotta consists of two rock houses where you can experience how people lived in the Sassi in the 1920s.
  3. The Belvedere di Murgia Timone offers one of the most beautiful views of the city and its surroundings. You'll even cross a short suspension bridge on this hour-long walk - nothing special, but hey - suspension bridges are fun!
Panoramic view of Matera and the Sassi from the Belvedere di Murgia Timone.

Be sure to wear sunscreen, as the reflection from the white-painted houses can be intense! If you're hungry, stop by Annina 1937 (go for delicious cheesecake with red fruit for dessert) and the Di Bitonto caffè luxury store, an excellent breakfast spot. The pastries filled with ricotta cheese are incredible!

Lecce: The Ideal Destination for Visiting Puglia

Located in the southern region of Puglia, Lecce is known for its baroque architecture and the Colosseum. The city's central location in Puglia makes it an ideal base for visiting the beaches of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The unique atmosphere of Lecce is pleasant, especially at night when the streets and restaurants fill with people.

In the surroundings of Lecce, there are many possibilities for activities. I want to highlight two beaches in particular:

—  Spiaggia Delle Due Sorelle: This beautiful beach offers a lot of wild nature. You can also climb the cliffs to enjoy the wonderful view of the hinterland.

View from the cliffs of Spiaggia Delle Due Sorelle at sunset.

—  Spiaggia di Pescoluse, also known as the Maldives of Italy, is a popular beach in Puglia and, therefore, quite crowded. However, it’s worth a visit.

Spiaggia di Pescoluse at sunset.

Although Lecce is an ideal destination in Puglia, we will choose areas closer to the beach next time. We stayed there for five days and found that sometimes it would have been nice to be closer to the beach to avoid long drives each day.

Some of my favorite restaurants around Lecce are

—  Il Carrettino: An excellent place for delicious burgers near the center of Lecce.

—  Spicchi d'Arte: This is a must-visit! I promise you will have the best pizza of your life! My recommendation: Pizza Margherita Gold! Good to know that they have two branches. We went to the restaurant in Gagliano del Capo. If that's too far, you can also find them in Tricase.

Pizza Margherita Gold at Spicchi d’Arte in Gagliano del Capo.

—  Pizzeria da Gabriel: Delicious pizza at a very good price. According to my girlfriend Andy, the wine was also excellent! She even took a bottle home.

More Pro Tips:

—  Visit the area in the off-season. Then you can get luxurious accommodations for little money. For example, a young couple we met one night in Lecce recommended the 4-star Hotel Don Alfonso in Racale, a bargain at 35 euros per night (including breakfast) in September. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed. Otherwise, we would have moved there immediately.

—  Punta Prosciutto is a popular beach but not worth the long drive.

—  Some people we met on the trip recommend beaches like Lido Pizzo, Spiaggia e Piscina Naturale di Marina Serra, and Cocoloco Stabilimento Balheare. Although we didn't have time to try them all out, I hope this list is helpful for you!

—  Grotta della Poesia is a waterhole near the beach that looks tempting in pictures but does not meet expectations. Although Google pictures show people in the water, bathing is prohibited, and the entrance fee is 3 € per person. Why pay for a waterhole if you have beautiful beaches nearby?

Alberobello: A Hobbit-like Experience in Trulli

Alberobello is located in southern Italy and is famous for its trulli - charming white stone huts with distinctive conical roofs. A stroll through this picturesque town may remind you of stepping into the pages of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Visit Trullo Sovrano, the tallest Trullo in Alberobello, which was once the home of a wealthy clerical family. Today it is a museum that shows how people lived in the past. Another must-see is the fascinating views of the Villa Comunale Belvedere.

Hanna is very curious and discovers Alberobello on her own.

The town is compact, so you can easily explore Alberobello in a day. I recommend sunscreen as the white trulli can intensify sun exposure and cause severe sunburns.

My favorite places to eat and drink in and around Alberobello:

—  La Bottega del Gelato: This little ice cream shop has the best ice cream ever! It was so good that my girlfriend Andy bought a second one right after she finished her first one.

—  Pizzeria Casa Pinto: Enjoy delicious pizza in Locorotondo, about a 15-minute drive from Alberobello.

Vieste: The Reclaimed Pirate Town

Located in the Gargano National Park in southeastern Italy, Vieste is a picturesque coastal town known for its history of pirate occupation in the 1700s. Vieste is close to idyllic beaches, nature, and coastal towns. This makes it a great destination for a variety of experiences. You can explore the famous "Scalinata dell'amore" (the staircase of love), which is not as romantic as it sounds, and discover the beautiful Spiaggia di Portonuovo, a wild beach just 5 minutes by car from Vieste. More gorgeous beaches are close to Vieste, but unfortunately, they are often privatized. What a pity! I recommend you stay 2-3 days in Vieste or extend your stay to 3-5 days to visit other nearby attractions, such as the Forest Umbra, a natural reserve.

Scalinata dell’amore (Staircase of love) in Vieste.

For accommodation, I highly recommend the B & B Dimora del Dragone, a boutique hotel in the heart of Vieste. The rooms are top-notch and good smelling. In addition, it offers a delicious breakfast served on a rooftop terrace with 360-degree views and an all-you-can-eat à la carte experience. Just order what you want, and the owner will prepare it with love! Choose from pane di Pomodoro (lovely bread with sauteed cherry tomatoes and oregano), eggs, yogurt, fresh fruit, homemade pastries, and cakes - this place will make you happy! If you have a more generous wallet, you can dine at the Michelin-starred restaurant next to the hotel. It’s best to come out of season, as B & B Dimora del Dragone can be expensive!

This secret photo spot at Spiaggia di Portonuovo you can find here.

Remember that a car would be useful in Vieste as it is quite remote, but be aware of the potentially expensive parking fees. Usually, you will have to pay €2.5 per hour and a maximum of €10 per day. Remember that if you move your car during the day, you must start paying again from the beginning. My recommendation: parking at the port is a bit cheaper and still within walking distance of the city center.

Venice: The City of 100 Islands

Venice, the capital of the Italian region of Veneto, is a memorable city built on over 100 small islands in the Adriatic Sea lagoon. Known for its intricate network of canals and its Renaissance and Gothic architectural splendor, Venice offers a unique atmosphere.

A lovely selfie at Venice downtown at sunset.

My favorite way to explore Venice is to get lost in the maze of Venice's streets and canals. The complex cityscape of Venice can be challenging even for Google Maps. Therefore, I recommend strolling around without technical help. Recommended places to eat include Antico Ristorante Cà Dolfin (great pasta dishes, especially Tagliolini Gambertti Funghi) and Aciugheta (wonderful pizza).

Parking in Venice can be very expensive, costing up to €50 per day. Park 280 offers one of the cheapest parking options with €25 per day.

Bella Italia Revealed – Why We're Returning and You Should Too

Those 21 days were some of the most memorable of my life. Every turn was a surprise, every taste a discovery, and every sight a story. Each destination, with its unique charm, left me wanting more, and I am sure I will return to this beautiful country someday. Traveling with our dog Hanna was also easy, making Italy the perfect country to explore with your four-legged friend.

We visited many more places than the few highlights in this blog post. If I were to go again, I would stay longer in fewer places instead of trying to see so many different places in such a short amount of time. Specifically, I would spend more time in Calabria and Puglia and skip places like the Amalfi Coast or Venice. I would also choose accommodations closer to the beach.

But for now, I say goodbye with a heart full of gratitude and a head full of unforgettable memories. Ciao, Italy!

Niklas Brenner
Adventure Travel Blogger

Nik is a travel blogger who loves to share his favorite experiences and dog-friendly travel advice. He is always hunting for the best food and world-class coffee.