This post is about a new travel guide about touring Italy by car. Many people who visit Italy will come by car, and to really discover all that Italy’s exceptionally beautiful and varied landscapes have to offer, a car is just about essential.
The Touring Club of Italy, better known as the Touring Club Italiano here in Italy, is a Milan-based non-profit organisation which was founded way back in 1894 by a group of 55 Italian cycling enthusiasts. The TCI, as it is often known, publishes lots of interesting Italy travel guides, the most famous of which are the ‘Guide Rosse‘ or Red Guides, which are not related to Michelin’s similarly named series of Red Guides, by the way. TCI guides are also available in English.
Well, the other day I found myself with half an hour to kill, so I popped in to an Italian Touring Club travel store in central Milan. The shelves of this shop are jam packed with guides, videos, DVDs and a whole host of other travel related resources. You can even buy Italian Touring Club bicycles, which is in keeping with the origins of this organisation, which now boasts some 400,000 members, incidentally. Some of the Italian members of the TCI may well be cyclists, but the majority nowadays will not be, one suspects.
All this travel related goodness is not solely limited to Italy – Italians are quite adventurous world travellers in their own right – and guides to every corner of the world can be found. Buried in amongst all this travel literature you may also find guides in English, as indeed, did I.
However, the guide which caught my eye was a new one all about discovering Italy by car. I stumped up the 20 Euro asking price, and thought I’d write a little about it, although I should tell you that it is only available in Italy at present.
Luckily though, other guides to touring Italy by car do exist and are in English. Here is a selection for you:
Italy By Car
This Touring Club of Italy guide to touring Italy by car contains 20 driving itineraries, ranging in length from just under 300 kilometres (c. 186 miles) to a little over 750 kilometres (c. 466 miles), and covering the length and breadth of Italy. And it does not miss out Italy’s main islands, Sicily and Sardinia, either, which is nice.
A 300 kilometre trip is something which can be covered in around 5 hours driving at a leisurely pace. This adds up to a short two to three day holiday, or longer if you decide to stop off for a day or two in some of the places along the recommended routes, which is something you might well end up doing.
For those thinking about a two week tour, following the longest routes might be an idea, or, for those planning a grand tour of Italy, several of the routes could be combined. Of course these trips would be ideal for couples or families, but driving enthusiasts might also like the idea of following roads through the country which inspired such classic marques as Ferrari, and Lamborghini. If you are lucky enough to own one of these fabulous cars, then you really should bring it to Italy for a whiz round.
How the Book is Organised
Depending on the length of the route chosen, each is split into three or more sections, with points of interest along the routes being indicated to the side of the texts via little kilometre markers. To help orientate you, each route has a little map which shows the start and end points of the trip, along with towns and villages though which you will pass.
At the back of the guide more detailed maps are provided, again showing the routes detailed in the book, and then there is a useful addresses section with places to eat and sleep listed. Web site addresses and telephone numbers are also provided, which is helpful.
The guide is nicely illustrated too, with some lovely photographs which will many will find tempting, I’ve no doubt. Well, they tempted me!
Believe me when I say that it is well worth exploring the whole of this fascinating land, and discovering for yourself the contrasts which exist between the North and South.
Come to think of it, I would not mind in the least using this guide to get to know Italy better. Luckily I could, for I speak and read Italian, which leads me to the slight rub. This intriguing guide is only available in Italian at present, although I was told by the Touring Club of Italy staff that it is likely to be translated into Italian in a year or so. I do hope so.
Join the Italian Touring Club
If you are thinking about visiting Italy either this summer, or in the future, you might like to think about becoming a member of the Touring Club Italiano. Members are entitled to a range of discounts on car rental and accommodation, as well as being supplied with up to date information on Italy which may well prove interesting and useful.
The Touring Club Italiano website, (undergoing a facelift – late Feburary 2010) is looks better than many of Italy’s ‘official’ tourism web sites.
The TCI does produce Italy travel guides in English too, even if their search system is not, in my opinion, too user friendly. It could be a mite better organised – hopefully this situation will improve.
Shame this guide was not produced from the start in English, and other languages, as this might help prevent Italian tourism from rusting.