Driving Tour - Bari to Bologna

Apr 28th, 2016, 02:07 AM
  #1  
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Driving Tour - Bari to Bologna

Following a cruise of the Croatian islands we plan to take the ferry from Dubrovnik to Bari and rent a car, with the aim of spending 16 nights driving north to Bologna.

We are both fit and healthy, enjoy hiking, photography, good views, not to mention sampling the tasty treats along the way. We are keen to visit some of the beautiful villages of the Italian countryside, visit a market or two, as well as spending some time people watching.

We aren't quite sure how to plan it all so that it makes sense, as in not sure which places to drive through, not sure where to stay and also very open to suggestions of places you have enjoyed enrolee. So far, we have the following places on our list to see (but not sure which we would stay in);

Polignano a Mare
Matera
Perugia
San Marino
San Leo

Your advice is much appreciated.
AussieHubbyWife is offline  
Apr 28th, 2016, 11:20 AM
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Near Bari, I highly recommend a visit to Castel del Monte, a medieval castle built for the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. It's one of the most beautiful, although very plain, medieval buildings I've seen.

You might enjoy Alberobello. It's a bit south of where you're going, but so is Matera. Alberobello is closer to the coast.

Trani has a beautiful Romanesque cathedral right by the sea shore.

Perugia is a bit out of your way. I'd substitute a stop or two in Le Marche. Maybe Ascoli Piceno, or somewhere on the Riviera del Conero, or Urbino. There are also some very beautiful small towns not far from the coast in Le Marche. I would mention Recanati, Serra de'Conti, Corinaldo, and Mondavio.

I really like San Leo, even better than San Marino. I also highly recommend Ravenna.

It would help a lot if you'd tell us a little more about your interests, or even what doesn't interest you. I feel as though I'm shooting in the dark a bit with these suggestions.
bvlenci is offline  
Apr 28th, 2016, 11:53 AM
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Driving from Bari you could also visit the Gargano Peninsula which is also on the Adriatic coast. It is still an unspoilt part of Italy and has amazing beaches and little villages like Peschici tumbling down the cliffs. Other small town are Viesta, Rodi Garganico and the hill top town of Monte St Angelo.

The Gargano National Park has a huge forested area with winding roads and lots of hiking trails.

Another town we enjoyed is just north of Gargano called Termoli. We stayed in the old walled town where you have to park your car outside the walls and walk in down the small cobbled streets. I just loved it! The real Italy.

If you are going to Bologna why not travel a little further and pop into Modena, a charming town and also the home of Pavarotti and Ferrari. So many places to see. Enjoy!
buzzcolin is offline  
Apr 28th, 2016, 08:05 PM
  #4  
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Love the sound of hiking the Gargano National Park..

Are there any local markets anyone could recommend between Bari and Bologna that are worth a visit?

On our holidays we enjoy taking photographs - we both have good cameras and also do some commercial work. So any particular vantage points that you can suggest would be great.

We are not hugely interested in spending hours in museums when we could spend time outdoors, enjoying the scenery, having long lunches and doing a little people watching whilst sipping on a glass of wine (bliss!!).

At this stage we plan to stay the first few nights in Italy in Polignano a Mare and will probably do a day trip to Matera. The suggestion of Alberobello would fit in nicely with this plan.
AussieHubbyWife is offline  
Apr 29th, 2016, 08:25 AM
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The Gargano might be a good idea if you have a few days to spend there. I wouldn't make it a one-night stopover. I myself was a bit underwhelmed by the Gargano peninsula, but we were only there for three days and maybe didn't get a chance to see the best parts. It was very hot when we were there, so we wouldn't have been interested in hiking. For scenery, I would much prefer the National Park of Abruzzo, or somewhere in the Sibillini mountains, or even the Riviera del Conero, which I mentioned above.

Every town in Italy has some sort of market, usually outdoors, and usually one day a week. Some sell only produce and cheap housewares and clothing. Others have some specialty vendors, such as local cheeses or salamis and the like. Cities often have covered markets that are open every day.

The markets are for the convenience of the local residents, so they are not set up to be picturesque or charming. If you tell us where you're stopping, maybe I can help you find a good local market, but I would also need to know the day of the week you'll be in the area. I only know the ones that are within a narrow radius of where I live. In the little towns near me, none of the local markets would be worth driving to. I do go to the closest one on market day, because there is a vendor of excellent cheeses. The nicest market I know near where I live is in Senigallia, in Piazza delle Erbe. This one is outdoors, and is open more than once a week. Senigallia is a nice town on the seaside, with a lively old center.

In my previous response, I mentioned only places that were near the coast, because you'll most likely be taking the autostrada (A14) most of the way. However, if you're interested in small towns, you need to get off the autostrada and visit the interior. Here is one suggested deviation you could make that would take you through a lot of small towns and villages, and get you back to the coast.

Leave the autostrada at San Benedetto del Tronto,near the border between Abruzzo and Le Marche, and head to Ascoli Piceno. Ascoli has a beautiful piazza and some medieval towers. It's also one gateway to the Sibillines.

If you'd like a very scenic walk in the mountains, visit the Gola del Infernaccio. You could take a pretty long hike there, but the first hour of so if basically just a walk, with no special equipment requiired. You'll see mountains, butterflies, wild flowers, little waterfalls, and bubbling brooks. I hesitate to offer my photos to professionals, but here are some photos I took there on various trips.

https://picasaweb.google.com/1039588...eat=directlink

Drive on inland roads (rather slow driving) to Camerino, a small Renaissance town, and home of an old university. There is a ducal palace, because this was one of the seats of the Dukes of Spoleto. There are some nice shops there, where you can get good local products. Outside of town, on a hill with a spectacular view, the restauurant Pappafò has a good menu. In the valley below, there are several castles, but they are all privately owned an either open for limited visits or not open at all. The castle of Lanciano is open on weekends, and maybe at other times in the summer. They also have a restaurant/hotel on the grounds of what used to be the stables and servants' cottages. We had a very good meal here once, but we really like Pappafò better.

Drive on to the little village of Pioraco, in a very scenic spot at the foot of some cliffs, where three rivers meet. Look for the old "laundry" at the side of a river. This album has some pictures of Pioraco and other spots in the area.

https://picasaweb.google.com/1039588...eat=directlink

Next head to Gubbio, a medieval town in Umbria, on a hill overlooking the Umbrian plain. If the weather is very clear, drive right up to the top of the mountain. (We did this once, but just managed to catch a low-hanging cloud, and saw nothing.)

Drive to Urbino, once an important Renaissance city, seat of the Duchy di Urbino. The ducal palace, one of the best preserved in central Italy, is now a museum, with some important works in its collection. The original laundry, stables, and kitchen are under the palace, and worth a visit. There is a fantastic view from the park at the top of the hill, including a very nice view of the palace.

At this point, you could return to the autostrada. The entire drive would take no more than six hours if you didn't stop, but you might want to spend the night somewhere en route. I could suggest many other places worth stopping on or near the route, but you might never get to Bologna if you did that.
bvlenci is offline  
May 1st, 2016, 04:43 AM
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We're thinking that after 3 nights in Polignano a Mare and seeing the local area, we will begin to head north and Ascoli Piceno seems to be about 4.5 hours of driving so maybe a good first stop on the way to Bologna? Or would you suggest somewhere else?

If we spent a night in Ascoli Piceno, we would have another 10 nights between there and Bologna.. We definitely want to fit in a minimum of 2 nights in San Leo.

bvlenci.. We like the sound of your itinerary. However, we had originally wanted to head to Spoleto from there but it seems that we would be tracking too far west..

Goodness, so many choices, so little time…
AussieHubbyWife is offline  
May 1st, 2016, 01:25 PM
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You might want to include Ravenna, pretty near to Bologna, and the famous mosaics.

Also, in Le Marche, The Conero area. Three pretty little towns--Sirolo, Numana and Portonovo. Off the beaten path and very pretty.

I love Ascoli Piceno and Urbino.
jangita is offline  
May 1st, 2016, 07:27 PM
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Wow, just looked up those lovely little towns on Google images and Sirolo looks particularly lovely. Are you suggesting that we continue travelling there and then go into the interior? Or are you suggesting day trip locations from Ascoli Piceno?
AussieHubbyWife is offline  
May 2nd, 2016, 03:25 AM
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OK, so after all your ideas, some of our own, combined with a little reading, we have come up with the following rough itinerary. We are very open to your suggestions to make it better…

Polignano a Mare - 3 nights
- Day trips to Matera, Alberobello, Castellana Grotte, Trani

Ascoli Piceno - 3 nights
- Day trips to Gola dell'Infernaccio, Sirolo, Portonovo, Recanati

Spoleto - 2 nights
- Day trip to Perugia by train

Gubbio (via Urbino) - 2 nights
- Day trip to Pioraco and Camerino

San Leo - 2 nights
- Day trip to San Marino, Saludecio, Montegridolfo

Ravenna - 2 nights

Bologna - 3 nights
- Day trip to Modena

How does this sound? Have I missed anything? What would you do differently?
AussieHubbyWife is offline  
May 2nd, 2016, 06:21 AM
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If you are looking for a picturesque stop enroute to Ascoli Piceno, you might consider Abbazia di San Giovanni in Venere (Fossacesia, Chieti province in Abruzzo). It is a beautiful 12th century abbey on a promontory overlooking the Adriatic. You reach it via a tree-lined avenue and the setting offers some great photo ops. Should not be far off the autostrada.
mama_mia is offline  
May 2nd, 2016, 05:47 PM
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Great idea; that looks like a fabulous halfway point.. Are there any nice places to eat in Fossacesia that you can recommend?
AussieHubbyWife is offline  
May 2nd, 2016, 07:51 PM
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I am spending three nights in Ascoli Piceno too (this summer). I have similar interests, though a bit lighter on the photography and heavier on museums/historical sites than you. If my trip is before yours, I will add to this thread when I return. Great info here, and you have come up with what sounds to me like an excellent itinerary.
Leely2 is offline  
May 3rd, 2016, 06:01 AM
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Aussie, I don't have any restaurant recommendations. I traveled to the Abbey on a local bus then caught a bus back after walking down to the beach town of Fossacesia Marina (very quiet, almost deserted when I was there in April).

From the coast, I did see some trabocchi, the old style fishing platforms that are found in this part of the coast. They would make great photo ops.
mama_mia is offline  
May 3rd, 2016, 04:12 PM
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I think some of them are restaurants. Have done a little reading - there are a few serving up the freshest of seafood… Sounds good to me
AussieHubbyWife is offline  
Aug 27th, 2016, 02:27 AM
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Leely2.. How did your trip to Italy go? I'm sure you had an amazing time wherever you ended up.
AussieHubbyWife is offline  
Aug 27th, 2016, 09:38 AM
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Yes, we had a great time. Highlights were trips to Offida, with its beautiful square (more like a triangle?). We sat and watched as people arrived for a wedding. A lot of the town was watching too. Also Civitella del Tronto, where we got bikes from the little tourist kisok and rode around. We did get to the sea, not far from Ascoli--it was a little too built up right there, but we hadn't planned well. Perhaps that's why we generally preferred the inland areas.

Ascoli was great, and having aperitivi in the piazza every evening was really fun. Very festive.

Our trip had us driving to Ascoli Piceno from Spello in Umbria via Norcia, the Grande Piano and Castelluccio. Spectacular. Leaving Ascoli we made our way to Naples over two days, through Lazio and Abruzzo, visiting the Gran Sasso. We stopped at Amatrice our first day and toured around, got picnic supplies. A lively, charming town in an incredibly beautiful area. Very, very sad to think about the many victims of the earthquake.

Your trip sounds wonderful. Our unplanned days were always the best.
Leely2 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2016, 09:40 AM
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Oh, and yes, we stayed off the autostrada, even though our GPS always--always--wanted us to get back on.
Leely2 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2016, 10:56 AM
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just chiming in here, I seem to recall a TR about a similar toe to top driving tour up the east coast of Italy. it would have been about 3 years ago.

Does anyone else remember it?
annhig is offline  
Aug 28th, 2016, 03:04 AM
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So glad to hear you had a wonderful time and the earthquake; devastating... Spello looks absolutely beautiful.. Where did you come from prior to Spello?
AussieHubbyWife is offline  
Aug 28th, 2016, 03:04 AM
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Ooh, trip report for the same area.. That would be amazing..
AussieHubbyWife is offline  

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