2017 miles (3247 kilometers).
This is the distance traveled from Rome to Barcelona and back, in 8 days.
A lot of miles of Europe, through roads, sea, mountains, villages, beauty.
A wonderful road trip through Italy, Southern France, Andorra and Spain.
A trip that I recommend to everyone: among the most beautiful I’ve ever done.
For those wishing to follow this advice, this is our itinerary, hoping it will inspire you.
1st stage: Rome-Genoa, 501 km (312 miles)
Because it is the “big city” closest to the border, but above all to enjoy a stroll on the Port at sunset.
We only stopped one night, but it was enough to admire the historic center, the Port and the beautiful Piazza de Ferrari!
We couldn’t visit the Aquarium, which closes at 6pm, but it was still worth it: Genoa is not just the aquarium!
At dinner, not having much time for research, we stopped by Eataly. It is right on the harbor and there is a spectacular view from the restaurant (also the pesto was yummy!).
As an intermediate stop, take a lunch in Pistoia: Tuscany is the ideal place to eat!
2nd stage: Genoa – Hyeres (Porquerolles), 348 km (216 miles)
We did this trip in summer, and going through the roads of the Côte d’Azur leaves you breathless (and without money: there is a toll booth almost every ten kilometers… be prepared!).
Those curves overlooking a sea that reflects all shades of turquoise, the clean beaches that appear every now and then, the high sun that illuminates the streets lined with rows of palm trees… scenarios that can’t be seen just everywhere!
The stop at Porquerolles has been added on-the-go, thanks to the advice of a colleague: I didn’t even know of the existence (I’m ashamed to say it, yes) of these wonderful islands!
Just park your car and take the ferry from the small port of Hyeres to relax under the sun and in its beautiful waters, or go cycling around. The place is amazing, but if you want a low cost trip don’t stay for the night.
We slept in Marseille (this was actually the planned stop, but I’ll confess: I’m glad we made that little detour!), about 85 kilometers from Hyeres (52 miles). It was a stopover, so we didn’t see anything in the city, but we needed a day at the beach!
Intermediate stop: Montserrat (162 km/100 miles from Andorra La Vella)
On our way to Barcelona, which I had already seen, I wanted to explore something new in Spain.
So we stopped in the beautiful Montserrat monastery on the Catalan mountains. Red mountains with peculiar shapes, kind of similar to Australia or Arizona… it’s a great stop; even only for this extraordinary landscape!
Get ready to queue for hours if you want to touch the Black Madonna: we gave up because we arrived late (we got lost, so don’t make our mistake: set Monistrol de Montserrat as a destination on the gps), if you can, arrive early in the morning to avoid the queue!
4th stage: Montserrat – Barcelona, 60 km (37 miles)
Two nights in the Catalan capital are barely enough to see the main attractions of the city: the Rambla, the port, the Boqueria, the Sagrada Familia, Plaza de Catalunya, Torre Bellesguard, Parc Guell, Casa Battlò and Casa Pedrera, the Gothic Quarter.
Obviously, park your car and walk or use public transport: it’s the best way to discover all the streets of the city. Barcelona is full of Street Art, and you shouldn’t miss it!
On the way back to Rome there were fewer stops and the journey was much faster: one night in Aix-en-Provence (the village is beautiful but parking is a nightmare!), one night in Reggio Emilia with a lunch stop in Ventimiglia (which amazed me, it’s super cute!) and finally back to Rome.
Is it a low cost trip?
To sleep we chose to save money, taking apartments on Airbnb and Ok Apartment.
Only in Andorra we slept in a bikers’ hotel (we couldn’t miss it!) and at the end, for eight nights, we spent 230 euros (prices before pandemic).
The biggest expense was for gasoline and toll booths, around 600 euros round trip.
It was a wonderful experience that confirmed my idea about the beauty of road trips… seeing is believing!