Italy via Germany

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10/08/2010 - 06:12

Has anyone travelled To Italy via Rhine valley, via Brussels, Cologne, Stuttgart, Munich, Innsbruck, If so, would very much appreciate advice re: stop overs places of interest and hotels on the way. Thanks.



We travel from Tunbridge Wells down to Como, which is about 750 miles, and we have found a great place called the Gasthaus zum Loewen in Schopfheim in the southern Black Forest, south of Freiburg.  The website is here: The people are great, the food is excellent and you can rent the garage for the night for 5 euros, which is very useful if the car is filled to the gunwales, as ours always seems to be...! The way we go is across France (certainly not via Brussels because of traffic - did it once, never again) and it's so easy on the Autoroute de l'Est, then down via Strasbourg, across the Rhine and down on the German side southwards.  The huge advantage of Schopfheim is also that you miss Basle completely, since you leave the autobahn at the last exit before Basle.  (I read another post the other day about a route to miss Basle, which is exactly the way we go - you cross the Rhine into Switzerland at Bad Saeckingen with no delays whatsoever). Hope this helps! MONICA

My wife is Dutch, so we've driven between The Netherlands and Italy several times via Austria and Germany. My preferred route from Italy to the UK used to be via France. I've used the route Monica gives a couple of times, but settled on heading further towards Grenoble and crossing into Italy via the Frejus tunnel. However, that was in the days when I had a caravan behind the car. It makes some sense to cover as much distance as possible in France if you're towing, since the speed limits are higher than they are on the alternative routes. I still think the French motorways are great, but the tolls can be a bit ridiculous compared to what we're now used to paying in Italy. I understand that it is possible to travel on non-toll roads, but I've never bothered to try to figure out that route. German Autobahns are, generally speaking, wonderful and much better designed than the Italian Autostrada: sightlines are generally very long, there are decent hard shoulders and guardrails are not 10cm away from the edge of the left lane. Further, German drivers are, as a rule, very competent and disciplined. However, you need to be very alert and focused when on the Autobahns. Some traffic moves incredibly fast and cars that are in the far distance in your rearview mirror one moment can be on your tail the next. Proper lane-discipline is expected and the locals will let you know if you tarry too long in an overtaking lane. I understand it's also a criminal offence to unnecessarily obstruct the overtaking lane. One unfortunate fact about this route is that they are in the process (and have been for years) of doing major widening work on the Autobahn. Expect delays, as they say. However, we have discovered that if you have a GPS which has a traffic information system, it does actually work well in Germany. The information ours gets in Italy is totally rubbish and useless nonsense, but if your GPS tells you while in Germany that there's a delay ahead and offers to reroute, we've learned that it's a good idea to accept the suggestion. We've stopped in a number of different places in Germany, once in a hotel in the Black Forest not far from Freiburg. Nice enough place, but can't recall name of it and not so fantastic that I think it might be worthwhile me trying to locate it. Currently, our normal routine is to stop at a hotel/rest stop on the Autobahn just north of Munich at a place called Holledau. It's not quite in the middle of our route, but close enough. The hotel (which calls itself a "B&B" these days, for some reason) has some parking in the basement and garages in front of the building. The rooms are comfortable, clean and quiet, even if you should get the side facing the Autobahn. Prices are not ridiculous. As far as we're concerned, the two big positives are that the place is right on the Autobahn and the very nice breakfast you can get in the restaurant across a covered pedestrian walkway. However, I have to mention that my wife speaks German, so the English of the staff has never had to be tested. I never enjoy driving the Austrian part of this route. Although the motorway speed limit is the same as in Italy (130 kph) and the roads very good, it seems the Austrian authorities take every half-plausible opportunity to lower the speed limit. What's more, there are average speed systems on all the Austrian Autobahns and you have to assume that they will track you down, no matter where your car is registered. Further, you need to buy a windscreen sticker in order to have the dubious pleasure of using the Austrian Autobahns. It has only happened to us a couple of times, but it's wise to assume that there will be police checking your windscreen as you leave the Autobahn before getting on the section leading to the Brenner Pass. About the only positive things I can say about the Austrian section of this route is that it crosses the narrowest bit of Austria in the quickest manner possible and the scenery is nice for passengers. Drivers are far too busy looking out for reduced speed limit signs. The Brenner Pass is spectacular and it has been one of my favourite routes into Italy ever since the time we got totally fed up with a chilly, rain-soaked camping holiday in Bavaria one September and decided to head south to see if things were any better. It was quite wonderful to come over the crest of the Pass and literally see the clouds fade away and feel the air grow warmer as we rolled down the hills into Italy. Al

We went UK to Venice last month, via Koblenz, at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle, which worked out really well. There's a great steakhouse there (Gaucho). Then into Austria, over the Fernpass (spectacular) and stayed the night in Innsbruck, which we really liked. Next day over the Brenner and on to Venice. All in all we loved the trip.

We've driven down and back through Germany. Going south we stayed in Nurtingen near Stuttgart and then on down to Lago di Misurina in the Dolomites. Driving home we normally go over the Brenner Pass and then Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern and on up into Belgium - staying at lovely little Hostellerie des Tilleuls in Smuid 5 mins off the motorway near the European Space Centre. This year we spent a night on Lake Constance - Meersburg and then up through Germany and France and back into Belgium. Have also stayed in Trier. Autobahns fairly good and very disciplined but on the whole find the French autoroutes to be the best drive if a little pricey. Have a good holiday.