Driving to Basilicata

11/17/2012 - 09:41

We have had problems when hiring a car in Italy - they seem to deduct random credit card payments for imaginary accidents and traffic violations. However, it is a long way from Sheffield to Basilicata. Is there anybody who had cone this? If so, how long does it take? What is the best route - we are in Grottole, off the SS407 / E847. Do you need extra insurance for driving a British car in Italy? I'd be grateful for any information or personal experiences.

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I'd suggest the first thing is to look at the options for getting to mainland Europe.  Apart from the obvious Dover to Calais/Dunkirk, the options of Hull/Rotterdam and Harwich/Hook should be looked at.  Although they cost more, the overnight crossings on these 2 routes can save a day's stop on the way down and back, just about cancelling out the increased cost.  And there is less driving in the UK. Rotterdam to Basilicata - approx 2000km Hook  to Basilicata approx - approx 2100km Dover/Dunkirk to Basilicata - approx 2000km  [but you do have the M25 to negotiate, and the London Rush Hours on the surrounding motorways]   Secondly, you need to decide whether its a 'blast down as quickly as possible' drive, or a 'make it part of the holiday' one. There are plenty of route planners on line. When you've decided your answers to the first two 'questions', get back to the forum for more detailed advice   Good Luck

Thank you Alan. Of course you are right, decisions need to be made. My only previous experience of driving to Italy was going to Tuscany, and we stopped off twice, but then we had small children with us. Given that it is so far, the make-it-part-of-the-holiday option seems better and less wearing. And as we are in the North, Hull-Rotterdam seems a sensible option too.

This October we did Hull - Rotterdam then stopped off in Wurzburg at the Pelikan Motel very cheap and worth it just for the Wurzburger beer- among the best I've quaffed. Then on to Trento -Best Western hotel via Austria , next San Marino for a gander before trundling our heavily over loaded combo to Latiano (with a scary  blow-out en route to Puglia!) Enjoy the drive and can I just boast that our beloved Doblo Jtd and heavy trailer returned 48mpg over the 1800 miles from St andrews!! Ideal car for a Scotsman my wife reckons.

One of the problems with regard to insuring with British Insurance agents is that they normally only allow your car out of the country for 90 days in any 12 month period.  If you want it for longer - they charge an enormous premium.  A couple of years ago we found out that the National Farmers Union Insurance would allow a car out of the country for up to 6 months - the premium was slightly larger than what we were paying (but only by about 5%) - and it works fine for us.

Hi Karen, We are in Nova siri -  the other end of Basilicata to you - and we drove down in March. We chose to not try blatting down non-stop, but to make it part of the holiday. It was just over 1500 miles. I looked at various options and in the end: 1. left Midlands at about 1530, to Dover for 1830 Eurotunnel, through to Lille, overnight in the Campanile (cheap and cheerful) 2. Lille, Luxemburg, France into Switzerland at Basle, stayed at a nice hotel very near the St Gottard tunnel. (You do need a Swiss motorway carnet - €40) 3. Through the tunnel, down around Milan on the A1, onto the A14 and down to Urbino, where we had time for site-seeing and nice dinner. 4. More siteseeing before heading back down the A14. We came off at Foggia and crossed to Venosa, because we wanted to stay the night there. 5. Couple of hours from Venosa to Nova Siri -  time to do some shopping and open up the house in daylight. My car is on a 12 month Green Card through Stuart Collins and I'm about to start the process of registering it in Italy. Do PM me if you would like more detail. (There can't be many fellow Lucanian Brits!) Best wishes and good luck in your planning.  Simon

I know - horses for courses - and the pleasure is to travel and not necessarialy to arrive! I often did Hull/Zeebrugge (though Rotterdam was almost as good, maybe 15 min extra) and, given travelling on a Sunday, Zebrugge to Perugia was 12 or 13 hours. Perugia to northern Calabria is max 7 hours - so, if you wanted to do this journey (stopping only for fuel/coffee/sandwich) it could take less than 21 hours. (Zeebrugge to Grottole). If you have two drivers, and are determined, this is your timescale. If you like languid lunches, this is not for you! But, it is doable

Maybe you also should consider your car hire company.  Some are notorious for deducting wrong items. We have always used Hertz or Avis who have always been very good and they check over and sign off the vehicle on the return.  Taking your own car out is great if you have the additional time but it is more expensive for most trips (petrol, motorway tolls, eurotunnel or ferry, overnight stays, tunnel tolls, breakdown insurance and green card) and, critically, the wear and tear can be very great especially on some of the appalling roads which masquerade as strade provinciale.  We have just had 10 days in Tuscany and the car hire through Avis was £197 from Pisa airport. If you are anxious about crash or theft then you can get an annual car hire excess policy for about £40 to cover all your overseas rentals fir 12 months.

It is excellent going on the North Sea Ferry route. A nice relaxed early evening boarding.  No getting up at the crack of dawn to get down to the channel ports - knackered by the time you reach them!  You also get off very early so start off well breakfasted and rested by 8.30ish.  Makes a difference - especially on the return journey.

A couple of times we've chosen to go down into Germany, then over the Brenner which is a great way to go and doesn't really involve Swiss type mountains. Munich is a great stopover, as also is Innsbruck. TK

In reply to by SirTK

i always go thru  Germany,the best thing is that you can go fast (most of the time anyway,unless they decide to dig up the autobahns(which they do) also if you get tired of driving at 220kph just come off and stay in a gasthaus no tolls either so there are plenty of exits.As long as you stick to ham-cheese-beer if you have to eat you're ok...for the rest of the food wait till Bolzano.i love driving i envy you the excuse to do it to basilicata.My wife and i once drove +/- non stop to liverpool tiring but great.also no effing around with swiss rules and vignettes.

In reply to by sebastiano

forgot you don't need to eff about with route planners,sat navs it's just turn right in belgium for germany go for Frankfurt >Munchen>Bolzano>Verona > turn off for Firenze>Roma>Napoli then you're almost there hardly need a map for that

The route through switzerland that I use goes through rather than over mountains - so should be relatively pain free. Basle [or Basle bye-pass - do a 'search' on that] - Lucerne, and on through the Gotthard Tunnel.  No mountains to go over

I'm going to be driving to Italy at Easter, and having done plenty of searches through the community and also a few route planners i'd like to ask a few questions. I'm only planning one stop over, possibly switzerland, depending on how much progree i'm making. is it worth booking somewhere or will i get something easy just walking in. it is going to be good friday. (since it is good friday, will i expect the traffic to be heavier) i'll be on the 4am eurotunnel so out of calais early morning, and plan to follow the advice on here of heading towards Luxembourg. There are a few routes i can take here and i wonder if any one has actually plotted the route on one of the planners. i was going to take the e42/a25 past Lille and then past Charleroi (avoiding going around brussels). Then heading south towards Metz-Nancy-Mulhouse, i understand the Nancy Mulhouse part is not on the motorway, is this correct? Is it after Mulhouse that you continue on the (e60/e54/a36 - why do they have so many numbers) into germany, heading south and taking the Lorrach route (Basel bypass)? No problems after this, but i am slightly concerned that when i hit the autostrada past Milan it will be busy, anytime i have been on this road its always busy - slow. is there any way to avoid this or have i been unlucky in the past. Looking at the route planners, the fastest route they suggest is down through france towards geneva, and into italy via the mont blanc tunnel. Is there any reason why this isn't recommended. i understand the toll cost in france and i believe mont-blanc tunnel is tolled. but having looked at route planners the main cost is fuel.  any advice?

"(since it is good friday, will i expect the traffic to be heavier)" Its worth remembering that Good Friday is a working day in much of Europe, so traffic will really build up late afternoon - before then it should be pretty normal ------------------- "route planners, the fastest route they suggest is down through france towards geneva, and into italy via the mont blanc tunnel. Is there any reason why this isn't recommended." Cost is a major factor - the Belguim, Luxembourg, France and/or Germany route[s] are toll free until you get to Switzerland,, and the annual Vignette for Switzerland costs 33 Euros .  This can be bought at the German motorway services just before you get to the lorrach turn off [the Basle Bye-Pass], and on line.  The route down to thw Mont Blanc tunnel involves using french toll roads [not cheap] and the tunnel itself costs 34 Euros return ------------- "i understand the Nancy Mulhouse part is not on the motorway, is this correct?" True - but much of it is dual carriageway or good 'single' road [we find it breaks up the Journey].  You could also go via Colmar [possible slightly better roads overall], we've started using this route --------------------------- "I'm only planning one stop over, possibly switzerland, " Switzerland is expensive to stay in - We avoid doing so if possible

Mont Blanc is a good way to go as it's not a bad drive and there are good places to stop. We always used to go that way because our timings meant that Chamonix was a perfect distance for overnighting, and it is a really nice town with good bars and food options. Latterly, I've chosen to stop in Burgundy (I've been on a Pinot Noir quest these last couple of years) and Beaune is another great stopover. Other than that, I usually go via Gotthard as being the quickest, cheapest and most convenient, but like to ring the changes as I do the trip several times a year. I must have stayed in nearly all of the main towns/cities down that route over the years. The only thing I have absolutely never done is the Basel by-pass, quite simply because Basel is the easiest city to get through - all urban motorway - and I have never ever witnessed any kind of hold-up there. For lorries, yes, but never for cars. And it's a nice place to stopover, too.

".........  never done is the Basel by-pass, quite simply because Basel is the easiest city to get through - all urban motorway - and I have never ever witnessed any kind of hold-up there. .........." My record hold up was 75 minutes, mainly queuing in the tunnels/covered roadways - so lots of fumes

Colmar is indeed a great stop - also, just a couple of kms up the road, is Riquewihr - a real gem and you'd hardly know it was there. Well worth checking out. Alan, I really sympathise with your Basel problems - did you find out what caused the holdup? Being in the tunnel going south implies some problem on the road itself - roadworks? I have seen queues of lorries heading south at the border but clearly you wouldn't have reached the tunnels until beyond the border. I doubt there would be any issue with the border if you were coming north at the time, as they don't check you coming out at all - no money to be made out of it. laugh

"did you find out what caused the holdup? Being in the tunnel going south implies some problem on the road itself - roadworks?" Have been held up going South - yes usually by roadworks, but once or twice by Swiss Border Control - delays have been up to 30 minutes The biggest holdups [up to 75 mins]  have been coming North, usually when Border Control decides to throw a wobbly and stop every car with a non-white face in it.

Thanks to all the suggestions on here, i managed the journey with only a few hic-cups Going south, i had decided on the Bel-Lux-Fra-Swi-Ita route. first decision was to take the motorway towards Brussels. i'd now avoid the Brussels ring road (busy at this time) and take the motorway south at dunkirk towards lille-chareloi namur. We did this on the return and it was a good road. I made a mistake at Nancy and headed towards Mulhouse on the wrong road, which took us up over the hill through a load off towns, very frustrating. becuase of this we made a gamble at heading direct to Basel rather than the bypass. no delays and it was Fri afternoon. Stopped at the Holiday inn near sursee (very good) We did notice the san gottard tunnel is single carriageway (one lane each direction), not sure this is normal as there appears to be two tunnels (dual). should have noted this more carefully as there was a reasonable delay on the return. but a traffic light system at the tunnel entrance ensured it was efficient. Italy no problem, but its pretty expensive on the tolls. and the final mistake was to take the Modena to Garfagnana road. way to curvy. Had a few delays on the way back as mentioned. big issue (and it was probably more unlucky) but stopped near the Lux border on the return. obviously the car was packed, but it was broken into. With all the wine, expensive camera equipment and other items, all that was stolen was a food cool bag, with a reasonable amount of cheese. So not a huge loss, but the delay and inevitable rush back to the tunnel could have been avoided.

".......... headed towards Mulhouse on the wrong road, which took us up over the hill through a load off towns, very frustrating. ..." I'm not sure you made a mistake - sounds as though you were on the right road - it does go through many villages.  The Nancy - Colmar route is to many drivers a bit easiereasier ---------------- "We did notice the san gottard tunnel is single carriageway (one lane each direction), not sure this is normal as there appears to be two tunnels (dual). should have noted this more carefully as there was a reasonable delay on the return. but a traffic light system at the tunnel entrance ensured it was efficient." There is a second tunnel bore, but it isn't used [not complete?] - all traffic uses the one bore [one carriageway in each direction].  If youhave a half hour or so to spare, the drive over the Gotthard Pass is worth it

"The ............. motorway tunnel was opened on September 5, 1980. It remains a single bore tunnel with just one lane operating in each direction. It has ................. an additional side gallery between 10 and 18 metres from the main tunnel, having its own independent ventilation system in order to facilitate the cutting of a second tunnel, should future traffic levels require it."  Wikipedia What you see at the Northern Tunnel Portal is the start of the second bore - probably built when they did the first tunnel to make it easier to connect into the road system if, and when, they build the second tunnel [but I doubt if they ever will]

Hull Rotterdam is the way I would go. Then down through Germany, into Austria over the Fern Pass and Brenner Pass to Italy. Not sure of your route from there as I go to Puglia via Bologna. I can do Newcastle-Puglia in 2 days hard driving from Amsterdam. I normally stop off somewhere between Fuessen and Innsbrueck which is about 8-10 hours from Amsterdam, then another 12 hour grueller the next day to Puglia but I'm finding that a bit hard these days so I'll probably add in another stop in Garda next trip to make it more enjoyable and less of an endurance test. If you want details of some nice hotels to stop on my route pm me and I'll send you them. I think you are right in avoiding switzerland. I've done that route once and didn't like it at all for various reasons.