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A 3-Day Road Trip in North Italy

Updated: Jun 7

In this travel guide for a mini road trip in North Italy, I will tell you how we drove from Venice to Milan over the course of 3 days with only one thing on our minds: FOOD.


An Italy Road Trip
A 3-day Mini Road Trip in North Italy


Why did we Go to Italy?

Joe and I are on the brink of our next big adventure; travelling overland from Nairobi to Cape Town on a budget, mainly camping and using public transport.

This is my 4th trip to the continent of Africa, and in my own experience and through the grapevine I have heard that interesting food is not one of the main draws when travelling Africa, putting it politely!

So Reason One as to why we tagged on a 3-day road trip through North Italy to the beginning of our great African adventure; PASTA.

Reason Two is that my good pal Elisa currently lives just outside Venice, and it was due time for us to have a catch-up over a shared passion of ours, WINE.

Thirdly, it is WAY cheaper to fly out of Milan than it is to fly out of London in many cases. For example, the London to Nairobi flights were coming up at £450 one way, whereas we could reach Nairobi from Milan for only £250.

I Dream of Mangoes walking under yellow archways in Italy
On the hunt for Tortellini in Brodo


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How to Get to North Italy to Begin Your Road Trip

We flew from London Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo with Wizz Air. Flights are £21 one-way if you only take a small personal item, this shoots up to £60 one-way if you take 10kg of hand luggage on top.

We then rented a car from Marco Polo from Noleggiare, which was £180 for two days, including two drivers, full insurance, and a drop-off in a different location: Milan.

Their service was so-so, I would recommend choosing a different company if you can.


Where Did We Go?

Our Road Trip Through Northern Italy: VENICE – BOLOGNA -MODENA– MILAN

We Just Love Pasta
We Just Love Pasta


1. Venice

So you could easily stay on the island of Venice for your first day, strolling the canals and admiring the beauty of the city. However, we chose to stay in Mogliano Veneto as our first stop on our North Italy road trip, a smaller town very close to the airport, as this is where Elisa lives.

After checking in to our Bed and Breakfast that we found on for 60 Euros, we strolled into the main square for Aperitivos at Enoteca La Fenice, a traditional Venetian bar - and then onwards to Elisa's house for an Italian feast.

What an introduction to Italy! We had Prosciutto, Burrata, Taralli, Caprese, and finally; Nonna's handmade Tortellini in Brodo. All washed down with some delicious natural wines from Elisa's cellar, and finished with Gelato!

The Venice Canals
The Venice Canals


2. Bologna

Driving time Venice to Bologna: Two Hours

Joe has a real thing for Bologna and I can see why. This is a beautiful city in the heart of Emilia-Romagna, perhaps Italy's most 'foodie' state and the birthplace of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Bologna's cobbled streets are coloured with warm tones of burnt orange and yellow, and we were here for one thing only; food.

Lunch was at one of Joe's favourites – Osteria Santa Caterina. We had a trio of pastas, one with fennel sausage, one with sage and butter and one in a parmesan cream sauce. There's really no point ordering fancy bottles of wine here, the 'table wine' in Italy is delicious and normally only about 6 Euro for a half litre!

After a stroll, we drove to our next Bed and Breakfast, about 30 minutes outside of the city at Castel Maggiore. This was a super cute garage conversion at 75 Euro for the night, the host left us a bottle of wine to enjoy too!

For dinner we were recommended a local restaurant: La Grigliana, to try their speciality – Buccatini Flambe. This is essentially a Carbonara finished off at the table in a whole wheel of Parmesan. It was incredible.

The delicious Buccatini Flambe from La Grigliana
The delicious Buccatini Flambe from La Grigliana

The next day we drove back into Bologna for 11:45am, to queue for the famous sandwiches at MO Mortadella, which opened at 12 Noon. This was definitely worth the journey!

Imagine a flaky bread bun stuffed with Mortadella, a whole Burrata and drizzled with basil oil? Also at an insane price of 5 Euro.

I keep saying it, Italy is half the price of the UK and more than twice as good in almost every respect!!!

MO Mortadella bun with burrata and basil oil
Enough said!


3. Modena

Driving time Bologna to Modena – 1 Hour

This was a quick stop on our North Italy road trip to visit the famous market Albinelli - featured on many a Netflix food documentary. We gobbled some fresh juicy peaches, sampled chunks of parmesan, and then enjoyed a Lambrusco in the sun. Modena is a beautiful city too.

We still had a long way to go, but decided to swing by the front door of Osteria Francescana on our way back to the car. This is a 3 x Michelin Star restaurant and one of the world's best, with Head Chef Massimo Bottura.

We just happened to be walking past as he was getting something from his car. We said Hello, and then noticed his restaurant Manager Beppe Palmieri outside too. If you're a foodie, you will know how utterly cool this encounter is.

Before I tell you what happened next just bear in mind that to eat here it's at least 500 Euro per person, and getting a table is akin to getting tickets to Glastonbury.

Beppe invited us in, gave us a tour of the kitchen, introduced us to all of the Chefs, and had them prepare us their Venison main course, which we ate on the pass during lunch service. It was so surreal, we felt like we were floating on air!

This is why they are the best in the business, they remain so humble and generous throughout their success. Beppe even sent us away with a bottle of Massimo's Balsamic Vinegar, something with is not for sale anywhere.

We were walking back to the car grinning from ear to ear like utter goons, this was a dream come true, especially for Joe who has wanted to dine here for many years.

And all by chance!

The Venison main course at Osteria Francescana
The Venison main course at Osteria Francescana


4. Milan

Driving time Modena to Bologna – 2.5 Hours

So much in the same way as Venice, you could spend your last day exploring the city of Milan, or even choose to venture just an hour further north to stay near Lake Como.

However, with a big flight the next day, we chose to drop the car off at Milan Malpensa and take a 10-minute taxi to the closest small town to the airport: Somma Lombardo.

It's worth noting here that we only used half a tank of petrol for the entirety of this trip!

We actually stayed on a farm here which was pretty cool, again at 75 Euro for the night including breakfast. In the evening we walked into the town and ate at Desiree, filling the only food-gap we felt we were missing; Pizza.

The next day we headed to the airport to catch our flight to Nairobi.

Pizza Diavola and Seafood Salad from Desiree
Pizza Diavola and Seafoos Salad from Desiree


As you can probably tell, this trip was 95% about the food and had me seriously doubting whether I should have really put Italy below India in my recent article: The Best Countries in the World. It was all. so. good.

Our Italian friends told us that they think the best food within Italy comes from Sicily, a region way down at the end of the boot, and the next destination on my Italian Bucket List!

Whilst not the most comprehensive guide for a road trip in north Italy, I hope this shows you how easy and affordable it is to plan a trip like this, and you can tailor yours in a way that interests you most.


I hope you enjoyed reading my post: A 3-day Road Trip in North Italy, please ask any questions in the comments, and do consider subscribing to my blog where I publish posts once every 1-2 weeks about mine and Joe's current trip around the world.

For more travel inspiration, check out my post: Which countries are the best in the world?

Happy Travels




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1 Comment

Kathleen Kenneth
Kathleen Kenneth
Sep 25, 2023

OMG, I am SO hungry now! What a lovely trip you had there--so magical. I must make it there.

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