The Top 10 Mediterranean Drives - Page 2
|Dubrovnik, on the Mediterranean coast of Croatia (Digital Vision/Getty Images)|
Leuca to Otranto, Italy
At the heel of Italy, rambling between the seaside towns of Otranto and Santa Maria di Leuca, this 50-mile (80 km) road has been dubbed the "Little Amalfi Coast" for its jagged coastline and secret beaches. Swim, hike, and picnic along the way. In Leuca, climb the headland for the staggering vista where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet.
PLANNING: Spring and fall are the best times to go. www.italiantourism.com
Genoa to La Spezia, Italy
This 50-mile (80 km) drive begins in Genoa, a powerful Mediterranean city in medieval times. Eastward along the Gulf of Genoa, be sure to stop in the red-tile-roofed villages of Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino, clustered on a green peninsula along boat-dotted waters. From La Spezia, hike the Cinque Terre fishing villages, connected by paths overlooking the sea.
PLANNING: In winter, lodging is cheaper and crowds are few. www.italiantourism.com
Route des Crêtes, France
Teetering on cliffs high above the Mediterranean—certainly not for the faint-hearted—this 12-mile (19 km) drive between the pastel-painted fishing village of Cassis and the coastal city of La Ciotat heads over the Cap Canaille, at 1,300 feet (396 m) Europe's highest maritime cliff. From roadside viewpoints peer down into the gorgeous turquoise calanques (inlets) that line the coast from here to Marseille.
PLANNING: Cassis has beautiful beaches, and there are plenty of places to stay—Les Roches Blanches is a popular hotel with amazing views. Be sure to hike along the calanques (trails are signposted), as well as take a boat ride out to them. www.ot-cassis.com, www.beyond.fr
Long-horned black bulls and white horses with flowing manes run semi-free through the Camargue, wild marshland south of ancient, artsy Arles. Here, too, congregate 300 species of birds, including flocks of pink flamingos, and soaring eagles, hawks, and harriers. High points include the Camargue Museum and the area's capital, Stes.-Maries-de-la-Mer, full of Spanish charm. In May, thousands of Roma (gypsies) from all over Europe come to the town to venerate their patron saint, Sara, in colorful processions to the sea.
PLANNING: Stay in Stes.-Maries-de-la-Mer. Spring and late fall are best for bird-watching and seeing the bulls and horses. www.saintesmaries.com
The Griffon's Route, Sardinia
The rugged road running south from the medieval town of Alghero edges eroded, lavender-covered cliffs that dive down to the sea. Scan the skies above for the rare griffon vulture. From the ancient town of Bosa, 30 miles (48 km) south of Alghero, topped by a medieval fortress, return to Alghero along the inland mountain route.It is fraught with hairpins and switchbacks but passes the prehistoric settlement of Nuraghe Appiu.
PLANNING: Griffons may be seen in early morning or at sunset. Spring and fall are good times to visit for driving, though if you also want the beaches, summer is best. www.italiantourism.com
Reproduced with permission from Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Most Spectacular Trips, 2010, National Geographic. All rights reserved.