Culture and dolce vita road trip between Switzerland and Italy
16 June 2020
Driving, escaping, discovering and marvelling, this is in a few words the definition of an ideal road trip. Carried out alone, this adventure is a good way to take some time to reflect on yourself; but it is with the family that the road trip takes on its full meaning. Parents and children can strengthen their bonds, even before departure: choosing the hotels, thinking about the excursions to do and things to see, everything is subject to reflection and the toddlers will be delighted to give their opinion! To help you make up your mind, Little Guest has concocted a 12-day itinerary between Switzerland and Italy.
The road trip is ideal for everyone but offers families with children the opportunity to spend both a relaxing and surprising holiday. It’s impossible to get bored when you spend your time discovering new hotels, visiting different museums and enjoying various atmospheres. With this itinerary, Little Guest has designed a trip from Geneva to Punta Ala, in Tuscany, passing through Florence. Between modernity and tradition, contemporary luxury and palatial splendour, this road trip will guarantee you an exceptional experience: going on an adventure while staying in absolutely sumptuous establishments! Ready to live the dolce vita with your family? Pack your bags, settle down comfortably and follow the guide!
THIS ITINERARY IN A NUTSHELL:
- Number of kilometres to cover: it will take 650 km from your first drop-off point to your second and 190 km to your final destination.
- Landscapes encountered: mountains, regional or national parks and coastline.
- Main activities: hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding, golf, tennis or yoga, cultural visits, relaxation at the beach, swimming pool and spa.
- Expected visits: towns, historical villages, natural parks, various museums.
SOME ADVICE BEFORE YOU LEAVE
- Turn your car into a comfortable cocoon: water bottles, snacks, nap cushions, sun blinds, etc. Little Guest has thought of everything in order to help you turn your car into a real amusement park so that children are never bored on the road. We have prepared an article for you to organize your family road trip perfectly, as well as a Little Guest playlist road trip edition !
- Always carry the children’s essentials (ID, vaccination booklet, etc.), a mini first aid kit with bandages, medicines against motion sickness…To make sure you don’t forget anything, Little Guest offers you three checklists: for children from 0 to 3 years old; from 3 to 6 years old and from 6 to 12 years old.
- Finally, in this particular period, remember to regularly check the evolution of the opening of the borders of European countries. Indeed, some of our itineraries cross several countries and it would be unpleasant to get stuck during your trip.
DAY 1: START OF THE TRIP IN LA RÉSERVE GENÈVE
It is at La Réserve Genève, on the shores of Lake Geneva, that your journey begins. This prestigious establishment welcomes you in the heart of a 4-hectare park. Thought as an African lodge, it guarantees a chic bucolic atmosphere that will delight young and old alike (tipis can be installed in the rooms to make the children dream). Start by taking possession of the place: let the children have fun in the wonderful huts on stilts, splash around in the swimming pool or pretend to be Indiana Jones in the obstacle course.
In the afternoon, set off to discover Geneva! Begin with a visit to the sumptuous botanical gardens and continue with the Natural History Museum, which will delight children and is, moreover, free! At the end of the afternoon, take a stroll through the old town and take advantage of the opportunity to pass through the doors of the wonderful toy shops for which the city is famous. Finally, to end the day in style, why not go to the Praille bowling alley and play a game or two with the family?
DAY 2: MEDIEVAL VILLAGE AND RELAXING EVENING
For this second day, Little Guest offers you a tour of the surroundings. After a good breakfast, take the road to Mount Salève. Nicknamed the balcony of Geneva, it will offer you a breathtaking view on the city and Lake Geneva. From there, go to the medieval village of Yvoire, only 45 minutes away. Nicknamed the Pearl of Lake Geneva, this former fishing village, considered one of the most beautiful in France, is perfect for a nature getaway far from the hustle and bustle of Geneva. Lunch at the creperie Les Galets, then visit the castle, the Cinq Sens Garden and end with a shopping session in the small craft shops of the village.
After this day’s stroll, leave your children in the hotel’s super kids-club and enjoy a moment of relaxation at the Spa. Swimming pool, hammam, sauna and massages are waiting for you! In the evening, treat yourself to an exceptional dinner at the Tsé Fung, the hotel’s starred restaurant.
DAY 3: TWO GREAT WALKS OPTIONS
For this third and last day in Geneva, we offer two options: the first is to discover the vineyards of Lavaux (about 1-hour drive). The view on the mountains is simply extraordinary and well worth the trip. With the vineyards that descend in terraces to Lake Geneva and the Alps in the background, you won’t be disappointed! Take the opportunity to visit the typical villages surrounding the vineyards: Lutry, Cully, Saint-Saphorin or Rivaz, in particular, are truly remarkable and offer the most beautiful views of the countryside, the mountains and Lake Geneva.
The other possibility is to go to Annecy, one of the most beautiful cities in France, where you can visit the old town, the old prisons and the castle before taking a boat trip on the city’s famous lake before returning to Geneva to enjoy one last time the hotel’s wonderful facilities.
DAY 4: DRIVE TO FLORENCE
The time has come to leave Switzerland for Italy! You will have about 7 hours of driving to do during the day, so much so that a good part of it will be done in the car, but nothing prevents you from making small breaks on the road, it is moreover recommended! After about an hour’s drive, stop in Chamonix for breakfast; the view of the Mont Blanc will be a big plus and the children will be delighted.
After about a 3 hours’ drive, you will arrive in Milan and lunch will be a well-deserved break. Take the opportunity to go and admire the Duomo de Milano; the third largest cathedral in the world is home to over 2000 marble statues and is a must-see in Milan! In front of the Duomo, walk down the magnificent Vittorio Emanuele II Gallery and admire the magnificent arcades and the glass and iron dome of this neo-classical landmark.
Then take the road again and drive another 200 km to reach Bologna where your children can enjoy a delicious snack in Piazza Maggiore before taking a look at the magnificent Neptune Fountain in an adjacent square. Finally, to avoid exhausting the children, take the wheel one last time in the direction of Florence.
DAY 5: DISCOVERY OF THE HOTEL AND THE CITY
Consisting of two incredibly restored 15th and 16th century buildings, the Four Seasons Hotel in Florence is simply extraordinary. Considered to be the most beautiful hotel in the city, this out of time living museum is a place apart. After the children discover their welcome gift, set off to conquer the capital of Tuscany. This short itinerary will allow you to discover the must-see sites of the city.
Start in Piazza San Marco and visit the Galleria dell’Accademia (where you can see major works by Michelangelo, among others), then make a detour to the Medici Chapels, true architectural masterpieces, before crossing the Arno River to reach the Brancacci Chapel. From there, you can reach the magnificent Boboli Gardens and then the Ponte Vecchio, the emblem of the city. If you’re there at lunch time, it’s the perfect place to taste the specialities of the region. Continue to the Uffizi Gallery and end at the Palazzo Vecchio. Finally, don’t miss the sumptuous Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo.
DAY 6: ESCAPADE TO PISA
For this second day, Little Guest proposes you to discover one of the most famous cities in the world: Pisa and its famous leaning tower. Jewel of the Renaissance, this city has however much more to offer than this extraordinary architectural phenomenon. After about an hour and a half of driving, go directly to Piazza dei Miracoli to climb the steps of the famous leaning Tower of Pisa before the massive arrival of tourists. Continue with visits to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, the Baptistery of St. John of Pisa and the Camposanto.
To avoid an overdose of cultural visits for children, take them to see the street-art work Tuttomondo. Designed by Keith Haring, it is located on one of the facades of the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate. After lunch, continue your city trip by visiting the old town, its squares decorated with ancient buildings and the banks of the Arno River lined with rows of colourful houses. Finally, don’t forget that Pisa is only a few kilometres from the sea, so it’s easy to take a dip before heading back to Florence.
DAY 7: RELAXATION IN THE HOTEL
This last day in Florence will be devoted to relaxation! Start the day with a few hours in the hotel Spa. Suitable for both adults and children, it will allow the entire family to recharge its batteries. After this moment of calm, sign your children up for the pizza workshop organised by the hotel, where they will learn how to prepare a traditional pizza. Continue with a family picnic in the Four Seasons park (the hotel offers a gourmet basket to be reserved 24 hours in advance).
In the afternoon, take a hot air balloon to admire Florence from the air or explore the city from the river on a traditional renaioli boat. These two excursions, which can be organized for you by the hotel concierge, are sure to delight your little ones. Finally, in the evening, take a tour of the city’s pizzerias and gelaterias.
DAY 8: ROAD TO PUNTA ALA
The 8th day will be dedicated to the journey to Punta Ala to discover the last hotel of this road trip, the Baglioni Resort Cala del Porto. You will only have about 190 km to do, which leaves plenty of time for breaks on the road. Leaving Florence, head towards Siena. A medieval gem in the heart of Tuscany, this city, which was Florence’s great rival for a long time, is a real treasure.
After about an hour’s drive, head straight to the incredible Piazza del Campo to admire the colourful facades of the city’s most famous square and climb to the top of the Torre del Mangia to enjoy a breathtaking 360-degree view. Continue with a visit of the cathedral, the Duomo di Sienna, and wander through the narrow streets of the old town to experience the Italian dolce vita. Fountains, small squares with markets and delicious ice-cream parlours, children won’t be able to resist. After this magical interlude, take the road back to Punta Ala.
DAY 9: IDLENESS BY THE SEA
The Baglioni Cala del Porto will be the last hotel to welcome you on this itinerary and it has nothing to envy the two previous ones. For your first day at the hotel, Little Guest invites you to take advantage of the exceptional location of the hotel; perfect your tan on the beach or by the swimming pool while the children enjoy the kids-club and its activities, then take part in a horseback ride through the Tuscan countryside organised by the hotel or a tour of the surrounding area in a vintage car. You can then discover the typical villages of the region and the local culinary specialities.
In the afternoon, escape to the nature reserve of Bandite di Scarlino. Located on an unspoilt part of the coast, south of the municipality of Follonica, it is perfect for hiking, horseback riding or cycling. Children will be delighted to discover the local fauna, flora and landscapes. Finally, end the day at the hotel’s wellness centre which, in addition to offering a wide range of treatments and massages, overlooks the beach.
DAY 10: DISCOVERY OF THE Tuscan archipelago NATIONAL PARK
Your penultimate day will be dedicated to the discovery of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park. There are seven islands that make up this archipelago that is ideal for a family nature excursion. If all of them are worth a visit, Little Guest particularly recommends you to visit the next two in order to take the time to fully enjoy them.
Book your places on board a small ferry or rent a boat to reach Elba Island. The third largest Italian island after Sicily and Sardinia, it is known as the place where Napoleon Bonaparte lived in exile. You will have a wide choice of beaches and bays with turquoise waters and surrounded by lush nature.
Take the boat back to Pianosa Island at any time. It was once used as a prison; here is something to fire the imagination of your children who may dream of pirates! On this island, you’ll discover hidden coves and fine sandy beaches bathed in water so transparent that you’ll think you’re in the Caribbean! Don’t forget to visit the catacombs, the Palazzo della Specola and the island’s lighthouse.
DAY 11: HOT-AIR BALLOON FLIGHT AND MAGICAL EVENING
For your last day, Little Guest has put the small dishes in the big ones. In the morning, take a ride in a hot air balloon (the hotel’s concierge service will be happy to book this for you) and discover the most beautiful natural sites in the area from the sky: sandy beaches, endless vineyards and the Chianti mountains, among others. After this memorable ride in the air, take a snorkelling trip with your children. Punta Ala’s coastline is full of water sports centres where you can discover the local underwater fauna.
Finally, spend the evening on the Cala Violina beach for an unforgettable dinner. This beach with its crystal-clear waters offers couples (if you have decided to make use of the hotel’s excellent babysitting service) or families a unique moment of escape. You will access the beach by private boat and a dinner will be prepared by a Chef just for you. What better way to end this road trip?
Make the engine roar and let’s go for an adventure!
Guillaume, 26 years old, passionate about travel, from Paris