The south of Italy offers many delicacies for Vespa riders. From winding mountain routes to long coastal roads, the southern part of the Italian boot and Sicily also offers a journey into the past and a caress for the palate. The Vespa routes of southern Italy promise an adventure that will be remembered for its grace, beauty and versatility.
From Abruzzo to the coast
The starting point of the first Vespa Tour is the town of L’Aquila, hit by an earthquake in 2009. From the capital of the Abruzzo region, the winding roads lead in the cool wind of the mountains to Campo Imperatore. The road continues through the high plateau until it becomes increasingly curvy again. Blooming landscapes stretch left and right of the roads around the Gran Sasso d’Italia and soon the road scene changes into a pool of thousands of steep and treacherous curves. After passing Passo Lanciano, the scenery becomes more and more scenic and gradually the allure of the sea is felt until the coastal town of Pescara comes into view.
Distance: 171 km
Along the coast to the tip of Salento
A well-maintained coastal road leads from the city of Bari to Brindisi. Especially in the summer months, the joy of a pleasant drive can quickly turn into a small desert adventure due to unbearable heat and sandstorms. In Brindisi, it is worth making a short stop to admire the end of the Via Appia Antica. The start of the historic trade route is in Rome and is now lined with a number of restaurants and cafés. The next stage leads to Lecce. From here, the route follows the eastern coastal road with the towns of Otranto and Santa Cesarea Terme or the western coast via Gallipoli and Ugento to Santa Maria di Leuca. The warm waters of the Ionian Sea not only wash the dust off your skin, but also quickly make you forget the hours spent on the saddle of your Vespa.
Finish: Santa Maria di Leuca
Distance: 255 km
A round trip in the mountains with a touch of James Bond
The beginning of this Vespa Tour of Southern Italy is something for the adventurous. The first stage from Bari to Locorotondo is characterised by a landscape of countless and beautiful olive groves. If you have time in your luggage, you can enjoy beautiful nature, through which a somewhat demolished and therefore mostly empty road winds its way up into the mountains. Locorotondo is a pretty little town on a hilltop, which invites you to take a stroll in the old town. The tour continues to Alberobello and already on the way there the Vespas glide past the world-famous trulli amidst vineyards and olive groves. The cone-shaped buildings can be brought down by pulling the ridge stone, which helped the farmers save taxes back then. Because without a house, there was no tax.
Matera is the next stop on the tour. The town with its rocky caves, alleyways and little houses was a filming location for the James Bond film “No Time to Die”. A view of the town from a distance is usually more enchanting than squeezing through the crowds of the town on a Vespa.
The last stop on the tour is a bastion of stone. The Castel del Monte was once built by Emperor Frederick II and its architecture is still impressive today. Afterwards, the route descends leisurely through the olive groves towards the coast until Bari once again appears in front of the Vespa’s headlights.
Distance: 276 km
From Puglia to the south of Calabria
After leaving Bari, the route takes the SS100 to the Ionian Sea. Along the E90 coastal road, the route goes to Trebisacce before the Vespas roll into the interior of Calabria shortly afterwards. The first stage destination is the historically valuable town of Cosenza, where not only the tomb of Prince Henry VII can be found, but also the monument to the Spanish Isabella of Castile. The E45 road guides the Vespas to the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. From there, they head south following the sea. At the height of Stazione di Francavilla, lovers of winding mountain roads can turn back inland. Through the serpentines, the road goes diagonally across to the opposite coast. Following the E90 road, the tour ends at Reggio Calabria.
Finish: Reggio Calabria
Distance: 546 km
Etna, ancient mosaics and a race track
From Messina, the Vespas rattle off in a southerly direction towards Mount Etna. Following the coast, the volcano accompanies the sweaty ride from inland. Fortunately, this region is blessed with dozens of orange plantations, so a lemonade refreshes from time to time. Shortly after Catania, we head inland. Winding roads lead to Piazza Armerina. The huge mosaics here show the prosperity of Sicily in the days of the Roman Empire. The route continues north along the former Targa Florio racetrack. The notorious curves of the racetrack make every Vespa owner’s heart beat up to the neck. Following the coast westwards, our tour ends in Palermo.
Distance: 336 km
And if you just can’t get enough of Italy, you should also take a look at our article on the most beautiful routes in Northern Italy.