A Car Cruise in Italy

 

Livorno is a great port from which to explore some of Italy’s most enchanting towns.

 

We think we’ve found a great new way to spend a day in port while cruising the Mediterranean.

Here’s what happened. We walked off the Celebrity Summit in Livorno to find a shiny new Audi TT from EliteRent’s Florence office waiting for us. We took off through the Tuscan hills on an independent luxury driving excursion and came back in time for anchors away.

The team at EliteRent, the Swiss-based luxury-car rental company, has come up with some enticing three-to-five-day itineraries through some of Europe’s most driveable places: Tuscany, Umbria, the mountains of Switzerland, Bohemian Prague and more.

Why, we thought, couldn’t we use a cruise port day for a single day’s drive in a fabulous car? EliteRent agreed and we gave it a try.

We chose Livorno because it’s an easier town to navigate than the bigger cities, even without the built-in GPS in our snappy convertible. We first drove to Lucca, the quintessential Tuscan walled town, before heading up into the mountains to Barga. This is the kind of driving we were looking for—good roads without much traffic and even better views. There was the sunlit-blue sky above us, with a few leaves being blown about reminding us that it was early fall.

Barga is a walled town high up on a hill with a great atmosphere, a great stop for independent travelers. After wandering through the narrow cobbled streets, we jumped back into the Audi and decided on our next destination by putting our fingers on the map—Fabbriche di Vallico, a dot in the nearby mountains. We turned off the state road onto a shady country lane. A road sign told us it was 8 km (4.8 miles) to our destination. Time to take down the convertible top.

We pulled into Fabbriche, a tiny town built on the side of a hill. Laundry was strung out to dry on the sides of the stone-houses and there was a village fountain set into a wall. We saw the only restaurant in town, a nameless hostaria. Outside, the locals watched soccer on TV; inside, several tables were set with bright cloths and flowers. The owner brought out local cheeses and thin slices of prosciutto and then asked what we would prefer—meat or fish. We chose grilled meat and salad—simple, well-prepared and delicious. We decided that next time we would explore the road beyond the village, which would eventually lead back to the sea.

For now, it was back to Livorno, where EliteRent had a driver waiting for us. We gave her the keys, walked across the street and hopped on the shuttle back to the ship. We could not have had a better day.

To get in touch with EliteRent, contact Florence Station Manager Gabriella Poggiali(gabriella@eliterent.net; 011-390-550-517-310). The choice of cars is endless, from Mercedes to Jag, Audi TT to BMW. EliteRent can also arrange for a driver.