Re: first trip abroad! any advice?
dont forget to get stuff like a high vis vest, bulb and fuse set, warning triangle, first aid kit, torch and magnetic type GB sticker.
In many european countries the above is mandatory.
Some kind of sat nav unit will make the whole thing more enjoyable, and as someone said take the passes not the tunnels.
You could even take a trip to the ring and then drive down to Italy from there.
But the best thing I could say is just to take it easy and enjoy the drive, no sense in rushing these things.