Driving in Italy Made Easy…Guaranteed (Updated 2024)

UPDATED:

Kate + Vin

Driving in Italy Tips & Advice
sudtirol vineyard icon 1

ANYONE with an inkling of common sense, a little pre-trip prep and a solid smartphone or GPS can easily handle driving in Italy. Here are the top Italian driving tips to hit the roads like a pro.

Driving in Italy is safe, fun, and a must if you really want to see the land. With a car, nearly all of Italy’s historic, cultural and natural jewels will be yours for the picking. And trust us, hidden gems such as Italy’s South Tyrol region and the Dolomites are not to be missed.

 In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Key road rules for driving and parking in Italy
  • What you legally need to drive in Italy
  • What to do in case of a roadside emergency
  • Rental car tips and Italy rental car insurance requirements
  • How to easily handle tolls on the Autostrada
  • Money and time-saving tricks
  • How to drive in Italy without stress and avoid fines
  • What to do if you receive a fine
  • The best Italy navigation apps & more
  • How to use Google Maps even if you do not have service

⇒ Drive with Confidence: Get our Italian Road Sign Cheatsheets & Driving Tips

What Side of the Road Does Italy Drive On?

One of the top questions we receive about driving in Italy is what side of the road do Italians drive on. Well, we have some good news for some of you.

Italians drive on the right-hand side of the road (the same as the U.S. and much of Europe). And equally important, the steering wheel is on the left side as well.

If you were fretting about making a mistake on the road due to it being different in that respect, your biggest mental hurdle to driving in Italy is behind you.

Babbel Logo

Travel Tip: If you are interested in learning Italian (or practically any language for that matter), we highly recommend Babbel. We purchased lifetime access at 50% Off and love learning with it. Both fun and addicting!

What Do You Need to Drive in Italy?

international driving permit
An IDP serves as your Italy driving license.

Another common question we receive is whether there is a special “Driving in Italy” license that must be obtained before hitting the road.

By law, Italy requires foreign drivers to be over 18 and possess an International Driving Permit (IDP). While not technically an Italian driver’s license, this document translates your current driver’s license into a format that allows authorities to easily identify you.

Note: Drivers with a valid license issued by any EU member country do not need an International Driving Permit to drive in Italy

How to Obtain an International Driving Permit for Italy

Obtaining an IDP is easy, and cheap and needs to happen before you head to Italy. Don’t worry: you do not need to pass any tests.

U.S. Residents: If you are a U.S. resident only one organization is authorized to issue IDPs: American Automobile Association (AAA). To apply, go to one of the above links and print out the application form. You’ll also need two original passport-size pictures (easily available at places such as Walgreens), your valid driver’s license and $20 for the permit processing fee. Note: By visiting a local AAA branch office you can obtain your IDP within 10-15 minutes. If you choose to apply via the mail allow 4 to 6 weeks so plan accordingly. Once issued, your IDP is valid for one year.

Canadian Residents: If you are Canadian, visit the Canadian Automobile Association website to obtain an IDP.

U.K. Residents: U.K. residents with a photocard driver’s license do not need an International Driving Permit to drive in Italy. Any U.K. residents still possessing an older, paper version of the U.K. driving license will need to obtain an IDP, which can be obtained at the local Post Office.

Australian Residents: Australians can obtain an International Driving Permit by visiting the Australian Automobile Association.

Helpful Tip: If you are driving in Italy as a tourist, we suggest keeping the permit in the glove box of your rental car so you do not have to worry about forgetting it in your hotel room.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to Visit Tre Cime di Lavaredo

The Smart Way to Rent a Car in Italy

To get the best deal when renting a car in Italy, conduct online research using a consolidator site such as Discover Cars or Auto Europe. Reserve a car before you depart on your trip. With sites like Discover Cars and Auto Europe, you can browse multiple car rental options and easily sort by the best price and features. Furthermore, their cancellation policies allow you to easily cancel the reservation if you encounter a better deal before your trip. We recommend making your reservation and then keeping an eye on rates to see if prices drop over time. We have saved hundreds of dollars by doing this.

We’ve had great luck finding the best Italy car rental deals through Discover Cars. They offer the most affordable choices, free cancellation and provide 24-hour assistance in English. In addition, you can select a rental car with winter tires if you wish, which is required in some parts of Italy if you’re traveling between November 15 – April 15.

Find Your Rental Cariunyh71e?a aid=throneandvine&a bid=f29909e9

Money-Saving Tip: To save money with your car rental in Italy, pick it up and drop it off at the same location. For us, this means we book our flights in and out of the same airport. If you drop it off at a location other than where you picked it up, you’ll likely pay a premium.

Picking the Best Rental Car Company

As far as picking the best rental car company for your trip to Italy, it will depend on your needs. We recommend selecting a car rental company that has overwhelmingly positive reviews and is a well-established brand that you recognize. That said, some major brands, such as SIXT should be avoided. They are notorious for ripping off customers. If you are unsure of a company’s reputation, search Reddit to see what others have said about their experience.

Renting a Car in Italy
A small, compact car in Italy gives you the most flexibility and confidence to drive on narrow Italian roads with ease.

The Type of Car to Rent

When it comes to vehicle size, we always opt for a smaller vehicle such as a Fiat 500. Sure with a smaller car, your odds of looking like a man or woman of international mystery are slim to none, but they are the most budget-friendly. Plus, they allow you to dart down narrow medieval alleys and park with relative ease — something that is critical when driving in Italy especially if you are visiting Naples and other cities like Merano that brim with antiquity. The compact vehicles we’ve rented have never had an issue handling mountain roads when hiking in the Dolomites.

Rental car options in Italy default to manual transmission so unless you like cruising around with a stick shift be sure to select automatic transmission when searching. You’ll pay a bit more for an automatic, but the cost is worth it.

Find Your Rental Cariunyh71e?a aid=throneandvine&a bid=f29909e9

Important Tip: When you pick up your rental car, take a picture of it from every angle to document the condition. Do the same when you return the vehicle, as well as take a picture of the fuel gauge if you filled it up before returning. This will ensure you have evidence in the event a shady rental car employee tries to claim there was damage or attempts to add a fuel charge to your final invoice.

Time-saving Tip: Request Telepass When Renting a Car in Italy

If you expect to frequently use Italy’s toll highways known as “Autostrade”, we strongly recommend asking the rental car company to provide you with a “Telepass” device for your car. The rental clerk may not think to offer it, but the device is available with some rental car agencies.

Telepass
The best Italy driving tip we ever received? Rent a Telepass device. It makes navigating an Autostrada much easier. Simply look for the lane with the above logo.

This electronic device sits on your dashboard and allows you to breeze through tollways without having to stop and make a payment with your credit card or cash.  You simply select the “Telepass” lane and the device will beep as you pass through. Toll charges are then automatically applied to the credit card you supplied to the rental car company.

The cost of renting the Telepass device is a few Euros per day, but it will save you time and the hassle of entering and departing the Autostrada. If you do not wish to rent the device while driving in Italy or it is not offered, do not worry. We cover how to make Autostrada toll payments below.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Alps & Dolomites 101: Your Guide to Europe’s Alpine Wonders

Obtain Car Rental Insurance Via Your Travel Insurance Plan

With regards to car rental insurance, the car rental company should include basic, mandated liability coverage for damage to anyone or anything outside the car due to an accident. Italy also by law automatically requires renters to pay for a collision damage waiver (CDW) and theft protection. This is not an add-on and will be included in your car rental rate.

Yonder Travel Insurance Banner

By having CDW insurance the car rental company waives the right to collect a high deductible from you if the car is damaged. This greatly reduces the deductible you would owe if you’re in an accident or damage the car. It also covers most of the car if you are in a collision.

We do not purchase extra insurance as a part of our car rental agreement. Instead, we include it with our travel insurance plan. Travel insurance is the most important item to purchase before any trip abroad. You never know what can happen while traveling in another country. And most health insurance plans don’t cover international travel.

Purchasing the right travel insurance plan upfront covers injuries, illnesses as well as accidents and trip cancellations that may occur. For only a few dollars a day we consider it well worth the expense for the peace of mind it provides. To compare the best trip insurance plans, we use Yonder and Travel Insurance Master. Both are fast, convenient and offer a variety of plans so you can find the perfect one for your trip.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: How to Hike Seceda in the Dolomites

How to Drive in Italy & Avoid Fines

italy driving navigation

Whether you are driving from one epic mountain destination to the next or breezing through the rolling hills of Tuscany, driving in Italy as a tourist has never been easier. The only way to confidently explore the country is with a solid GPS. Consider the following navigation options for a stress-free time on the road:

  • Rent a Car with a Built-in GPS System – Odds are your rental car in Italy has the option to include a GPS navigation system for an additional cost or even at no cost.[su_spacer size=10]
  • Use a Navigation App on Your Smartphone – If your smartphone will have reliable service in Italy, you can receive turn-by-turn directions through navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze. Within the last two years, this has been our preferred navigation option as cellular service has improved and the directions are as accurate as a traditional GPS. Each navigation app has its pluses and minuses, but Waze is currently our favorite as it shows the location of speed-capturing cameras — helping you avoid fines. [su_spacer size=10]
  • Bring a Stand-Alone GPS Unit – Bringing your own GPS unit not only saves you money but also makes departing to your destination easier. Why? Few things are more frustrating than trying to program a rental car’s GPS system when you’re jet-lagged and the default language is Italian or German. You can also save time in Italy by programming sights and destinations into your GPS unit before arriving. 

Helpful Tip: Another navigation option is to use Google Maps offline. Before your trip, download the specific places you plan to be driving in Italy and are concerned cell service may be an issue. To save a Google Maps map offline:

  • Open Google Maps on your cell phone and sign in to your Google account
  • Tap your profile picture located in the top right corner
  • Select “Offline maps” from the menu, then choose “Select Your Own Map”
  • Pick the specific region, town or city where you would Google Maps offline
  • Move the map you want inside the rectangle border with your finger
  • Tap “Download”

⇒ FIND THE BEST HOTEL DEALS IN ITALY

Understanding the Basic Rules of Driving in Italy

Italians are competent and decisive drivers. By knowing the basic rules of driving in Italy, you can hold your own behind the wheel. Just recognize that they will rule the road. And that’s just fine. Driving in Italy as a tourist means you’re not in a race.

Road Mirror in Italy
Use roadside mirrors when approaching corners while driving in Italy.

When traveling on multi-lane highways such as Italy’s Autostrade, only use the left lane if you are passing. Just like in the U.S., the left lane is not the place to act like you’re on a Sunday drive. But unlike in the U.S., cars can come up behind you at incredible speeds on a regular basis. The best thing to do is just get out of their way by keeping to the right.

Even though Italians drive fast, all roads in Italy do have speed limits. On country roads the speed limit is 90 km/h (56 mph), on freeways, it is 110 km/h (68 mph) and on the Autostrade it is 130 km/h (81 mph). Your best bet is to obey the posted speed limit signs, but apply common sense. Go with the flow of traffic. We always do so without issue.

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that Italy does extensively monitor speeds with highway cameras and will issue fines that hit you through your car rental company.

Stop signs and stop lights operate the same in Italy as elsewhere. But it is always illegal to make a right turn at a red light in Italy.

Driving in Italy ebook

Many other road signs you’ll encounter driving in Italy are intuitive and universal. But some can be confusing so it’s worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the most common. We’ve developed Driving in Italy Cheatsheets you can download to your phone, or tablet or print out for easy reference when you’re in your car. We use this guide on every trip to Italy and have found it a true stress reliever for the times when you get flustered on the road and can’t recall a specific rule, sign, or guideline.

Italy has no shortage of narrow, winding roads. To help you see what may be coming ahead, mirrors are often posted on the side of the road by corners. Get into the habit of using them to avoid potential problems.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Visiting Lago di Braies: The Most Beautiful Lake in Italy

How to Drive Italy’s Autostrade

Driving on the Autostrade
Either pull the visible Autostrada toll ticket or push the button to receive it.

Italy’s Autostrade (Autostrada – singular) are toll highways that require taking a ticket to enter and then paying at drive-up toll booths upon exiting, which happens when you pull into a city, town, etc. (gas stations are conveniently located right next to the Autostrade so you do not need to exit to fuel up). Even though you have to deal with tolls, the Autostrade makes driving in Italy efficient — allowing you to quickly get from destination to destination.

The Autostrade is designated by green signs and with an “A” in front of a number. For example, the toll road from Verona to Bolzano is “A22”. Here’s how to simply use the Autostrade while driving in Italy:

Italy Autostrada Toll Ticket
Autostrada Toll Ticket

Entering the Autostrade – Select a lane with a white sign with the word “Biglietto” (ticket). When you pull up, grab the ticket from the machine and place it where you can easily access it later. The toll bar will automatically rise to allow you to be on your way. The lanes with yellow signs are for residents who have a Telepass, which allows them to zip through the toll without taking a ticket. Note: As mentioned above, you may be able to rent a Telepass device from your rental car company.

Italy Autostrada Toll Cash Payment Sign
Autostrada Toll Cash Payment Lane Sign

Exiting the Autostrade – When you pull up to the toll lanes to exit the autostrade you will see multiple options. As a tourist, you’ll want to select either the lane with the white sign showing a hand with a cash symbol or the lane with the white sign and cash symbol along with credit card symbols on a blue background.

The lane with the hand symbol indicates there is an attendant who will take your ticket and handle the transaction. This lane is cash only. The lane with the cash and credit card symbols is a self-service lane where you insert your ticket in the machine as indicated and then insert a credit card or pay by inserting cash or dropping in coins. The machine dispenses change if necessary. The type of credit card accepted is chip cards (most U.S. cards now have chips) from American Express, Visa or MasterCard. We typically pay with cash or coins in either lane, but have also used our credit cards without any issues. Entering a PIN is not necessary when paying by credit card.

Paying Autostrada toll in Italy
Pay Italian tolls with cash or a credit card.

Planning Your Trip on the Autostrade – Before leaving for Italy, it’s worthwhile to map out your road trips to determine if you’ll be using the Autostrade and how frequently. It’s also helpful to see if there are viable alternative routes where you can avoid tolls while driving in Italy. The tool we use is ViaMichelin. ViaMichelin calculates estimated driving times, fuel costs as well as toll costs.

⇒ Drive with Confidence: Download Cheatsheets You Can Quickly View on the Road

Additional Italy Road Rules & Driving Tips

Here are some more key rules and tips you should be aware of before driving in Italy:

  • Buckle Up – Everyone in the vehicle must wear seat belts.
  • Headlights – Headlights are required to be on at all times when on two-lane highways.
  • Drinking & Driving – Italy has a 0.5mg blood alcohol limit for drivers. A glass of wine or two can put you over the limit. Watch what you sip or ensure you have a designated driver.
  • Children – Leave them at home. (just kidding!). Children under the age of four must be secured in an approved child safety seat. Kids from 4 to 12 must be in a child restraint if they are riding in the front passenger seat.
  • Emergency Accessories – Italy requires each vehicle to have a visibility vest for every occupant, as well as an emergency triangle in the vehicle. Your rental car company should automatically include these in the vehicle, but it’s worth double-checking with the agent at the pickup counter. If you forget and need to purchase a vest, they are readily available at gas stations and are inexpensive. No, you do not need to wear these while driving! Just put them on if you pull over to the side of the road and get out for any reason.
  • Mobile Phones – If you plan to use your phone while driving, make sure you use a hands-free device. If you plan to text while driving, you are stupido.
  • Zona Traffico Limitato or ZTL – When driving in an Italian city or town do not enter areas with a sign that says Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL). These are car-restricted areas such as city centers and plazas.
  • Right of Way – At intersections in Italy, vehicles approaching from the right always have the right of way.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 5 Amazing Itinerary Ideas for Your Trip to Italy

How to Properly Park in Italy

Parking in Italy
Blue lines indicate you can park and make a payment at a nearby pay machine.

Parking in Italy can look like a plate of spaghetti. But knowing your options and what to keep an eye out for will make you much more confident.

Often you can locate free parking outside of towns and cities and take a shuttle to the center. This is ideal to avoid driving in a major city. It can be incredibly hectic…especially when you do not know the language or the local unwritten rules of the road. Plus, driving in a major city in Italy is unnecessary due to the excellent public transportation options.

But if you do need to enter a city we have always been able to find convenient pay lots with the help of our GPS. These lots are straightforward and operate very similarly to those in the U.S.

You take a ticket from a machine when you enter a pay lot. Bring the ticket with you when you leave the car as you’ll insert it into a pay machine before leaving. After you’ve inserted the money, the machine will spit the ticket back to you. Keep the ticket as you’ll need it to exit the lot.

When parking on the street white, blue and yellow lines designate parking places. White lines in most cases indicate free parking, but that can depend on the city so you’ll want to make sure it’s not permit parking only. Blue line parking spaces require payment at a pay machine. These spots require payment from 8 AM to 8 PM except Sundays and holidays when they’re free. Yellow markings are for authorized drivers only, such as the handicapped.

If you’re not sure about a parking space, just move on until it’s clear to you. The last thing you want is to have your vehicle towed.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The Ultimate Guide to Bolzano: Gateway to the Dolomites

How to Handle Roadside Emergencies

During our visits to Italy, we have never had a roadside emergency such as running out of gas, a flat tire, a fender bender, etc. That said, it pays to know upfront how to handle such scenarios in case they happen.

When selecting which company to rent your vehicle from, make sure they offer 24/7 assistance. For example, Discover Cars, prides itself on giving you peace of mind throughout your trip no matter where you decide to roam in Italy. If you need assistance, simply contact their support number at any time and follow their directions.

Another option is to call the Automobile Club D’Italia (ACI). The ACI provides 24-hour roadside assistance with English-speaking operators to all drivers in Italy any day of the week. Contact ACI anytime by calling 803.116 from a landline or 800.116.800 from an international number. The ACI offers tow and roadside service without requiring you to be a member.

If you are unable to connect with your car rental provider or the ACI, it’s comforting to know that all major motorways in Italy have emergency phones located every mile. If you need mechanical assistance or emergency help, these phones will connect you to an emergency center.

You May Also Find this Post Useful: Travel Safety Tips & Accessories

What to Do if You Get a Traffic Ticket While Driving in Italy

Of all the things you want to get from Italy, a traffic ticket is certainly not one of them. But as we found out recently, it happens way more often than you’d expect. As we highlighted above, much of Italy’s roadways are kept under constant surveillance with cameras. They are located along the autostrade to capture speeders, at busy intersections, ZTL areas and more.

Paying a speeding ticket in Italy
Smile, you are on camera.

The cameras record your license plate number and you’ll receive a hefty fine. The fine will find its way to you through your car rental company. This typically occurs months after your trip, long after you have polished off any cheer-inducing Italian wine you brought home. You will likely receive an email notification from your rental car company stating they have received communication from the Italian authorities about a traffic violation you supposedly committed while driving in Italy. In addition, the rental car company may charge you an administrative fee for receiving a ticket. If that happens, dispute the administrative fee with the rental car company so that it is removed. They have no right to charge you a fee upfront.

In terms of paying the fine or disputing the traffic violation, you will have to wait until the actual ticket is sent to you via email or in the mail itself. The police have up to 360 days to send it to you once they receive your address from the rental car company. When the ticket eventually arrives, it may be written in Italian. If so, translate it with a tool such as Google Translate so you can understand why it was issued and what to do next. The ticket will also likely include photos of your vehicle committing the infraction.

Assuming you choose to pay the fine, locate the IBAN number on the ticket, which allows you to make a payment online via your bank. Do so right away to reduce the cost as much as possible. Discounts may be applied for prompt payment as noted on your ticket. The amount you owe will typically increase if the ticket is left unpaid 60 days after receiving it. Note: When submitting payment, be sure to include the ticket number provided, the vehicle’s plate number and the date of the traffic violation for reference. Also, save the transaction receipt for your records.

If you believe the ticket is invalid and have the ability to prove it, you can dispute the fine. To contest the ticket, follow the process outlined by the municipality where it was issued. You will most likely find the dispute instructions on the official website of the local police.

Driving in Italy is An Adventure You Should Experience

image

Most vacationers visiting Italy will never rent a car. That’s just fine if you’re only venturing into the major cities. But if you’re like us and want to devour all of Italy’s natural, cultural and historical nooks and crannies not to mention its dazzling Christmas markets in the Alps don’t let anyone talk you out of renting a car. With a car, iconic gems like the fairytale valley of Val di Funes can be explored from beginning to end.

⇒ Drive with Confidence: Get our Italian Road Sign Cheatsheets & Driving Tips

Yes, you may get lost for a bit or make a mistake that annoys another motorist. So what. Being anxious about driving in Italy for the first time is normal. But with this post and a little pre-trip prep, you will be cruising Italian roads with ease in no time.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Hiking Alpe di Siusi: The Ultimate Guide to Seiser Alm

Alternatives to Driving in Italy

OMIO logo

If after reading our driving in Italy tips, you do not feel like driving a car is how you want to explore the country, do not fret. The public transit system in Italy is easy to use and can take you to many of the destinations you would likely want to experience.

To research train and bus routes as well as book your tickets, we recommend using Omio. This booking platform is exceptional and allows you to explore multiple travel scenarios so you can find what is best for your schedule and budget. By the way, if you need help finding affordable flights, check out these tips for finding the best flight deals.


PIN TO YOUR TRAVEL BOARD

driving italy ultimate guide
guide to driving in italy

37 thoughts on “Driving in Italy Made Easy…Guaranteed (Updated 2024)”

  1. Thank you! This is a wonderful article full of great information. I would love to take it along with me. Can you tell me how I can get a copy of it?

  2. Kate & Vin, you are just wonderful. I have lived in Italy for quite a while and like driving here, but still learn a lot from your post. Thanks.

    • Thank you so much! Glad we could provide you with some useful tips for driving in Italy.

  3. Efforts like these help bloggers stand out from the crowded blogosphere. What an extensive guide! Thanks for putting these much efforts before publishing a much needed guide like this.

    • Thank you Pawan! Our goal is to make travelers completely comfortable driving in Italy. Glad you found it useful!

  4. When I went to Rome I remember thinking that they drove like crazy people!! These are all great tips, and I’d maybe consider driving but only if we were outside of major cities.

  5. After the Indian LHS road driving the first European country with RHS road driving was Italy. It is memorable for these very reasons. This was several years back. At one of the toll gates I remember the machine wasn’t working but the gates were up. We were unsure what to do. Anyways we proceeded and at the next gate they collected toll for both gates. 😀 Well presented guide. Brought back several memories.

  6. Woah! This is very helpful! All the information I need about driving in Italy is here. Thanks for the “Driving in Italy Checklist” <3

  7. That is quite well written and extensive guide on driving in Italy. We love road tripping and would to do it in Italy too. But yes I need to check the laws and regulations for Indians;

  8. Great tips on driving in Italy and seeking out an International Driver’s permit before one heads out. I had no idea something like this existed. Looks like the country side would make up for any issues with the driving along the way. Your article offered a lot of tips, including to make room to pack a GPS.

  9. Driving in Italy is so much different from the Philippines. But it’s also similar to the one that has designated parking for handicapped which is very friendly. But just like Bangkok or Tokyo, sometimes you don’t need to drive for yourself since you can take the public transportation that is so excellent. So many things to learn here about driving in Italy and we must not forget insurance, too!

  10. This is such a detailed and handy information! I’d love to do a road trip around Italy. Their suburb areas have some really gorgeous scenery and photogenic villages. I’ll keep in mind to get a small car as you mentioned. So I won’t get trouble when steering through the narrow streets. Thank you! 😀

  11. We rented a car in Italy to drive around and didn’t actually face any issues so I don’t know anyone would be apprehensive of it 🙂 Like in any other country, it always helps to know the basic road rules and apply common sense. The only issue I remember struggling with was when we were in the countryside (somewhere near Florence) and while driving back at 9 pm, we realised we were low on fuel and it took us a while to find a fuel station that was open that late! But thankfully we did finally and all was fine.

  12. International driving permit. Phew! Mind blown. I had no idea there was such a thing. I plan on renting a car on my next international adventures so now I have a head start on figuring it all out. Thanks for the informative piece.

  13. Wow — how did I not know about International Driving Permits? Oh right — I hate driving. 🙂 That said, motoring through Italy sounds dreamy. I’ve heard great things about AutoEurope, too, and am glad you had a good experience with them.

  14. I am happy enough driving in Italy so long as I have a hire car (and that’s despite being on the wrong side of the road for me from the UK). Your tips are great though. I’d add two more. Florence airport car hire is NOWHERE near the airport. If you are planning to hire from there, be warned it’s a minibus journey – and the minibus doesn’t run late at night or early in the morning. Secondly, be careful about driving or parking in the historic centres. I still haven’t worked it out completely, but quite a few are only for local registered cars and you will be chased by the car hire firm (as we were) if you get it wrong!

  15. We lived in Italy and owned cars for our entire 7 years there. Your guide is pretty good, though when it comes to parking the blue lines do not always indicate that you must pay at a machine. There’s also free parking with blue lines; however, you must use a parking dial and set the time to indicate the time you arrived. The parking is timed and if you exceed the time limit or don’t set the dial, then you’ll be ticketed.

    Speed limits also vary anywhere from 30kph up to 130 kph and speed cameras are used not only on the autostrade, but in towns and country roads too. There’s also a variety of them from a speed camera to monitored stretches of road that take your speed when you enter and exit the monitored zone, then average your speed over the distance of the zone.

    Finally, there are not only cameras but but polizia and Carabinieri can pull you over for no reason at all. There’s a whole variety of things you could be ticketed for – for example, it’s illegal to drive in sandals or flip flops – and you will be escorted to the nearest ATM to withdraw the cash to pay the fine on the spot if you do not have the cash on your person.

    However, even with all the nuances of driving in Italy, they are far better drivers than most Americans. Getting a driving license is serious business and a mega responsibility. You must be a minimum of 17 1/2 before you can start driving school and they must drive a minimum of 3000 kilometers with a certified instructor, as well as go to class and take extensive written and road tests to get the license. It’s, at minimum, a two month intensive process to get a license.

  16. Such a great read!! I’ve been to Italy twice and never dared attempt driving because it looked so intimidating ? next time I might try!

  17. We had a few close calls on tight roads, but overall driving there wasn’t as bad as movies make it seem! Definitely some excellent tips here!

  18. We were actually just talking about having to get an international driving permit the other day! But some of these things I never would have thought of. Thank you for sharing!

  19. What awesome tips here! While I haven’t rented a car in Italy, I have in New Zealand and I totally agree with your point to bring your own GPS! It makes things so much easier! And that was still speaking the same language as Kiwis, so I can imagine how helpful it would be in foreign speaking places! 🙂

  20. I’m all set for driving in Italy, especially since they drive on the right! The only thing that will stress me out is driving in the bigger cities, like Rome, but I get that stress in big cities in the U.S. too. Even the laws seem very similar – like the cell phones and seatbelts.

  21. Great write up! And its very detailed too! Great to know too that Italy drive on the right side too, same here in Manila. With our chaotic streets and bumper to bumper traffic all day and night, and if you can survive driving thru that, I think I can drive in Italy too. LOL!

  22. I always get so nervous about driving in other countries, I don’t know how I’ll manage but I really need to just bite the bullet and do it. Although sitting in the passenger seat does allow me to nosy out the window so that’s always a bonus ?

  23. This guide is a lifesaver. We were just walking about bucket list destinations last night, and a few spots in Italy came up. Since we’d prefer not to 007 it, understanding which rules from the US (e.g. right turn on red) or other parts of Europe might not carry over into Italy is really helpful. Also great to know about compact cars having served you so well, even in the mountains. Definitely saving this for when we finally book a trip!

  24. We took the train everywhere, but like you said, thats because we were going to the main cities. I do want to try driving on my next visit. I remember looking at all the crazy drivers on amalfi coast, and thought to myself, this cant be worse off than delhi, is it? 🙂 Your tips are really useful for anyone attempting to rent a car and drive in italy.

  25. Wow, I’ve been to Italy many times, but I’ve never driven there. Thanks for these tips to make driving in Italy sound easier.

  26. I haven’t driven in Italy but loved the independence of driving through Croatia. I’ll keep your post bookmarked for my chance to see Italy behind the wheel.

  27. During our first road trip there we were apprehensive as to what kind of traffic we would encounter. It wasn’t bad in cities but definitely lot better and enjoyable in the interiors. The GPS came along… unable to recollect if it was at extra cost.

  28. This is a fantastic post! Great write up about things you need to know to rent a car and drive safely in Italy. The last thing you want is a car accident to ruin a trip!

  29. There is so much about Italy I never knew about. I have never heard of a driving permit, but it makes sense. I would have to have a paper with me that converts km/h to mph! Thanks for sharing. I wouldn’t have even considered some of these things.

  30. What an extensive guide! I have to agree that driving in the North of Italy is easier than further South. Nevertheless I’m always happy if someone else drives and I can watch out for traffic as well.

Comments are closed.

Share this

You cannot copy content of this page