Driving is on the right. Drivers tend to be aggressive in Italy so defensive driving is advised, look out for tailgating (cars on your bumper/fender) and crazy overtaking. Having a passenger or GPS system to help you navigate while you concentrate on driving is helpful. Watch out for the buses only lanes. Avoid driving in the major cities if you can. On the autostrada (motorway) you must drive with your lights on. Entry and exit roads on the autostrada are very narrow so be sure to slow right down.
The centre of these three lane roads is for passing. Passing is on the left. Other major roads show up red on the map. If you are caught speeding you can be given on the spot fines.
Country roads dotted clack on a map are often not in good condition. Many country roads will be narrow (one lane) and windy, but it is good to be patient. Police can collect fines on the spot if you are stopped. In Italy the collision damage waiver and theft protection which we offer are mandatory.
Wait for the police to arrive before moving your car. If you can take photos to show your position and the damage to the car. It helps to speak Italian in these situations or have a friend who can talk to the police for you. Make sure that you have a police report as you will need this when you are returning your rental car.
All passengers must wear seatbelts whether they are in the front or back seats. Children under 12 must have a restraint appropriate to their age.
The autostrada is marked with green signs and the letter A, such as the A1 motorway between Naples and Milan. This is known as the Autostrada del Sole. Other European motorways have the prefix E. State roads are marked by blue road signs and the prefix SS on the map.
Unleaded 08 costs 1.388 Euros, Unleaded 95 is 1.280 and diesel is 1.179. Most gas stations are closed on Sundays but the rest of the week open from 7am till 12.30pm and 3.30pm to 7pm.
0.05%. Drink driving limits are strict and strictly enforced.
You need an international driving permit if your domestic license is not in the Roman Alphabet (ie Arabic, Greek, Russian or Chinese) as well as your original domestic licence. UK License holders must present both the ID card and paper counterpart if using the new style license.
You need an international driving permit.
- Autostrada - Motorway
- Uscita – Exit
- Entrata - Entrance
- Touring Club Italiano – Good make of road map
- Tangenziale – Ring Road
- Strade Bianchi – Marked white on the map these are country roads
- In Autostrada Anabbaglianti Sempre Accesi – Keep your headlights on
- Biglietto – Ticket
- Autogrill – Motorway rest areas
- Disco Orario – Parking disc
- Raccordo – Ring way roads around the main cities.
- Strade Statali – State roads (dual carriageways)
The autostrada are toll roads. Go to the gate marked Biglietto (not those marked telepass or viacard unless you get a toll card from the bank or the Italian automobile club). You will either get a ticket when you enter and pay when you exit or just pay a one off fixed amount. You can pay with cash or credit card and it can be anything between 5 and 10 Euros.
- 50 kilometres per hour in built up areas.
- 90km outside cities.
- 110km on highways.The conversion from kilometers to miles per hour is one kilometer = 0.62 miles per hour. The highway speed in Italy of 110 kms is 65 miles per hour.
- 130kms on the Autostrada.
Speed limit signs are in black numbers inside red circles on a white background. Break the speed limit and you may be sent a ticket in the post a couple of months later. Your rental company will pay it with the credit card details you left.
The conversion from kilometers to miles per hour is one kilometer = 0.62 miles per hour. The highway speed in Italy of 110 kms is 65 miles per hour.
You need to be over 21 years of age to drive a rental car and to have held your licence for more than a year. There can be a young driver surcharge for those under the age of 25.
The number is 112. Emergency police are on 113, fire are on 115 and ambulances are 118. In Rome the British Embassy is +39 06 4220 0001 and the United States Embassy is +39 06 46741. For more embassy numbers visit www.wordtravels.com/Travelguide/Countries/Italy/Contacts.
Parking is known as Parcheggio. It is best to park outside the walls of the main villages as the roads inside can be very narrow. If you find a parking lot it is usually a good idea to just park as a lot of time can be wasted looking for a better spot.
If you park in the street you should park on the right hand side only. Blue lines mean you have to pay and white lines mean free parking (you should still check for signs when you park). The parking machines by blue lines will give you a receipt telling you how long you can stay and this should be placed in the car window. You must have a parking ticket if you are parked in a blue zone between 9am to 2.30 pm and 4pm to 8pm Monday through Saturday.
Bank holidays and Sundays are free.
Watch out for fake parking lot attendants they may give you invalid parking tickets. Best just to park in the blue box and use the machine. If you use the free white lines you need a parking disc as there are time restrictions. This can be provided from your rental company or bought in a tobacconist. The disc can be set to show what time you arrived. Parking fines will set you back about 70 Euros. Don't copy the Italian habit of parking wherever you feel like.