Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Sicily?
Sicily is very easy to travel around and hiring a car can be a very rewarding activity.
You only need to be careful in the cities which can be chaotic and on some of the rural roads, especially around the volcano, Mount Etna.
As with any journey, you should always prepare for unexpected difficulties but you should find your tour of Sicily will be a delight.
Seat Belt Laws
In Sicily, as in the rest of Italy, it is compulsory to wear seat belts in the front and rear of any moving vehicle.
Drinking and Driving
The drink driving laws in Sicily state that you must have no more than 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in your system when you are driving. If you are caught over the limit the penalties are severe and can include a large fine and a possible prison sentence. As the limit is just over half that of the UK, we suggest that you don’t drink and drive at all.
Must Have Documents
You only need to have both parts of your driving licence if you are from an EU country. Other nationalities only need an international drivers licence if theirs in not printed in the Roman alphabet.
The speed limits for Sicily are as follows:
Autostrada: 130 km/h
Highways: 110 km/h
Open roads: 90 km/h
In Town: 50 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 18 to be able to drive in Sicily if driving a locally registered car or your own. If you're renting a car the minimum age is 21 but with some companies, it's 23 or 25. You may also need to pay a young driver premium.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Specific safety camera warning devices are illegal in Sicily but you can use the detection function on your sat nav.
On the Spot Fines
If you are a driver from another country you will be fined on the spot and have to pay in cash. If you disagree with the fine you will still have to pay some of it and give a surety that you will pay the remainder if proved. If you don’t or can’t pay, your car can be impounded
Child Safety Rules
Child safety seats in Sicily in foreign cars simply have to conform to the rules of the country of origin. The rules are quite strict in Sicily and if you bring your own seat, it may not comply. If you’re hiring a car, ask us to provide the correct system for your children.
As well as a minimum of third party insurance, all hire cars need to have collision damage waiver and theft cover. This comes as standard on all our hire cars.
Rules of the Road
Standard European driving laws apply with one or two exceptions:
You must use a warning triangle and have your hazard warning lights lit if involved in an accident or if you break down.
You need to have a reflective jacket in your car for use in an emergency or if you park in a restricted area.
You must use headlamp deflectors if using a UK car.
You must give way to the right at intersections and to cyclists on cycle paths and pedestrians if they've begun to cross the road.
The police can impound your car for several major traffic violations or if you refuse to pay an on the spot fine.
You must have dipped headlights on at all times when driving on the Autostrada
All that is required is the use of common sense making sure other drivers know that you are engaged in towing and that you have attached the towed vehicle securely and have good all round visibility.
You’ll increasingly come across fixed and mobile speed traps in Sicily. You will be fined on the spot if driving a foreign vehicle or a hire car. If you are trapped by a fixed camera, the ticket will be sent to the registered address of the vehicle or the hire car company who will forward it on.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
Using a phone whilst driving without a hands free kit in Sicily is illegal and you will receive an on the spot fine for doing so.
Parking is known as Parcheggio in Sicily. It is best avoid parking in the centre of cities as the old town streets are very narrow. We’d recommend using a parking lot or garage as it’ll save a lot of time on looking for a space. On the road you can only park in the direction of travel unless it's a one way street in which case you can park on either side of the road as long as there is a three metre gap for cars to get through.
Blue signs indicate areas in cities where you must pay to park. At certain times and on Sundays you can park for free. Where the parking duration is restricted, you'll find blue lines on the road and signs will give you the details. Ticket payment is usually at a machine nearby.
Enforcement of parking is done by the police and you may find you are clamped as well as fined if overstaying your time. The cost for removal of clamps is expensive so be careful where you park. If you are causing an obstruction you may also be towed away. Parking fines are moderately expensive.
In Sicily, the disabled blue badge scheme is recognised but with some exceptions. You will still have to pay for parking but can park in specially designated parking spaces, labelled with a yellow wheelchair logo. Time restrictions don't apply to disabled drivers. You can only park in no parking areas if it is an emergency, otherwise you will be liable to be towed away or clamped. You will still need to get a parking disk to use the white lines parking areas.
Motor Way Signs
Motorway signs are blue with white writing
Autostrada - Motorway
Uscita – Exit
Entrata - Entrance
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)
Ho ripartito - I have broken down
Dove si trova la stazione di polizia? - Where is the police station? -
Ho una gomma a terra - I have a flat tyre -
Sono stato in un incidente - I have been in an accident -
Dove si trova? - Where is?
Dove posso acquistare la benzina? - Where can I buy petrol?
Traffic light sequences are the same as in the rest of Europe but you can only turn on a red light if an illuminated arrow indicates that you can. Flashing amber means proceed with caution, usually in response to congestion ahead.
There are not many toll roads in Sicily but those you’ll find aren't expensive to use. You can pay in cash or by card. Locals use electronic devices inside their cars.
See our guide to toll roads in Sicily here.
The emergency number in Sicily is the European standard 112 for the police, fire and ambulance
What to do in an emergency
If you have a problem with your car you should phone the number given to you on the rental documents or attached to the windscreen of your car. If you are driving your own vehicle, use your emergency assistance company's partner in Italy. Breaking down on a motorway, the emergency phones every few hundred metres link you to a mechanic or the emergency services.
If an accident occurs, you are allowed to sort out minor damage between the two parties but if someone is injured, you must call the police and ambulance. It’s recommended that you photograph the scene and where possible, leave the vehicles in place until the police arrive. You should ask for a copy of their report for your insurers or the car hire company
As of August 2014, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Sicily is £1.45 whilst diesel is £1.37. Prices can vary between the coastal resorts, rural towns and the main cities.