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What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! (Module 2)

Read our Module 2 of the definitive guide on what you need to know to drive in Italy! Driving in Italy is fantastic! Safe, well-maintained roads, great signage, but to rent a car and travel through Italy requires some information and in this post you will find more information needed for a road trip through Italy.

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What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! (Module 2)

Car.  Where and how to rent a car? Car hire can be made through any good travel agency. The price is the same as the rental company. Large rental companies accept reservations even over the Internet. In Italy, at large airports and train stations, in the center of any relatively large city or even small towns, but of tourist interest, it is very easy to find a car rental company. To rent a car, you must be at least 21 years old and have an international credit card. Let’s go to our Post of the day? What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! (Module 2). Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams!!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”


Find out about the car’s characteristics before booking: The cars that are cheaper to rent are models like the Smart, designed to circulate in cities and not to travel. Its trunk is so small that it doesn’t even deserve that name. No matter how small your bags are, they won’t fit in it! Explain that you need a bigger trunk: “Vorrei un bagagliaio più grande!” (vorei un bagalhiaio piu grande). Are you going to drive in Italy? So stay with us and travel safe. To better understand about driving in Italy, read also our Module 1 of the Definitive Guide to driving in Italy!

When is the car NOT worth it?

In every major Italian city, the car is not only useless but also unadvisable. In Rome, Florence and Naples, for example, there are areas of Traffico Limitato (Limited Traffic), Where you will NOT be able to park and will even have difficulties in moving.  In Venice … well, your car is not amphibious (lol)! The historic centers (where almost everything you want to visit are) are small and can be visited on foot. Only occasionally will you need public transport, which, in fact, works very well. You will probably waste days of rent, as you will not be able to use the car and you will still have to pay to store it in a parcheggio (parking lot) – memorize that word, because if you rent a car, you will use it a lot!

When is the car WORTH IT?

When is it worth renting a car? Is the car always inadvisable for traveling through Italy? Of course not. Car hire can be very good in two situations: for those who have little time and will spend only a day or two in each city, taking a tour of the historic center and continuing their journey (that kind of rally scheme) and for those who, on the contrary, want to to spend a longer period in a certain region, walking through it calmly, enjoying landscapes and going to charming villages far from large urban centers. Read also Do I need an International Driver’s License to drive in Italy?

This is the case, for example, in the region of the lakes, in the north of the country, Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, the Rivieras of Liguria, the coastal region near Ravenna, Sicily and Calabria. In addition, the car provides great freedom to travel anywhere at any time you want and takes you to the most remote corners, where access by other means is complicated.

Renting a car at the right time!

One idea is to rent the car there, only on occasions when you really need it. Another is to book the car for intermittent periods, in order to return it each time you arrive in a big city and pick it up again when you travel. In that case, you must accurately predict that you will be able to pick up the car on the morning of that day and return it by the end of the afternoon on the scheduled date, following a schedule that should not be too tight.

Traveling by car in Italy

How about if I give you a rental car option? Are you ready for it? If you are renting a car be sure to read our posts in the section Driving in Italy on the blog Your Travel to Italy. In addition to car itinerary tips, we have everything about signage, tolls, roads and many more tips.

Don’t know where to rent the car?

We have a partner that can help you: Rent Cars! Have you ever thought about renting a car in Italy, without leaving your home? Click on the banner below to learn more! Search, compare and choose!

1) What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! BASE CITY

There are those who think of conserving the car when they arrive in a big city, using it as a base to visit the surroundings. The problem is that each walk around the area means having to leave and enter an urban center, face congestion, get lost, get angry with the contraflows and still have to find where to park. To visit ancient cities, many of which are still surrounded by medieval walls, you will be required to leave your car parked “outside”. You are likely to conclude that taking a train or bus is much more practical!

2) What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! HOTEL WITH GARAGE

Look for hotels with a garage: Another serious problem is finding an affordable hotel that has a garage. This is rare! Most establishments are limited to indicating the nearest parking lot (which may not be as close to the hotel as you would like). In the finest hotels, even those that do not have their own garage, there are usually valets who take and pick up the car for you. With very few exceptions, parking is charged separately. The more expensive the hotel, the more expensive the parking. Speaking of which, it is worth remembering that gasoline may be more expensive than in yout country and tolls are not cheap, not to mention the cost of the renting. Therefore, the car is suitable for those traveling accompanied, and not alone.

3) What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! TRAFFIC JAMS

Traffic jams: you probably know (or have heard) what it is like to come home after work, on a rainy Friday afternoon or to travel to the coast on a holiday. It is no different in Italy: the main roads and those of access to large urban centers and coastal regions (especially in the summer) tend to have an unbearable traffic.

4) What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! FOREIGNERS

Forget the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. You, who are not from there, will see people across the country barbarizing in traffic. They know when they can do it …you don’t. In large cities (where, at first, one should avoid driving), pedestrians and drivers are undisciplined, mainly in Rome and in the south of the country, where many people do not respect the red signal. The crosswalks seem to be a mere decorative suggestion that perhaps it is the right place to cross a street, but that no one takes seriously – neither the drivers, who do not respect it, nor the pedestrians, who cross wherever they want. Always stop for the pedestrian, even if he is wrong. And be careful also with motorbikes and scooters, which zigzag between cars in a mind-boggling way.

Parking on the Street

Never park on the street unaware if it is allowed and how to pay it. Everyone parks on a certain street, you park too and you get a fine. Why only you? Why, because the other cars belong to residents who have the right to stop there! There is a small identification on their car that you didn’t notice, and the sign on the street – Riservato ai Residenti – is not always visible. Pay attention to the signs. For example: a car seat means that that seat is reserved for disabled people. In the few places where you can park on the street without being a city dweller, know that, as a rule, you must pay for it.

5) What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! PARKING LOTS

The parcheggi (parking lots). In some cities there are parking meters paid for with coins, in others, you must buy a card. This varies from city to city. Does the expression “Zona di Rimozione” say anything to you? Learn: it means “Tow-away Zone”! In many large cities there are public and private parking lots in the most central regions, almost always underground, identified by signs with the letter “P”.

Currently the vast majority of parking lots in Italy (parcheggio) work with coin-operated parking meters. Always have enough coins with you for the machines in the parking lots. Avoid risky savings. It is better to spend a few euros more and have enough time to visit a village calmly or have a peaceful lunch, without having to run to the parking lot to fill up the parking meter.

6) What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! ITALIAN CURVES

Watch out for curves. In many rugged regions (such as the Amalfi Coast), the roads are narrow and dangerous. In order to be able to make turns that reach 180º, buses are forced to make several complicated reverse gears. Keep your distance! In curves where only one vehicle fits, sometimes there is a large mirror for you to see if the car is coming in the opposite direction. Depending on the position of the sun (and the amount of accumulated dust …), mirrors can be useful for your safety. Click here to see our Driving in Italy section!

7) What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! HIGHWAYS

The highways. A line is not always the fastest route between two points. The difference between the distance you can travel per hour on a highway (designated by the letter A, followed by a number) and on a secondary road can be immense. Taking the secondary is tempting when looking at the map, but don’t be fooled. This is what happens in the lakes, in the Apennines, on the Amalfi Coast, in Sicily and in some coastal regions.

Important Tip

It never hurts to ask. When renting a car ask the rental company for a map and explanations to get to the road. If you are returning the vehicle to the same agency, ask for the best way back. There are countless one-way arteries, and in some cases, if you take the wrong street, you can end up on the other side of the city.

Tolls on Highways

The tolls on the highways work like this: you get in, take a ticket, travel so many kilometers and, when you leave, deliver the ticket and pay the amount corresponding to that section. But it may be that, in addition to the tollbooth being empty, the gate is raised and several cars are passing straight and you decide to do the same.

When you leave the road, you will stop at a toll booth where you will be asked for your biglietto (ticket). “But what ticket, my goodness?”, this is what you will ask yourself. Do you know why you don’t have a biglietto (and you will be fined …)? Because you did not press that red button at the entrance to remove yours – as you do at the entrance to any mall parking lot! Were the other cars passing by? Why, it is because they are users of an Italian “Easy Pass” type. Was the gate up? It does not matter! Take out your ticket and keep it carefully, to avoid being thrown to the lions at Circus Maximus (lol).

8) What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! FUEL SUPPLY

Refuel! If you are driving across less populated regions (such as the interior of Sicily or Sardinia), fill the tank. You can walk dozens of kilometers without finding a single gas station. In many Italian stations, the system is self-service. Depending on the car you rent, the rental company will guide you to use a certain type of fuel, choose the right pump.

9) What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! SPEED LIMITS

Guide to the right and the priority is also to the right. The maximum speed limits in Italy are: 50 km / h in urban areas, 90 km / h on secondary roads, 110 km / h on main roads and 130 km / h on motorways. There are speed controls and fines are expensive. The police are especially strict with drivers who overdid drinking – which can cause huge problems. If you commit a bad driving (it happens in the best of families …) and you are stopped, be respectful, don’t forget the buongiorno, apologize … And don’t try to bribe the Carabinieri officer!

10) What do I need to know to drive in Italy? The definitive guide! MOTORCYCLES

While it is easier to park a motorbike than a car, in Italy you will also have trouble finding a safe place to stop and will probably have to pay for parking, especially at night. Motorcycles and scooters are useful for traveling a small region, but they become tiring for long distances. In several Italian cities there are companies that rent motorbikes – usually scooters and low displacement motorcycles. Confirm that the motorcycle you are choosing can be used on motorways, there are restrictions in relation to less powerful models. The most practical thing is to take the long train routes and rent another bike again in the next city you are visiting.

Is renting a motorcycle an option reserved for experienced motorcyclists?

It is good to remember that motorbikes are for those who are used to these vehicles, which many consider were made to fall … Italian traffic is not easy and drivers do not always respect motorcyclists. If you are careful and experienced, a motorcycle can be a good option during the summer, especially if you are traveling along the coast, and to travel around some islands, such as Sicily and Sardinia. Prevent yourself with a good raincoat. The weather can hold surprises for you.

Motorcycle Rental Daily Rates
The daily rates charged for motorcycle rentals depend on the model, the rental period and the time of year. To make the rental you will need your motorcycle license, your passport and an international credit card. (Source: Tourist Manual).


Although there is a lot of information, just follow the rules, drive carefully and enjoy Italy by car! It will be unforgettable! And if you feel insecure, have no time, and need help to organize your trip, don’t hesitate to contact me! I will love to help you make your dream trip to Italy come true. And how can I do that? Keep reading this post until the end and you will understand how we make your life and your trip much easier ????

Did my post help you? If so, be sure to post your comment below, but if you still have questions just send me a message I will answer you as soon as possible!

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