If you plan to rent or lease a car for your Italian vacation, there are a few things you should know about driving in Italy:
- Italians drive on the right side of the road, the same as in the US (opposite of the UK)
- When driving on the autostrada, toll road, always drive in the right lane and use the left lane for passing. The speed limit is usually 130 Km per hour but may be less in some places.
Tips for Avoiding Fines
- Don’t Drive Here: Do not drive in a ZTL (limited traffic zone) or pedestrian area, area pedonale. These zones are usually in the center of a city or town and require a special permit to enter. If your license plate is caught on a camera for entering the zone, you may receive a bill later for the fine (forwarded from your rental car company).
- Speeding: Watch out for Speed Control Cameras (autovelox) or be sure you are driving at or under the speed limit. Speed limits in construction zones are lower so watch for speed limit signs. Don’t rely on the speed limit shown on your GPS, which may not reflect the most current limits. Again you may receive a bill for a fine in the mail when you’re back home.
- International Driving Permit If you’re from the US, or any other country that doesn’t have driver’s license reciprocity with Italy, be sure to carry an International Driving Permit with you. If you get stopped for any reason (including routine spot checks) or if you’re involved in an accident, you’ll need to show it or you risk being fined on the spot.
Renting or Leasing a Car
We recommend booking your rental car through Auto Europe because there are not hidden charges and they come with good insurance coverage. Some rental car companies in Europe have been known to add on additional charges that weren’t in the original quote either when you pick up or drop off the car.
If you’re driving in Europe for 3 weeks or longer, you might want to look into the buy-back lease program. You’ll get a brand new car that you choose from available models which often get excellent gas (or diesel) mileage and they come with excellent insurance.
If you’re traveling mainly to big cities, we recommend traveling by train rather than driving. Cars are not allowed in many parts of the city and parking can be difficult and expensive. Book train tickets on Rail Europe in US dollars.
Using Your GPS
While having a GPS can be very helpful to find addresses, don’t rely on it exclusively. It may tell you to turn onto a one way road, a pedestrian zone, or even a stairway (I’ve had all these happen). Look at the map to see where you’re going first so you don’t head to the wrong town (some town names can be found in several different parts of Italy). Don’t rely just on your GPS for directions, speed limits, or road conditions. When using your GPS, be sure to use common sense as well!