Driving in Italy
Tips for the Road
- Italy follows the right-hand driving system.
- Yield to traffic on the right when you are at a junction or crossroads, unless there are signs indicating otherwise.
- In Italy, unlike some countries, you are not allowed to turn right on a red light. You must wait for the signal to turn green before proceeding.
- Headlights should be turned on when driving through tunnels and in poor visibility conditions. They are also required during the day on highways and rural roads.
- Using mobile phones without a hands-free system is strictly prohibited.
Road Types and Speed Limits
- Speed Limit: Typically 130 km/h (81 mph), reduced to 110 km/h (68 mph) in poor weather conditions.
- Characteristics: Autostrade are Italy's main arterial highways, connecting major cities and regions. These roads are toll-based, meaning travelers should be prepared for toll charges when planning long-distance travel. Service areas with fuel stations and restaurants are conveniently located along these routes.
- Speed Limit: Varies, but usually around 90 km/h (56 mph).
- Characteristics: National roads connect smaller towns and provide scenic routes through diverse landscapes. They are toll-free.
- Speed Limit: Varies, but usually between 70-90 km/h (43-56 mph).
- Characteristics: Strade Regionali connect larger towns within specific regions. These roads are practical for regional travel and provide a straightforward driving experience.
- Speed Limit: Typically ranges from 70 km/h (43 mph) to 90 km/h (56 mph).
- Characteristics: Provincial roads connect towns within a province and provide access to local areas, including rural regions.
- Speed Limit: typically ranges from 50 km/h (31 mph) to 70 km/h (43 mph), lower in residential areas.
- Characteristics: Local roads are found within towns, cities, and rural communities.
Italy’s highways (autostrade) operate on a toll system. You will take a ticket when entering and pay based on distance traveled upon exiting. Payment options include cash, credit cards, or the Telepass system. The Telepass, a compact electronic device, allows for automated toll payments and access to special lanes at toll booths. You can obtain a Telepass at service centers or apply online.
Many Italian cities implement ZTLs to reduce congestion and protect historic centers. Access is restricted to authorized vehicles. These zones are typically marked with clear signage and may have specific times of enforcement.
- Autostrada A1 (Del Sole): Italy's main north-south highway for efficient travel between Milan and Naples via major cities.
- Autostrada A4 (Serenissima): A crucial east-west route in Northern Italy, stretching from Turin to Trieste and connecting major hubs like Milan and Venice.
- Autostrada A14 (Adriatica): Runs efficiently along the Adriatic Coast, connecting Bologna to Taranto.
- Autostrada A3 (Salerno-Reggio Calabria): Provides quick travel in Southern Italy, linking Salerno to Reggio Calabria.
- Strada Statale 1 (Via Aurelia): An ancient Roman road along the picturesque Tyrrhenian coast, connecting Rome to the French border.
- Strada Statale 163 (Amalfitana): Renowned for its breathtaking Amalfi Coast views, winding from Sorrento to Amalfi.
Top City Destinations
Known as the Eternal City, the capital city of Rome stands out with its subtle fusion of past and present. Explore ancient marvels like the Colosseum and Roman Forum, then shift gears to the city’s buzzing streets and piazzas. A visit to Vatican City is a must, where you can see the stunning St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. The city is also a shoppers paradise, featuring trendy boutiques and cutting-edge art galleries nestled amongst historic treasures. Take a moment to chill out at the Spanish Steps, toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain, and let Rome’s vibrant food scene provide a modern twist on Italian culinary traditions.
Venice, the City on Water, enchants visitors with its intricate network of canals and stunning architecture. Along the Grand Canal, you’ll find buildings dating from the 13th to the 18th centuries, showcasing the city’s historical wealth and influence. St. Mark’s Basilica stands as a testament to Venice’s rich cultural heritage. Explore the city’s waterways on a traditional gondola ride or opt for a more modern vaporetto experience. Venice is also renowned for hosting the Venice Biennale arts event and its internationally acclaimed film festival. Don’t miss the chance to try the local food, including cicchetti, which are small tapas-like dishes perfect for sampling the diverse flavors of Venetian cuisine. And if you’re looking for a refreshing drink, be sure to try Venice’s famous spritz.
As the hub of Renaissance art Florence holds a prestigious place in art and architecture history. The city’s historic center features the Florence Cathedral, known for its iconic red dome, and the Uffizi Gallery, home to an impressive Renaissance art collection. Make a point to stroll across the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge where you can shop for local gold jewelry or simply enjoy the view over the Arno River. Visit the Mercato Centrale, where you can sample local cheeses, cured meats, and other Tuscan specialties, or seek out a wine window (buchette del vino), for a memorable sip as you explore the city.
Milan is Italy’s fashion and design capital, blending modern style with historical elements. The city is home to the impressive Duomo di Milano, a Gothic cathedral known for its detailed architecture. For a luxurious shopping experience, try exploring the 19th-century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Art lovers can appreciate the city’s galleries and museums, including the famous Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci displayed at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. When the sun sets, Milan comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene, with a variety of clubs and contemporary entertainment options to enjoy.
Naples, the birthplace of Margharita pizza, is known for its vibrant food culture, including street food, pastries, and fresh seafood, making it a foodie’s paradise. Its harbours offer stunning views, reflecting the city’s coastal lifestyle. For a unique experience, venture underground to explore Napoli Sotterranea’s ancient tunnels beneath the city streets, or visit the ruins of Pompeii; a Roman city preserved by volcanic ash. Music and art lovers must visit the world-renowned San Carlo Opera House, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the world, celebrated for its architectural beauty and outstanding acoustics.
Additionally, for breathtaking views of cliffside villages and the Mediterranean’s sparkling waters, take a scenic drive down the Amalfi Coast, easily accessible from Naples.
Turin, known as Italy’s Motor City for its automotive industry and as the home of Fiat, is a haven for car enthusiasts. It features attractions such as the Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile and events dedicated to the veneration of both vintage and modern automobiles. Explore its baroque architecture in the city’s squares, and try the famous chocolate, gianduja, a local delicacy that blends smooth chocolate with rich hazelnuts. Visit Saint John’s Cathedral to see the famous Shroud of Turin, or the Museo Egizio, which houses a world-class collection of Egyptian treasures — it’s a must-visit for anyone fascinated by the ancient world. And for football fans, Turin is home to the iconic Juventus Stadium.
Bologna is known for its rich educational heritage and is home to the oldest university of the western world. Discover the iconic Archiginnasio, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture, and the Anatomical Theatre, a testament to the city’s educational legacy. Bologna is synonymous with mouthwatering food. Enjoy authentic Bolognese dishes like tagliatelle al ragù (better known as Bolognese sauce), mortadella, and tortellini. Stroll through the heart of the city, Piazza Maggiore, where you’ll find the Basilica of San Petronio and the iconic Fountain of Neptune. Climb the Asinelli Tower, one of Bologna’s Two Towers, for breathtaking views of the city. If you’re into contemporary art, you’ll love MAMbo, the Museum of Modern Art in Bologna, featuring an impressive collection of artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries.
Catania is the industrial and commercial heart of Sicily, with a rich historical and cultural heritage. If you’re a history enthusiast, visit the Roman Theater and the Greek-Roman Amphitheater. Don’t miss the iconic Elephant Fountain. For a taste of the locale, try its fresh seafood, arancini, and the world-famous cannoli. Venture outside the city limits to the slopes of Mount Etna, one of Europe’s most active volcanoes, for a dose of adventure. Just a short drive away, Taormina offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and the ancient Greek Theater.