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Karamel2373 Mar 17th, 2006 05:43 AM

Americans speaking no it easy to navigate around Italy?
We are renting a car and driving to Tuscany and I am wondering if it will be easy to find our way around Italy. Thanks!

ira Mar 17th, 2006 05:48 AM

Hi K,

>...easy to find our way around Italy.

Is this your first visit to Italy?

If so, probably not.

Is this your first motor trip in Europe?

If so, definitely not.

However, that is no reason why you shouldn't do it.


Rhea58 Mar 17th, 2006 05:49 AM

I personally think the European driving is infinitely easier than the states as there are signs galore
easily identifiable.

Intrepid1 Mar 17th, 2006 05:50 AM

Are you at all familiar with international road symbols?

Are you planning to BUY a decent road map for use while driving?

If the answer to both of the above are "yes" your trip will be much less complicated IMO

julzieluv Mar 17th, 2006 05:50 AM

yes, just reserve the GPS tracker and you can go anywhere

chicagolori Mar 17th, 2006 05:56 AM

If you have a good map, its easy. The Michelin maps are the best. I also ordered a detailed local map of Tuscany from which we used religiously. We also often plot out our routes on the map in advance which is helpful.

We were pleasantly surprised that the roads were so well marked with signs. Even for the smaller villages, there would be a sign.

It would behoove you to get a guidebook that has a section on driving in Italy to familiarize yourself with the road signs.

chicagolori Mar 17th, 2006 06:01 AM

here is the link to initaly which points you to the maps. We bought the regional tuscany map and provincial siena map (which was the whole area around siena) and they were fantastic. I found them better than the Michelin map. They are cheap too.

knoxvillecouple Mar 17th, 2006 06:04 AM

You need a good driver (alert and aware of other traffic, left lane only for passing, etc.) and, even more important, a good navigator. I guess GPS would be nice, but by no means necessary if you have a good map - Michelin is OK, but we used Touring Club Italiano (for Umbria and Marche, but they have them for each region, including Tuscany). Scale of the map is important if you want to see the smaller roads on a map (and follow them to particular places) - the Touring Club Italiano maps are 1:200000.

And perhaps most important, just know that you'll make some mistakes, make or miss some turns, and maybe even get lost for a bit. If those are your only problems driving around Tuscany, it will be fun.


LoveItaly Mar 17th, 2006 10:58 PM

Hi Karamel, it depends I believe on how much a person enjoys driving. The first time we went to Italy in the 1970's my husbands first experience was driving in Milan during the afternoon commute hour. But he loved to drive. Driving in Tuscany is so much easier. And a good navigator is a big help (that was me). We purchased the maps at a bookstore in Milan, used the Italiano Touring Club maps.

One thing I will mention. Italian law requires you to have a translated version of your drivers license. You probably will never need it but if you are stopped by the authorities, and especially if you are unfortantly involved in an accident, you will need this. It is called an International Driving Permit. It translate your drivers license information into several languages including Italian.

You can obtain this Permit through your AAA office, even if you are not a member of AAA. $10.00 for the permit. You will need passport size photos. AAA can take care of this also. Believe they charge $10.00 or thereabout for the photo. The permit is good for one year.

Some people do not get this permit and of course say the have never needed it. Sort of the same as driving without auto insurance. Generally you don't need it..until you do!! Such an inexpensive and simple permit to get and if you do need to provide it you will be so glad you have it. Do be sure to bring your states drivers license with you also of course.

Most people that drive around Italy seem happy that they did. And to really enjoy Tuscany a car is quite necessary IMO, especially if you want to get to the out of the way places. Have a wonderful trip.

daisy58 Mar 18th, 2006 11:47 AM

couple of questions..Since we have been planning to take a day trip from florence to Sienna, possibly San G as well, we thought we might rent a car for the day or two. I have read that driving in Tuscany is not horrible as attempting it in a major city (and since hubby has been inducted into the white-knuckling "tico" driving experiance in San Jose, Costa Rica, I am confident we can handle this! :))
So regarding insurance, when we rent a car in the states, we do not need to buy the supplemental insurance, as we are covered on our own--same for Italy?
What about parking spaces/fees in Sienna? And the rental of GPS is intriguing, how do we do this? Finally,
with regards to the Italian translation of our drivers license, we leave in 7 weeks, is this enough time to accomplish this? thanks!

noe847 Mar 18th, 2006 11:54 AM

I have fantastic insurance in the US that makes supplemental insurance unneccessary, but have been advised to always purchase it when renting abroad.

LoveItaly Mar 18th, 2006 12:08 PM

Hi Daisy, yes,per the Italian law you need a translation of your CA driver license into Italian. That is called a Driver License Permit. Your local AAA office can take care of this for you, even if you two are not members of AAA. The cost is $10.00 but you need a passport sized photo also which AAA can do, another $10.00 or thereabouts.

Be sure you take your CA Drivers License with you to Italy as the permit merely translate the info on your CA DL.
BTW, the permit is good for one year.

You will probably never need to show the permit but if you do you can be in violation of Italian law if you cannot provide it so well worth the little bit of time and money IMO.

I haven't rented a car in Italy for sometime but almost certain you will have to buy the mandatory insurance when renting a car in Italy.

Can't help you regarding parking at Siena, think the parking lot is outside of the walls however. No doubt someone else can give you exact details regarding that question.

Imagine you are getting excited about your trip to Italy!!

Doble_Vergasser Mar 18th, 2006 12:24 PM

Rental cars in Italy must be insured thru the rental company. You can not decline the insurance (credit card coverage or not). With any quote you get to provide a rental car, you will want to know if insurance is included or additional to the rate quoted.

A good sense of humor, a good navigator and good map are all you need. [It's fun to drive thru pedestrian only areas. It's fun to have an italian try to expalain 'senso unico' to you.]

LoveItaly Mar 18th, 2006 12:33 PM

DV, you are being a tease, LOL.

Karamel, senso unico means "one way" pay attention, you don't want to be driving agains oncoming traffic (as my DH did in Milan). Fortunatly the Milan Police had a good sense of humor.

ira Mar 18th, 2006 01:53 PM

Hi : daisy58
>...when we rent a car in the states, we do not need to buy the supplemental insurance, as we are covered on our own--same for Italy?<

Absolutely not.

Call your insurnce company.

>.. a day trip from florence to Sienna, possibly San G as well,..<

Take the bus to Siena and the bus to San G, and the bus back to Florence.

See for SITA


wlzmatilida Mar 18th, 2006 06:32 PM


Ah..driving in Italy..always an adventure!

As Doble pointed out, insurance is mandatory. It can be done through your car rental agency or through a separate company, but you must have it.

Is it easy to find your way around? Well, yes and no. Many of the signage is non-existent or only "one way". (see our trip report at

If you're on some sort of timetable this could be frustrating..but hey, you're NOT. You're just toodling around and experiencing Tuscany. If you get lost, who cares, it's a new adventure filled with possibilities!



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