Driving Advice in Italy

Mar 26th, 2011, 11:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 87
Driving Advice in Italy

Looking at train schedules and the timing isn't really conforming to our time schedule. It would really be nice to be able to get into the car and go on demand. I'd like your advice, opinions on driving in Italy. The car rental would be for two to three days, picking up the car at FCO and driving to Manoppello, then to Loreto and finally to Bologna. An overnight b/w Manoppello and Loreto, and an overnight in Bologna. Possibly returning the car in Bologna or returning to FCO and onto the 2nd leg of the trip. Holy Week in Rome.

What would I need to look out for in signs, 'not' driving in bus lanes, safety, protecting our luggage while away from the car, parking, handling tolls, speed limits, getting gas, anything else. I've heard horror stories, ease my mind. Thank you.
litefoot is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 12:00 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Please don't scold me for being picky, but Buckingham is a small town about 30 miles north-west of London. The tourist sight you may want to see is Buckingham Palace. They are too entirely different places, although one is indirectly named after the other.

You will have the same sort of problems if you say Liverpool Station, rather than Liverpool Street Station, and Gloucester if you mean Gloucester Road in Kensington.
chartley is online now  
Mar 27th, 2011, 12:01 AM
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Now how did that happen. The comment above applied to a totally different thread.
chartley is online now  
Mar 27th, 2011, 01:32 AM
Join Date: Sep 2008
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I've had the excitement of driving through Italy on 4 different. I really mean excitement too, the Autostrada in Northern Italy is a blast....exhilarating and a little terrifying at the same time. Lots of twists and turns, long dark tunnels coming out of nowhere, and the aggressive Italian drivers.

I don't remember any problems too terrible though and would not hesitate to drive in Italy again. Use common sense and keep your luggage in the truck and your car locked when stopped. Never had any problems at the gas stations, in fact, I do specifically remember a beautiful girl filling my tank on one occasion. My family and I didn't hesitate to eat at roadside cafes attached to the gas stations and remember the food and being pretty good.

In the towns and congested areas, watch out for pedestrians, cyclists, and those on scooters. Do a Google search on Italian road signs and get familiar with them, they are pretty much the same as in the rest of Europe. I always felt no matter how bad I thought I was driving, the idiot who just blew by me is driving infinitely worse.

Don't be nervous or tentative about driving in Italy, It is part of the experience and you will have a blast.
agedude is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 01:35 AM
Join Date: Oct 2009
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We had no problems driving in northern Italy at all. If you've ever driven in a major city in the US you'll be fine. If you're a timid or very cautious driver though it probably isn't for you. Just follow everybody else and don't flinch or panic.

The road signs are almost identical to the US or at least easy to guess at the meaning. Getting gas, pumps either had an attendant or an english option. Learn some Italian numbers and how to say your gas type in Italian and things will go smoothly.

I've never found a toll attendant who didn't speak English, but prices are listed and having a bunch of exact change never hurts.

We used a garmen with information about gas stations and parking and it was great. Honestly, just take the same precautions that you would with an American roadtrip and you'll be fine. Oh, and get an international driver's license.
hayestrip is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 01:36 AM
Join Date: May 2005
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The International Driving Permit (not licence) is a LEGAL requirement for driving in Italy.
alanRow is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 02:06 AM
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Basic Italian road signs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_signs_in_Italy


You must have low beam headlights on at all times on autostrada and four lane highways.

The name board at the entrance to a town often also functions as the speed limit board (50Km/h).

If you not on a priority road then you must give way to traffic from the right.

Be brave, and enjoy!

And don't forget the IDP.
hetismij is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 03:45 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
tigercarrental.com my fav for rental in italy.

Quite expensive compared to train like 10-20X/da

what regional trains cost just hopping on

they go everywhere have been a bunch.

Plan on paying big parking charges in big cities

GIGANTIC one way drop off charges also usually.

Autostrada speeds and Naples can be pretty terrifying

for the newbie..Still it can be fun or rural areas

Prefer Intercity or Fast trains from 5 euro/hr seat61.com

Have fun,
qwovadis is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 09:28 AM
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Hi lite,

You will need an International Driver's Permit.

ira is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 09:43 AM
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"GIGANTIC one way drop off charges also usually." I totally disagree so long as the drop off is in the same country. We have not experienced any drop off charges in Italy.

Driving in Italy requires your attention--no mobil phone usage, coffees or distractions. Stay out of the fast lane unless passing and take reasonable precautions when parking. Enjoy the trip.
macanimals is online now  
Mar 27th, 2011, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Driving in Italy is easy as long as you are competent and confident. Speeds are generally higher than in the US and on multi-lane rods drivers are VERY serious about not lollygagin n the left lane. Left land is for passing only - do NOT sit there - even for a minute or two - or you will find cars rushing up behind you honking and flashing. (And YOU would be in the wrong.)

The only potential problem is that many cities/towns have pedestrian centers in which cars are simply not allowed. Be sure ou know where these are and do NOT drive in them - you will be caught on camera and fines run into the hundreds.

We have done numerous rod trips in europe - including many in Italy - at least in part - and love it. Much more freedom than being tied to train schedules - or seeing an adorable town or other sight you want to see vanishing behind your train. Granted it may cost more - but IMHO it's a much better way to travel.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 09:44 AM
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Posts: 45,322
Hello, litefoot. Here is driving information for Italy along with a section regarding Italian road signs from the SlowTravel website. I believe you will find it quite helpful and will answer a lot of your questions. Best regards.

LoveItaly is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 10:56 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 278
Litefoot, you'll enjoy driving in Italy. I've lived in Rome for 3+ years and drive every day on our motorino. Driving in Italy is far different than the US. But you'll adjust quickly.

If you are driving with a US license, you will need an International Drivers' Permit (IDP). It's the law in Italy - see this: http://tinyurl.com/Italy-ID

Whenever you are driving, you need to have your US State license, your IDP, and your passport in case you come across a Random Traffic Check: http://tinyurl.com/traffic-stops

Starting in Rome at FCO, you can avoid the ZTL's in Rome (http://tinyurl.com/Rome-ZTL) by not heading downtown but using the GRA - the ring road around Rome. You might look at Via Michelin for driving directions and suggestions.

One of your biggest challenges will be parking. It's a bear in Italy - especially in the urban areas. Also get the best insurance coverage. Your credit card MAY NOT cover you and there are insurance requirements (by law) in Italy. For a list of vendors in Rome/Italy... you might see the end section of this article on Car Rentals in Rome: http://tinyurl.com/car-rome

I'd probably dump the car as soon as I could. You won't need it in the cities and parking, insurance, gas, tolls, etc. can add up. Plus, the trains are quite easy and convenient. We have not owned a car for almost four years now. (We do rent from Rome when we're not training around Italy!).

Many of the best driving experiences we had were on back-roads. Near Bologna we love the SP65 rather than the A1. We also like heading up SS2 from Rome and SS222 through Tuscany! For an idea on the traffic on these roads, you might watch this the first minute of the video inserted in this article about us heading to Lake Bracciano on our motorino - http://tinyurl.com/lake-bracciano .

Good Luck!
rineurope is offline  
Mar 27th, 2011, 10:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 87
Wow, thank you all for sharing, and leaving links. I'm not ready to make the commitment but did get the IDP just in case. Have driven in large and small cities, you would think I'd feel comfortable, but I've experienced traffic (and taxies-sp?) in Rome and have read about the fast speeds on the autostrada. I'm comfortable at 55-65 mph. I can drive anywhere in the USA because the highways are basically the same and there are no driving restrictions in towns. I do not have a problem taking the train, there may even be a bus choice, it is the schedules, and where the station is in proportion to where we want to visit that is the problem. I will study the links and do some more research. Thank you, you have helped.
litefoot is offline  
Mar 28th, 2011, 04:34 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,522
If you do a Google for "Road signs, Italy" you'll find many pages with photos and explanations of road signs in Italy.

Here's an example:

ParisAmsterdam is offline  

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