What I need to know about the autostrade

Nov 25th, 2006, 09:20 AM
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What I need to know about the autostrade

Sorry I didn't mean to post twice but I forgot to put in my search topic.

I have heard many bad stories about the highways and autostrade? Please tell me what I need to know so I wont have a story of my own. THANKS

panucci is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 09:28 AM
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I've only been on it a few times, but here's what I learned:

1) NEVER drive in the far left lane unless you have a car that is capable of rocket speed, and I am not joking.
2) If you need to pass, turn your signal on and check your mirror. If you even see a speck of a car coming up on the left lane, wait till it is past. They go so fast, they'll be on your tail in a second.
3) keep your signal on as you pass on the left, immediately signal right as you quickly move back into the middle lane.
4) Because everyone drives fast, I saw that people use the emergency flashers to signal that there's a slow down on the road. If you see those ahead, be aware of your speed and be ready to slow down.
5) I was very impressed on the fact that everyone stayed in their own lanes and there was no weaving in and out of traffic. Very courteous drivers.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 09:34 AM
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I find driving on the autostrada no more difficult than driving on highways in the U.S., where I live. And in some ways, more enjoyable (the scenary is great)! Though as Sandi points out, it is a bit different. While the average speed is faster (probably around 80 mph), and there are certainly some folks who go much faster, I feel safer because most people stay in the right lane, except to pass.

In more congested areas, such as around cities, it's a lot more like in the U.S. around cities. If there are 3 lanes in each direction, it's more common (IMHO) for people to stay in the middle lane, leaving the right lane for trucks and slower cars, and the left lane for passing. And when it's really congested, all three lanes are full!
Lexma90 is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 09:44 AM
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Absolutely agree with Sandi_t, I would add that in the South of Italy they don't always follow rules and they may make their own middle lane so just stay in your lane and be aware.

I love to drive the autostrada in Italy, I find that they are good serious drivers on the whole.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 10:19 AM
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Is there some kind of a toll when you get on or off???
panucci is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 10:28 AM
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We did encounter tolls at times. Fortuntely I wasn't driving because it was confusing as to the toll amount. Maybe someone can shed light on this.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 10:47 AM
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I used the automated lanes and just put my Visa card in the slot to pay the tolls -- no problem ever, but there are far fewer automated lanes than in France, where they are the majority of toll lanes.
kerouac is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 11:00 AM
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I drove 130 kph from Bologna to Lake Como and passed most of the cars and very few cars passed me. But do stay on the right except for passing, which may be difficult to remember if you're a California driver.
Michael is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 11:15 AM
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I always just keep a cup full of coins next to me when I drive or like was mentioned just use your bank card.

Take a toll ticket and be sure and keep it to use when you exit.

Also if you see a car behind you blinking its headlights, move over you are driving too slowly.

Get an international driver's license and don't panic if you get pulled over by men with machine guns.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 11:48 AM
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IMHO - much simpler than driving in the US. In europe driving tests are much more difficult than in the US and you actually have to know how to drive to get one.

The drivers also take it much more seriously (way fewr dashboard diners and soccer moms weaving from lane to lane in gigantic SUVs they can;t control because they're trying to discipline their kids).

The road conditions on major highways are good - wide lanes, sweeping turns and broad shoulders.

You just need to do your part.

Driving is much faster - and if you're not comfortable at that speed stay off the highway -since driving too slowly is a real danger to everyone.

Stay on the right except to pass - this is carved in stone.

Move back to the left immediately you are done passing.

(Yes, you will be passed by a lot of big Mercedes doing well over 100 and by some sports cars going as fast as they can. It's your responsibilityy to stay out of their way - they own the left lane.)
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 11:51 AM
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We drove from Assisi to Sorrento and the middle lane averaged 100mph most of the time.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 01:03 PM
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What "bad stroies" did you hear???
Dukey is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 01:24 PM
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I haven't read the other posts but I will add that when we were driving along at a good clip I decided to slow down when I felt the front of an Audi begin to lift.
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 25th, 2006, 01:26 PM
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Sorry, my post was about the autobahn.
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 26th, 2006, 01:43 PM
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Driving is not hard at all in Italy, but you do need a navigator to pay attention. This may help:


A. Of course you should if your driving skill & confidence would allow you to drive a rental car in Vermont, Colorado or California. But, be advised of these tips:
* Avoid driving in the major cities except for picking up or dropping cars
* Have good maps—study them in advance—and have a GOOD NAVIGATOR.
* Stay in the right lane except when passing and use your rear view mirrors

A. It is best to rent your car before you leave for Europe. The best source we have found is AUTOEUROPE [800-223-5555] who is a broker for several car vendors. They will quote you prices to include the variables that are often omitted by others, such as unlimited mileage, full mandatory insurance coverage, and VAT taxes. The best model will depend on your needs, but for best value we suggest you select a compact car with manual transmission. Automatics are available but will cost you about 30% more and may limit your model options & pick up locations.

A. Yes & no! They are certainly aggressive, but they are also more skilled than many USA drivers—both are a function of necessity. Italy is one of the most crowded countries in the world and the drivers have evolved these characteristics
* They are notorious tailgaters. If that bothers you, pull over and let them past.
* On the AUTOSTRADE they will drive fast, but will stay in the right lane except when passing and will use their blinkers when passing—YOU SHOULD TOO !
* They will often pass on 2-lane roads with traffic coming. Frankly, they expect you, and the oncoming car, to adjust to the shoulder and make 3 lanes of traffic.

1. Learn the meaning of the sign “ SENSO UNICO” and take heed [ONE WAY ].
2. Be sure to get your ticket when you enter the AUTOSTADA system & be prepared to pay the toll when you exit it [ rule of thumb—300 km=15 Euro]. You can use your credit card in the VIA lane at the toll both, or buy a debit VIACARD in advance.
3. Do NOT attempt to follow road numbers—that will frustrate you. But, do pay attention to the directional signs that point to your destination [ TO MONTALCINO]. And, be aware if that road leads eventually to a larger city [ ROMA—SIENA ETC.]
4. Unless you have a diesel car, you will want to fill the tank with benzina from the green pump. Most stations will pump gas for you and will take credit cards.

NOTE: As of 2005, an International Drivers Permit[IDP] is required in Italy.
You can obtain them from your local AAA office. You will need a valid US driver’s license, two passport photos, and $10. The photos can be taken at the AAA office.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Nov 26th, 2006, 02:16 PM
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I remember seeing a large Mercedes roar past a flashing lighted speeding police car on the autostrada Florence-Rome in 1998.

I think there is an autostrada official near Florence who is still dining out on a dumb tourist story based on my first experience. We were heading to Lucca. I had misread some info/post at the time (rec.travel.europe in '98) and had the idea that to enter the autostrada we needed some kind of pre-paid pass. With some difficulty we circled around and back to the admin building next to the toll booths and I suavely went in to get this pass. Of course no such thing and the one English speaking guy simply told me to "take ticket". For who knows what reason I couldn't get this but by following his complicated instructions we managed to get around and back to the toll booth where I still couldn't understand how I would need a ticket when we hadn't completed the journey (who knows, maybe my first senior's moment and I was barely fifty). Finally the official stormed out as we fumbled and fussed and bellowed (for the last time) "take ticket!". Only then did it dawn on me that like entering a parking garage you take ticket at the entrance and at the exit that ticket when inserted tallies the appropriate toll. Painfully obvious but I guess at the time just too simple (for) me.
Now whenever Valerie and I encounter a machine of any like sort we sheepishly look at each other and with great relish and in unison chime "take ticket!".
normanoromano is offline  
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