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What's driving in Italy like compared to France

What's driving in Italy like compared to France

Old Dec 17th, 2006, 05:40 PM
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annieladd
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What's driving in Italy like compared to France

We've traveled by car from Paris to the Dordogne, and through Provence. We're considering a trip to Italy now, probably Florence, Tuscany, Siena, etc. Is the driving as pleasant through this part of Italy as we've experienced in France? annieladd
 
Old Dec 17th, 2006, 06:26 PM
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In the cities of Italy, driving is crazy. Out of the cities, driving is easy. No different than France. Done both many, many times and no problems.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 06:31 PM
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This may help--I see little difference.


DRIVING IN ITALY & SOUTHERN EUROPE

Q. SHOULD WE DRIVE IN ITALY?
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

Q. WHAT CAR SHOULD I GET AND WHERE DO I GET IT?
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.

Q. ARE ITALIAN DRIVERS AS CRAZY AS I HAVE HEARD?
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.

OTHER ROAD TIPS FOR YOUR DRIVING SANITY:
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.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 06:34 PM
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I've driven many, many times in France and three times in Italy. I found Italy more challenging, even in the countryside, but nothing I could not deal with (signage is spotty and often confusing, drivers drive way too fast on minor roads, indicators are rarely used). If you search on "ger umbria" you will find a piece about my experience

Driving in a city in Italy - I would never consider it!
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 06:50 PM
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I've driven in both countries a lot in the past two years and I don't see a lot of difference, except that on the autostrade in Italy if you're doing the coastal one where you're going in and out of tunnels every five minutes and the sun is out you can totally lose it mentally unless you have the ability to drive really fast and keep switching from your regular glasses to your sunglasses.

And Rome is a huge challenge, but once you realize that "senso unico" for the Romans is not a deterrent and do the "when in Rome" thing, it usually works out ok.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 10:30 PM
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For a humorous and esaggerated view of Italian drivers, look at this:

http://www.infonegocio.com/xeron/bru...est/flash1.htm
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 10:39 PM
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It depends where in Italy : driving around Aoste for instance is not diferent from driving around the nearby Saint-Gervais.
Generally northern Italy and southern France are very similar in terms of driving.
The south may be a bit more hectic.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 10:58 PM
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Or look at this which I think Michael meant to post http://www.infonegocio.com/xeron/bruno/yesno.html

My experiences, even in Northern Italy, the driving is different than in the US (especially on curvy mountain roads) but my husband loved driving all over Italy including in all of the major cities so I think it depends on your driving skills and confidence. And as Bob said, Italian drivers are normally skilled drivers..he IMO gave you great advice. Best wishes.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 11:01 PM
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I have not driven in southern Italy, but in northern Italy driving is just the same as in France.
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 06:05 AM
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I find French drivers more aggressive and impatient than Italian drivers, and quicker to display anger when you get in their way. That said, French roads tend to be better and more helpfully signed.

Driving in Firenze is next to impossible. Take the train to visit it. The landscape of Tuscany is extremely hilly, which means that roads have been put where possible, not where it is convenient for drivers.

When you are trying to get from one place to another in Italy, you need to study the map in advance to see what towns are in between where you are and where you want to go. That is because the road signs at intersections will give you a choice between several towns. You need to know which town is the next one you need to go to enroute to your final destination. which may not appear on any of the signs.

hope that makes sense.
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 06:09 AM
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PS Italian drivers tend to drive much faster than US drivers and have a habit of passing that is unnerving: they will come right up to your rear bumper before swinging part way into the left lane, and then cut right back in front of you at the soonest opportunity.

If you are driving in the left lane, an Italian driver may speed up behind you, sometimes flashing his lights, to get you to move over immediately.

Italiams leave very little room for error at high speeds.
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 06:29 AM
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"If you are driving in the left lane, an Italian driver may speed up behind you, sometimes flashing his lights, to get you to move over immediately."

Which also happens in the U.S., although the obstruction in the left lane usually doesn't get it or simply ignores you. Keep right except to pass is the rule on most of our highways. Road hogs, take note!
 
Old Dec 18th, 2006, 08:10 AM
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I found the roads, signage and actual driving in the countryside in both countries easy.

However, in France in just 5 days, I was violently rear ended twice while stopped at red lights, honked at, and flipped off. I'm from southern California and am NOT a timid or slow driver!

I've never had those experiences during many more days' driving in Italy.

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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 12:26 PM
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I think that driving habits depend largely on whether you are in a big city or in small villages. Driving in Florence or Rome will be more difficult not only because of traffic, but also because drivers are far more "aggressively trained" to survive that mess. I'd say that you can recognize a Florentine driver even on an empty country road...
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 01:20 PM
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We have driven in southeastern France and northern Italy, as far south as Rome.

We found the drivers noticeably more aggressive in Italy. I especially remember the cars passing us on a blind curve -- up in the hills on a rainy day. Kept coming around those curves expecting to see a big crash, but, no. The autostrada is easy, the cities difficult, the small hilltowns have very narrow streets, so it's better to park outside and walk in.
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 07:09 PM
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Most of the information you receive is anecdotal. Statiscally, Italy ranks well behind France in traffic deaths per capita:
http://www.driveandstayalive.com/inf...apita-2004.htm
If you are interested in learning about driving in Italy, here is a good website:
http://www.initaly.com/travel/info/driving.htm
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Old Dec 18th, 2006, 07:45 PM
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The OP didn't ask about traffic deaths per capita (which include pedestrians being struck by vehicles, solo motorcycle accidents, and people who don't wear seat belts.)

They asked: "Is the driving as pleasant through this part of Italy as we've experienced in France?"


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Old Dec 19th, 2006, 12:35 AM
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I found driving in Provence amazingly easy especially after having driven from Florence through Tuscany and back.
The roads were generally easier to read and the "freeways" in France were managable vs the autostrada in Italy which left us gasping and gripping the wheel. I found drivers in Tuscany quite aggressive!
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Old Dec 19th, 2006, 12:37 AM
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May I add---pick up your rental car in a place other than Rome or Florence.Consider Orvieto or the like.
Driving out of Florence was relatively easy while finding the rental agency on return left us wanting to dump the car by the side of the road!
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Old Dec 19th, 2006, 10:04 AM
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General advice for returning a car in a city: Get the exact address of the rental agency and use Mappy or Via Michelin to get the itinerary to that address and print out the map in enough details to see the streets of the final destination. The itinerary should guide you to the agency and take into account one way streets and streets regularly closed to traffic.
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