Car Travel

Although roads are generally good in the south, and major cities are linked by fast autostradas, driving here is a major test of navigation skills. Driving into the center of many cities and towns can be particularly complicated, owing to mazes of one-way streets, pedestrianized zones, and limited parking facilities. The good news is that you can bypass many communities via ring roads. Also, if you're staying at an in-town hotel, check with the staff about parking: the more upscale properties often have garage facilities or valet services for guests.

If you're squeamish about getting lost, don't drive at night in the countryside—roads can be confusing without the visual aid of landmarks, and GPS is far from infallible. Also, Bari, Brindisi, and Reggio Calabria are notorious for car thefts and break-ins. In these cities, don't leave valuables in the car, and find a guarded parking space if possible.

The toll-free A3 autostrada (Napoli–Reggio Calabria) links Naples to the south, with major exits at Sicignano (for the interior of Basilicata and Matera), Cosenza (the Sila Massif and Crotone), and Pizzo (for Tropea). Parts of the A3 in northern Calabria cross uplands more than 3,000 feet high, and snow chains may be required during winter months. In the summer and during holiday weekends this is the main north–south route for Italy's sun seekers, so factor in plenty of time for delays and avoid peak travel times.

Take the SS18 for coastal destinations on the Tyrrhenian side and the E90 for the Ionian, alongside various state roads that crisscross towards the Adriatic. Given speed detectors and driver-tracking technology, it’s best to stick to speed limits and be careful not to enter ZTL (zona a traffico limitato) restricted traffic areas (cameras are set up in towns such as Matera and Altamura): you'll be spared an unwelcome ticket when you get home.

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