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Driving in Italy.

A fresh, honest approach to car rental

The beautiful country.

Hiring a car in Italy is probably the best way to make the most of the Italian countryside and mountain ranges. If you are planning to visit the big cities such as Rome, Florence or Milan, we advise that you park on the outskirts and use public transport. Always be very careful to leave your car in a correct parking zone as fines can be hefty and are often received months after the rental.

Road signs are not always well positioned, especially on the motorway where little prior notice is given for motorway exits. Some roads can be very rough; these are probably best avoided as damage to the underside of the vehicle is often not covered by the rental insurance. Driving off-road will always invalidate the insurance.

When driving in the winter, especially to mountain areas we recommend that you hire snow chains, even just as a precaution as the police may stop you from using certain roads if snow chains are not fitted. It is also very important to use winter fuel or a fuel additive; both prevent the fuel from freezing in extreme temperatures which could cause expensive damage to your vehicle.

Read our Italy travel guide. You may also like to view information about destinations in Italy.

Tips for driving in Italy

Which side of the road do they drive on?

Drive on the right, overtake on the left. Unless otherwise indicated, vehicles coming from the right have priority at junctions. At junctions with roundabouts, vehicles already on the roundabout have right of way. Vehicles on rails have priority even when they approach from the left.

Seat belts

If fitted, seat belts must be worn at all times by all occupants of the vehicle.

Driving with children

Children are only allowed in the front passenger seat if they are at least 12 or are in a suitable child restraint.

Blood alcohol limit

The blood alcohol limit is 50mg per 100ml of blood. For those who have held a driving licence for less than 3 years and professional drivers the blood alcohol limit is nil.

Can I use a mobile?

It’s illegal to use a mobile unless you have a hands-free kit or headset.

Reflective vests, triangles & other essentials

A reflective vest must be kept in the vehicle at all times. It is also compulsory to carry a warning triangle.

Do I need winter tyres?

Between November 1st and April 15th, vehicles must be fitted with winter tyres (which must be marked M&S (Mud & Snow) on the side walls and have a minimum tread depth of 4mm) or all-season tyres which must be marked M&S. They should also be used if roads have a covering of snow, slush or ice outside these dates.

Theoretically, snow chains on summer tyres can be used as an alternative to winter tyres where the road is heavily covered with snow and no damage to the road surface is caused by the snow chains. In practice, because road conditions and the weather cannot be predicted, use of winter tyres is effectively compulsory.

Spiked tyres may be used from the 1st October until the 31st May, although special local regulations may extend this period.


Parking is on the right hand side in Italy in two way-streets. On a one way street, parking is allowed on both sides provided a 3m wide space is left in the road. Parking is in blue zones where a disc is often needed. These can generally be bought at Service Stations and operate in most towns.

Blue lines mean you must pay for parking whilst white lines indicate free parking.

On the spot fines

Italian police are able to impose fines and collect a quarter of the maximum fine amount from drivers of foreign registered vehicles. If you are caught speeding, you will receive a fine up to several months later.

Horns and headlights

It is mandatory to use dipped headlights during the day outside built-up areas and during snow and rain or poor visibility. When in a tunnel, lights must be used.

If driving on the motorway (autostrada), headlights must be used.

Variable speed limits

The speed limits are lowered by 20kph in wet weather on both dual carriageways and motorways.

What should I do if I have an accident or breakdown?

You’ll find emergency telephones situated every 2km on the autostrade. There are two types:

  1. One allows you to speak to the emergency centre.
  2. One requires you to press either a button bearing a spanner to call for mechanical assistance or a button bearing a red cross to call for medical aid. 


If you breakdown, you must put on a reflective jacket and place the reflective triangle 30m behind the vehicle to warn other drivers. Call the supplier who will be able to advise you further. It is recommended you contact ourselves at the same time to ensure you follow the correct procedure.


If you’re in an accident, you MUST notify the Police and the car rental provider and get an accident report for insurance purposes. Failure to do so may result in you footing the whole bill. It is recommended that you contact ourselves to ensure you follow the correct procedure.

Toll roads

The majority of motorways in Italy are toll roads. Tolls can be paid by cash or MasterCard and Visa. You should follow the signs marked Biglietto. 

Driving distances

Bologna to Rome – 357km (3hrs 35mins)

Bologna to Venice – 175km (1hr 40mins)

Rome to Milan – 584km (5hrs 40mins)

Rome to Florence – 279km (3hrs)

Milan to Venice – 278km (2hrs 45mins)

Milan to Turin – 144km (1hr 45mins)

Naples to Rome – 226km (2hrs 15mins)

Pisa to Florence – 86km (1hr 15mins)

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