Italy has an excellent network of roads and highways that is one of the most extensive in Europe, comprising nearly 4000mi/6400km of express highways and 180,000mi/288,000km of secondary roads. The country’s famous super highways or ‘autostrade’ (‘autostrada’ is the singular form) run the length and breadth of the peninsula. These toll roads are supported by an excellent network of secondary roads, classified into different categories of national highways (‘strade statali’), provincial roads (‘strade provinciali’) and municipal roads (‘strade communali’). Due to the success of companies like Fiat, Italians have a high level of car ownership. This can create congestion in some of the northern areas and in cities. But in southern parts of the country the roads are less crowded.
To rent a car, you must be at least 18 years old (age may vary by car category) and have held your license for 1 year. Drivers under the age of 25 may incur a young driver surcharge. Seatbelts are mandatory and children under 12 must wear an age-appropriate restraint. The blood-alcohol limit for driving is .08.
All travelers from the United States are required to purchase an International Driving Permit (IDP) from AAA or AATA in order to drive a vehicle anywhere in Italy. International Driving Permits currently cost travelers $20 USD and can be acquired online if you do not live near a local AAA or AATA office. An IDP is a translated version of your US license and required in many European countries. If you are booking a rental car in Italy, be sure you possess an IDP or you run the risk of being turned away at the rental counter without a vehicle.
Speed limits in Italy are as follows: City 30mph/50kph Open Roads 66mph/110kph Highways 81mph/130kph
RULES OF THE ROAD
Traffic travels on the right and the center lane of a three lane road is for passing. If you are stopped for a traffic violation, police are empowered to collect fines on the spot.
Gas stations are open from 7am to 12:30pm and from 3:30pm to 7pm. Most stations are closed on Sundays. There are 24 hour stations along the highway. Unleaded gas is approximately $4.00 USD per gallon.
The ‘autostrade’ is Italy’s toll super highway and toll cards can be purchased at banks or at Automoblie Club d’Italia (ACI) offices.
Street parking is confined to the right side of the street. In blue zones, a parking disk, obtained at tourist offices, ACI offices or gas stations must be displayed on the dashboard. Parking in this zone is limited to one hour. There is also metered street parking. In these areas, you will see a large sign with the letter “P.” Look for a coin box where you will deposit enough coins to pay for the length of time you wish to stay. The machine will dispense a ticket showing the time of day that you must vacate the parking space. Display this ticket on the dashboard of the car.