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How to Drive in Italy: How to Drive Like a Local Safely

18th July, 2022, in Travel Advice & Guides

Italy is a country full of so many wonderful things. Visitors flock to the peninsula to enjoy the food, the culture, the fashion and stunning towns and cities.

To really enjoy Italy, a hire car is the best way to get around. You can find yourself off the beaten track and end up discovering picturesque villages, quaint restaurants and idyllic hotels. You can also find yourself cruising the motorway and crossing city to city with ease, factoring in additional stop-off points as you come across them.

Before you get the motor running, though, it would be wise to make sure you are fully up to speed with the requirements for driving in Italy.

Select your hire car from our comprehensive Italy directory, then read on to find out everything about hitting the road in Italy.

What documents will I need to drive in Italy?

A full photocard valid UK drivers licence allows you to drive in Italy, but you will also need further documentation to ensure you don’t fall foul of any law. Have your passport on you as well as proof or ownership and proof of insurance. When using a rental car, ensure you have all relevant documents required for the hire of your car. In addition, you will need a motor insurance green card – these simply prove that you have the minimum level of insurance to drive in Italy or other EU nations. These come free from your insurance provider. To ensure your motor insurance green card arrives on time, the general rule is to apply for one at least 6 weeks before you plan to travel.

If you do not currently hold a photocard drivers’ licence and instead own a paper equivalent, you may need an International Drivers Permit (IDP). For full details of how IDPs work, you can read our IDP guide. If you are renting a car, there is a chance that you will need an IDP in addition to your driver’s licence. Your chosen car hire company will be able to advise you on this.

Do I need specific safety equipment to drive in Italy?

Italian driving law states that you must carry warning triangles in your car, along with reflective jackets. You will also need to display a UK sticker and not a GB one. Since late 2021, the rules regarding these have changed. With a hire car, you will not need to worry about this.

Drivers must also ensure daytime lights or side lights are on at all times.

Road rules in Italy

We have all seen the scenes where roads are packed with irate, fast. As long as you abide by the rules, you will not have to worry too much.

Overtaking rules in Italy

In Italy you cannot overtake when approaching level crossings, at bends, on the brow of a hill, at intersections or when your visibility is compromised. If a vehicle ahead of you has slowed to allow people to cross, it is also forbidden for you to overtake that vehicle.

Who has priority on the road in Italy?

The general rule is that vehicles coming from the right have priority. Pedestrians will always have priority when on crossings, as will cyclists near cycle paths. If you have visited a mountain area, and the road is very narrow, the ascending vehicle has priority.

Emergency vehicles always have priority over other road users, as do any railed vehicles such as trams.

Using the horn

Rules surrounding you using your horn are quite simple and must be followed. Do not use it in urban areas unless there is an emergency. Rather than sounding the horn as a warning signal, you are allowed to flash your lights.

If you head into the countryside, the use of a horn is compulsory should the need arise. If you are carrying an injured person or someone that is seriously ill, a horn must be used regardless of the normal restrictions.

Look out for the ZTL zones

A ZTL is an area that is exclusively used by residents only. You will see them signposted, and if you enter one, you could find yourself facing a heavy fine. Park away from them if you plan to head to an area that is ZTL only.

Do I have to wear a seat belt in Italy?

Failure to wear a seatbelt could see you incurring a large fine. Current levels of fines range from €80 to just over €300. It is compulsory to wear seatbelts in front and rear seats of all vehicles that have them.

What are the speed limits in Italy?

In Italy, all speed limits are displayed in km/h, so it is important to recognize the difference to what you see in the UK. Current Italian speed limits are:

  • 50-70 km/h in built up areas
  • 90-110 km/h outside built up areas
  • 130 km/h on motorways

On occasion, you will find motorways with 6 lanes (3 in each direction) permitting speeds of 150 km/h.

If you don’t stick to these limits, you could be issued with a fine as high as €4000.

What are the parking rules in Italy?

When driving in Italy, you will not be able to park on or near a bend, intersection or brow of a hill. Vehicles must be parked on the right side of the road, unless on a one-way street where both sides can be used. You must make sure there is at least 3 meters of space.

If you choose to visit Rome, you cannot park in the historic centre between 7am-8pm Monday-Friday.

If you see blue road signs, it simply means parking is restricted and will need to be paid for. If you don’t comply with parking regulations, you could find yourself clamped.

Driving in Italy can be exciting. As long as you follow the road rules, you won’t have any problem enjoying the experience. Add one of our car hire excess insurance Europe plans to keep you fully covered from any surprise costs. We can give you a free quote today and if you have any questions, you can get in touch any time

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