So, you’re thinking about touring Italy by car? That’s a fantastic choice! Italy’s landscapes are breathtaking, and there’s nothing like the freedom of exploring those hills and ancient cities at your pace. Of course, the thought of tackling different driving rules can be unnerving. But this guide will walk you through it.

Car Rental

The beauty and convenience of car rental are the utmost freedom. The primary concern here is simply selecting the right vehicle. Compact cars are king in Italy due to narrow roads and tight parking spaces. Rent a sports car in Milan that will be easy to handle and park.

Remember that most of the country’s rental cars are manual (stick shift). You may need help with public transportation. 

However, in that case, you could hire an automatic vehicle in advance. They are usually more expensive and less readily available.

Plus, you must take into account the pickup and drop facility of your car in a city, and that too outside of railway stations or the airport. 

Also, be mindful of “Zona Traffico Limitato” (ZTL) areas. These are the traffic zones with the most restrictions. Moreover, be acquainted with these norms well beforehand. 


As with any trip, before you set off, you should have all the necessary documents. These would usually include your driving license and insurance, which are musts for driving in Italy.

  • Driver’s License

Your U.S. driver’s license is valid in Italy for up to one year. However, it’s highly recommended (and sometimes required by car rental companies) to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP). This document translates your license into multiple languages and is simple to obtain through your local automobile association.

  • Proof of Insurance

Carry proof of insurance provided by your rental company. You’ll also need to have the car registration documents on hand. These should also be provided by the rental agency.

Driving In Italy Rules

Driving In Italy Rules

And, of course, you should familiarize yourself with key Italian road rules. Let’s review some of the most important ones.

  • Speed Limits

Speed limits in Italy are generally 50 km an hour in urban areas, 90 km an hour on secondary rural roads, and 130 km/h on highways (autostrade). Be vigilant for speed cameras and variable speed limits based on weather conditions while driving in Italy.

  • Right of Way

At intersections without signals or signage, vehicles coming from the right have the right of way. This rule can be especially tricky on the roundabouts.

  • Parking

White lines indicate free parking, the blue lines include paid parking, finally, the yellow lines are reserved for special use. Always check for signs indicating times and payment methods to avoid fines.


When it comes to insurance, there’s quite a lot to consider, while driving in Italy. Here’s the minimum:

  • Collision Damage Waiver (CDW): While this insurance does not cover everything (like tires and windows), it limits your financial liability for damage to the vehicle.
  • Theft Protection (T.P.): This reduces your liability if the rental car is stolen.
  • Excess Fee: Be aware of the excess fee (deductible) in your rental agreement. You can opt for excess insurance to reduce or eliminate this cost.

Other Details

Here are a few more tips to enhance your driving in Italy.

  • Fuel Stations

Many fuel stations close for a mid-afternoon break and on Sundays. Also, remember that “self-service” means you pump the gas, and “servito” means an attendant will help you.

  • Tolls

Italian highways (autostrade) are toll roads. You can pay tolls with cash or credit cards. Keeping cash on hand is useful in case of card issues at the booth.

  • Emergency Numbers

Keep a note of emergency numbers. 112 is the general emergency number, and 116 is for roadside assistance.

Driving in Italy vs. Driving in the USA

Driving in Italy vs. Driving in the USA

So, is the contrast between driving in the USA and Italy huge? It’s not that huge, but driving styles, rules, and road etiquette are really quite different. Here’s a final summary of what you need to know.

Road Layout and Design

In Italy, roads are generally narrower, especially in historical city centers and rural areas. 

You won’t find the expansive multi-lane highways as commonly as in the U.S., except for the autostrada, which is Italy’s version of freeways.

Besides, Italy uses international road signs, which can be different from the U.S. signs. Speed limits, distances, and road signs are in kilometers, not miles.

Driving Behavior

Italian drivers are notorious for their assertive and sometimes aggressive, especially in cities like Rome or Naples. 

This contrasts with the more regulated and orderly driving behavior which is in practice in the U.S.

You’ll also notice that Italians use their car horns more frequently and emphatically than drivers in the U.S. A quick beep indicated, “I’m here” or “I’m going,” rather than as a sign of irritation.

While your U.S. driver’s license is valid in Italy, having an International Driving Permit is recommended. It will do if you are looking to driving in Italy.  The car rental agencies usually asks about it . Auto insurance is likewise compulsory in Italy.


Many Italian cities have ZTLs where access is restricted to non-residential vehicles at certain times. 

These zones are not always clearly marked like the designated parking zones in the U.S., and free public parking is much less common in Italy than in many parts of the U.S.

What are the advantages of Travelling by Car?

Traveling can be a great way for a tourist to explore a country. Yes, it is a preferred mode of transportation while visiting the nooks and corners of a country, especially if you are a tourist. 

Most countries in Europe have an expansive roadway system. Italy is no exception. This is why many tourists prefer driving in Italy, as one of the modes of accessibility and other key advantages. However, there are the rough ends too, but the advantages far exceed the disadvantages. 

According to a study, over 35 million cars finds its presence on roads in the U.K. But why do people prefer using a car instead of public transport like trains, buses, and others?

 Yes, you got it right; we discussed some advantages you could reap if you travel by car. 

Avoiding Reliance On The Public Transport

You must carry out extensive planning as you travel to different destinations in Italy by public transportation. This is an important step to driving in Italy. 

However, you will have to book your place and travel according to their schedule. 

Though rare in Italy, long train journeys are not free from disruptions. Rough and unfamiliar weather conditions could disrupt train services. 

The same goes for buses. But using a car, you can easily hop around from one place to another. 

Traveling Via Car Is The Most Convenient And Flexible 

The most obvious benefit of traveling by car in Italy is flexibility. Moreover, being your own boss on the highway (being your own driver) can provide you with the right flexibility. 

You can start your journey at your convenient time. Failing to do so can disrupt your entire day or, most possibly, the whole traveling schedule.  

It is simple To Move Your Luggage   

One of the concerns linked to traveling in Italy or any other destination via public transport is managing your own luggage. 

However, there is specialized space allocated for keeping the luggage. But it involves spending time putting them and taking them back. 

Additionally carrying them from one destination to that of the other involves its flexibility. But with your rented cars, keep your luggage in their dedicated space and remain worry-free. However, the only matter of consideration is the space. Ensure that you hire a car that has adequate space. 

You Can See More Places

Opposed to the plane, you can see Italy’s diverse landscape if you travel by car. Italy is a beautiful country with all its riches. 

Moreover,one can enjoy both nature’s bounty and man-made marvels. You can easily visit the most popular tourist destinations with a car and see Italy’s uncommon and unexplored beauty and riches.  


We human beings, irrespective of geographic barriers, have the tendency to interact and widen new friend circles. 

Driving a car in every corner of Italy and any other place provides the best opportunity to roam about the country, interact with people, and establish stronger bonds. 

Hence if you keep note of the five points discussed above, you travel Italy with much more convenience.

You May Also Like..

Mony Shah

With an adept skill of curating content on multiple genres, Mony has harnessed success as a Content Writer quickly. Find her sharing her profound thoughts and opinions on travel, lifestyle, and beauty, among other genres.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *