Italy is a beautiful country with amazing culture, delicious food, and some of the world’s most picturesque scenery. Discovering it by car can mean you are completely independent or become an expensive hassle. We’ve discovered that tourists are frequently hesitant or anxious to get behind the wheel in Italy, and we completely understand why. Some rules aren’t immediately familiar, and the signage can be confusing or misleading. The stereotype of an Italian motorist is that they are insane drivers, and sure, you’ll find some of those. However, we believe that Italians are among the world’s finest drivers. It all comes down to getting used to their driving styles.

In this article, we’ll talk about how you can drive with confidence  and how to avoid tricky situations on Italian roads

13 Tips for Driving in Italy

Nr. 1 – Be decisive

Be decisive and drive with confidence. We’re not suggesting that you drive blindly into traffic without first ensuring it’s safe. Just be aware that Italian drivers see hesitation as a signal that you aren’t planning to go. As a result of this, they’ll circle around you to make it that much more difficult to merge into traffic.

Nr 2 – You watch your front, let everyone else watch your back

“You watch your front, let everyone else watch your back” is a well-known Italian saying and one they take seriously. Consequences of this are modest shoulder-checking and energic driving to get into gaps in traffic. Whereas a turn signal means most places “I want to go”, in Italy it signals “Here I go”. When a vehicle in front of you indicates that it is changing lanes, this does not imply they are asking you to yield; it means that you’d better make space. When you signal that you’re switching lanes, you should do so as quickly as possible. Hesitations imply to the Italian drivers that you aren’t going. Of course, please do not take this to extremes, a certain caution is always appropriate. After all, it’s about your own safety. 

Nr 3 – Watch out for the scooters

Keep your eyes open for scooters at all times: Some drivers see them and attempt to squeeze between their cars, they weave in and out of traffic, come within a few feet of your car, and at times it appears like they materialize from nowhere and zigzag through the lanes. They may pass you on the right or left while traveling between lanes, so be extra cautious before turning into a street or changing lanes.

Nr 4 – Stop signs mean you have no right of way

In contrast to other countries, in Italy, stop signs don’t mean that you have to stop completely. It just means that you should be careful and that you need to make sure there is no one coming before proceeding. Slow down enough to ensure that it is safe to go, then go. The same doesn’t apply to Red traffic lights. The red light of cours means you must stop and wait until it turns green.

Tip 5 – Use public transportation in cities

Large cities are extremely congested, and finding a parking spot is tough. In many Italian cities, the locals may leave their cars almost anywhere on the pavement no less. But do not follow their example. Fines are harsh and the tickets will find you also abroad. When driving through Italy, we recommend staying away from the center of the major cities. The ideal location to park in order to see the city is in a safe area outside of the most crowded areas. Then take public transportation instead.

Tip 6 – Use a compact car

Many streets and roads in Italy are notoriously narrow. When passing another automobile, be cautious since there are frequently only a few inches between the two vehicles. If you don’t need a huge automobile, consider a compact car that is easier to maneuver and park.

Tip 7 – Horns can be a useful means of communication

It might be hard to believe, but when you hit the horn in this car, it does not make a sound.  signal for people around corners or blind bends. You can practice with the light tapping of the horn when you are driving.

Practice the light tapping of the horn when you are driving. Because in addition to the lean-on-the-horn furious beeping you may be more accustomed to, a short beep signals to the others that you are coming around corners or blind bends. So if an Italian driver uses the horn you don’t have to assume he is angry.

Tip 8 – Use the mirror on winding roads

If there’s a mirror on the road, take advantage of it. On winding streets with little visibility mirrors can be found in strategic places to assist you to see around corners. They exist for a reason, so develop the habit of seeking for them.

Tip 9 – Carry an international drivers license with you

If you are visiting Italy for a short time, make sure that your international driver’s license is valid throughout the whole trip to avoid problems on Italian roads. Otherwise, get ready to pay some hefty fines. When you pick up your rental car, some companies will not request it, while others will not allow you to get in your vehicle without an international driving permit.

Tip 10 – Fill up gas „per self“ to save some money

In Italy, diesel is prevalent, especially in the rental market. When filling up your car, be cautious not to make a mistake. In Italy, gasoline costs approximately 1.60 euros per liter, and diesel is around 1.45 euros per liter on average! You have two alternatives when it comes to filling up with gasoline: „servizio“ (the attendant fills up for you) or „per self“ (by yourself). You’ll pay a few cents more per liter if you hire the pump attendant’s service.

Tip 11 – Plan enough time

It’s possible that the distances between locations aren’t far, but getting there might take a long time. There are many windy roads in Italy, and they may be in desperate need of repair. Sometimes it can take a long time to travel 10 kilometers. Unless you’re a rally car driver, it might take up to 40 minutes to get there because of the traffic.

Tip 12 – Don’t drink and drive

The legal limit for alcohol in Italy is 0.05 percent, but this should go without saying: do not drink and drive. Make arrangements for a taxi or a designated driver if you want to go out to dinner and drink some wine, or if you’re going wine tasting.

Tip 13 – GPS is your friend

In Italy, road signs might be overwhelming, therefor a good GPS is your greatest ally. Don’t trust it blindly, though!