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Getting Around in Italy

Autostrade Motorway
Click for larger image

• By Road


U.S. Citizens require an international driving license, available from the American Automobile Association (www.aaa.com ) for a $10.00 charge. For the vehicle, it is necessary to have the car's registration papers, and a nationality plate of the approved size.

Driver’s Insurance

Insurance coverage is A MUST, and an International Insurance Certificate (Green Card) is the most effective proof of insurance coverage and is recognized by police and other authorities (Members of AAA should pick up the free brochure Offices to Serve You Abroad.)

The Italian Automobile Club (ACI) has its head office in Rome, #8 Via Marsala 00185 (06 4998). A 24-hour car breakdown service (chargeable) is operated by the ACI for foreign motorists. Dial 116 for assistance in case of breakdown. The ACI also offers a telephone information service in English for road and weather conditions as well as for tourist events (06 4477).

Major Highway Laws

• The minimum driving age is 18.
• Traffic drives on the right. It is required for the driver and the front seat passengers to wear seat belts, and seat belts must be worn in the back.
• Children under 12 must travel in the back seats, unless the front seat is fitted with a child restraint system.
• Full or dipped headlights must be turned on in poor visibility.
• In the event of a breakdown, a red warning triangle must be placed in the road; these can be found at the ACI (deposit refunded) or at any reputable car rental company.
• Drivers should be alert for unfamiliar road signs and be careful at all times.
• At crossroads drivers to the right have the right-of-way.
• Severe penalties are assessed for drunk-driving.

Speed Limits

• In urban/populated areas the understood speed limit is 50kph/31mph unless otherwise posted.
• On country roads, 90kph/55mph
• On highways 90kph/55mph for vehicles up to 1000cc and 130kph/80mph for vehicles over 1100cc


There are many lots with attendants, particularly near the tourist areas. Obviously, you should check the rates before parking to avoid any unpleasant surprises as you leave. It is also advisable to use the lots, particularly in the main cities of Rome, Milan, Turin, Florence and Naples, rather than leave cars unattended.

In many large towns, the historic centers are subject to traffic restrictions, indicated by large rectangular signs "Zona a traffico limitato riservata ai veicoli autorizzati." In this case, park your car outside the town before sightseeing on foot.

Gas Stations - Stazione Benzine

• Gasolio = diesel
• Super = Super leaded or 98 octane
• Senza Piombo = Premium unleaded 95 octane
• Super plus = Super unleaded 98 octane
• Gas stations are usually open between 7am to 7pm. Many close at lunch time between 12:30 and 3:00. Sundays and holidays many refuse credit cards so check before purchasing.

Route Planning by Car

The Italian road system is excellent. There are many highways (autostrade), most of which are toll roads. The toll is calculated according to the distance between the car axles and the size of the engine. Highway tolls can be paid with cash or with the Viacard, a prepaid card with a value of 50,000L or 90,000L. The card can be purchased at a toll station before you get on the highway, at a rest stop (Autogrill restaurant) or the ACI.

For more information visit Autostrade S.p.A.

Road Signs

Road signs are very clearly marked. The name of the city or town is clearly marked (In Italy the actual name of the city is used on the exits signs and not a number as done in the U.S.). Highways (autostrade) and dual lane throughways (superstrade) are indicated by green signs; ordinary roads by blue signs; tourist sights by yellow.

Car Rental

Reputable car rental agencies can be found at airports, train stations and in large towns or resorts. The main agencies are Avis, Hertz, Eurodollar, Europcar and Maggiore Budget. Fly and drive packages or train and car packages are available. European cars are usually manual transmission, but automatic cars are available on demand. An international drivers license is required for U.S. citizens.

• By Rail

In Italy, the national train system, Ferrovia dello Stato, is very efficient and easy to use. However during the months of July, and especially August the trains and train stations can become very crowded and confusing. Purchase your tickets in advance and reserve a seat whenever possible (Seat reservations are an option when purchasing tickets, they require a surcharge).

Traveling by train is easy and inexpensive when planned right!

To Purchase tickets on-line in advance go to:  TrenItalia

Special train tickets can be bought once in Italy. The biglietto chilometrico (kilometer ticket) is valid for a distance of 3,000km/1,875mi or a maximum of 20 trips and allows travelers to save about 15% of the full price of a ticket. It is valid for up to two months from the date of the first use and can be bought up to one month in advance. A pass allows the purchase of a minimum of 4 tickets with a 10% discount on all trips between 71km/44mi and 350km/218mi and a 20% discount on all longer trips.

Other special discounts include the Carta verde for people under 26, and the Carta d’argento for people over 60, which give a 20 % discount on all train trips. The Pendolino, the high-speed train runs between Rome-Milan (4hr), Turin-Rome (5hr), Genoa-Rome (4hr), Rome-Venice (4hr) and Rome Bari (4hr 30min).

• By Air

The main Italian airlines are Alitalia, Airone, Meridiana, Avianova, Air Dolomiti, and TAS. They usually offer special weekend rates, discounts for groups and families and reduced pricing for children. For information contact a travel agent in Italvista’s travel agent network.

Main Italian Airports

Here is a list of main Italian Airports
to help you plan your itinerary

City Airport Distance Minutes to city bus/train

Ancona Falconara 13km/8mi 30 bus
Bari Palese 9km/6mi 30 bus
Bergamo Orli al Serio 3.5km/2mi 20 bus
Bologna Guglielmo Marconi 6km/4mi 20 bus
Bolzano Bolzano 4km/2.5mi 15 bus
Brindisi Papola Casale 6km/4mi 20 bus
Cagliari Elmas 6km/4mi 20 bus
Catana Fontarossa 4km/2.5mi 20 bus
Florence Amerigo Vespucci 4km/2.5mi 20 bus
Genoa Cristoforo Colombo 6km/4mi 30 bus
Milan Forlanini 8km/5mi 25 bus
  Malpensa 45km/28mi 1hr bus/
35min train "MalpensaExpress"
Naples Capodichino 6km/4mi 30 bus
Olbia Costa Smeralda 4km/5mi  
Palermo Punta Raisi 30km/19mi 1hr bus
Perugia Sant’Egidio 17km/10mi  
Reggio Calabria Ravagnese 4km/2.5mi  
Rome Leonardo da Vinci 26km/16mi 30 train
  Fiumicino 26km/16mi 30 train
Turin Caselle 15km/9mi 30 bus
Trieste Ronchi del Legionari 32km/20mi 40 bus
Venice Marco Polo 13km/8mi 20 bus
Verona Villafranca Veronese 14km/9mi 30 bus

• By Sea

Sicily and Sardinia

The two Italian islands are linked to the mainland by way of ferries and hydrofoils. In the summer months visitors are advised to book their plans well in advance if they are going by boat to one of the islands. The numerous beaches and resorts make these islands very popular during this time. If you are going to take your chances, tickets can be purchased at time of departure but don’t plan on it being a definite.

Crossings to Sicily

Cities Companies offering
ferry crossings
Phone Time
Cagliari Tirrenia Navigazione,
Agenzia Agenave
070666065 14hr 30min to Palermo
Genoa Grandi Navi Veloce 010589331 20hr to Palermo
Livorno Grandi Navi Veloci   17hr to Palermo
Naples Tirenia Navigazione at Sazione Marittima 0812514740 11hr to Palermo
Reggio Stazione Ferrovie dello Stato (train)   25min to Messina
Calabria Aliscafi SNAV (Hydrofoil) 096529568 15 min to Messina

Crossings to Sardinia
Civitavecchia Sardinia Ferries,
Calata Laurenti
0766500714 7hr to Golfo degli Aranci
  Tirrenia Navigazione at Stazione Marittima 076620332 7 hr to Cagliari
Fiumicino Tirrenia Navigazione 066523501 4hr to Golfo degli Aranci
Genoa Tirrenia Navigazione at Stazione Marittima Pontile Colombro 01026981 21hr to Cagliari,
13 hr to Olbia
  Grandi Navi Veloci 010589331 10hr to Porto Torres
La Spezia Tirrenia Navigazione 0187770250 6hr to Golfo degli Aranci
Livorno Sardinia Ferries   9hr to Golfo degli Aranci
Palermo Tirrenia Navigazione 091333300 14 hr to Cagliari

For more information visit Tirrenia

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