Driving In Italy

(courtesy of IC Bellagio)

Driving in Italy is one of the best ways to enjoy the many small towns and villages that scatter the hillsides, lakes and mountains of this beautiful country. To make the most out of your time driving in Italy please remember the below mentioned rules and regulations.

Road Orientation

Driving is on the right (like in the US.)opposite side of the road than Australia.

Seat belt usage

Seat belts are mandatory for both driver and passengers.

Documents needed for driving

You must have a current driving license, preferably with Photo Identification. A full license is required and the minimum driving age is 18 years. In addition to this an International Driving Permit is required (IDP). The IDP is a translation of your driver’s license (bring your actual license too). You can obtain IDP at the Automobile Association (AAA in the US) or (at the state owned Royal Automobile Club in your state in Australia e.g RACQ-Queensland, NRMA in NSW etc.)

Children in Cars

In Italy, any child between 20 – 40lbs / 9 – 18 kgs should be secured in a forward-facing child seat. Children under ten must not travel in front seats.

Mobile phones- Handphones –Cell Phones

It is strictly forbidden to talk on a hand-held cellular phone while driving. You may only use a Hands Free Phone. If stopped, heavy fines are sanctioned for talking on a cell phone while driving.

Speed limit

The speed limit in urban areas is 50 Km/h. In other areas the limit is 90 Km/h and on highways it is 130 Km/h.

Road Signs

The right of way belongs to main roads when marked with a priority sign (a yellow diamond on a white background). In all other cases, the right of way is given to traffic coming from the right.

If you have to exit your car at anytime-Luminous Reflecting Jacket

It is required to wear a luminous reflecting jacket/vest if you exit your car on any main road. The jacket should be provided in your rental car. Failure to wear the jacket/vest in the case of a break down or similar will result in a heavy fine.


  • Parking areas are denoted by a white P on a blue background.
  • Other areas with limited parking require you to display the time of arrival (you will see a

“Zona Disco” sign where you are normally allowed to park for one hour).

  • Blue lined parking spaces are pay parking slots. There are usually machines to insert

coins that issue a biglietto which can be displayed on the dashboard of the car.

  • Alternatively, there is parking with an attendant who issues a ticket with the time of

arrival and collects payment when you leave the car park.

  • Yellow spaces are for taxis only.
  • White lines parking slots are free of charge.

Driving on Highways

All highways have toll booths. Toll booth stations issue tickets when entering the highway and the toll is paid when leaving or changing the highway. Headlights must be turned on at all times of day when driving on highways.

Note when approaching the toll stations there are three toll booth options:

  • The yellow option is called TELEPASS (this should never be used it is only for

those equipped with the TELEPASS machine on their car; rental cars do not have


  • The white lanes are CASH lanes only and often have a very long wait. Exact

change is appreciated.

  • The blue lanes, payment with Visa, Mastercard or American Express, are notably

quicker than the cash lanes.

Limited Traffic Zones

ZTL (Zona a Traffico Limitato – Limited Traffic Zones) are found in many Italian cities and towns and indicate areas where you are prohibited to enter by car without a special permit.

Being aware of these sign will save you from receiving a call from the rental agency or a fine in the mail that can be anything from 80 Euro upwards.

How to Read the ZTL Sign

In this example of a ZTL sign, you will see that it is a restricted area between 7:30am and 7:30pm from Monday to Saturday. The crossed hammers on the sign indicate these restrictions do not apply on Sunday and holidays. If in doubt as to what the sign says, always err on the side of caution. The only exceptions to these limitations are when entering a parking garage or hotel, it is necessary for the Hotel to take down your number plate and call it in to the authorities to avoid a fine. We would suggest you check this detail with the concierge on your arrival. Keeping all garage receipts and hotel confirmations will also help should you need to challenge a fine.

Filling up the Car in Italy-Refuelling

Rental cars use either unleaded (called senza piombo or benzina verde – “green gas”) or diesel (called “gasolio”). To ask the attendant to fill up the tank you say “il pieno, per favore”. There are gas stations all over Italy, however many of them close one day a week and many close for several hours in the middle of the day. The general opening hours are 7am to 12:30pm and from 3:30pm to 7pm, and most stations are closed on Sundays. There are 24 hour stations along the highway . An open gas station will have a sign saying ‘Aperto’, while a closed station will say ‘Chiuso’

Self-Service Gas Stations

The self-service gas stations are found throughout Italy, they are usually open all day, even during the midday closing hours.

A word of warning, all fueling stations in the Milan Malpensa airport area are unattended so you will have to use this service. Fuel must be purchased throughmachines accepting cash in denominations of 5 or 20 euro notes (no receipt or change issued),or bank cards with 5 digit pin numbers. If your pin number isn’t 5 digits, the card won’t work.

Please also note that you do not get change from these machines.

Here is an example of the instructions for a standard self-service machine:


  • Put in bill to the right.
  • The device doesn’t give change.
  • Remove the fuel nozzle from the supply valve only after having selected the desired fuel


  • After removing the fuel nozzle wait at least three seconds before starting fuel delivery.
  • Do not put in additional bills before replacing the fuel nozzle in the supply valve.

Driving in Tunnels

Dimmed headlights, by law, should be used at all times.


A left side external mirror is mandatory.

Honking the Car Horn

Honking the car horn is prohibited in small towns, but mandatory on mountain roads to sound your approach or in situations where you ought to give warning of your arrival.

Minimum Age for driving

The minimum age for driving a car in Italy is 18.


If the Police, this includes the Carabinieri, Polizia Stradale, or Guardia di Finanza, herald you with a red circular sign saying ALT, you MUST stop IMMEDIATELY. Pull over, keep your seat belt fastened and show all your documents (licence, car rental info. and passport).