[Learn more Italy driving tips with our Driving in Italy ebook, which you can download for free at the bottom of this page.]
Italians have a reputation for being crazy drivers, and sure, you may see some crazy drivers (especially in cities). But I would argue that in general, Italians are some of the best drivers in the world. It’s a matter of understanding their driving habits. I learned one important habit the hard way! Below that, I’ve listed 10 Italy driving tips for anyone who wants to drive like an Italian.
Learning the hard way: My car accident with an Italian policeman
The Carabiniere had pulled up next to my white van in his brand-new Alfa Romeo. We were at a T-intersection, both turning left, and he had squeezed himself in on my right – which is perfectly normal in Italy. But since I was in the left lane, I had the right of way for the left turn. Then, my mistake: I hesitated, trying to decide whether my 20-foot-long Renault van had enough torque to propel itself into the approaching gap in traffic. I concluded it did, and released the clutch, but a second too late: the Carabiniere had already started to turn left in front of me. There was a scraping of metal, a slamming of brakes, and then I learned some new Italian swear words.
He was a little taken aback when I responded assertively, in Italian, that actually the accident was his fault since he was not actually allowed to make a left turn in front of me. I handed over my insurance information while he muttered under his breath about damn French women who can’t drive (my van had French plates, and I didn’t see the need to clarify that I was Canadian), and moved along, with no further consequences except one: I am no longer indecisive when driving in Italy.
And now, 10 Italy driving tips if you are planning to drive (or trying to decide whether to drive) in Italy.
Driving in Italy is not for everyone. In addition to driving habits, you also need to think about road signs (which are different), parking (in narrow spaces with different rules), traffic (avoid summer Saturdays if possible), and automatic fines such as those in Limited Traffic Zones. If you’ve read through these tips and are feeling stressed at the thought of driving, don’t rent a car. Italian trains are incredibly comfortable, pretty clean, run frequently, and are relatively inexpensive, making them an extremely efficient transportation solution.
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