As the birthplace of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Fiat 500, Italy is in many ways an excellent place to drive. Whether you hire a sports car or a minivan to fit the whole family, the views as you curve along the cliff-top roads of the Amalfi coast, or from hilltop town to town through Tuscany, are breathtaking.
If you are planning to rent a villa in Italy, you will definitely need a car. Most of our villas in the Tuscany Now & More collection benefit from private locations — but that means that you’ll need wheels for outings. If it feels less stressful, you can arrange to have a car rental delivered to your villa, as well as picked up. We can also arrange a separate airport transfer — just ask our concierge to help organise all of this.
From GPS to speed limits, here are all the rules you’ll need to keep in mind when hiring and driving a car in Italy.
Guide to driving in Italy
The basic rules when driving in Italy
Italians drive on the right-hand side.
It is illegal to make a right-hand turn when the traffic light is red.
Often in historic city centres, cars without a permit are not allowed. Keep an eye out for ZTL (see below) or CCTV.
Right of way: give right of way to those coming from the right.
When driving on Friday and Sunday evenings on motorways around cities, just like at home, you’re bound to run into some traffic. Urbanites return from the beach or countryside, so best avoid driving between 5pm and 11pm if possible!
Parking rules in Italy
It is important to note the different coloured spaces when parking in Italy:
- Yellow lines are for disabled parking; once again you must display the appropriate pass.
- White lines mean the parking space is for residents. If your car is parked in a white parking space and you fail to show a resident pass, you will receive a fine.
- Blue is paid street parking. You are required to pay Monday to Saturday 08:00–20:00. Prices vary. Once you have your ticket, leave it on the dashboard.
- If you intend to park your car overnight, check local signs which indicate when street cleaning is done. Cars left in a street where cleaning is scheduled are towed away.
If you’re planning a visit to Florence, make sure you read our short guide on Parking in Florence — this includes tips for parking in garages, parking lots and along the street.
Driving speed limits in Italy
More than 6,500 kilometres make up Italy’s national system of motorways. Each level has a different speed limit:
Superstrade, also known as a Type B motorway, or strada extraurbana principale, are dual carriageways (divided expressways with at least two lanes in each direction), with a paved shoulder and no intersections. The speed limit is 90 km/h (56 mph).
Autostrade, are Type A motorways with a maximum speed limit of 130km/h, and link major cities. The A1, for example, goes from Milan to Rome to Naples.
Urban roads have a maximum speed limit of 50 km/h.
Strade Bianche, also known as the “white roads”, is the unpaved back roads that criss-cross the countryside through vineyards and olive groves. The name comes from the colour of the earth and small stones of these roads during the dry summer. These are ideal cycling and walking paths.
Tips for hiring a rental car in Italy
Make sure insurance is included in your car rental.
The majority of cars available in Italy will be manual, not automatic. Remember to specify when you reserve a car that you would like automatic if that is what you prefer.
It is useful to rent a GPS with the car, so you can easily find places via postcode.
The minimum driving age in Italy is 18, but anyone hiring a car must have had their license for at least a year. Any driver under the age of 25 will have to pay a young driver's surcharge. Insurance companies usually set a maximum age for car hire, and the cutoff can be as young as 70, so do check.
Organise your car hire in advance, particularly if you are travelling in high season.
Four-wheel-drive guarantees extra security and comfort — our concierge team can help you choose the right size and type of car rental for your villa.
Key vocabulary when driving in Italy
Dritto: straight ahead
Benzina: this is petrol (UK) or gas (US), not to be confused with diesel at the pump
Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL): restricted drive zone reserved for cars with permission
Zona Pedonale - Pedestrian streets or streets reserved for pedestrians.
Emergency contacts in Italy
Fire Department: 115