Driving in Italy and What I Learned

March 2, 2016,

Driving in Italy and What I Learned

Late fall driving
In November and December you are required by law to have chains in your vehicle. When you pick up your car don’t get side-tracked, convinced, or bullied 😉 into NOT getting them. I rented a car with winter ‘tyres’. I was told my car would have them but when I went to pick up the car they didn’t. I asked for chains and they wanted to charge me (5 Euros a day) but I stood my ground. I didn’t want to take the chance of driving in hilly areas without them. Here, in Quebec, winter tires are required by law. Maybe I am paranoid…but hey, it made me feel safer. I never had to use them but I had them.

Driving in Italy and What I Learned // guest contributor Steve V on happiestwhenexploring . com #ItalianWeekDriving out of the center of Rome to your destination
I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to and through the South of Italy. But first you have to get out of Rome! It takes about 40-60 minutes to drive out of Rome to the Grande Raccordo Anulare where you then take the exit to go onto the highway to where you’re headed. Cars and motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic…WOW! Checking your side-mirrors, your rear-view mirror, being overtaken by the right, the left…and scooters and motorcycles have the right to the front of the queue at the lights. Be prepared!

Ocean View from Castellabate / Driving in Italy and What I Learned // guest contributor Steve V on happiestwhenexploring . com #ItalianWeekNow I’m on the highway
You’ve made it to the highway. I couldn’t get over the speed at which drivers pull up behind you out of nowhere. And when I say behind you I mean up your rear! But it didn’t take me long to get the hang of it 😉 The scenery is breathtaking so whenever you can, and when it’s safe, stop somewhere to eat, rest and take in the view. The getting there is part of it all.

Driving in Italy and What I Learned // guest contributor Steve V on happiestwhenexploring . com #ItalianWeekWhat I Learned
Yes, I would do it all again! I had a great travel partner and navigator (thank you Erica for your patience!) and oh, yes…a GPS, a non-negotiable. Being able to travel through remote villages, stopping on a country road to chat with a local (we stopped when we saw people picking olives and the owner was kind enough to let us take photos and spoke proudly of his land), and getting to see southern Italy from Rome through Campania, Basilicata to Puglia in November…it was unforgettable.

Some Important Points

  • A good website is Europcar for details and laws for driving throughout Europe.
  • Find out if your destination requires an international driver’s permit
  • Expect that you might NOT get the car you reserved. But stand your ground and ask to see what else they have and be choosy. Consider your needs. Remember that streets and roads are small, tight, and windy.
  • Inspect your car beforehand checking for scrapes and bumps, etc. (taking a few photos is not a bad idea)
  • When driving in late autumn or in winter make sure your car has winter tires or chains (in the vehicle) since they are required by law.
  • Make sure you return the car with a full tank.  You will be charged if you don’t. It can cost about 30 Euros for not filling up a tank, plus gas. So make a last pit stop at the last station just before getting to the airport.
  • Parking was very easy in November and early December. There weren’t many tourists and you can park almost anywhere and everywhere. In smaller cities it was easier to navigate the ZTL (restricted traffic areas).Driving in Italy and What I Learned // guest contributor Steve V on happiestwhenexploring . com #ItalianWeek


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  • Reply Ilena C. March 3, 2016 at 2:42 am

    Great tips and yes, driving in Italy for us ordered and obedient North Americans is YIKES!!!

    • Reply Happiest When Exploring March 9, 2016 at 11:02 pm

      Hehehe exactly… culture shock while driving! Today I got honked at (in MTL) and was taken aback. In Italy, it’s expected (especially as a “slow” Canadian driver haha) so you just learn to accept it.

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