I have a 50-50 split of clients who would never drive in Italy under any type of torture and clients who can’t wait to try the thrill of contending on the road with the “crazy” Italians. It is definitely true, my fellow citizens tend to be quite “creative” when driving (of course not me!), but driving in Italy is not as scary as it may sound.
If you are on the “let’s drive there” side, here are the answers to the most common questions on driving I get from my clients:
No North or South (or East/West) indications in Italy – road signs indicate the next big town in a specific direction (i.e. in Rome the Northbound highway will say “Florence”).
Also, distances are shown in kilometers, not miles (1 mile= 1.5 kilometers). Speed limits are usually 130Km/h on highways; 110 km/h on major roads and 50km/h in towns. There will be road signs indicating the specific speed limit on each road or portion thereof.
Current gas price national average is 1.80 Euros per lt (1 gallon is 3.75 liters, so it’s 6.75 Euros per gallon or $8.44 per gallon) and diesel is at 1.69 Euros per lt (6.34 Euros per gallon or $7.92 per gallon).
Most likely your rental cars will be diesel engines. Ask at pick up to make sure you put the right type of gas in when you refuel.
Prices are set nationally with very little variations gas station to gas station. Gas is normally slightly cheaper on highways. 100% of stations on toll roads or non-toll highways will accept credit cards. 95% of stations everywhere will accept credit cards.
Fines – Speeding:
The “Tutor” system: only on toll highways (especially in Northern Italy). A picture of your car’s plate with a date and time stamp will be taken both at your entrance booth and at your exit booth. The two time stamps (entry time and exit time) will be used to calculate your average speed in that portion of the road. Any average speed higher than +5 km than the speed limit may result in a fine. The amount of the fine is proportionate to the spread between speed limit and average speed.
The “Autovelox” system: Traffic cameras are located alongside roads of any kind (highways, toll roads, smaller local roads) and will take a picture of your vehicle number plate with a speed stamp. Any speed higher than + 5 km than the speed limit may result in a fine. The amount of the fine is proportionate to the spread between speed limit and average speed.
Under your rental contract you are responsible to pay the fines you incurred in as well as any expenses the rental company will incur in to process the fine (i.e. mailing it to you in the US).
Maintain the speed limit so you don’t have to pay a fine!