Driving in Italy if you respect some simple rules, it should not be a nightmare. I must say that Italians are very good drivers but sometimes inclined to not respect always the traffic rules. This usually refers to the driving speed that Italians rarely respect.
The basic rule when you drive in big cities like Rome, Milan, Turin, Florence or Naples, is 50 km speed limit in all city urban areas. Don’t be surprised if you hear the horn sound if you have not started at the very moment the traffic light turns green after red one.
Just ignore them.
If you intend to visit Italy by car, you must be over 18 years old to have a valid driving license. Be aware of rules to drive on right line and overtake on the left.
It’s a good practice to keep lights on always in the city (during the daylight), regardless of the traffic low that obligates you to keep headlights turned on only on two-lane motorways.
Very often I hear the question: Is a US driver’s license valid in Italy? The answer is No. For driving in Italy you must ask an international Driving Permit before leaving the U.S.Contact the motor vehicle department to get one.
Useful tips regarding diving in Italy, rules, license and car renting:
- Tourists may also use their valid American driver’s license if accompanied by an official translation in Italian.
- Don’t be surprised that majority of cars in Italy are stick-shift (manual). When renting a car, automatics are less available , and usually cost more.Book it in advance to be sure to get one.
- Right turns during red lights are always illegal in Italy.
- On the road in Italy, signs don’t indicate north, south, east or west ,
only a city sign.
- All Italian roads have speed limits per hour, indicated by a white and red circle with the number (in kilometers, not miles)
Driving In Italy – Milan City
The same goes for Milan, except that Milan city has some restricted areas (famous Area C) with very rigorous urban access regulation. While driving in Italy you will find other cities like Rome, Florence, Turin and others with same restrictions.
The historical center of Milan is restricted by the (Area C) from Monday to Friday where all vehicle must activate an entrance ticket of 5 euro. Fortunately, Area C is not active on Saturday and Sunday. Area C is practically bounded by so-called – ‘Cerchia dei Bastioni‘ (Circle of Bastions) with 47 entrance points, all monitored by traffic cameras.
On the map below you can see this bounded area marked with red circle which cover old city center.
To enter in “Area ” you must purchase and activate an entrance ticket. The ticket worth 5 euro can be purchased at the parking meters, newsagents, tobacconists, ATM points (Milan Transport Company), at the ATMs of Intesa Sanpaolo Bank, or online on this website.
The ticket must be activated no later than midnight of the next day access, calling the call center at
the number + 39.02.48684001. To activate entrance permission you can also send SMS message to 339.994.0437 (all day) with the text ‘PIN.plate‘.
Driving in Italy, using hybrid , as well as natural gas and bi-fuel vehicles are exempted from payment to enter in Milan C Area. During the activation time, the access in “Area ” is forbidden to ‘Euro 0’ petrol vehicles and to ‘Euro 0, 1, 2, 3’ diesel vehicles with a length of more than 7.5 meters.
I hope this short guide about driving in Italy and Milan city will be of great help but honestly I would discourage you using a car around Milan city center. The main reason is a difficulty to find a parking place in Milan.
On this page you can find more about parking in Milan and answers on some questions like:
- How to find a parking space near the Duomo in Milan?
- What the parking blue lines stand for?
- Do you need parking near Milan Central train station?
- How to find parking place in Milan Center – safe and secured?