What to Show/Take it Slow

Getting off the beaten path to reach charming villages and visit vineyards generally requires a rental car. You can take advantage of Summer in Italy’s affiliation with AutoEurope to find a quality, economical car to suit your needs. But… then what?

Italy’s driving culture differs a bit from other places; some may call it chaotic. Rest easy, in our series Rules of the Road, we’ll help familiarize you with some of the basic ins and outs of driving in Italy.

Lesson One – What to Show

First thing you’ll need is an International Driving Permit (IDP), which is a translation of your official drivers’ license, and is required by Italian law. It is not a substitute of your valid license, which you’ll still need to carry.

Even though most rental agencies will not request it when you pick up your car, a police officer stopping you along the road will want to see it. Random stops without cause can be performed; if an officer holds up a plastic wand with a red dot in the middle, you will need to pull over and produce the proper documents, such as rental contract, car registration, your regular license and the IDP. The officer may want to see your passport, too.

IDPs can be obtained from the Automobile Association in your home country, or from the ACI (Automobile Club Italiano) in Italy.

Lesson Two – Take it Slow

Despite the publicity that Italians drive like Mario Andretti, there actually are speed limits and they are occasionally enforced. Increasingly, speed controls are being monitored by automated video cameras which track your speed - and then track you down through the snapshot of your license plate, sending you a costly multa (ticket) in the mail a few months after your vacation has ended.

Beware of the signs that say "Tutor", "Vergilius" or "Autovelox". They indicate highway tracts where speed is monitored. The Tutor system will measure how long you take to drive between two points along the highway. The distance between the two points is then divided by your driving time to obtain your average speed. If your average speed surpasses the speed limit... guess what? Multa! The Autovelox is a traditional speed fixed speed radar reader, or a mobile speed reader that is place temporarily on a roadway. The Vergilius is the next-gen speed detection, combining both Tutor and Autovelox in one crafty, techy unit!

Better to stick close to the posted speed limits, despite that Mercedes riding your rear. Signs usually indicate when you are about to encounter a monitored zone.

Official speed limits:

  • 50 kilometers/hour in town or as posted
  • 90 kilometers/hour outside town on most two-lane roads
  • 110 kilometers/hour on divided highways
  • 130 kilometers/hour on the Autostrada

Staying close to the speed limits not only help you avoid the fines, it allows you to enjoy the view of the countryside out your window, as well.

Reading the Lines
In our continuing Rules of the Road series, we’re familiarizing your with the basics of driving in Italy.
Life in the Fast Lane
Italy is criss-crossed with a high-speed road network called the autostrada.
Fill It Up
In our continuing series, Rules of the Road, we're giving you the lowdown on gassing up.
Take a Breather
One of the great things about driving on the Autostrada, apart from being able to unleash the inner Indy racer in you, is the pit stops.
Child Car Seats
According to the Italian law about passenger safety, any time you seat in a vehicle fitted with seat belts it is compulsory to wear them.

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