Driving In Italy

We are going to Italy in September and want to drive from Sorrento to Foggia. Can anyone tell me about the road conditions? We have driven in Scotland, Germany, France, and haven't had any problems, but we've never driven in Italy.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1978 posts

Italy's relatively easy to drive around in. The roads are not that heavily traveled outside the big cities @ $9.50 per gallon for gas. If you've been to other countries by car, it's no harder to get around; especially if you've driven in Scotland. You just want to make sure you're well insured, which is required by most rental companies.
I had good experience with AutoEurope.com.

Posted by Elaine
Matagorda, TX, USA
7 posts

Thank youn so much for your quick reply, it was very helpful. Have you ever drive the road to Foggia?

Posted by Claudio
Bergamo, Italy
117 posts

In southern Italy traffic rules are interpreted in a manner more "elastic" than Germany or France, so you do not be surprised of some personal interpretations of road signs.

Posted by sergio
trento, italy
5 posts

Honestly, I don't suggest to drive in Italy. Forget about your experience in other parts of Europe. All Italy and in particular in southern part, driving have no rules, people sitting on cars are very rude, aggressive and can be dangerous if you are not used to. Can be a very tiring and frustrating experience. Added to this, road signs are bad, confused amongst thousands of abusive billboards. Trains or buses is cheaper and much safer option.

Posted by Elaine
Matagorda, TX, USA
7 posts

Thanks to you both, Claudio and Sergio. I had heard that driving in Southern Italy was a bit more challenging than Northern Italy. I will definitely reconsider my options.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7213 posts

I thought it was great fun to drive in Italy, but I'd never try it (again) without a GPS. The signage both in town and on the autostradas makes it near impossible to get where you want to go with just a map or enough Italian to ask for, and understand, directions often. There are different "interpretations" for what signs mean. If there is rarely traffic at a particular stoplight, expect people to run red lights with barely a look around as they pass through. People tend to drive aggressively and expect you to do the same. Indecision will get you honked at.

Posted by Elaine
Matagorda, TX, USA
7 posts

We are just in the early stages of planning this trip. We will spend some time in Rome, of course, then take the train down to Salerno. We will use Salerno for a base for a few days, seeing the Amalfi Coast and Pompei. Then we were planning on driving over to Foggia because there are some things my husband wants to see in that area. After that, we are planning on driving up to Tuscany. When we travel, we always take the "roads less traveled", trying to avoid as much city traffic as possible. I know there is so much to see between Foggia and Firenze, but does anyone has any really good suggestions?

Posted by Elaine
Matagorda, TX, USA
7 posts

Brad,
Read my next post and tell me what you think.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3355 posts

It's almost all freeway driving and you have nothing to worry about.
Remember that in Europe the left lane is for passing only (no cruising). So stay on the right lane and use the left lane only for the time necessary to overtake a car (watch out for cars coming from behind at very high speed, they may appear far on the rearview mirror, but they'll be behind you quickly). Never pass a car on the right side by going around their right side on the slow lanes. Passing on the freeway is exclusively done from the left side. The only challenge in southern Italy is inside cities. They tend to be a little more impatient and aggressive (lots of honking if you don't hurry up) and they interpret stop lights a little different (green light=go, red light=honk first and go, red light about to become green=start honking to car in front). However most of Italy has replaced street lights with roundabouts and therefore accidents at intersections have gone down a lot. I assume you know the rule for roundabout driving: cars inside the roundabout already have the right of way, so you have to yield to them before entering the roundabout yourself. Just go with the flow. Also Foggia is not as bad as Naples. Overall if you feel comfortable driving in Manhattan you will be ok driving inside any Italian city.

Posted by Elaine
Matagorda, TX, USA
7 posts

Thanks so much for that report. We'll try to do as little city driving as possible. Thanks for the traffic light lesson as well..

Posted by Ron
Cesena, Italy
755 posts

I drove in southern Italy a few times (Puglia,Calabria, Sicily etc). While it can be a bit more hectic in the cities overall it's not too bad and you'll find the autostrada is generally less crowded down south. Definitly ditto the GPS suggestion though.