For wandering off the beaten track in Italy, hiring a car is the best option. This way you can reach smaller cities and explore the beautiful Italian countryside.
There are car rental agencies at every larger airport, but we advise you to book your car while still at home or on-line. In Italy you will find car rental agencies that are affiliated with international agencies that you may be familiar with such as Hertz, Avis, Budget, Sixt, Thrifty etc.
Make sure that the price quoted includes the Value Added Tax. Also, the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), that is sometimes optional, may not be optional in Italy. For those who intend to begin and end their journey in different cities, there are drop-off charges. Note also that Europeans usually drive cars with manual transmissions, and you will pay a premium price for the few automatics.
In Italy roads are good, motorways or freeways are excellent. On most motorways or autostrade there is a toll to pay - cash or by credit card - but superstrade or other national roads are free.
The main motorways is the A1, although Italians seldom identify their autostrade by numbers, but rather by their two terminals, like Firenze/Mare or Turin/Milan, or by a nickname "autostrada del sole" is the A1 from Milan to Naples, "autostrada del fiori" is the A10 from Genoa to the French border etc. You will fidn a lot of useful information about driving in Italy on the website of the larger highways operator.
Also, note that many cities have established limited access areas, usually in the most central districts (ZTL or zona a traffico limitato). The signage at limits of those areas is not always adequate, but access is controlled by CCTV systems, and unauthorized access is punished by heaby fines, often delivered to the home of the foreign driver. In some cities, such as Milan and Rome, access to the urban area is permissible upon payment of a "pollution charge".
You should purchase and International Driving Permit (IDP) if you are looking to rent a car during your visit to Italy, and always carry your original driver's licence with you during your trip. The IDP is valid for one year from date of issue and is valid in 150 countries around the world. Most rental agencies won't ask to see it but if you'are stopped by the police you may be fined if you don't have it. If you need an automatic vehicle, be sure to book a well in advance as they are in high demand, especially in the summer season.
Home > Renting a car in Italy