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Driving in Italy

creato da Webmaster ultima modifica 31/07/2008 10:53

Driving is undoubtedly one of the best - and most adventurous - ways of discovering Italy. However, before you hop into the driver's seat and head for the fast lane here are some things you should know.

parma.jpgFirst and foremost decide if you really need a car. If you plan to visit the major cities then chances are you'd better off using a combination of public transport and taxis. However if you want to explore rural Italy or like the freedom of movement that only a car can offer then read on .
Keep to the right unless you are overtaking and make sure you can drive a manual transmission car (automatic cars are a rarity in Italy).

Italy's autostrade (motorways) are toll roads. You can pay by credit card (look out for the credit card symbol at the toll gates). If worse comes to worse and your card refuses to work, don't panic. It's within your rights to request a bill be sent to you (don't forget to pay, though!).

If your car breaks down dial 116 for the breakdown service. (If you're hiring a car breakdown charges may be covered in your insurance.)

If you are bringing your car to Italy you'll need a carta verde (green insurance card) and an internationally valid driver's licence.

Many petrol stations close for a somewhat leisurely lunch (12:30 - 15:00) although most have at least one self-service pump. Petrol stations on the motorways offer a 24-hour service.

Expect cars to get too close for comfort: tailgating is the done thing and an inch is as good as, if not better than, a mile.

The rules of the road may seem at times to be open to interpretation. Relax, drive at your own pace and keep your feet poised over both accelerator and brake - you never know which one will come in most useful.

Traffic lights are generally respected, though you will be expected to be quick off the starting line as soon as the lights change. Rules change when you get to Naples where stopping at traffic lights is an option rather than a rule.

Parking is often a problem, especially in the major cities. It is a good idea to leave your car in a supervised car park, especially if you have luggage. For a quick lesson in nifty parking, watch the locals. Any Italian worth his (or her) salt can get in and out of seemingly impossible parking spaces with a minimum number of manoeuvres.

And remember that although driving in Italy may seem like a trial run for the next Grand Prix, there are surprisingly few accidents and what seems haphazard at first soon becomes a highly sophisticated art form. Driving will never be the same ...

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