Italy Traffic and Rules of the Road

Traffic in Rome photo by Margie MiklasItaly traffic can be crazy to be sure, and I never thought I’d drive in Italy, but I have and somehow lived to tell about it. You can read about some of my experiences in my older blog posts if you are interested.

Traffic in Rome Photo by Margie Miklas Traffic in Rome Photo by Margie MiklasAlthough there are rules of the road, such as no cell phone use while driving,  and hefty fines to be paid when you don’t follow them, Italy drivers also have their own unwritten rules that seem to work for them. Can you say “Everyone just go at once?” LOL

Palermo Italy Driving Photo by Margie Miklas Driving in Palermo, Sicily Italy Photo by Margie Miklas
These photos give you the idea when there are multiple lines (if you can call these disorganized groupings of cars lines) of traffic that seems to converge into a narrow space. Remarkably no accidents occur. Every time I have visited Italy, seven times now, I have rarely heard the shrieking siren of an ambulance. However take a look at the cars and you will see numerous dings and dents in almost all of them.

Traffic in Italy Photo by Margie MiklasWho has the right of way here? Who knows? Just say your prayers when you start to cross the street.

On the streets of Italy Photo by Margie MiklasThe  drivers in Italy  don’t worry about bumping into the cars when they have to squeeze into a parking spot. I have witnessed it first-hand.

Italy's Passenger CarsDriving in the countryside and the autostrada isn’t bad. Even the Amalfi Coast road was okay when I drove it. It’s the cities that drive me crazy and give me un mal di testa, a headache!

Driving and Parking in Sicily Photo by Margie MiklasI must say the drivers in Messina are some of the worst. They park their vehicles anywhere, including the driving lanes and crosswalks.

Italy Parking spot Photo by Margie MiklasI felt fortunate to have arrived in one piece when I drove all day from Rome to Sicily.

Driving in Positano Photo by Margie MiklasPositano is really more a pedestrian place, so to drive on these narrow winding streets you have to be experienced. I would not be one to try it. Drive Amalfi works for me!

The roads are for cars, Vespas, and pedestrians..Anything goes!

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I’d love to hear your thoughts on driving in Italy. Please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao.



About Margie Miklas

An award-winning author, Margie Miklas writes medical thrillers and travel memoirs about Italy, a place which has captured her passion for travel. She is also the creator and owner of the travel blog, Margie in Italy, and a contributing writer for an Italian-American newspaper. A retired critical-care nurse, she enjoys spending time with her family, including her three cats. Her favorite place is the beach, and she likes learning new computer skills, when she is not writing. A member of the Florida Writers Association, Margie makes her home in Florida.
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27 Responses to Italy Traffic and Rules of the Road

  1. Robyn says:

    I drove in Italy twice. Now it is “been there, proved I can do it, now point me to the nearest bus/train station”. I don’t think my heart will take another experience like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maggie says:

    There’s a reason the cars have folding mirrors.
    In Sassari and Cagliari you can find cars parked on the sidewalk!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. theturtle says:

    Ah!Ah! Now that you “graduated” driving in Italy you are ready to come and drive in Portugal 🙂
    Just please don’t try it on Monday mornings or Friday afternoons 😉 for the sake of your integrity (body and mind)
    Turtle Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  4. germac4 says:

    Your photos made me laugh because we have just returned from Italy. Luckily we weren’t doing the driving, but even in cabs, the driving was nerve wracking! I think Palermo seemed to be the worst…but as you say, we didn’t hear many ambulances coming along the roads…so who knows how it all works!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. orna2013 says:

    Living in rural Italy, I have no choice but to drive here on a daily basis. Here in rural Veneto it’s not too bad, if you can cope with constant tailgating. The A4 Venezia/Milano is my pet hate with thousands of trucks jockeying for space with speeding lunatics. And me in my little Fiat 500 tootling along minding my own business. But I have noticed that the further south you go, the rules of the road lose importance. By the time you arrive in Puglia, they are merely a suggestion. Driving through the beautiful “White City” of Ostuni reminds me of the “dodgem” cars of my youth, but it’s amazing to see how drivers actually manage to avoid collisions. But I think all Italian males love speed. It’s the Ferrari/Lamborghini syndrome, I think!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comments are priceless, Orna, and true I am sure, since you live in Italy and would know! Thank you so much for these words of wisdom! Hope to see you again one day in your new home in Puglia. Best wishes!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. One thing I have to say really amazed me when I was in Sicily about the traffic. Pedestrians seem to ignore it. They just step right into the crosswalk without waiting for oncoming traffic to stop! And the cars do slow down and stop! Somehow, it seems like no matter how chaotic it seems to us, it is OK for the Italians who live there.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sherry says:

    It is good to know that some things just don’t change! This could be shots of cars from when I was there in the mid to late 70s!! I remember well the way the drivers made new lanes because the traffic was moving too slowly, or driving on the sidewalk to pass someone. Rome was madness but very organized madness. The more north you go (I loved in the heel of the boot), the crazier it gets (and the more modern they are with more police!). Brought back so many memories, Margie and I love to learn what’s new.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. gracerocco says:

    Hi! I go to Sorrento several times a year! I won’t drive in that area…to scary! I agree about the dents and dings…they don’t care! OMG! We obsess about a little scratch on our cars here in the US! I would drive in Puglia. It’s flat and not as crowded. I enjoy your blog! Thank you! Grace Rocco

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kate Lester says:

    They make Boston drivers seem like pre-schoolers in pedal cars. And Boston drivers are terrible.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tony says:

    Maybe I am just crazy, or maybe it’s in my blood, but I loved driving in Italy and embracing the chaos! Granted I didn’t pick up my rental until we left Rome and then used it to drive around Umbria and then dropped it off immediately upon arriving in Florence, but I loved every minute of it! I have to admit though, I had to get an automatic because I don’t drive stick and I was hoping for an Italian car, a small Fiat or something but when I picked it up they gave me a Mercedes SUV. My only issue happened in my family’s hometown of Costacciaro…some of the streets were too narrow to get through, but I only realized this after driving about 2/3 of the way through. Once it became apparent I would not make it all the way I had no choice to to back all the way back out. There were a couple of neighborhood ladies watching and I am sure just thinking to themselves, “look at this fool!” Good times! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for sharing Tony, Good for you. I know the feeling of the ladies looking and I agree they are probably shaking their heads and saying just what you said about a fool! Once in Sicily we nearly drove down a flight of stairs!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Rome can give you a Phd in Jaywalking. If you survive the course.


  12. Was about to get a rental from Europcar, but I’ll check out your preferred partner as well! Thanks for the tip.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You’re giving me a real sense of what it’s like to drive in Italy. I guess you just have to be laid back about the process to make it a good experience. I think I would prefer driving in Italy than in New York (or North Jersey). That takes nerves of steel!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ohh, brava for driving from Roma to Sicily! 😮 I often drive to Roma from my home in southern Tuscany but only to the designation I have memorised and only because I have to, never around Roma just for fun. 😀 I let amore drive us. I’ve been meaning to write a post about driving in Roma one day. I end up as exhausted as if I’d be working in the field. It’s like a videogame. Or – says somebody who knows – it’s like piloting an air-plane. If you come to Roma without much experience of driving in any big city, you’ll likely suffer a lot. I never think in genders, but I often think of my high school classmates in the capital of Slovenia (34 girls, 1 boy) and how each one of them would fare driving in Roma. Not many would succeed. But when one must, one must. 🙂


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