Italy Traffic and Rules of the Road



Italy 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

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.

Driving in Palermo, Sicily Italy Photo by Margie Miklas
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.

I must say the drivers in Messina are some of the worst. They park their vehicles anywhere, including the driving lanes and crosswalks Share on X

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 Miklas

Positano 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!

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

Grazie and Ciao.









29 Responses

  1. Annmarie

    I don’t drive in big Italian cities – there is no point for me. But I have been driving in rural Italy for many years, and find the traffic much easier to cope with than my home country New Zealand. The Italian drivers are far more tolerant and not aggressive at all. However on the autostrada, if you are occupying the fast lane you will be what my husband calls “monstered” by a very fast vehicle expecting that lane to be free from slow-coaches. By “monstering” I mean, the faster car will come right up behind you, about 2 inches away, and flash its lights at you – you can almost hear him (a him usually) screaming “get outta my wayyyyy”. Ha! You learn fast to keep an eye out for faster cars in the rear vision mirror, and get outta their way!

  2. Manja Mexi Movie

    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. 🙂

  3. Book Club Mom

    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!

    • margieinitaly

      Grazie..Thank you so much. I have used Auto Europe almost every time and it has been a good price and good experience for the most part. Enjoy your trip!

  4. Tony

    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! 🙂

    • margieinitaly

      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!

  5. gracerocco

    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


    • margieinitaly

      Thank you Grace! I hear you…Glad you have noticed the banged up bodies on the autos in Italy too! Thank you for sharing your experiences!!

  6. Sherry

    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.

  7. stellalucentellc

    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.

  8. orna2013

    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!

    • margieinitaly

      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!!

    • Annmarie

      I am reminded of a quote once during an interview by an Englishman…an Italian was asked “Why is it that Italians drive fabulously fast cars, but never seem to arrive anywhere on time”? The response was classic! He said “To drive fast is an act of freedom. To arrive on time is an act of slavery”. (I tend to agree, or at least my husband does).

  9. germac4

    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!

  10. theturtle

    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

  11. Maggie

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

  12. Robyn

    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.

I'm always interested in your thoughts, so please leave a comment.