Italy has an excellent network of motorways (autostrade). The main north-south link is the Autostrada del Sole, which links Milan with Reggio Calabria in the toe of Italy. Speed limits on motorways are 130kph (81mph) for cars of 1100cc or more and 110kph (68mph) for smaller cars. All motorways are tolled. Alternatively, opt for the toll-free strade statali, which are often fast, multi-lane carriageways. The speed limit is 110kph (68mph). Small country roads outside Florence are worth exploring to wind through the bucolic Italian countryside. Undimmed headlights are prohibited in towns and cities but are compulsory when passing through tunnels, and headlights must be switched on at all times on autostrade and strade statali.
The minimum age for driving a car is 18 years. On-the-spot fines for speeding and other driving offences are heavy. All vehicles must carry a red warning triangle, available at border posts, and a yellow or orange reflective jacket (or two) which must be worn at night or in bad visibility if your car breaks down on a motorway. There is an on-the-spot fine for failing to wear it. UK driving licences and EU licences are valid in Italy (UK green licences must be accompanied by an International Driving Permit). A Green Card and motor insurance certificate are strongly recommended. A driving licence or a motorcycle driving licence is required for motorcycles over 49cc and crash helmets are compulsory.
The AA or RAC in Britain and the AAA in America have reciprocal agreements with the Automobile Club d'Italia (ACI) (tel: (06) 491115; www.aci.it), who provide a useful advisory service as well as dealing with breakdowns.