Getting Around Italy
Italy has many regional airports offering good coverage of the whole peninsula. While flying may be the best option when travelling the length and breadth of the country, shorter routes are better served by the high-speed train network.
Italy has an extensive network of privatised motorways operated by Autostrade per l'Italia (www.autostrade.it). The main north-south route is the Autostrada del Sole, which extends from Milan to Naples as the A1, and from Naples to Reggio di Calabria as the A3. In the north, the main west-east route, stretching from the Slovenian border via Venice, Verona, Brescia and Milan to Turin is the A4.
Toll in Italy is charged at varying distances, scales, rates and modes. There are standardised signs at the toll gates on the motorway network indicating how payments are accepted. Toll is charged from tourists either in cash, with the prepaid Viacard, a rechargeable Telepass, or with credit or bankcards. On the motorways A36, A59 and A60 tolls are paid in the free-flow system for which prior registration at Autostrada Pedemontana Lombarda (apl.pedemontana.com) is necessary. Long-term visitors might opt to rent a Telepass transponder (www.telepass.com) for one year, for which an Italian bank account is needed. Road signs are international. More information on the Italian motorway network and toll charges is available from Autostrade per l'Italia.
Side of the roadRight
Italian motorways are in good condition but secondary roads are of varying quality and drivers should note that the quality of infrastructure is not the same throughout the country.
Car hire is available in most cities, airports and resorts. All major international car hire companies are represented and there are various Italian firms to choose from such as Locauto (www.locautorent.com). Drivers must be at least 18 years old.
There are many available taxi companies in every major Italian city, each with varying rates per km. Official city taxis vary depending on the city so it is advisable to research beforehand. itTaxi (www.ittaxi.it/app) is a free mobile app launched by the Italian taxi union and connects official taxis and customers throughout Italy.
Both city and mountain bikes are available to hire in most Italian towns. Mobike (mobike.com) and Ofo (www.ofo.com) operate dockless bike share systems in Florence and Milan. BikeMi (www.bikemi.com) bikes are also available in Milan. Turin is home to the TObike (www.tobike.it) public bikeshare scheme.
To take bikes on board a train, you need to purchase a separate bicycle ticket.
Italy has an extensive bus network, with a plethora of regional operators offering regional and interregional services. Prices are reasonable and often cheaper than their train alternatives although local routes can be slow. Advance booking is generally not required, except on the most popular inter-city routes. You can buy tickets at the bus terminus, through agencies or in bars (tabacchi).
The minimum driving age is 18. Speed limits are 50kph (31mph) in urban areas, 90kph (55mph) on ordinary roads, 110kph (68mph) on dual carriageways and 130kph (80mph) on motorways. Dipped headlights are compulsory outside built-up areas during the day. All vehicles must carry a red warning triangle.
Note: Fines for driving offences are on-the-spot and particularly heavy.
Automobile Club d'Italia (ACI) (tel: +39 803 116, for foreign mobile networks: 800 116 800; www.aci.it)
All EU member states’ driving licences are recognised in Italy. In practice, many car hire agencies also accept many non-EU licences such as those from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. Drivers from other countries need an International Driving Permit. Visitors driving foreign vehicles must carry their log-book, which must be in their name as owner or have the owner's written permission to drive the vehicle. A driving licence or a motorcycle driving licence is required for motorcycles over 49cc.
Travellers should be aware that tickets for public transport need to be validated in a ticket machine before the journey. Machines are located in entrances to platforms in railway and metro stations and on-board buses and trams. Failure to do so could lead to an on-the-spot fine.
All the big towns and cities (Genoa, Milan, Naples, Rome, Turin and Venice) have good public transport networks. The Rome system is run by the City Transport Authority (ATAC) and MetRo. The Milanese system is run by the Azienda Trasporti Milanesi (ATM).
Underground: Rome has a three-line metro system, while Milan has a four-line network. You can buy tickets from station vending machines or tobacconists. Day passes are also available.
Bus: Services operate in all main cities and towns. In Rome, the network is extensive and complements the underground and tram systems. In larger cities, fares are generally pre-purchased from machines or tobacconists. Bus tickets can be bought in packets of five and are fed into a stamping machine on boarding.
Tram: There is an extensive network in Rome; Milan, Messina and Turin also have tram services.
Trenitalia (tel: +39 06 6847 5475; www.trenitalia.com) runs a nationwide network with reasonably priced fares calculated by distance travelled, and there are a number of excellent reductions. Main routes include Turin-Milan-Venice; Milan-Bologna-Bari; Rome-Genoa-Turin; and Rome-Naples-Palermo.
Main ports: Ancona (www.porto.ancona.it), Brindisi (www.porto.br.it), Cagliari (www.porto.cagliari.it), Civitavecchia (www.civitavecchiaport.org), Genoa, Livorno (www.porto.livorno.it), Naples (porto.napoli.it), Palermo (www.portpalermo.it) and Venice (www.port.venice.it).
Ferries: A number of car and passenger ferries operate throughout the year linking Italian ports. Regular boat and hydrofoil services run to the islands of Capri, Sardinia, Sicily and the Aeolian Islands. There are also some links along the coast.
Operators include Tirrenia (tel: +39 02 76028132; www.tirrenia.it) and SNAV (tel: +39 081 428 5555; www.snav.it). Ferries also operate on the main lakes of Garda, Maggiore, Como and Iseo and are run by Navigazione Laghi (tel: 800 551 801 in Italy only; www.navigazionelaghi.it).