Italy Car Rental - Explore The Italian Open Roads

Italy Car Rental

Car rentals in Italy can provide a great way to experience all this country has to offer, with the added benefit of having the freedom to move at your own pace and following your own itinerary. Italian Trains will get you just about anywhere near major cities and main attractions, however some destinations - especially those in the southern part of the peninsula will require an auto rental in Italy.

Italy car hire options are endless, with many reputable companies offering their services at fair prices. Economy cars, luxury vehicles and even motorhome rentals are all options to consider while allowing the ability to personalize your vacation. Renting a vehicle gives you the chance to see some of the sights and attractions that are off the beaten path and may not be included in many of the popular tours. It is also an excellent choice for families, especially those with young children, who may not enjoy the stricter pace of a guided tour


Driving in Italy - Information & Tips

Auto Italy rental can definitely be the way to go on your next vacation here, and navigating a vehicle through Italian streets can be both an exciting and a frustrating experience. In some parts of Italy a car is a must, like if staying in a remote southern town in a beautiful sea-side villa which is a good hike from the nearest train station for example. 

Italy is also known for its fast and somewhat aggressive drivers and if you are unfamiliar with the rules of the road or the street signs used, then it is important that you learn these and are comfortable with them before embarking on your journey. Also, in many cities such as Rome, Milan, Naples to name a few - having a car is unnecessary and may be more hassle than a convenience.

Below, are a few helpful hints and tips about driving in Italy:

  • GPS units are found to be helpful in bringing us to the vicinity of where we need to go, however some of these suggested routes can be complex and using side roads can bring us to our destination with less confusion. When considering auto rentals in Italy, why not ask to rent a GPS also - you might get a car that comes with one built in, which in most cases will be a vehicle with an automatic transmission at no extra cost. 
  • Most cars in Italy are manual transmission and that does not exclude rental cars. In fact, one can expect to pay a lot more for a car with an automatic transmission unless you use the clever tip above. Driving a stick - as the say is a good skill to have which definitely comes in handy here, and it will save you money if renting cars often - and it’s not that hard to learn!
  • Road conditions in Italy are in need of a mention, since a lot of them wind around the tightest corners and in some areas are narrow enough for only one car to barely pass through. Once you get off the Autostrada, the roads intertwine with all kinds of terrain ranging from rough cobble stone, to extremely sloped roads, to hazardous cliffside roads that require extra attention and skill. Most people prefer smaller cars here because of the extremely narrow roads with corners that sometimes require 3 point turns or more to complete, not to mention the small parking spots in most of Italy's main cities.
  • If someone from behind starts tailgating you, don't panic - no one's out to get you, it is simply a habit most Italian drivers like to exercise. Why? Because they are Italian and need to be somewhere other than behind you, and to them you are driving too slow. Often times they are simply thinking about something they'd rather be doing instead of driving, like laying on the beach and soon realize their auto-piloted snafu just to slow down once they snap out of their daze. In any case, don't be alarmed - it's a common practice. If there's room to the right, get over and let them pass. Don't take it personally, it's just the way it is and no one means to offend.
  • All drivers in Italy drive on the right and overtake on the left side. The left lane on highways is for passing only and are really meant for fast cars. If someone comes up behind you and flashes their lights, they simply want to pass and mean no disrespect. Even if the road only has two lines, often times the driver behind will pass you on the left as if there was an invisible third lane, this is also common practice - don't let it intimidate you. If you are just cruising along at or below the speed limit - don't do it in the left lane on the highway or you might piss off a lot of motorists or end up in an accident because the driver behind was expecting you to get out of the way. 

Many of the sights are more easily accessible by foot or public transportation and parking your car in these areas can often be challenging. For example, when visiting Venice, many areas of the city are not accessible by car at all. Taxi services are readily available pretty much everywhere in Italy and you can now request an Uber in Rome and Milan. The legal blood alcohol level in Italy is 0.05% while operating a vehicle which means more than one drink could result in a very unpleasant experience with the police and the judicial system. 

Our Italy Road Map will help you navigate through the country by car. Watch out for those restricted zones while cruising the streets of some of the major cities like Rome, Florence, Milan and Pisa


Motorhome Hire Italy

If thinking of RV-ing in Italy with your family, you could be in for a real treat of a vacation. There are plenty or rest areas called "aree di sosta" for RVs and motorhomes as well as a vast amount of campsites available to those who prefer travelling in a camper van. Some of these rest areas and campsites are fully equipped so if you need power, water, showers or what have you - they will be available, however - do the research ahead of time to avoid disappointment. 

You may want to plan your fuelling stops when travelling across Europe. Countries such as Italy and France are generally pretty expensive on diesel and other types of fuel. Consider filling up elsewhere before crossing the border. Do some fuel pricing research ahead of your trip and you can save quite a few bucks especially if travelling long distances. 

Tolls will also apply just like regular vehicles when using the Autostrada. The fees are reasonable (about 1€ for every 7km) and it's a pleasure to drive on the well maintained roads. You can try to avoid these paid highways by using side roads, however your trip will take much longer - but maybe slow travel is what you're into and the scenery will not disappoint.

Speed limits for motorhomes and camper vans are the same as regular vehicles and are explained on our Italy road map page. Also, there are many bridges and tunnels to help navigate your rig through the mostly mountainous terrain that is Italy - be aware of fast passing cars, it is best to just get out of their way whenever safe.


International Drivers in Italy

All EU issued driver's licences are accepted when driving in Italy. For short stays - under 6 months, a valid foreign driver's permit from a non-EU country, with the exception of Switzerland - is usually accepted when presented with a passport and a visa stamp indicating the date of your entry. Be sure to check the date of your arrival into Italy at the time of your car hire, it must not exceed 6 months for your foreign licence to be usable here. 

For longer that 6 months stay, non-EU visitors will need to acquire a temporary International Driver's Permit to drive in Italy, in most cases it's a simple document valid for a year and can be acquired in your home country from companies like CAA if in Canada or AAA if you are from the states, for example. The temporary permit will have your photo, basic info and a verification stamp confirming you hold a valid licence in your country of citizenship. If stopped by police, you must present both documents, your temporary International Driver's Licence (IDP/IDL) and the the licence from the country you reside in.


More About Car Rental Italy

Often times, getting the best deal on auto rentals in Italy can be achieved by booking prior to departing on your trip. This method allows you to compare rental companies and get the best price available. Booking last minute - upon arrival, can often end up being way more expensive and your vehicle options might be limited depending on what's available that day.  

When considering auto rental in Italy it is important to note that most rental companies require you to be at least 21 years of age. Some companies will allow 18 year olds to rent a car, however - you must have had your license for at least a year. Anyone under the age of 25 will pay a young driver's surcharge. Also anyone over 65, is subject to a surcharge as well - a senior driver's fee. You must also have a valid driver's license and opting in for extra insurance is always recommended.

Car hire in Italy can be the perfect option for many - depending on where your journey will take you. As you cruise along the Autostrada with the wind in your hair while taking in the beautiful landscapes all around, rest assured - you will make memories with you that will last a lifetime. 


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