This subject always comes up, so here’s
our point of view:
a little bit about the Italian’s philosophy of driving: it’s the art of
safely going from point A to point B in the shortest
amount of time. It’s an important task that deserves the driver’s total
attention: Italians don’t eat, drink, put on makeup or read while
driving, nor do they generally turn to talk to their passenger. They pay
attention to their surroundings (front and back) all the time and expect
everyone else to be doing the same. What might look like anarchistic
traffic chaos is the result of an instinctive, mutual understanding
between prudent drivers.
Just keep in mind that people are trying to safely go
from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time, so even
if you have the right of way they won’t wait around for you unless
you’re showing swiftness.
- In the autostrada,
the left lane is for passing, period.
If you are not actively passing, stay out of the
left lane; lane discipline is absolute. After passing, always
return to the most rightermost lane that makes sense for your speed.
- If you’re being flashed from behind, you’re in
somebody’s way; immediately move to the right.
- Always use your blinkers. Other
drivers make their decisions based on your intentions, and if you
don’t signal you’re asking for an accident.
- Never, never
pass on the right. This practice has been proven to increase
accidents and is forbidden (and not done) anywhere in Europe.
- Unless you’re driving on a major road, you must
always yield to traffic coming from the right. There are no stops
signs at these intersections; people self-manage by yielding.
there is no right turn on red.
- Unless otherwise posted, default speed
limits are 130 km/h (81 mph) on motorways, 110 km/h (68 mph) on main
roads outside urban areas, 90 km/h (56 mph) on secondary and local
roads, and 50 km/h (31 mph) in urban areas. Actual travel speeds may
be different; go with the flow.
- Always drive on the righter most edge of the
road. It’s safer and on two lane roads wide enough for three, people
will pass splitting lanes even if there’s incoming traffic.
- Recent changes in the law require that lights be
turned on while driving on major roads outside of urban areas.
- Cellphones may be used by the driver only
with hands free equipment or a headset.
Italians recently discovered
from the French that traffic lights are an incredibly inefficient way to
manage traffic, and have been steadily replacing them with roundabouts.
They’re pretty easy to navigate: you yield to cars already in the
roundabout and insert yourself as soon as there’s enough space for a car.
Traffic congestion in Biella has virtually disappeared since the
elimination of most lights, and pollution has decreased, to the delight
Italy has (finally) fully adopted
international road signs. Here are some signs that are different from
the non-standard ones found in North America:
Triangular red signs: ALERT!
||General alert (pay extra attention)
||Roundabout: yield to traffic already
in the roundabout
||Yield to traffic
||Stop and yield
(Note: hardly anyone does a full stop unless required by safety).
There are no multi-way stops in Italy.
Round red signs: FORBIDDEN
Blue signs: ADVISORY
- or -
|One way street
||Direction of allowable travel
(posted at intersections where you can’t go in all
||Right of way (no need to give right
of way to cars from the right)
Additional information on road signs is available by
Should you need to park on Biella’s streets,
be aware that blue spaces are pay spaces, and require that you buy a
ticket from a nearby dispensing machine. For more information on parking
in Italy, click
Mike found this on the website of the
British Columbia Automobile Association. he didn’t write it, but
hopefully you will find it true.
"Driving in Italy is a most peculiar
art form of what, and what not to obey. Surprisingly ... the rules of
the road are more predictable than driving on Canadian highways. Italian
drivers always seem to be in a hurry [by North American standards].
Having said that, Italians, especially when driving on the autostrada,
are among the best drivers anywhere. They are in total control of their
automobiles at all times and actually use all their mirrors and signals