Renting a car in Italy doesn’t sound very complicated, but there are a lot of questions that pop up in your mind if you’re doing it for the first time.
Well, no need to hit the panic button yet, because this article is exactly where you will find the answers to those questions.
As an Italian living abroad I often get a
But before we get to that, let me give you a brief overview.
Renting a car in Italy: an overview
If you’re looking for a picturesque and romantic travel destination, Italy is the place for you.
From the canals of Venice to the rolling hills of Tuscany, and the winding roads of the Cinque Terre, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful country.
Here are just a few reasons why Italy should be at the top of your travel list.
First, there’s the food. We Italians take our cuisine seriously, and you’ll be able to find some of the best dishes in the world here. Whether you’re craving pizza or pasta, you’ll be able to find it fresh and delicious.
You can also find unique regional specialties like truffles in Piedmont or handmade mozzarella in Campania. Then there’s the wine. Italy is home to some of the best wines in the world, and you can find vineyards everywhere from Veneto to Sicily.
Also, there is no shortage of stunning scenery and authentic charm to explore in Italy. And with so many great cities to choose from—Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan—you’ll never be short on things to see and do.
You can definitely explore the country in many ways, and the trains are one the cheapest options among them, but a
Luckily, if you want to rent a car in Italy, it is easy and not that expensive, especially if you book in advance.
In this post, I will tell you everything you need to know about renting a car in Italy along with some helpful tips to make your experience as flawless as possible, and also answer some frequently asked questions. But before that, let’s talk about whether you even need a
As I have mentioned earlier, Italy is a gorgeous place with lots of places worth seeing. You can easily reach these places via the railway, which is both cheap and hassle-free, but that comes at the cost of flexibility.
If it’s your first time contemplating a
Car rentals can give you a hard time anywhere in the world, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it at all.
With the right info at hand—which you will hopefully get from this post—you can go for a
This means you won’t have the same amount of flexibility and convenience that comes with a
Another important thing to consider when getting a rental car in Italy is the place you will be driving to.
If you’re renting it for the popular tourist destinations in Italy, you may not be able to make the best use of it.
Many attractions in places like Rome and Florence are better explored on foot and some straight up prohibit cars in some of their areas.
However, if you intend on seeing some off-the-beaten-path places in the Italian countryside (which I highly recommend you should do), a
If you consider those things carefully, you will know for sure whether or not you will be needing to rent a car during your trip to Italy.
If the answer turns out to be a yes, read on below to find out the where and how of choosing rental cars.
How to find the best rental car in Italy?
Vehicle rental is fairly straightforward. Most North-American tourists with a valid driver’s license are eligible to drive a car in Italy, however, there certainly are some restrictions.
But with just a few documents (I’ll tell you those in just a moment), you can easily meet the requirements to drive on the roads of Italy with your existing driving license.
Now, there is definitely more to driving in Italy than just having the required documents, but I will tell you those later in this article.
This section is all about things you need to know to rent a car in Italy. Let’s start with a list of the prominent
Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!
Where to find the best
car rental in Italy
In Italy you will find all the top international car rentals from Avis, to Budget, Sixt, you name it. However, the best way to find a deal is on the Discover Cars platform, where you can compare prices from different companies local and international, and include insurance.
If you prefer to use a local
I find their policy pretty straightforward and they are also on Discover Cars, so you can compare their prices with other rentals and then decide.
‼️ Sicily by car is also one of the few companies that accept debit cards as a form of payment.
One of the mandatory requirements for a rental car in Italy includes Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) insurance.
This means that you must have this coverage in order to rent a car in Italy.
Some rental companies will let you make a reservation without those, only to surprise you with mandatory CDW and theft fees when you show up to pick up your car.
Luckily, you can choose to include CDW and theft coverage while booking your
And with reputable rental companies aggregators like Discover Cars, it’s already included in the cost, saving you lots of hassle and money.
One alternative to opting for CDW coverage is using your credit card insurance to sign a waiver stating that you will pay for any damage to the car upfront and collect it from your credit card company later.
But this is not a good idea, as most credit card companies don’t cover
Make sure you check with your credit card if they do, before booking.
► PRO TIP – Also, keep in mind that either with your card insurance or with Discover car Insurance, if something happens you will need to pay for the damages upfront and then request a refund afterward.
You will find all kinds of cars to rent in Italy, including convertibles, minivans, and even sports cars, but if you want an automatic transmission car you need to ask specifically for it as it’s not so obvious.
Although nowadays automatic transmission is becoming popular, in Italy we are more used to manual transmission (stick) cars.
All you need to do is request automatic transmission while making a reservation for your
From November 15th through April 15th all road vehicles circulating on Italian soil must have winter tires or snow chains on board from November 15th to April 15th.
Pick-Up and Drop-Off Locations
However, keep in mind that this service comes with an additional one-way fee depending on your pick-up and drop-off locations.
The fee should be specified in the rental terms and conditions, and it may either be domestic (if your drop-off location is within Italy) or international (if you’re dropping the car off in a different EU country). Read it carefully to decide whether or not you want to pay such an amount.
Documents required by car rentals in Italy
If you’re renting a car in Italy, you will need just a few documents to qualify for it. The first and most obvious is your driver’s license, which should be issued at least a year prior to the time you rent a car in Italy.
Additionally, your ID card will also be needed for identification when renting the car.
If you’re a resident of a non-EU country, one additional document that you will need to drive a car in Italy is the International Driver’s Permit.
Fortunately, it’s not that hard to get and you can have it issued for a very cheap fee from the American Automobile Association (AAA) if you’re coming from the USA.
And of course a credit card or, in some exceptions, a debit card
So, to sum it up, you need these three documents to be eligible to rent and drive a car in Italy:
- Driver’s license
- International Driver’s Permit (if your driver’s license isn’t European)
- Credit or debit card
Tips for avoiding extra charges from car rentals
Just like anywhere in the world,
You can’t really avoid some of them—like the fees for winter tires, child safety seats, GPS, and the extra charge if you’re under 25 years of age.
Also, although I am always vouching for full insurance coverage, I recommend you always ask about what it cover and what situations are left out.
Most of all make sure you pay attention to the car details when it’s delivered;
Here are some useful tips about renting a car in Italy.
One of the things you may be charged extra for is any new scratches and dents on the car when you’re dropping it off.
You might think that’s easy to avoid if you don’t get any scratches or dents on the car, right? Well, that’s not it. The rental cars in Italy aren’t always in mint condition, and you might get blamed for any pre-existing damage if you’re not careful.
Make sure you do a walkaround of your rental when picking it up from the lot while the
Make sure he notes down all the marks on the car and take some pictures and videos on your phone.
Usually, those scratches are covered by the full insurance policy but it’s better be on the safe side and ask and take pictures anyway.
Return your rental car with the same amount of gas as you have received it.
Fuel is expensive, but paying for it at the drop-off location is usually even more expensive. So make sure you return the car with the same amount of fuel you found when you picked it up so you don’t have to pay any extra charges for it. Just find out the closest gas station to the drop off location and get the car refueled before dropping it off.
As you would expect from any European country, the driving laws in Italy are extensive—which means I can’t cover all of them in this article. But that shouldn’t be a big problem, because you won’t need to know each and every one of the driving laws to get through your trip there.
This section is all about the driving laws that you should know to drive on the roads of Italy. I’ll also include the common road signs, types of roads, and their general speed limits along with a few other important things. So let’s get started.
The general driving laws of Italy are fairly obvious and straightforward.
✔️ Seat belts are mandatory at all times, even in the backseats if the car has them.
✔️ Speed limits are very strictly enforced.
✔️ Keeping your headlights on the outside of urban zones is also required, so it’s a good idea to have them on whenever you’re outside the city, even if it’s daytime.
✔️ Kids below 12 years of age aren’t allowed to ride in the front seats. And children below 4 should be in child safety seats.
✔️ It is also illegal to text or holds your phone in your hand while driving.
✔️ Driving cars in bus/bike lanes is not allowed.
✔️ Italian wines are world-famous. But you are not allowed to drive with more than 0.05% alcohol in your system, which is a very low amount. So make sure you don’t plan on driving on days you’re out trying the wines. Drivers with a level of 0.05 to 0.08 face fines, up to one month in jail, and a community service requirement.
✔️ You are required to carry reflective vests in your car.
✔️ You may not be immediately stopped for violating some of those laws, but you will end up receiving a ticket sooner or later, and your
✔️ There are a lot of electronic speed detectors scattered around on the main roads. (autovelox)
The road signs in Italy are usually very easy to understand. You will easily recognize the Stop, Do Not Enter, and Maximum Speed Limit signs. Then there are three types of road signs based on their shapes—circular, triangular, and quadrilateral (squares and rectangles).
Each type of road sign has a separate purpose, so you can easily interpret them just by the shape and color.
- The circular signs are to indicate things you’re not allowed to do (red color) or are required to do (blue color).
- The triangular signs are to give you warnings about things ahead or in the general area.
- The quadrilateral signs have useful information written on them.
- Some stop signs come with a direction sign (usually a blue arrow) requiring you to only take a turn in the indicated direction.
- The speed and distances are in km not in miles
The general number of roads in Italy fall into five distinct categories. All of these have their own speed limits. I’m listing them here.
✅ Autostrada: Autostrada is basically the toll motorway, where the general speed limit is 130km/h when the weather is fine and 110km/h when the weather conditions are poor.
✅ Strada Extraurbana Principale: Strada Extraurbana Principale is the major motorway, where the general speed limit is 110km/h when the weather is fine and 90km/h when the weather conditions are poor.
✅ Strada Extraurbana Secondaria: Strada Extraurbana Secondaria is the minor motorway, where the general speed limit is 90km/h when the weather is fine and 80km/h when the weather conditions are poor.
✅ Strada Urbana: These are all the urban roads in Italy, and have a general speed limit of 50km/h.
✅ Strada Bianca: Lastly, the dirt/gravel roads of Italy fall into the Strata Bianca category. The speed limit varies with these roads, but you will find it mentioned on a road sign.
Speaking of speed limits, Autovelox is the technology used in Italy to measure vehicular speed on the roads.
These machines are installed on the roads to capture photos of any cars (and plates)that are going above the speed limit.
You will generally see a warning sign for an Autovelox machine ahead, as these signs are legally required in Italy.
Apart from the Autovelox machines, The Safety Tutor is an additional speed-limiting measure used exclusively on the Autostrada.
These machines take photos of vehicles’ registration plates between two points and measure the time it took a given vehicle to get from the first point to the next point to calculate their average speed.
In case the average speed turns out to be more than 5% over the speed limit (above 136km/h), the vehicle gets fined.
ZTL stands for Zona Traffico Limitato (or Limited Traffic Zones in English), which refers to specific areas in Italy (usually most town and city centers) where only limited traffic is allowed. Only the vehicles allowed inside a ZTL can enter those areas (which basically means you need a permit to enter) which are usually the residents’ vehicles.
Now, there are a couple of things you should know about ZTLs. One, you can’t go there even if your GPS tells you to, or if you see other people driving in.
These people are usually residents with permits. If your lodgings are within a ZTL, your car will be authorized as well but you still need to apply for a permit first.
There are some exceptions to entering ZTLs. These are days when there is free access to a ZTL, which means anyone can drive into a ZTL. You will usually see a sign specifying open hours (or a green light signaling open access as opposed to the usual red light) at the entrance of a ZTL.
The other thing to keep in mind is that if you do find yourself inside a closed ZTL, and you don’t get fined right away, know that you will eventually receive a ticket, even if it’s months later.
What’s more, the rental company will charge you an additional fee as well. And that is one of the reasons why they also authorize your car for a deposit, beside the actual price of the car.
To travel in some ZTL areas in Milan you can just pay for it in a Tabaccheria (convenience store that it’s marked by a large T sign on the door). You just give them your plate number and pay 5 Euros.
Driving in Italy can be quite an experience. The roads are often narrow and winding, and Italian drivers are known to be confident and assertive.
In general, Italians also tend to drive fast, are more likely to ignore crosswalks or pass on blind corners, and take rules as gentle suggestions, especially in the south, so always be aware of your surroundings.
It’s also not uncommon to see cars driving uncomfortably close to each other, and can be stressful for tourists who are not used to it.
Don’t worry too much about it, just move to the next lane or stop on the side of the road and let the driver pass.
I’d highly recommend not using the left lane in big Italian cities unless you’re really used to Italian drivers.
You can still drive in the left lane occasionally when you need to overtake a slower driver. On that note, you’ll notice that Italians almost never overtake on the right, they do so from the left lanes; it’s a good idea to follow that example while you’re in Italy so other drivers can expect and accommodate you.
While you’re driving in the cities, you’ll also encounter a lot of mopeds that are weaving in and out of lanes, sometimes even driving between lanes. Just concentrate on driving safely and the moped drivers will find their way.
If you’re driving in Italy, you’ll want to know about the autostrada. The autostrada is the Italian highway system. It’s a network of high-speed, limited-access roads that connect major cities in Italy.
You’ll need to pay a toll to use the autostrada. The tolls are based on the length of the road segment you’re using and the type of vehicle you’re driving.
You can pay by cash or credit card at the toll booth. You can also buy a prepaid toll card, which is a good option if you’re going to be using autostrada frequently.
When you enter the autostrada you either have to take a ticket or, if your vehicle has a telepass device, you can use the yellow lane to enter the autostrada without stopping.
You’ll then have to pay a toll when exiting the autostrada.
While exiting, you’ll encounter 3 types of lanes, take the white lane if you plan to pay the toll using cash, the blue lane for the card, and yellow for the telepass; in case of telepass lanes you don’t have to stop at all, your device will beep and let you know that you’ve been charged.
The Autogrill is a must-have experience if you travel on the autostrada. These restaurants are located along the autostrada and offer a wide selection of food, snacks, drinks, and other convenience items.
The Autogrills are a great place to grab a quick bite or stock up on supplies for your journey. You’ll find everything from fresh fruit and sandwiches pizza slices and pastries to coffee. Prices are reasonable, and the quality is generally good.
Usually you will find delicacies from the region where you are travelling. The pastries are usually fresh and delicious.
If you’re looking for a place to take a break from driving, the Autogrills are a great option. They usually have clean bathrooms and plenty of seating. You can also find ATMs and gas stations at most Autogrill locations.
I always stop by an Autogril and try some of the local food.
There are three main types of petrol stations in Italy: self-service and full-service. Self-service stations are the most common and are typically open 24 hours a day. Full-service stations are less common and sometimes more expensive, but can be found in most larger cities.
Most petrol stations in Italy accept major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard.
In Italy, petrol is called “benzina”, whereas diesel is called “gasolio.” Be careful which fuel your car uses when using a self-service station, as using the wrong type of fuel will make your car stop working and you’ll have to get the tank drained.
In Italy, parking can be a challenge, especially in larger cities. There are a few things to keep in mind when searching for a spot.
First, it is important to know the difference between blue and white paint. Blue paint indicates paid parking, while white paint (or no paint) is for free parking.
For the paid parking you either find paying machine nearby or you can go to a “tabaccheria” ( a sort of convenience store) to buy for your parking ticket.
It is also worth noting that some areas have time limits for parking, so be sure to check signs before leaving your vehicle.
If you do find yourself in a bind, there are a few options for paid parking, such as garage lots and meters. With a little planning ahead, parking in Italy doesn’t have to be stressful.
Car troubles and accidents can happen even when you’re on a vacation in Italy. While they’re the last thing you want to encounter, it’s better to know what to do in any case. I’ll cover them one by one.
First, try to move your car off of the road if possible. This will make it easier for tow trucks and other vehicles to get around you.
Next, call for help. The Automobile Club d’Italia number is 803-116; they will be able to dispatch a tow truck or other assistance. You’ll have to pay for their services.
In case you’re on the Autostrada, there are emergency callboxes every 2 kilometers on the road. You can use them to call for help.
Having said that, the first thing you must do is call your
In case you’re in a car accident, call the Italian police at 112 and your
After calling the necessary services, exchange personal and insurance information with the other driver. If possible, get the personal details of the witnesses so you have reliable third-party accounts of the incident.
Take pictures of the license plates and the scene, then call your rental company to report the incident.
Renting a car in Italy Frequently Asked Questions
How old do I need to be to rent a car in Italy?
The minimum age to rent a car in Italy is 19 years. You need to be at least 18 years old in order to legally drive in Italy, but in order to rent a car you must have had your license for at least a year.
Be aware that some companies may also charge you extra if you are under 25 years old; there are also rental companies that won’t rent a car to anyone younger than 25.
What documents do I need to drive in Italy?
You’ll need to carry the following documents with you when driving in Italy:
✔️ Valid driver’s license
✔️ ID documents (passport, national ID, etc.)
✔️ Car documents (car rental paperwork and libretto di circolazione)
✔️ If you’re not from EU, you will also need an International Driver’s Permit (IDP).
What type of car should I rent?
The type of car you should rent depends on a number of factors, like how many people you’re traveling with, what kind of car you feel confident in driving, and which places you’ll be doing most of your driving in (cities, countryside, etc.), and your personal preferences.
I can give you some personal suggestions though.
If you’re going to be doing a lot of city driving, then something small and maneuverable like a Fiat 500 is a good choice; not only will you be able to navigate the streets much better, but parking will also be much less of a hassle with a car that has a small footprint.
On the other hand, if you’re planning on driving mainly on the highways or in rural areas, then something larger like an SUV might be more suitable.
Whichever type of car you choose, make sure it’s comfortable for you and that you feel confident driving it.
Which side do Italians drive on?
In Italy, cars drive on the right side of the road. This may be confusing for visitors from countries where cars drive on the left, such as the United Kingdom or Australia. However, with some practice, it is easy to get used to driving on the right side in Italy
What side is the steering wheel on in Italy?
In Italy, the steering wheel is on the right side of the driver.
Are there any helpful apps for driving in Italy?
If you’re planning on renting a car and driving in Italy, there are a few apps that can help make the experience easier and less stressful.
✔️ Google Maps is a must-have for any international traveler – it can help you navigate unfamiliar streets and find your way back to your hotel or rental car agency with ease.
✔️ Waze is another navigation app that can be useful in Italy, as it crowdsources real-time traffic information from other drivers on the road.
✔️MY WAY is an app specifically designed by Infoblu for Italian highways and main roads that includes features like SOS service, cameras, traffic conditions and incidents, and gas station locations with the best fuel prices.
How much is a rental in Italy for a week?
On average, it will cost you about €100-€200 to rent a small, economy car in Italy for one week (not including fuel costs).
You might even be able to find deals that let you rent a car for cheaper. However, prices can vary depending on the type of car you want to rent, as well as the time of year.
For example, rates are typically higher during the summer months.
When booking your rental car, it’s important to compare prices from different companies.
Be sure to read the fine print so that you understand all of the terms and conditions before making your reservation.
If you’re renting for extended periods (like a week), be sure to ask about the included insurance coverage.
Most rental companies offer basic liability coverage, but you may want to purchase additional coverage for peace of mind.
Is driving through Italy safe?
Visiting Italy by car is very safe and it’s a great way to see everything the country has to offer at your own pace. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
For starters, Italy is known for its chaotic traffic.
If you’re not used to driving in busy cities, it’s best to avoid driving in Rome, Naples, or Florence. Stick to smaller towns and villages where the roads are less crowded.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Italy has a lot of toll roads. Be sure to have enough cash on hand to pay the tolls, or you may end up getting fined.
Overall, as long as you’re prepared for some crowded roads and tolls, driving through Italy is safe and a great way to see the country.
Is it really difficult to drive through Italian cities?
If you’re thinking about renting a car and driving around Italy, you might be wondering if it’s really as difficult as everyone says.
While it is always somewhat intimidating to drive in a country that is not your own, it’s definitely not that difficult to drive in Italy.
Just be prepared for some narrow roads, hurried drivers, and lots of traffic, not to talk about one-way streets which will make you drive in circles before getting to your destinations. 😂
Another challenge can be driving when it snows in Italy as the streets can be slippery with fresh snow or even worse, ice.
Make sure you have the right tire and drive very slowly or just wait until the roads have been cleaned.
I got a driving ticket while I was in Italy. What should I do?
If you get a ticket while you’re in Italy, there’s no need to worry – simply follow the instructions on the ticket.
You will likely need to pay a fine which can easily be paid online.
Even if you’ve gone back to your home country and you forgot to pay the fine, it can still be paid online.
If you receive a fine in the mail (back in your home country), the first thing you should do is to get in touch with your rental company and check if they’ve already paid the fine using your card information; in case they haven’t, check if the fine is legitimate and if so, pay it using your card.
How can I rent a luxury car?
There are a few ways to rent a luxury car in Italy. You can either go through a rental company or work with a private individual.
If you want to ensure that you’re getting a high-quality vehicle, it’s best to work with a reputable rental company.
However, if you’re on a budget, you may be able to find a good deal by working with a private individual.
There are also a couple of things you should keep in mind.
First, book your rental well in advance as luxury cars often book up quickly.
Secondly, make sure you’re familiar with the local driving laws and regulations before getting behind the wheel.
Can I drive in Italy without using the Autostrada or toll roads?
The answer is yes, and although it may not be the most efficient way to get around and the fastest, I love local roads as you can stop in small villages and enjoy the landscape or find hidden treasures.
Whether you’re on a budget or just prefer to take the scenic route, there are alternatives to the autostrada.
An app like Google Maps will let you know if these alternatives are available for your intended destination.
Should I get a car rental for a day trip from Florence to the Tuscan countryside?
Yes. The best option for a day trip from Florence to the Tuscan countryside is to rent a car because then you can visit the many beautiful villages and towns of the Tuscan region that normally would be impossible to visit if you were using a train.
Should I get a car for the Amalfi coast?
The Amalfi Coast is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in the world.
The winding roads, the rocky cliffs, and the turquoise waters make it a place that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.
However, getting around can be difficult, and many people wonder if they should rent a car for their trip.
Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not to rent a car for the Amalfi coast:
►The roads can be very narrow and winding, so if you’re not comfortable driving in those conditions, it might be best to take public transportation or hire a driver.
► Parking can also be difficult to find and expensive, so if you’re planning on doing a lot of driving, it might not be worth it.
►Public transportation in the region is excellent you can take boats and buses to see most of the Amalfi Coast.
► Driving along the Amalfi coast in the summer is a nightmare because of the high traffic and you risk getting stuck for long hours just to drive a mile. I would suggest driving in winter or shoulder season instead.
Which is the best driving map of Italy?
I highly recommend using apps like Google Maps and Waze to find your way, but if you prefer paper maps then the Michelin map is a great option. Some other great paper map options are the AA and the Touring Club Italiano maps.
Can I drive in Italy with a US driver’s license?
If you have a US driver’s license, you will also need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to be able to drive in Italy, which can be obtained through AAA or the National Auto Club.
The IDP is essentially a translation of your driver’s license into different languages, so it’s useful to have even if you don’t plan on driving while abroad.
Can you turn right on red in Italy?
The answer is no. Turning right on red in Italy is illegal and it’s something you should never do while you’re in the country.
Renting a car in Italy: final thoughts
I hope this post about renting a car in Italy was helpful and it gave you some good tips on driving in Italy. I am going to rent a car again this coming summer and I will definitely update this post accordingly if I have any new tips.
About the Author
Hello there! This is Isabella, this blog’s author, and a cat lover. I am an Italian expatriate with a Mexican Residence. After 7 years of living in Cancun, I have decided to leave my job and explore my beloved Mexico and the rest of this beautiful world, starting from South America, while sharing my travel stories and offering useful travel tips about traveling as a solo female traveler and digital nomad.