A trip with a rental car through Italy means great landscapes and countless ancient sights. At the wheel of a rental car, tourists are absolutely flexible and can decide every morning whether they should go to a Roman excavation, a museum visit or a day at the beach. For the vacation to run smoothly, however, it is important to check some important contract terms and traffic rules before and during the rental.
The Italian road network is very well developed. More than 6,700 kilometers of motorways and expressways connect the country’s largest cities. The quality of the side streets varies and ranges from newly paved to gravel. Because of the different road conditions, it is worth preferring small cars and mid-range cars.
Permitted travel routes
If you plan to take the rental car to Sardinia or Sicily, you should check whether the respective car rental allows this. Please note that different conditions apply to Corsica. Some providers generally prohibit crossing borders but do allow the rental car to be taken to Corsica. Special rules also often apply to Switzerland. You can usually find precise information in the rental conditions. It states whether driving is only permitted on state-maintained asphalt roads or whether unpaved roads are also possible.
Liability insurance is compulsory in Italy and is already included in rental car offers. The cheaper cars usually include a deductible and are not liable for damage to the underbody, glass or tires. Before traveling, clarify with the car rental shop whether a police accident report is also necessary for the event of minor damage. Because in Italy the police no longer have to come to the scene of minor accidents.
To pick up the rental car, you have to show your ID card, driving license and a valid credit card for the deposit at the car rental company. The rental car is usually taken over with a full fuel tank and returned back in the same condition. If you do not refill the tank yourself before departure, you often have to pay a service fee in addition to the missing fuel.
Rental car drivers in Italy must be at least 21 years old and have had a driver’s license for one year. Some providers even require a minimum age of 23 or 25 years but allow younger drivers from 19 years of age for a fee. Additional drivers are sometimes included in the price, but mostly only possible with a surcharge.
Traffic rules in Italy
The following traffic rules should be observed if you are traveling in Italy with a rental car:
- The speed limits are 50 km/h in urban areas, 90 km/h in urban areas, 110 km/h on expressways and up to 130 km/h on motorways.
- Seat belts and safety vests are mandatory.
- Making calls while driving is prohibited.
- The alcohol limit is 0.5.
- Daytime running lights are mandatory outside of town.
- Vehicles in the roundabout must give priority to crossing passengers.
- Most motorways and expressways are subject to tolls, the fee is calculated based on the kilometers traveled. Tolls also apply in the city centers of Bologna and Milan.
- A child seat is required for children under 1.50 meters and under 12 years of age, which can be provided for a fee if required.
Pay attention to the car rental shop's location
When comparing rental cars, pay attention to where the shop is. When renting at the airport, the station may be a bit outside and can only be reached by shuttle service. Hotel deliveries are sometimes possible on request.
The Best Road Trips in Italy
Italy is rich in cultural and scenic highlights. Cities like Rome, Naples, Florence, Milan or Venice are among the most popular holiday destinations in Europe and are worth discovering with a rental car.
Rome has many ancient buildings, beautifully decorated churches, and beautiful green spaces. Sights such as the imposing Colosseum, the St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican or the Trevi Fountain delight as well as the charming district of Travestere or the extensive Park Villa Borghese. In the surrounding area, Ostia beckons is just an hour’s drive away. In the port city, there are antique buildings, but also fine beaches that invite you to sunbathe in summer.
The fashion metropolis is the second-largest city in Italy. In addition to countless shopping opportunities, the cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, and the legendary La Scala opera house are waiting for you. A must for art lovers is a visit to the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting “The Last Supper” is on display. In the surroundings of the city, the seaside resorts on Lake Como or the town of Cremona can be found.
One of the most charming landscapes in all of Italy is Tuscany, whose historic capital Florence scores with countless sights. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with the 114-meter-high dome or the Palazzo Vecchio with paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo attract visitors, as does the Ponte Vecchio market bridge or the statue of David. Places of interest with the rental car are the medieval San Gimignano, which is famous for its towers, or the landscape around the wine town of Chianti. Near the Tuscan coast is Pisa with its landmark – the Campanile, also known as the Leaning Tower. The port city of Livorno is located directly on the coast.
The capital of Campania attracts with its mysterious churches, underground caves, beautiful castles and with its great hinterland. Excursion destinations such as the offshore island of Ischia, the sophisticated Amalfi coast or Vesuvius are worth a visit.
The capital of Apulia delights with its bright basilica San Nicola and the castle built by Frederick II von Staufen. Just a short drive away are the beautiful seaside resort of Monopoli and Polignano, which is filled with caves.
The carnival city scores with sights such as St. Mark’s Square with the cathedral of the same name, the imposing Doge’s Palace and of course with the countless bridges and canals. Chioggia is located outside the city, easily accessible with a rental car. Because of its canals and wonderful architecture, the place is often called Little Venice.
In Verona, the Roman amphitheater and the Piazza delle Erbe are particularly worth seeing. With the rental car, the picturesque landscape of the Veneto region and the medieval village of Molina are ideal excursion destinations.
The medieval old town with its palaces, churches, and squares inspires just as much as the scenic surroundings: the picturesque Serio Valley and the high mountain peaks.