Driving in Italy as a tourist can be a great way to get off the beaten path and really set your own agenda. Not having to worry about time tables of public transportation gives you much more flexibility with your travel itinerary and also lets you visit those less-frequented "hidden gem" locations.
If you plan on driving in Italy during your upcoming trip, here are four tips to remember for a more pleasant experience:
1. Invest in a GPS
Unless your travel partner plans on being a full-time navigator in the passenger seat with paper maps, it's wise to make sure you have some type of GPS technology in the car. In fact, many people in Italy don't even drive without GPS these days!
Some rental cars have built-in GPS systems available, but even if they don't, most rental car companies will offer an add-on GPS rental for an added cost. If you find that neither option is available, check with your mobile provider about international data plans so you can access GPS on your smartphone.
With all the roundabouts, one-way streets, and abrupt turns you will inevitably encounter on the road, GPS can save you lots of time and frustration during your trip.
2. Watch Out for Limited Traffic Zones
Don't assume that because you see a road in front of you that you can drive on it! Many Italian cities have restricted driving zones, called Zona Traffico Limitato or often just abbreviated to ZTL. You'll often see these in historical zones of some cities as a way to control congestion and pollution.
Some of these zones will only allow cars with a certain pass to enter, while others will allow cars at only certain times of the day. Driving in a ZTL will likely result in a significant fine, so please keep these thoughts in mind: don't make a concrete plan on driving in historical city centers and always think twice before driving where you see the sign with the red circle.
3. Keep Default Speeds in Mind
You may find that speed limit signs aren't posted as often as you're used to on the road, which can lead you to you stressing about whether or not you're obeying local speed restrictions.
If you find yourself asking, "What's the speed limit here?" remember the following default speed limits that apply unless otherwise posted:
3. Don't Stay in the Left Lane
In Italy, the left lane is for passing only. Driving in the left lane for any other reason is sure to result in a lot of disgruntled drivers and dirty looks sent your way.
If you want to pass a slow driver in the right lane, keep your blinker on the entire time you are traveling in the left lane, but move back to the right as soon as possible.
4. Cameras Are Watching
In Italy, you're more likely to get a ticket from a camera than a patrolling police officer. Cameras are very common at traffic lights, in ZTL areas, and also on motorways along with radar speedometers.
Even if you are driving a rental car, the data from your license plate can still be used to issue a ticket in your name—even if it takes a few months to be sent to you. Drive as if a camera is always watching so you aren't tempted to break any traffic rules!
We hope these few tips help you enjoy your Italian driving adventures. Buon viaggio!
In our era of global trade and commerce, you typically don’t have to look too far when wanting to purchase imported goods from other countries. That said, however, there are still certain specialty items that are best purchased in the location where they are made and Italy is no exception to that.
During your upcoming visit, here are three specialty items to look out for that you’ll want to purchase to remember your trip by:
Italian leather is known across the world for its hand-made quality. Today, leather is a staple in Italy’s fashion industry (particularly in Milan), but the tradition of leather working dates back several centuries to Florence where the Arno River was the main water source for the leather tanning process.
You can find Italian leather goods in practically any city, but Florence is still considered the capital for products like leather jackets, handbags, belts, gloves, and more. If you’ll be visiting Florence during your trip, be sure to stop by the San Lorenzo Market for an endless selection of local Italian leather goods.
Italy is also known for its abundance of intricately hand-painted ceramics and pottery. Different regions of Italy are known for their unique painted designs on pottery.
For example, along the southern coast in Campania and Calabria you’re likely to find more pottery designs that include citrus fruits and bright colors, while in the Tuscany region you may see more themes with earthy tones featuring olives and grapes. You’ll be able to find an endless selection of different ceramics you can bring home as a useful souvenir, like pasta platters, serving bowls, spoon rests, vases, and more.
Deruta, a town in Umbria, is one of the most important places in Italy regarding ceramics. It is not a stretch to say that Deruta ceramics is world famous due its quality and intricate details. Deruta is actually one of the cities that Bluone takes its travelers to during the Umbria olive oil and food tour!
Faenza, a small town in Emilia-Romagna, is home to The International Museum of Ceramics and it contains the biggest collection of ceramics in the world. In Faenza, there are at least 50 artisans that own a ceramic workshop studio and produce wonderful products.
If you’ll be visiting the floating city of Venice, you won’t want to return home without bringing some world-famous Venetian glass back with you. Primarily crafted on the nearby island of Murano, this specialty item is known for its colorful, elaborate, and intricate designs. There are so many items available made from Venetian glass that you’re sure to find something that fits your style.
Some tourists prefer more luggage-friendly items like glass bead jewelry, small paperweights, and Christmas ornaments, while other tourists prefer statement pieces like vases, drinking glasses, tableware, or sculptures.
Bringing home a few unique specialty items from your upcoming visit will be a fun reminder for years to come of all the sights, tastes, smells, and sounds you experienced during your Italian adventure!
Traveling to Italy for the first time introduces a host of new experiences. The sights, food, people, and way of life are all unique and exciting. But there are a few things that may be different than you're used to at home and are worth knowing about before your visit. To save you from any inconvenient surprises, here are two things you probably didn't know (but should know) about traveling in Italy:
You Can't Always Buy Tickets on Board
One of the great things about traveling in Italy is the convenience of public transportation. You can find a train, bus, or water taxi to take you practically anywhere you want to go. But despite the convenience of the availability of destinations with public transportation, don't just automatically assume that you can hop on board and buy a ticket on the spot. Not so!
Depending on the city and type of transportation, you might need to purchase your ticket prior to boarding since there may not be ticket machines on board. If you won't be boarding at a major train, bus, or water taxi station, then you'll probably need to look for the nearest newspaper stand or tabaccaio/tabaccheria (tobacco shop) to buy one. Also, make note that not all of these places are open on Sundays, so you may need to purchase ahead of time. In certain cities you may be able to purchase bus tickets on board, but you will likely pay a higher price than purchasing a head of time. Keep this in mind as you plan your transportation needs for your trip.
Validate or Get Fined
Once your purchase your public transport ticket, there's still one more task to accomplish other than just hopping on board. You'll also need to validate, or date stamp, your ticket so that it can't be re-used at a later date. These validation machines are usually red and are placed near the entrance where you will be boarding.
If you forget to validate (or don't validate deliberately), you can be fined €30 if the conductor or driver asks to see your ticket and it's not validated. Save yourself the trouble and make it a habit to validate your ticket every time you board a train, bus, or water taxi.
Hopefully these tips will help you feel a little more travel-savvy during your visit!