If you’re planning to drive in Italy, you should exercise caution as traffic can be faster-paced than in Ireland and driving customs are different. In cities and towns, the widespread use of motorbikes and mopeds require drivers to be extra alert and cautious.
If you want to drive:
•Bring your full Irish or international driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
•If you are driving and Irish registered car ensure that it is fully insured and carry your logbook, proof of insurance and NCT certificate (if appropriate)
•Be aware when turning right at junctions, even if there is a green signal, pedestrians crossing the road into which one is turning have precedence
•All drivers are required to wear a reflective vest and to use a reflective triangle warning sign if they need to stop at the roadside
•Dipped headlights must be used at all times when driving on the motorways (Autostrada) and major roads
Restricted Access to Italian city centres
Many Italian city centres operate restricted driving zones to which only cars with permits have access. Fines will be issued to all cars entering this zone without a permit. The boundaries of such restricted areas will be marked by signs stating “ZTL” (Zona Traffico Limitato / Limited Traffic Zone).
As signage can be limited, it may not always be clear if a restricted zone is in operation. In addition, car license plates are read electronically so you may not be aware that you have incurred a fine until you receive notification via post some months later.
Tourists are advised to seek local advice on whether restricted traffic zones are in operation, and to respect all regulations. If your hotel is in the centre of the city concerned, you may be able to obtain a temporary pass for that city; please contact your hotel for further details.
Fines for road traffic offences
Fines may be issued up to one year after the offence was committed and can be increased if they are not then paid within 60 days. The Italian Highway Code also makes provision for a number of “on the spot” fines. If you’re unable to pay, the fine will be sent to your home address and may be increased.
The authority responsible for the Italian motorway system provides useful information on its website in English.
Pedestrians should remember that traffic will be coming from the opposite direction to traffic in Ireland. They should pay particular heed to the additional danger at night when walking along roads without a proper pavement and when crossing roads even at a designated crossing place.
Most pedestrian crossings are not controlled by signals, but rather are similar to zebra-crossings in Ireland. However drivers, especially on motorbikes and mopeds, sometimes do not respect these, so particular care should be taken.
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged). You should also carry your rental contract at all times.
Taxis in Italy are licensed, with clearly marked signage. They run on a meter, and a list of supplementary charges (late hours, luggage etc) will be listed inside. Airports and seaports often attract unlicensed drivers posing as taxis, which should be avoided as they will generally overcharge tourists. We recommend that only official taxis be hired.
Please be aware that when you call for a taxi, the meter starts running the minute the taxi is dispatched to your location. So, for example, if the taxi dispatcher or recording tells you that “Taxi X” is arriving in 5 minutes, you should know that there will be 5 minutes’ worth of fare on the meter when it arrives.
For your safety, never get into a taxi when the driver is already accompanied or agree to the driver picking up another person.
Major cities also have a number of chauffeur companies, which often offer transfer from the airport to the centre and vice versa at competitive prices. Ask at your hotel for further details.
The local Roman authorities have set a flat fare of €30 for journeys to and from Ciampino airport and the centre of Rome (within the Aurelian Walls) and €48 for journeys to and from Fumincino airport and the centre of Rome (within the Aurelian Walls). Before travelling to Rome, check whether your hotel is located in area covered by this agreement. No further charges should be made for luggage, extra passengers etc.
Buses, trains, trams and the metro all require valid tickets. These must be purchased in advance and validated in a validating machine either in the station or on the bus/tram. Failure to have a valid (and validated) ticket will result in an on-the-spot fine of around €50 to €60 per person. Inspectors will make no exceptions for tourists.
Tickets can often be purchased in small cafés, especially those, which also sell cigarettes (look out for the blue T sign which signifies Tabaccheria (Tobacco shop).
Public Transport strikes occur relatively frequently in Italy, with reduced services or complete suspension. They are generally advertised in advance, and tourists should keep informed of possible strikes and how these may impact on their plans.
Tue, 17 May 2016 15:25:25 BST