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Driving in Italy: the facts
Driving in Italy is one of the most rewarding ways to see this beautiful nation and affords much more freedom than the country's admittedly extensive rail network - particularly as a way to explore the more remote countryside regions. But for those who choose to rent or drive a car to Italy, here are a few important details to bear in mind before starting out.
The rules of the road
UK drivers must hold and be in possession of a full UK drivers licence before driving in Italy. In general, tourists from countries outside the EU are only required to present their national licence, as long as it's written in a language that follows the Roman alphabet. However, motoring organisations such as AA and AAA recommend purchasing an International Driving Permit.
The licence, along with photo ID (if not on the licence), the vehicle registration document and a certificate of motor insurance, must be carried at all times.
When driving in Italy, always drive on the right.
The speed limit on the motorway (Autostrada) is 130 km/h, 110km/h on dual carriageways, 90km/h out of towns and 50km/h in towns.
Italy implements stricter drink driving laws in comparison to the UK. The limit is 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood (it's 0.8 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood in the UK).
Front and rear seatbelts must be worn at all times.
UK registered vehicles that carry Euro-plates (a blue plate with a circle of 12 stars above a UK identification) do not require a GB sticker when driving in Italy. Vehicles without Euro-plates require a sticker.
Be aware that traffic violations are subject to heavy spot fines.
Follow the rules of the road and driving in Italy is straightforward. Rental companies including Hertz and Budget operate at most major airports and in large towns and cities. Unleaded petrol (benzina), diesel (gasolio) and LPG are widely available, although it's important to note that off the Autostrada, petrol stations often close once a week and for a few hours during the day.