What you need to know
You will almost be guaranteed to be surrounded by stunning views and an array of landscapes when driving in Italy. However, it is said to be ‘an experience’ and not one for the faint hearted. The Italian style of driving is different to most and often comes as quite a surprise to many expats. Below, we have compiled a few tips to help make driving as carefree as possible.
How to cover yourself from risks
Basic, third-party liability car insurance is mandatory in Italy. Whether you’re buying a car there or importing one from home, it’s important to know what level of protection you can get and what to do if you get in an accident in Italy.
Snow tyres or snow chains?
Going skiing in Italy this winter ? Making your own way to the Italian ski property or hotel ? Hiring a car? If you answered yes to all these questions, then this article is for you!
What you should know
Italy generally has a temperate climate influenced by the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, and the protective Alps encircling the north. Southern Italy and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia enjoy a Mediterranean climate, as does the Italian Riviera.
Where to go skiing and snowboarding
Most winter sports are catered for in Italian resorts, the most popular being skiing and snowboarding.
Boating and diving in Italy
Given Italy’s climate, the length of the coastline and the large lakes in the north, it will come as no surprise to discover that watersports are popular in Italy. Messing about in boats is a favourite pastime and sailing boats, motorboats, canoes and kayaks can be hired (rented) at many coastal and lake resorts.
A popular sport
Not surprisingly given the climate, swimming (
nuoto) is a popular sport (and pastime) in Italy, although the country has fewer indoor swimming pools (
piscina) than you might expect.
Playing it hard
Rugby union (played between teams of 15 players) was introduced in northern Italy by workers returning from France in the late 1920s, and it’s still strongest in the northern regions.
Badminton, Squash and Tennis
Badminton has only been introduced in the last decade or so, although there are now clubs in most major cities, many of which participate in national tournaments and international competitions.
provides many opportunities for mountaineering (
alpinismo), rock climbing (
roccia) and caving (
speleologia), particularly in the Alps, where there are challenges for those at all levels of experience.
A country of passionate motor sports supporters
Italy is synonymous with cars, being the home of such famous names as Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Fiat, Lamborghini, Lancia and Maserati, and a love of (fast) cars is almost mandatory among Italian males.
General information and useful tips
The hunting (
la caccia) season in Italy extends from September until February for most animals and until March for migratory birds.
One of the finest hiking areas in Europe
escursionismo), which includes anything from a gentle ramble through the countryside to serious hill walking, is popular in Italy, where there are numerous opportunities for walkers of all standards.
What you shold know
Although you may not automatically think of golf when you think of Italy, there are many 9- and 18-hole courses around the country, particularly in the north, where there’s more flat land available.
The national sport
Football or soccer (
calcio) is Italy’s national sport and by far the most important in Italy, occupying almost the entire first half of each issue of
La Gazzetta dello Sport. Italian football fans (
tifosi) are among the most dedicated and fervent in Europe, matched in their fanaticism only by the English, Scottish and Spanish.
The paradise for fishermen
Italy offers abundant fishing opportunities, both fresh and salt water, and over 2m people take part in the sport annually.
General information and tip
ciclismo) is a hugely popular sport, despite the fact that some two-thirds of the country is mountainous and temperatures in summer are often too high for anyone but the most dedicated riders.
An outstanding country
There are clubs and schools throughout the country offering flying and gliding opportunities and training, although flying is an expensive sport in Italy.
Airports, fares and tips
There are direct international scheduled and charter flights to all major cities in Italy (e.g. direct flights from the UK to around 20 Italian cities) and many towns are served by domestic flights.
Fares, booking and cross-channel services
has a well developed network of ferry services. Large ferries (
navi) service the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, while smaller islands are served by small ferries (
traghetti) and hydrofoils (
What you should know when taking a taxi in Italy
Taxis in Italian cities are usually yellow, sometimes white, while in smaller towns white is the most common colour with a small number in other colours.
City, long-distance & rural services
has no national bus (
autobus) or coach (
pullman, or sometimes
pulman) companies, but has more local and regional buses and operators than any other European country. Buses are more expensive than trains, although they’re often quicker for short journeys.
Rail network, train standards and tickets
Trains are operated by the national company, Ferrovie dello Stato (www.ferroviedellostato.it), usually referred to by the initials FS, although you may also see FFSS. Italy’s rail network is one of the most extensive in Europe, running to around 16,000km of lines, some two-thirds of which are electrified, and over 3,000 stations.
Travelling by public transport in Italy
The standard of public transport (
mezzi pubblici) services in Italy can best be described as mixed; at its best it can be excellent, but sometimes it’s simply dire.
If you are coming from a country that drives on the left and plan to stay more than 6 months it is best to sell your car at home and buy one that drives on the right side of the road when you arrive. It is difficult enough driving in Italy without driving in the gutter for 3 years!