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Driving in Italy

11 replies

Poledra · 30/05/2022 17:41

I've driven in France for years and years, including round Paris but always in my own car (so, RH drive). This year, the kids and I are keen to go to Italy and maybe splash out on a villa with a pool etc. Problem is, I'm not keen on driving my own car all the way to Italy. Can anyone tell me how hard is it to drive in Italy in a hired car, sitting on the wrong side?? I'm a pretty confident driver but I've seen how some of those Italian taxi drivers drive...

Thanks for any help/advice!

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zafferana · 30/05/2022 19:01

It will be weird to start with OP if you've never done it before and if you hire a manual car you'll have to change gear with the other hand, which to start with means you keep grabbing the door handle, rather than the gear stick! Alternatively, you could hire an automatic, but if you're not used to driving one of those you might just find it easier to stick with a manual.

Otherwise, just take it slowly. Pause at each junction and make sure you know which side of the carriageway you'll be driving onto, think when you get to a roundabout which way you'll be going around it and remember that, as the driver, you will be sitting just to the left of the centre line in the middle of the road and not near the verge (as you would be in your own car if driving on the continent). After an hour or two it gets easier, but give yourself time to adjust and, if possible, avoid driving in or around cities, particularly Naples, and the Amalfi Coast.

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zafferana · 30/05/2022 19:02

Sorry, that should be you'll be sitting to the right of the centre line! See, even I'm confused Grin

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RetrainRetrain · 30/05/2022 19:18

I find it much harder to drive a UK car on the 'wrong' side of the road than a hire car because you can see much better when overtaking etc and you're less likely to forget which side you should be on.

In terms of driving styles, it is likely.to vary massively depending on where you are going in Italy. Rural areas are always easier than cities, and some cities are easier than others if you have a hire car and potentially huge charges for any damage.

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TizerorFizz · 30/05/2022 19:55

I’ve driven in several continents in hire cars. They have the steering wheel where it should be. Swapping from LHD to RHD and back is easy. You will find with a hire car it’s the natural way to drive and much safer. I never have grabbed anything by mistake. If you are a decent confident driver it’s really easy. However Italians are a bit fast at times.

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Poledra · 31/05/2022 10:35

Thanks all - seems like I should be able to do this! And a good call from @zafferana - my own car is indeed an automatic, so I'd be really comfortable hiring an automatic and that takes away the gear change problem (believe it or not, I hadnt thought about that!).

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Africa2go · 31/05/2022 16:19

If you're going to a tourist destination, just be careful where you drive. The actual driving is relatively OK once you're used to it (but they do drive very fast and tailgate more than British drivers) but we had a nightmare once driving into Florence. We apparently ventured into 2 fine-worthy areas in the space of 6 minutes - we didn't realise until about a month after we got home and got 2 traffic violation notices in Italian in the post, both for £200 - we hadn't parked, just apparently driven over an area / lane we shouldn't have. We don't recall any signage. My italian-speaking relative managed to reduce it to £200 but it was a costly mistake.

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motogirl · 31/05/2022 16:39

I really dont like driving hire cars, even with the steering wheel in the correct place! I drove to Italy though, sharing the driving admittedly, and stopped off at places en route as part of the holiday

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MzHz · 31/05/2022 17:06

The main thing about driving abroad is really being on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, and if you’re used to driving in France, it won’t be any different

BUT, if you hire a car at least YOU will be sitting on the RIGHT side of the ‘wrong’ side of the road iykwim

id hire every time, I’d hate to have to drive all the way to Italy, I’d be exhausted before I started the holiday and ruined after driving

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TizerorFizz · 31/05/2022 17:16

@Africa2go
The most difficult driving experience we had was driving back into Rio de Janeiro from Petropolis. It was like a racetrack and every Brazilian driver thought they were Ayrton Senna. Lorry drivers too. It was pretty frightening. Even staying out of the way was an effort. Italy is a doddle when compared to that.

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youlightupmyday · 31/05/2022 18:44

Just remember steering wheel in the middle of the road and you'll be fine! It's more intuitive than you would think!

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Anoooshka · 31/05/2022 18:54

I don't find driving in Italy too bad at all. When I am driving, that is. The only problem we had was driving in a small town in Sicily. DH took a wrong turning and we ended up in the centre of the town where the streets were getting narrower and narrower. Eventually the street (with buildings on both sides) became just wider than the width of our car. We passed a man sitting on a barstool outside a bar and had to fold in our wing mirrors to avoid hitting him. He didn't even look up! Eventually the street widened, and we found our way back to the main road!

Oh, and DH did once drive the wrong way down a one-way street. I got out of the car to direct him, and he drove off (ILs were with us giving directions, so he got a bit flustered). I had to run after the car! Lots of locals were hanging out of their cars cheering me on.

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