Italy Transportation Tips by Trekki Top 5 Page for this destination
Italy Transportation: 348 reviews and 244 photos
Limited traffic, here in Spello, Umbria
Italy’s train and mostly regional bus service is excellent and connects to almost every small village. But the bus services are mostly focussing on the regional connections and very often only within the province of a region, getting from one village to another can make a day quite long and time consuming, especially if the real distance between villages is rather short.
Thus, depending on the individual travel plans, destinations and the time frame, renting a car is often the better option. During all my travels in Italy so far I have rented a car (except for Venezia of course) because I wanted the freedom to travel to even the smallest village without loosing too much time. But then my preferred travel region is Italy’s middle, Umbria, Marche, Lazio, Abruzzi and Emilia Romagna in the north to be precise. And I haven’t been in Roma, Firenze, Napoli or Amalfi Coast and don’t intend to visit these. To me, driving in my preferred regions of Italy is a very much relaxed affair but I am otherwise used to German traffic without speed limits where an increasing amount of idiots believe that they are on a Formula 1 track. However, a car as means of transport comes with one minor “disadvantage” although this depends on the own perception and .. yes, on the own understanding for the host country. The smaller and the more original or historical the layout of towns is, the rarer is public parking. And since these small towns are by no means set up by Disneyland as tourist towns but homogeneously grown communities, this rare parking is to be kept for the locals. Small town communities and officials though take much care for their visitors and usually provide parking space just outside of the towns’ historical centres. These are often free of charge or accessible for a small fee (usually less than 1 Euro). Many towns with extreme hillside locations such as Orvieto, Urbino and Gubbio (and many others but these are the ones I know) even provide elevator/escalator systems to transport visitors to the higher parts of town.
In our Italy forum I often see heated debates about the limited traffic zones (ZTL = zona traffic limitato) in cities or towns. I completely fail to understand the viewpoint of the antagonists of these traffic zones because it should be a matter of respect for the country and city’s way to protect the rights of the ones who live there, the residents. And this includes that houses or areas simply won’t be torn down to provide parking space for visitors, especially from abroad. Should the locals, families with kids, elderly people, park outside at the costs that we tourists can park inside? Definitely not and we won’t tolerate such a viewpoint in our own home cities.
So my plea is: please understand the parking rules and the residents’ situation, especially in the hill towns and you will have a marvellous time in this beautiful country.
I also come across answers and remarks in the forums that "Italian cities are ZTL protected". This is simply NOT true, at least the generalisation is silly. Not every Italian town has these ZTL (zones). True is that as of now these zones have been applied in 35 Italian towns, plus in Venezia, but Venezia has no car traffic anyhow. Information about the cities, constantly updated are here:
ZTL Blogspot (in Italian, but with clickable links for each of the cities),
ZTL in Italy (a Danish site in Danish, Swedish and German, but the list of the cities is ... international of course).
If you travelling by car, I can only highly recommend to stick to the parking and speed rules. Even during the times outside of the typical holiday seasons, I did see many police people walking around and taking notes of wrongly parked cars. On parking areas for example it is forbidden to park caravans. When I once stopped in Cesenatico to visit the old port, I saw some policemen checking cars in the parking lot, so I asked them if I can park the car and how much it costs (there were many cars already standing there and no ticket machine in sight). The officers explained me that parking cars is free of charge, but that they are writing down the caravans’ details since it is forbidden to park them outside of designated caravan parking.
if there isn’t a sign for payment or on the road, then there is no fee. Blue lines on the ground around parking spaces mean pay parking at one of the automatic ticket booths. White lines mean that parking is free.
The same goes for driving. Police is often controlling even roads where you would expect them least, and once caught with speeding, the fees will be hefty. In addition to police controls I saw more and more of these little automatic speed control towers at the entrance of villages or anywhere in villages. They have in-built cameras and no matter if Italian or not, cars will be traced through the licence plate and the drivers will be fined. This is also the case for rental cars. And speeding tickets can be hefty. On an Italian website I found these fees for fines for speeding in Italy:
Speeding < 10 km/hr: 36 – 148 Euro
Speeding 10 - 40 km/hr: 148 – 594 Euro
Speeding 40 - 60 km/hr: 370 – 1458 Euro
Speeding > 60 km/hr: 500 – 2000 Euro
Once caught, it is wise to pay the fine. The consequences if one doesn’t pay are that one will run into problems when entering Italy next time. And surely a rental car company which is informed that a customer didn’t pay a fine, will surely never rent cars to this customer.
Prices for gas/petrol per litre:
I am adding this (March 2012), because Italy has the highest gas/petrol prices in Europe since some time. Here is a website with the actual gas/petrol prices. It seems to be updated frequently and also lists the more expensive brands versus the less expensive brands. Which, with prices per litre of approx. 1,75 - 1,88 Euro can save quite a bit.
© Ingrid D., September 22, 2010 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts), update March 2012: speeding rules added, gas/petrol price website added.
Type: Car/Motor Home
Of all the possible airports to arrive or depart from in northern Italy, Bologna is my favourite. I hate huge airports, especially when I have to walk for miles to get to gates and consequently have to wait “hours” to get my luggage. Bologna airport has the perfect size for me and moreover the shop owners don’t rip off travellers who are thirsty and hungry. Yes, that is another feature which is important to me: prices for water, coffee and a snack. The last time I deported from Bologna was in April 2011 and I paid only 1,10 Euro for my caffè and 1,40 Euro for a 500 ml bottle of water at the small snack bar near the gates (after security). In the shopping area there are several fashion shops, food shops and a bookstore. Enough to buy these little things one might forgot to buy during travels.
The airport has an intelligent website, very easy to understand and read, with excellent floor maps and additional information about the services. Similar intelligent and easy is their ”to and from airport” section with links to the respective mode of transport.
Bologna Airport G. Marconi, code BLQ, is approx. 6 km northwest of Bologna’s city centre and conveniently located at the two main motorways Autostrada Adriatica (A14, to Rimini and further south) and Autostrada del Sole (A1, to Milano or Firenze and Roma).
The airport is being served by major European airlines, which makes it a perfect alternative to Milano's Malpensa in case Milano isn't the desired destination. And it has other international flights, which can be seen on their - again - very much intelligent destination map.
Location of G. Marconi Airport, Bologna, on Google Maps.
© Ingrid D., May 2011 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
Spello - drive here ... NOT!!!!!
Travelling through Italy with a car is fun, but some important things must be considered, otherwise one has to learn it the hard way: hefty fees.
I am talking about ZTL (zona traffico limitato), or restricted traffic zones in town and city centres. This has nothing to do with traps especially set up for tourists, because Italians without permission are also fined. Locals can get permission (= either a sticker or the licence plate number was listed in the police’s records), so one should not assume that “someone passes the signs, so everyone can pass it”. It is like at home. Rules are rules. The sign – the round one with the red circle around are universal, so no police officer would believe a tourist’s “oh, I didn’t understand it” pretext.
The zones have been established to protect the historical centres of towns, which are mostly very narrow and where it is difficult to turn around. Also, visitors of course would park cars in the centres if it would be allowed to enter, thus stealing valuable parking space of the locals. Imagine an old lady who is not anymore a good walker. Imagine she would be your mother or grandmother. Would you want to let her walk all the way with her groceries shopping because you stole a parking spot in front of her house which she could use otherwise? I hope not.
So be good, use the public transport in bigger cities with ZTL or park outside in smaller towns with ZTL. Usually large parking spaces, often without fee, are being provided in these towns.
And learn before your trip where these ZTL zones are. Most naturally they are in the tourist (Italians and non-Italians) overflowing cities like Firenze, Roma and Milano. But there are more, as it can be seen on a website/blogspot with ZTL list Italy. It is constantly expanded, well, it should be. It contains links for the cities and towns, often with further links and maps where the zones are.
Calabria: Reggio Calabria
Campania: Napoli (Naples),
Emilia Romagna: Bologna, Ferrara, Forlì, Modena, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Rimini,
Friuli: Pordenone, Trieste
Lazio: Gaeta, Roma (Rome), Viterbo,
Liguria: Genova, Riomaggiore,
Lombardia: Milano (Milan), Brescia,
Piemonte: Torino, Asti, Novara, Alessandria
Sicilia (Sicily): Messina, Palermo,
Trentino-Alto Adige: Bolzano,
Toscana (Tuscany): Firenze (Florence), Lucca, Pisa, Sesto Fiorentino, Siena,
Umbria: Assisi, Perugia, Spello,
Veneto: Padova, Verona (and of course Venezia/Venice, but it goes without saying that cars don’t drive in Venezia...)
One important word about rental cars: in case you rent a car and have booked an accommodation within a ZTL zone: check with your accommodation if they have reported your licence plate to the police. Don’t do it by phone, do it by email so that you have proof in case they said so but didn’t.
© Ingrid D., April 2012 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
Thank you for reading. I appreciate if you would leave a comment and decide if my review was helpful or not.
Type: Car/Motor Home
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