Places to Avoid Driving in Italy

Places to Avoid Driving in Italy

Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, however many of its most popular cities are difficult and dangerous to bring a car into.  Below we have composed a list of the places in Italy where you should absolutely not drive.

NORTHERN ITALY

Venice

Venice obviously is an island city and people get around here with boats, however even driving to Venice or picking up a car in Venice we don’t really recommend it if you can avoid it.  Dropping a car there is extremely expensive and even getting to the rental facilities from Venice island is also very complicated.

Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is Italy’s most visited national park.  These 5 ancient fishing villages that cling to the cliffs, are accessible only by train, water or on foot.  While you can drive into Monterosso al Mare, the largest of the 5 villages, we strongly advise against doing this.  Parking is terribly expensive and the roads are dangerous, while the Cinque Terre Express train runs regularly from La Spezia to Sestri Levante, as does the public ferry.

Genoa, Italian Riviera 

Genoa is a beautiful port-side town on Italy’s riviera, however we certainly do not recommend driving here if you can avoid it.  For one, parking is limited and the the historical center of the city is completely blocked off to traffic which makes it useless and expensive to have a car in this beautiful city.

CENTRAL ITALY

Florence

Like Rome, Florence has sections of the city where traffic is restricted to residents only, limited parking, hefty fines, heavy traffic and on top of all of this, the streets are much smaller than Rome and difficult to navigate. On the other hand, the train station is inside the city and a pleasant 10-15 minute walk from the duomo. Many of the car-rental companies have offices near the station, so if your plan is to drive round Tuscany, you can easily leave after your peaceful visit to Florence….on foot!

Siena

Siena is a wonderful town located in the region of Tuscany. One of the things that makes it so nice to visit, is the fact that its center is closed to traffic. This means that you have to park outside the town and walk up to the center. If you are planning on using Siena as a base to explore Tuscany, ask our experts about hotel options where parking won’t be an issue.

Rome

Rome is known as the “Eternal City” and it is a must see when coming to Italy, however it is also one of the cities you should avoid bringing a car into for several reasons:

  • Rome doesn’t even have enough parking for its citizens, so parking is consequently very expensive. Worse still, at night, unofficial ‘parking attendants’ hang around car parks and road sides demanding ‘tips’ from drivers to keep an eye on their car!

  • Rome has sections of the city where traffic is limited to residents only and others where even they can’t go! It’s not always easy for visitors to understand when they are entering these areas, so it’s very easy to get fined.

  • Why waste your time sitting in traffic? Rome is a relatively small city, with a high level of car ownership, which means that the traffic is always bad. There’s a reason so many locals have a scooter, as well as a car or two!

  • With all the limited areas and one-way streets, Rome is complicated to get around, so we suggest that you either use the local transport, walk or hire a driver who can take you into areas of the city like only a local can.

Rome's Limited Traffic Zone
Sign showing you are entering the ‘limited traffic zone’ of the city center

Click here to learn more about the ZTL in Rome, Florence, Milan & Pisa.

SOUTHERN ITALY

Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is certainly one of Italy’s top attractions and with good reason. It considered to be one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. However, the roads are dangerous and precarious here and parking can cost up to 100 euros a day depending on where you are staying. The famed coastal road may be an attractive James Bond-style challenge to car enthusiasts who look at sharp turns and sheer drops, but the reality is far less entertaining, especially in summer when you are stuck behind half a dozen coaches trying to navigate the bends!

Sorrento

Unlike many of the towns on the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento stays open all-year-round, making it one of Italy’s most visited coastal towns. In Sorrento there are 2 main roads – one going in and one going out.  From May to October, these roads are constantly blocked and parking is extremely expensive, so you will save yourself time and money hiring a driver in and out, rather than taking on the stress of hiring a car.

Capri 

Capri is one of Italy’s most famous and visited islands, however the traffic here is limited to local traffic only, so don’t even try! Add to that the dangerous roads and you will consider yourself lucky to be walking or touring the island with a local driver.

Naples

Even other Italians are nervous about driving here, which should be all you really need to know! Naples is a very large port city, notorious for crime and although they have cleaned things up in recent years, there are still large pot-holes in the roads and many areas of the city are considered unsafe. See Naples and Die so the saying goes, we don’t recommend you risk it!

Avoiding driving in Naples
Traffic in Naples

Palermo

Driving in Sicily is a great way to visit the best of the sites. While much of Italy is connected by an extensive train network, geography and the stunning Lo Zingaro nature reserve, have prevented the entire island being connected. If you have lots of time on your hands, you can travel from Palermo to Siracusa by train in about 5hrs, but not much further, so hiring a car or driver in Sicily is a great idea. But not in Palermo. Sicily’s capital is chaotic, driving is erratic (locals don’t consider a red traffic light a signal to stop!) and grid lock is common. Save yourself the headache and either stay in the city and have a driver pick you up from the airport, or stay outside the city (we love Mondello in summer), where you can park your rental car.

Catania

Narrow streets, dangerous driving and terrible parking facilities may make Catania’s historical center even worse than Palermo for drivers! Just don’t do it!

There are many places in Italy where we do recommend you to drive rather than taking public transport or hiring a car.  For more information about travel in Italy and getting around Italy, get in touch with the experts team@italyvacationspecialists.com

Back to Top