Complete Guide To Car Rental & Driving In Italy (for foreigners)

PUBLISHED ON Jan, 20 2023


Italy is a beautiful country – no doubt.

So, if you plan to go around Italy, you might as well rent a car and get help from Waze or other similar apps.


Good news! It is safe to drive in Italy even if you are not a local. However, you should expect the following:

  • Traffic can be bad, most especially in the big cities. Imagine waiting for several minutes just for your car to move few meters.
  • There are a number of drivers who constantly ignore stoplights and other road signs. They say that the drivers in Italy should be more disciplined.
  • There are a lot of one-way streets so beware because you might get caught.

With these, you must be very cautious when driving. Look for signs and be a defensive driver. It is normal to hear other drivers cursing and getting hot – tempered. Who can blame them? After all, the weather in Italy is mostly hot and that’s not the best thing to endure while stuck in traffic. My tip for you, turn up the A/C, put on some great songs, and keep calm at all times.


When we visited Italy, I knew that it would be more convenient and practical to hire a car and drive it ourselves rather than using public transportation.

We drove around Rome, went to Florence, Venice Lake Garda and Milan. And you know what’s cool? We had an unlimited mileage to use. If you look at it, that’s actually cost – efficient and it lessens your worry if you have exceeded your mileage cap!

The minimum charges for a day’s rental is equivalent to 24 hours. The excess will be charged at 1/6 of the daily rate. You also need to prepare the following documents before you can take the car on the road.

  • Valid passport
  • Driver’s license
  • Major credit card (visa, Amex, MasterCard)

We used the services of Maggiore Italy. Some of you might say that there are more affordable car rental services available in Italy. While that is true, I would still encourage you to check out Maggiore. These are the reasons why.

  • Maggiore’s rates are competitive– You think they are expensive but in reality, the rates are very reasonable and the package is mostly better than the other companies.
  • Amazing customer support– You wouldn’t want to be left out in the middle of the road on your own, right? With Maggiore, you are sure that a reliable customer support can help you every mile you take.
  • Well maintained cars– And of course, we all want to drive great cars. With Maggiore, you are sure to get only the best ones.


  1. Bring your travel and car documents– It is important that you have a copy of the car’s documents (or perhaps the documents from the car rental provider), and also your travel documents. You might encounter some ‘bumps’ along the way – and I meant that literally and figuratively. Having the necessary papers presented to authorities can help speed up the process and you can continue on your long journey.
  2. Plan your itinerary ahead – While driving from Rome to nearby cities is a “piece of cake”, you still have to prepare an itinerary so you can make the most out of your journey. You can always have a few stopovers which make the entire vacation even more memorable.
  3. Inspect your car– It would help if you know how to check your car prior your trip and not solely depend on your provider. Check the tires, lights, engine and the interior, look for any dents or scratches If there are things to be fixed, you can initiate it or suggest it to your car rental provider. Don’t forget your tools!
  4. Bring snacks– You will never know when hunger strikes. Just to be safe, bring treats you can munch while on the road.
  5. Always have enough cash with you – Your credit and debit card should work fine, but you don’t want to get stuck without the ability to pay.
  6. Prepare some toys or games– If you are traveling with your kids, then I suggest you bring some things that will kill their boredom. Bring coloring books, pencils, crayons and other old – school stuff that can help them play with their imagination.
  7. Save all emergency contacts– You might want to put all the emergency contacts in your smartphone. Plus, make sure that your phone is always charged. You wouldn’t want to have an empty battery on an isolated road…
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask– Italians are innately friendly. You can easily ask them for directions and they will answer you with all smiles.
  9. Tolls – Our advice for using Italian toll roads is to find the cash lane. Try to avoid the credit card line, especially if you don’t have a credit card with a chip.
  10. Don’t forget your car hire excess insurance – you can save up to 70% by buying the car hire excess waiver insurance from an independent insurance company instead of the car hire company itself.


You can use your driver’s license issued by your home country provided that it is in English. Otherwise, you should have an official translation of the driver’s license in English obtained from the local embassy of the issuing country.


Just so you are aware and that you can avoid getting tickets, here are some of the most common road violations in the country. If you get caught, chances are, you violated one of the following.

  • Limited traffic zones (ZTL’s) – These are the areas in the historical centers of most Italian cities and towns that are closed during certain hours to traffic other than permit holders. Rental cars do not have these permits. The ZTL’s are monitored by traffic cameras and entry by non-permit holders results in a charge to your credit card by the car rental company and a fine from the traffic authorities.
  • Illegal parking and illegal turns
  • Not wearing seatbelts
  • Driving without a valid driver’s license
  • Driving a car that was used in a crime (That is why you need to get cars from a reputable company)
  • Reckless driving


  • Drive to the side of the road.
  • Stay in the vehicle
  • The officer will ask for your license and/ or registration

NEVER BRIBE! Do not attempt to do this or you might face bigger penalties. In the past, this was fairly common but that doesn’t mean you should try to do it too.

Do you think you are now ready for a long road trip from Rome?

One Response

  1. Eddie says:

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I buy a plan for just one day?

Yes. Insurance for a single day is available.

Can I buy a plan for part of my rental only?

No. We provide a single journey plan. You are covered from the time you pick up the rental car up to the time you return it or on the last date written on your Certificate of Insurance, whichever comes first.

Can I buy a plan when I pick up my rental car?

No. You should purchase a policy before starting your travel.

Find the answers you’re looking for to the most frequently asked car hire insurance questions as well as other questions relating to our products and services.

Visit the FAQ page