Driving in Tuscany: 14 Tips & How to Avoid Getting a Ticket 2023

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Are you planning on driving in Tuscany?

There are a couple of essential tips that you need to know first before hopping into your rental car. Such as basic road rules, avoiding ZTL, and how NOT to get a ticket driving in Italy.

One of my friends was traveling with us in Italy, returned home from their Tuscany road trip, and discovered they had 5 tickets! Which is definitely, something you don’t want to deal with after a vacation.

So I am here to share all of the tips we learned driving in Tuscany to help you have a smooth and stress-free road trip – without tickets!

14 Tips for Driving in Tuscany 2023

Renting a car and driving in Tuscany is one of the best ways to explore the countryside. We planned an epic road trip visiting so many amazing destinations like Lucca, Siena, and Saturnia to see the famous hot springs. And for the grand final Pontassieve, where my husband and I got married at a beautiful Italian castle.

Also, I know the feeling. It can be stressful and overwhelming when you plan on renting a car in a new country. Italy has restricted traffic zones and a couple of different traffic signs and rules that can make things confusing and challenging.

beautiful vineyards while driving in Tuscany

However, it is so worth it! Renting a car and driving in Tuscany allows you the freedom and flexibility to see many off-the-beaten-path locations and discover the magical countryside at your own pace.

TIP: If you only plan to stay in the main cities like Florence and not explore the countryside, you do not need to rent a car. You can use public transportation or walking is actually the easiest and cheapest way to get around Florence.

1. Tips for Renting Your Car

Once you have decided that you will be driving in Tuscany, you should book your car rental. You will want to do this ASAP, especially if you are traveling in the summer (high season) or need an automatic car.

Automatic cars are less common in Europe and will typically be more expensive to rent as well. The easiest spot to pick up your rental car is from the airport or the train station in Florence.

πŸš— Discover Cars is a great budget-friendly option for car rentals, and they offer free cancellation!

TIP: If you are traveling to Florence first, do what we did, and wait to rent your car until after your stay. There is absolutely no need to have a car in Florence and why pay for extra days when you won’t be using it?

After our time in Florence, we took a taxi to the car rental and started our road trip through the countryside from there.

βœ… Check rates & availability for car rentals here

How to Avoid Getting a Ticket

2. Follow the Speed Limit

Speeding is a major no no in Italy. Even if you are following traffic on the highway, it is not worth it. Speed limits are strictly enforced, and there are speeding cameras everywhere.

On their highways, Italy has the Tutor System, which are cameras that take photos to measure the average speed of your vehicle, and if you are speeding, they will send you a ticket in the mail.

Also, there are speed camera controls on the roads and highways. There are signs that will notify you that there is an electronic speed control system in place. The sign will say “controllo elettronico della velocita.”

speed camera controls while driving in Tuscany

If you are in town in the built-up areas, the speed limit is between 50 km/h to 70km/h and the speed limit on highways is 130km/h unless otherwise marked.

So if you want to avoid getting a ticket in the mail months after your trip then your best bet is to obey the rules and drive the speed limit.

3. Watch Out for ZTL Zones

When driving in Tuscany, one of the most important things you need to know is to avoid the ZTLs, also known as Zona Traffico Limitato or Restricted Traffic Zone.

avoid entering the zona traffico limitato areas in the main cities in Italy

Most of the city centers in Tuscany have ZTL zones where access is restricted or limited to specific vehicles. You need to pay attention to these signs indicating ZTL zones and avoid entering them, or you will get an expensive traffic ticket.

Even if you think you have gotten away with it, there are cameras at the entry points that will take a photo of your car and license plate, and you’ll receive a fine in the mail.

4. You Need an International Driver’s Permit

Something that came as a surprise to us when renting a car in Italy is that they require you to have an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). It is possible that the car rental may not ask to see it. However, if you get pulled over, the International Permit is mandatory, and you will get fined for not having one. 

The permit is good for a year and is actually pretty easy to get and inexpensive. You can apply to AAA by mail or apply in person at a local AAA branch.

TIP: You want to make sure it’s an International Driver’s Permit, not an International Driver’s License. Those can be easily confused online and are not the same thing.

Be Familiar With the Local Road Signs and Traffic Laws

Before driving in Tuscany, it’s important to understand the traffic rules and regulations in Italy. Also, it is helpful to be prepared and familiarize yourself with some of the common road signs.

traffic signs in Tuscany

5. Basic Traffic Rules & Regulations

  • You are required to turn your headlights on at all times, even during the day.
  • It is illegal to make a right turn at a red at a traffic lights
  • You drive on the right side of the road
  • The left lanes of any multi-lane road are only for passing.

6. Need to Know Road Signs

  • Blue Signs: Indicate main highways & roads that are not toll roads.
  • Green Signs: These are for the Autostrada (motorway), which is a toll road.
  • Maximum Speed: A white circle with a red border, and the maximum speed limit is written in black.
  • Limited Traffic Zone: A white circle with a red outline marked Zona Traffico Limitato
  • Do Not Enter: A white circle with a red outline
  • Parking Area: Parking areas are indicated by a blue square with a white P in the middle.

7. Where Do You Park Your Car

If you are visiting towns like Lucca, Pisa, or Siena, parking lots or metered parking are almost always outside the city walls with a short walk to get to the center. Parking in designated parking lots will be indicated by a blue sign with a white capital β€œP”.

When looking for parking, just remember to keep your eyes peeled for the ZTL signs and not to enter those areas. Also, you can always check a map prior to your visit or ask your VRBO/Airbnb host or Hotel front desk where you should park nearby.

TIP: Pack as lightly as possible or bring luggage that’s easy for you to transport, especially on cobblestone sidewalks.

Also, if you are staying in an Airbnb, it’s not common for them to have elevators. So if you are on the second or third floor, you will most likely have to carry your luggage up a flight of stairs.

8. Make Sure You Have a Reliable GPS

For most of our time driving through Tuscany, we used our GPS on our phones for directions. However, when we went a little off the beaten path to Saturnia, we did lose service. It was not a big deal, but just be aware and prepared for some of those rural locations deep in the Tuscan countryside to have spotty service.

If you are not comfortable relying on your phone for directions, you can always request a GPS with your rental car.

9. Driving on Highways in Tuscany

Driving on the highway in Tuscany was pretty easy to do and figure out, but there are a couple of essential tips that can help you before your trip.

driving on the highway in Tuscany

For one, if you are driving long distances, you will probably encounter Italy’s toll roads. These main motorways/highways that have tolls are called Autostrada. They are listed as an β€˜A’ followed by a number (for example, A1) on a green sign.

You must use dipped headlights at all times (night and day) when driving on the Autostrada.

10. Paying Tolls

When you arrive at the highway entrance, there are toll booths where you are issued a ticket from the auto machine. Keep your ticket in a safe spot because you are going to need it to pay for your toll when you exit the highway.

tolls along the highway in Italy

To pay tolls there are dedicated lanes for cash, card, and Telepass (an electronic toll collection system you most likely won’t have in a rental car).

To tell the difference between each lane:

  • White sign: cash or coins
  • Blue sign-Carte: credit/debit & Telepass
  • Yellow sign: Telepass

Autostrada toll costs depend on the total number of kilometers traveled. If you want an idea of how much tolls will cost on your Tuscany road trip you can check out Via Michelin for an estimate.

TIP: I would have some Euros on hand for the tolls just in case!

11. The Roads in Tuscany

Be prepared for narrow and winding roads in the city centers and in some of the rural parts of Tuscany. My tips are: Take your time, follow the speed, and be careful driving at night.

driving in the main towns in Tuscany

12. Roundabouts Galore

Does anyone else get extremely nervous when they enter a roundabout? I always feel like I am going to do it wrong. When you are traveling in Italy you will quickly notice that roundabouts are very common but don’t worry, you will be a pro by the end of your trip!

If you are unfamiliar with roundabouts, some tips would be: when approaching a traffic circle, get into the correct lane and give way to traffic on the left. To exit the roundabout, use your turn signal to let others know.

13. Fueling Up Your Car

Most of the gas stations are self serve and pretty easy to figure out. Gas or petrol in Italy is called Benzina and diesel is gasolio.

14. Italians are Passionate Drivers

You may be a little nervous driving in Tuscany because you heard about Italain’s reputation behind the wheel. They are known to be assertive and aggressive drivers on the road. After our time driving in Tuscany, we thought this to be somewhat true.

signs along the road in Tuscany

If you are driving in cities, like Florence, you need to be an aggressive driver because of the intense traffic. But this is true for any major city in the US, like New York, San Francisco, or Philadelphia.

You will not need to worry too much about this since most likely you will not be doing a lot of driving in the main cities because of the restricted traffic zones.

A famous Italian saying about driving is β€œYou watch your front, let everyone else watch your back”.  This is the best way to describe the style of driving in Italy. Horn-honking and flashing their lights are also friendly ways of communication.

You Can Still See the Countryside Without a Car

Even if you decide not to rent a car, you can still explore the Tuscan countryside and visit some of the main towns by tour.

Tuscany Day Trip from Florence: Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa and Lunch at a Winery

⭐ RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳TOUR LENGTH: 11-12 hours | πŸ· BOOK NOW

What Makes This Tour Unique:

  • Over 9,000 5 star ⭐ reviews
  • In one day you get to discover the region’s highlights with a local guide 
  •  Enjoy lunch and wine tasting of 4 varietals at a vineyard in Chianti
  • Get free time to explore and walk the towns on your own
  • The tour leaves from Florence and transportation is provided to each town with a guide

“Sienna was beautiful and San Gimignano was breathtaking. Loved the winery lunch. Tour guide was outstanding” – Lourdes C. (read more reviews)

βœ… Check rates and availability for the Tuscan Day Trip here

More Planning Tips for Visiting Tuscany

If you are looking for more helpful guides for planning your trip to Tuscany you can check out all of my Italy guides here. Such as:

11 Best Food Tours of Florence You Can’t Miss in 2023
Is it Worth to Climb the Iconic Duomo in Florence
19 Best Things Florence is Known For

Frequently Asked Questions: Driving in Tuscany

How Easy Is it to Drive in Tuscany?

The key to driving in Tuscany is to be a confident driver and to familiarize yourself with basic Italian traffic rules, road signs, and driving habits. Driving in Tuscany can be both a rewarding and challenging experience.
The region offers scenic countryside roads and picturesque villages, but also presents narrow, winding streets and busy city traffic. Being prepared before your trip can help ensure a smoother and more enjoyable driving experience in Tuscany.

Is it Worth Getting a Car in Tuscany?

Driving Itay’s countryside is a priceless experience, it is 100% worth getting a car in Tuscany! Renting a car allows you to venture off the beaten path, discover hidden gems, and fully immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes and charming towns that Tuscany has to offer.

In Conclusion: Driving in Tuscany

After reading this guide and tips on driving in Tuscany, I hope you are more confident and ready to discover the magical Tuscan Countryside. Trust me, you will be glad you did!