Driving on the Highway in Italy: a Complete Guide
Learn all about driving on the highway in Italy: how to pay highway tolls and fines, speed limits, car requirements, green stations, wi-fi, emergency numbers and much more!
Do you have goosebumps when you think about driving in Italy? Does the idea scare you?
Driving on the highway in Italy is not so complicated. Here you will find everything you need to know before boarding your car and start your marvelous journey!
1. How to Pay Highway Tolls
Highways in Italy are not for free. If you want to avoid tolls, take roads called “statali” that are free of charge. However, the fastest option is hands down the highway.
Before entering the highway you have to pass a pay toll from which you’ll get a ticket. On that ticket there is the exact location where you started your travel on that precise highway. You will only pay when exiting.
Here is how to pay highway tolls:
- by cash,
- by card,
- by Telepass.
If you choose cash (notes and coins) you will have to line for the cabinet with the officer.
This might take some time in high season, when lines are huge, especially over the weekend.
You can decide to pay highway tolls either by debit or credit card: the payment will be automatic.
This method is much faster than paying by cash as you need no officer to make the transaction.
The telepass is a small box linked to your bank account that allows you not to line at the pay toll.
This is particularly convenient if you’re traveling in high season (especially in July and August). However, if you pay via telepass you need buying it before your travel.
If you do not have any bank accounts in Italy, but are from one of the SEPA area countries* you may access this telepass service through the internet. As of February 28th 2020, you may also have your telepass bill directly at home.
*SEPA countries: 28 European Union members plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Swiss, Principality of Monaco, San Marino, Principality of Andorra and Vatican State
Here is the official website where you will find FAQ and most important information.
If you want to have more info on how to pay highway tolls and costs check out ViaMichelin website.
Why do we need to pay highway tolls?
Because the money you pay is then used for the maintenance and construction of roads, bridges, signals, rest areas and so on.
2. Driving on the Highway in Italy: Costs
The highway toll price depends mainly on 3 factors:
- type of vehicle (cars and motorbikes are in the same price category);
- type of road (prices are higher for mountain roads, lower for highways in the plain);
- concession company.
How the price is calculated
3. How to Pay a Fine in Italy
What happens if you don't pay the toll?
When driving on the highway in Italy, it may happen that you accidentally take the wrong lane before exiting the highway.
For example, you might happen to take the telepass lane without realising it (but you don’t hold a telepass!). Or you step out of your car, which is strictly forbidden as hazardous.
So what if you could not pay your toll?
In case of unpaid toll statements you have two scenarios:
- Pay within 15 days of the date of issue
- Pay after 15 days of the date of issue (or not pay at all)
Pay a Fine in Italy within 15 days
You can pay your toll with no extra charges.
You can either pay by credit or debit card and no fees are charged for online transactions.
If you do not hold your initial highway ticket because you lost it or whatever reason, you can self certify the entry pay toll when paying online.
Pay a Fine in Italy After 15 days
According to art. 176 of the Highway Code, if you forget to pay or do not pay on purpose you will be charged extra fees.
The fine will be between € 85 and € 335.
This fine may be even higher (up to € 8’000) if you break the Highway Code rules, for example driving in the wrong direction or cross the traffic islands.
If you consider your fine unfair (maybe because there was a misunderstanding or such) you can go to any “Punto Blu” in Italy to make your case. “Punto Blu” is a service center in charge of helping travelers on the highway.
Pay your toll online here.
Maps of “Punti Blu” across Italy here.
4. Speed Limit on Italian Highways
The speed limit on Italian highways is 130 km/h, which becomes 110 km/h when it rains.
Also, if you got your driving license less than 3 years before your travel you cannot drive over 100 km/h.
If you don’t respect these rules when driving on the highway in Italy, chances are that you will be fined. You will be charged depending on how much you passed the speed limit:
- not over 10 km/h: from € 42 to € 173;
- between 10 km/h and 40 km/h: from € 173 to € 695;
- between 40 km/h and 60 km/h: from € 544 to € 2.174;
- over 60 km/h: from € 847 to € 3.389.
All these administrative fines are tripled if the violation occurs between 22 pm and 7 am.
5. Car Requirements in Case of Snow
In case you’re traveling with your own car, you should be aware that from November 15th to April 15th it is mandatory to have winter tires on your car.
Winter tires are those with M + S (mud + snow) in evidence.
If the abbreviation is accompanied by the logo of a mountain with a snowflake, it means that it is a snow and thermal tire, capable of guaranteeing safer performance.
However, the law does not distinguish between the two types of tires at the moment, so it will be enough to have those bearing only the initials M + S.
If you don’t have the appropriate tires you might get quite a hefty fine, so you’d better be prepared in advance.
On the other hand, if you rent a car it’s the car rental company’s responsibility to take care of this issue.
There are various ways of keeping yourself posted on weather conditions on the highway. Here is a useful list:
- Radio channels: RTL 102.5, Isoradio 103.3, CCISS viaggiare informati (Canali Rai)
- Variable message signs
- Highways Call Center: 840-04-21-21
- Other information channels: My Way app available for free at the Apple Store and the main Android App stores.
6. Green Stations in Italy
If you’re traveling with an electric car, no worries about where to charge it. There are many Green Stations in Italy: just access the Green Station Area along the highway.
There you can recharge any vehicle and it’s free of charge. To recharge your car, you just need to connect it to the column in the Green Station Area and follow the instructions.
Also, as green stations in Italy are quite a new service, for the moment (March 2022) they’re active only in the following service areas: Secchia Ovest, Flaminia Est, San Zenone Ovest, Conero Ovest.
On the official website you will find all useful information on Green Stations in Italy, especially regarding caravans, hipoint, playground, pets and bathrooms.
7. Is There Any Wifi Connection?
We may not have free wifi everywhere in Italy, but free wifi is available at any service area (the so called “autogrill”) you’ll find on your way.
Here are the instructions to follow to get your device connected:
- turn on your device with Wi-Fi connectivity
- Choose the “Autostrade per l’Italia Free Wi-Fi” network
- Launch the browser
- Click NAVIGA on the welcome page and start surfing freely.
The range of free services offered by Autostrade per l’Italia to its traveling customers is further enriched with the following services:
- stay updated on real-time traffic information, weather forecasts, cheaper fuel prices, travel itineraries proposed by “You are in a wonderful country”.
- download MY WAY app, a free and geolocated app that accompanies you on the road and at work with real time information on traffic, the tutor and services on the highway.
- consult the Hi point multimedia stations and Infomoving TVs to consult the latest traffic news and much more.
Here you will find a list of “Autogrill” having free wifi, check it out before traveling.
8. What to Do in Case of Emergency
If needed, along the highway you will find rest areas on the right of the emergency lane.
There you can stop to have a rest or just stretch out after hours driving. This is different from an “Autogrill” as there are no services whatsoever.
In case you need to rest for longer or in case of emergency, you just have to follow the horizontal signals to place your car in the suitable area.
Also, those traveling on the highway are never alone: the Traffic Police and service staff are ready to intervene at any time thanks to the S.O.S. installed along the emergency lanes, approximately every two kilometers.
The SOS columns allow to generate a mechanical and / or sanitary emergency call once you press the button. The request, associated with the mileage from which it was sent, is received by the competent territorial radio room.
Thanks to GSM technology, you will be put through the Information Radio Center Operator to get information on the situation and, therefore, the type of vehicle to send out.
While waiting, it’s important that you stay close to the column: you will always be visible even in the fog or at night thanks to the flashing light emitted from the column in case of an emergency call.
For any mechanical aid, here you are a list of free-toll numbers you can call in case of emergency.
ACI Global Servizi S.p.A. (whole highway network)
Europ Assistance Vai (whole highway network)
ESA for the following road sections only
Diramazione Roma nord e sud
AXA for the following road sections only
IMA for the following road sections only
Diramazione Roma nord e sud
Raccordo di Casalecchio
Tangenziale di Bologna
Diramazione per Ravenna
Genova Voltri-Gravellona Toce
Adapted from: www.autostrade.it
To check out the service cost, visit the official website. To be always up to date about viability, here’s the official page in English.
Hope this guide will help you out driving on the highway in Italy! Enjoy your trip!
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