Italy, being one of the most popular destinations in the world, attracts a lot of tourists all the year round. Among various means of transport, driving is a convenient and most of the times cheaper option. How is it to drive in south Italy? Is it safe? What should we know before we hit the road? Well, below is the must-read guide to driving in South Italy. I am not going to the rules and regulations for the driving in Italy. This information can be found here.
Recently I visited South Italy and we drove around the lengths and breadths of the region. Naples, Tropea, Regio Calabria, Matera, Alberobello, Bari, Lecce are some popular cities in this region. During our stay, I came to realize some facts about the driving here and I am sharing them with you.
How are the roads?
Well, in a short, I will say roads are good. They are smooth, well maintained and with clear signs and directions everywhere. That means the basic requirement is fulfilled. What comes next? The terrain! South Italy has a varied geography. Amalfi coast is the ‘best scenic road’ in Italy and it is at the same time, dangerous as well. The coastal road from Salerno to Calabria is also scenic, mountainous and less crowded. In the Calabria region, the Aspromonte mountain ranges have characteristic granite cliffs and lush green cover. While driving in this region, we keep going on the zig-zag roads which seem to be endless or by the connecting bridges and tunnels high above the valleys. As we move from West to the east side of South Italy, the region becomes less mountainous with some widen mountains and then there are silk sandy beaches.
The South Italy region has a mixture of terrain with well-built roads.
Is it safe to drive?
I would say ‘Yes’ provided you consider some realities.
The Calabria region was ones infamous for mafias but today, it is fairly safe for tourists. We do get to read some incidences today also but these do not affect travelers.
Remember these tips for your and car’s safety. Do not carry valuables with you on travel. Do not leave anything important, visible in the car. While driving in the towns, watch out pedestrians. With a little precaution, you will go long.
Overall, South Italian people are friendly and helpful. Respecting them and avoiding secluded areas after dark will make your visit as enjoyable as it can be anywhere else.
How is the driving on highways?
Again, in short, I will say, the highways are well-maintained, fast and safe. Even in the high season (August), the highways were somewhat empty. It was a pretty safe drive but I won’t say everyone was strictly following the rules. Being a traveler, I would suggest sticking to the rules to avoid any mishap.
Before hitting on the highways, make sure, you have packed some food with you. In Germany, I am used to having one or other restaurant intermittently along the highways. In Italy, it is not the case. The number of restaurants along the highway from Calabria to Puglia was equal to ‘None’. There are marked areas for pit stops along the highway. If you have food with you, you can stop there and relax for a while. On our way, we did find one restaurant but that was way too costly, staff did not know English and being vegetarian, that was a big challenge.
Once you leave the coastal area, the middle area (Basilicata) is mostly barren without any green cover except widespread Olive tree plantations. There is no shade along the highways. We pass very few villages on the way. If you are traveling with kids, you might want to consider early or late driving to avoid the heat. Again, it would be better if you reach the destination before late in the night.
Another important tip is about fuel. I found that petrol prices are more on the highways than in the cities. Weird, right? But it is so.
In a nutshell, I want to say that plan and prepare for your drive beforehand, follow all the rules(even though you will see others not following), be nice with locals and you are set to drive in South Italy.
So, where are you planning to go first?