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Hot wheels - cool cruising

by Marcello Parmeggiani last modified 2008-06-20 15:14

Don't get stuck on the highway to hell, thanks to our summer driving tips.

Hot wheels - cool cruisingThere's nothing worse, after months of looking up maps and planning, than spending the first day of your well-deserved vacation bumper-to-bumper with seemingly every other holiday-maker in Italy. The answer,. drastic though it may seem, is to avoid travelling on certain dates in August. Most of Italy appears to get their annual leave at the start of August and for most it's straight from the office to the motorway.And the tailback begins. . .
In recent years there has been much talk of rational holidays - but if everyone gets off work at the same time, there's very little to rationalise!

However, don't despair. Help is on it's way courtesy of the Italian motorway network , the Società Autostrade. The company's website is a mine of useful information for the motorist. Check the August Traffic Forecasts to choose the best time to leave. (The page is in Italian but is graphics-based and easy to understand.)
You can also look up the toll map to check ahead for potential queues.

If you speak Italian then tune in to Isoradio (103.3 Mhz), a radio station dedicated to giving traffic reports in real time. In between bulletins the play list is somewhat schizophrenic, you may hit lucky, you may feel like screaming by the time you reach destination . . .but at least you'll have avoided the worst of the traffic.

Want to get from Turin to Rimini? Venice to Rome? Route 66 (again Italian only but fairly intuitive, especially if you've used route planners before) will give you distances as well as indicating the shortest route. Afraid you won't be able to find your way round? Print some maps before you go for information at your fingertips. How much will it cost? Tot up your motorway costs with this handy interactive table, and if you are stuck the Società autostrade will bill you. Just pay the bill, at no extra cost, within a fortnight at any toll gate or post office (account slip no. 371500 - don't forget to quote your number plate and the number on the form you were given.)

Then your worst fear comes true . . . your car is stolen! Before you hit the panic button make sure that it hasn't been towed off by an over-zealous policeman. If it really has been stolen then you'll have to go to the Carabinieri, and keep your fingers crossed that someone, somewhere in the station speaks a little English.

And, as the saying goes, it never rains but it pours, so check the weather forecast before you go. You may have no car, but at least you'll have an umbrella!

Isoradio - More than 1,500 km of motorway tuned into 103.3 Mhz for all the latest traffic bulletins. (Italian only)
Route 66 - A handy route planner for driving around Italy. (Italian only.)
Car hire - Drive where you want with Hertz, the largest car hire firm in the world
Traffic regulations - If this is your first time driving in Italy, take a look at this useful guide to the highway code
Road signs - Make sure you know the road signs before you drive off.

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