Driving a car gives you maximum flexibility to choose when and where to go. Travelling around Tuscany by car can be the only transport to get to some of the nicest places where roads wind up, down and around the colorful Tuscan hills. But if you are driving around these smaller back roads, take your time and drive carefully as progress around Tuscany´s winding roads can be slow. However, the main roads in Tuscany are good but often really busy so try to avoid driving into or out big cities, such as Florence, around work start and end times (8-9 am, 6-8pm) when traffic can be more intense.
The Motorway System
The Italian motorway system, the A1 (Autostrada del Sole) goes from Bologna through northern Tuscany, swings around Florence and heads southeast towards Cortona and Arezzo in its way to Rome. Off the A1, the Autostrada Firenze Mare A11 motorway connects Florence to Lucca/Pisa and the Autostrada A12 motorway connects the coast from Genoa and La Spezia through Viareggio, Pisa and Livorno. You will also find a couple of four-lane, toll free roads as alternatives to the autostrade. For example, the SS1 (Via Aurelia) goes all the way from Livorno Sud (south) down to Tuscany’s southern border with Lazio. The SGC highway connects Florence, Pisa and Livorno and the Firenze-Siena, which starts near the A1 “Firenze-Impruneta” entrance/exit, links Siena and Florence. Do not forget speed limit in towns is usually 50km/h rising to 70km/h on secondary roads and 110km/h on the autostrade.
When renting a car it is important to take gasoline prices into consideration. Gasoline (benzina) in Italy is one of the most expensive in Europe; prices for unleaded gasoline have been around € 1,70 per liter lately. However, you will not have difficulties when fueling up your car. You will find a lot of gas stations among the autostrade and main roads, which are usually open 24 hours a day. Otherwise, hours tend to be from 7.00 am to 12.30 pm and from 3.30 to 7.00 pm. Many gas stations are closed on Sundays and holidays, and those that open are then closed on Mondays. But don’t worry, even if they look closed sometimes they offer self-service pumps that accept bank notes so you can fuel up anyway.
For traffic information, you can call CIS Viaggiare Informati at 1518, which is active 24 hours a day. If you have an insurance with foreign organizations such as AAA (USA), AA (UK) or RAC you will be provided with an emergency assistance number while travelling in Italy which should covered any emergency you have. You can also call the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI) for roadside assistance by calling 116 or for more serious trouble, call the Police at 113 or Ambulance at 118.
Parking in Tuscany
About parking in Tuscany it is important to know a few things. In general, in most cities (such as Florence and Siena) driving around town can be a real nightmare. Driving around the historical center of most towns is banned or restricted and finding a legal parking spot can be really difficult. The best option to avoid paying huge amounts of money and waste time driving around looking for a spot is to park away from the center where you will find free street parking. From there, you can then walk around the city and discover each worth city corner.
Buying a car
If you are planning to buy a car in Italy there are some important facts you should know. The following documents are required when purchasing a car: a proof of residence (EU citizens) or Permesso di Soggiorno (non-EU citizens), an identity card, a codice fiscal and a proof of insurance cover.
When buying a second hand car it is important to know that the transfer of ownership (Pasaggio di Propieta) must be completed within 60 days of the purchase. It can be done in any Agenzia di Pratiche Automobilistiche or Automobile Club D’Italia (ACI) office. To complete the ownership transfer, don’t forget to bring the following documents: The act of sale, Vehicle documents, Registration Certificate and a proof of residency or Permessi di Soggiorno.
Once you have your car, don’t forget that it is a legal requirement for all cars with more than 4 years old to have a Revisione every two years, which can easily be done in any Centro Revisioni Auto. Otherwise, if you get stopped by the police or other authorities you will get fined.
Best car routes
Finally, if you are travelling to Tuscany with enough time you should at least visit one of the multiple scenic routes that you will find in the region. One of the most famous landscapes of Tuscany is the road that leaves the town of la Foce and goes on towards the village of Radicofani, crossing through the beautiful Val d´Orcia. Among this route you will find the famous S shape road with the cypress trees by the sides.
Another impressive route is the road that goes from Taverne d´Arbia to Asciano, which is situated in the province of Siena. You will enjoy a road through the breathtaking Crete Lunari and Crete Senesi, one of the most impressive landscapes of the Tuscan countryside.
For those mountain lovers, the route that goes from Lucca to Barga helps you discover the beautiful region of Lugiana. Its mountains landscapes are really different from the sweet hills that can be found in the south of this region.
A route through Chianti is also recommended. The route that goes from El Castello di Brolio to Castello Ricasoli is one of the options. You will be able to walk through the wineries of these two castles that produce excellent wines and taste some of the best and worldwide known wines of the area.
These are just some advices when travelling to Tuscany by car but if you want further information feel free to contact us.