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Driving to Tuscany

If you are coming to Tuscany from outside Italy, then it is important to know that the main points of entry into Italy are:

  • Mont Blanc tunnel from France at Chamonix which connects to the A5 for Turin and Milan
  • Grand St. Bernard tunnel from Switzerland which also connects to the A5
  • Brenner Pass from Austria which connects to the A22 to Bologna

Italy has a good system of highways; you can find more information on the official website of the company that manages the system, Autostrade. A visit to this site is a must if you're planning to travel by car throughout Italy as it has real time information on road/traffic conditions and driving directions. Remember that the autostrade are toll roads so you pay depending on how much you have travelled on them. You can pay with credit cards, cash or Viacard. You can purchase a Viacard from toll booths, fuel stations, some banks, tourist offices, and tobacconists.

Roads are generally good throughout Tuscany and the system is comprised of regional, provincial and state roads and motorways. Regional, provincial and state roads have blue signs bearing white lettering, the motorways green signs bearing white lettering and numbers.

The main north-south link through Tuscany is the Autostrada del Sole which extends from Milan to Reggio Calabria (it is called the A1 from Milan to Naples, the A3 from Naples to Reggio Calabria). The A1 skirts Florence and links to Bologna to the north on a busy, winding stretch with lots of tunnels (goes through the Apennine mountains) and to the south to Arezzo and Rome. The closest exits to downtown Florence are "Firenze-Certosa" and "Firenze-Signa".

A fast expressway leaves the A1 south of Florence at "Firenze-Certosa" to connect to Siena called the Firenze-Siena. The A11 expressway begins just outside of the northwestern part of Florence, past the airport and near the "Firenze-Nord" A1 exit and connects Florence to Prato, Pistoia, Lucca and, eventually, to the A12 expressway along the coast.

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If you have time to spare (and you should if you are on holiday!), consider using the system of state roads (strade statali) which are sometimes multi-lane dual carriageways and are toll-free. They are represented on maps as "S" or "SS". You should also use the provincial roads (strade provinciali) even if they sometimes are little more than country lanes, but these provide access to some of the more beautiful scenery in Tuscany and access to the many small towns and villages in the Tuscan countryside. These are represented as "SP" on maps. You'll be traveling on a lot of these if you wish to see most of the smaller towns in Tuscany.

For example, several back roads allow you to cross the Apennines into Tuscany from the region of Emilia-Romagna in a far more picturesque style than the A1. One of these is the SS302, also called Via Faentina, which starts in Faenza, goes through Borgo San Lorenzo in the Mugello and arrives into northern Florence. Since you cross the mountains, you will have to be comfortable in driving in winding, uphill and downhill roads if you decide to take this one.

More about roads in Moving around Tuscany.

Driving Licenses

You must get an International Driving Permit (IDP) to accompany non-European licenses and old-style green European licenses. The IDP has your driver license information translated into 10 languages but it is only valid as long as it accompanies your own drivers license. The IDP must be issued in the same country as the drivers license. If you have an U.S. driver's license, you can apply for an IDP through the AAA. The more recent EU pink/green licenses can be used in Italy without an IDP.

An interesting site with lots of tips for people planning to drive in Europe is Moto Europa. The section dedicated to Italy has a lot of useful information on fuel, tolls, parking and roads.

Author: Discover Tuscany Team


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