Driving in Italy part 10 — Italian Road Signs

by Mario 03-Mar 2010

While Italian kids learn to drive early, they must wait until they are 18 years old to be licensed to drive a car.

O Means NO. Whenever you come across a red circle while driving in Italy do not enter. If a symbol is inside the red circle, such as a bugle it means no honking the horn. A bike symbol means no bicycles allowed and a number such as 40 means don’t go over that speed. Simply visualize an N in front of any O sign and it’s just plain NO. Occasionally, you will see a red circle with a fractional number, ignore it. It does not mean that the speed limit is two and a third kilometers per hour. What it means is that vehicles of a certain height or width are not allowed. Nothing you will be driving is affected. 

A solid red circle with a horizontal white bar means you are about to enter a one way street from the wrong direction. 

Look for a friendly solid blue circle to point the right way to proceed. If a blue circle has a white number on it such as 30, it means that 30 kilometers per hour is the minimum speed.  

A red circle with a red slash on a blue background means no parking. A red circle with a red X on a blue background means no parking, no stopping, no nothing, just keep moving. Ultimately, round signs will either forbid an action if trimmed in red, or permit an action when all blue and white.

Triangular signs are warning signs. A symbol inside a red triangle such as children, trains, bikes or a curve advise you what to watch for. 

Square and rectangular signs generally provide information. As shown above, they can point to parking, hospitals, police, train stations, city centers and a host of other destinations. Traffic lights operate the same as they do here. Occasionally traffic lights will display arrows in red or green enabling traffic in specific directions. This Road Sign link leads to an Italian Web site, but by clicking on each of the four icons along the bottom of the page you can familiarize yourself with signs and their meanings. 

You can even expect to find some signs on Strade Bianche (white roads). These are unpaved roads that lead to private homes, country B&Bs, farming estates and some of Italy’s most spectacular vistas. As you can see by the image above, unpaved roads are either gravel or dirt and typically not hard to navigate. They may get bumpy, especially after a good rain fall, but just take it easy and enjoy the view. Unpaved roads may display signs denoting distances to properties, villages or intersections with a numbered route and cautions for animal crossings. They may also be equipped with reflectors to aid in night time driving and a strategically placed mirror now and then, useful for peeking around a curve at any oncoming cars. When approaching a tight curve it is advisable to give a very short honk of the horn to alert anyone coming from the opposite way. 


7/6/2010 1:26:37 PM #

Basically Italy have the same signs like in US.


8/6/2010 10:19:09 AM #

great photos Smile)
the little car is awesome Laughing


8/30/2010 11:34:33 PM #

I want the mini Italian cop car!! LOL

Jason, all these signs are the same for the rest of Europe, not the US.


9/9/2010 5:04:11 PM #

thanks for the sign info. This will help me on my trip to your beautiful country.


10/31/2010 8:24:31 AM #

lol great post - I love italy!

Eliza M.

11/7/2010 7:26:38 AM #

I've been to Italy once, and the drivers were insane. Thanks for the tips!


11/15/2010 8:00:18 AM #

Come on the road signs are like everywhere else in Europe. But that's true, drivers are insane. They all use small cars so they can get away faster in traffic. They fight a lot with other drivers and get really mad if you dare to say something about their driving skills. They were funny actually Smile


12/7/2010 3:44:55 PM #

I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the Stern Fact, the Sad Self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from.


3/28/2011 4:05:55 PM #

Italian road signs are similar to signs of US. I live in Italy Laughing


5/19/2011 10:42:32 PM #

The little car looks funny, traffic regulations were not the same as that in europe?
I was intending to have a car that was funny, all kind of mini


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Welcome to our Access Italy blog, a mosaic of eclectic, but practical, information; fascinating cultural insights; and unique commentary on a wonderful way of life only the Italians could have designed.  more....


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