Road Signs in Italy

There are hundreds of road signs blocking your view on Italian roads and—more importantly—telling you how to get where you're going. Luckily most of them are pretty intuitive.

No parking signs in Italy are routinely ignored
Just because there is a road sign doesn't mean Italians abide by it. The sign means "No parking, either side of the road." Yeah, right. (Ignore them at your peril, however. Unpaid parking tickets will eventually find their way to your credit card statements, via the car rental agency, usually with a late fee and a hefty extra charge attached for their troubles.)

In another stroke of good fortune, most of Europe has become pretty standardized when it comes to signage, so you should have little trouble driving from Italy into any other country and figuring out what the speed limit is and where you can't park.

Below is a chart showing all the most important common signs you'll see in Italy. I'm leaving out a few of the ones that will be patently obvious once you are in Italy—like the red octagon that says "STOP" on it in white. That one's universal.

Note that some Italian road signs are honored more in the breach than the observance. Speed limits, for example. Or "No parking" (as at left). Both "Stop" and "Yield" seem to be optional (as are red lights for that matter). "No passing" is truly a futile suggestion in a nation where people routinely pass at high speeds...on tight blind curves..inside tunnels.

So which one-way is it?Also, when confronted with a "Senso Unico ("One Way") sign, most Italians seem to be satisfied merely to point the car in the correct direction, at which point it's perfectly acceptable to throw it into reverse and fly the wrong way up the street if that's the way they need to go.

Have fun!

European road sign for Speed LimitEuropean road sign for End Speed Limit Zone

Speed limit/End speed limit.

(In this case, 60kph). In most parts of Italy, this is considered more of a suggestion than a guideline.

European road sign for Minimum Speed LimitEuropean road sign for Minimum Speed Limit

Minimum speed/End minimum speed zone.

Frankly, I've no idea why they bother posting these, since Italians seem to observe the speed limit sign as meaning "This is as slow as you should ever be going."

European road sign for dead end

Dead end / no outlet.

European road sign for Do Not Enter

Do not enter.

European road sign for HighwayEuropean road sign for End of Highway

Highway begins/Highway ends.

Note that autostrade (what Americans would call an interstate or "divided highway" and Brits a "dual carriageway" and label M-something) are almost always on green signs, while smaller highways are on blue signs—including strade statali (state highways, abbreviated "SS" before the route number), strade regionali (regional highways, or SR), and strade provinciale (provincial roads, or SP). That means if you see two signs, one blue pointing right and one green pointing left, but both reading "ROMA," you would turn left to take the autostrada to Rome, or right to follow a lesser highway to the Eternal City. As in America, the blue highways are slower, but usually more interesting.

European road sign for Keep to Right

Keep to the right.

(Also available in "Keep to the left" flavor.) This often appears in divided roadway situations or at roundabouts.

European road sign for No Parking

No parking.

(On whichever side of the street the sign is hanging/posted).

European road sign for No Stopping

No parking on either side of the street.

European road sign for No Passing

No passing.

They mean it.

European road sign for Parking


Ususally, this means paid parking, so look for a common meter down at the end of the block, pop in a few coins, and leave the receipt it spits out on your dashboard.

European road sign for Priority

Right of way.

In this case, you have the right of way over oncoming traffic (a necessary sign on a continent where roads often narrow to significantly less than two full lanes...or, come to think of it, even one full lane).

European road sign for Yield To

Yield to oncoming traffic.

Whichever direction of travel has the red arrow has to yield. In practice, it's always wise to yield to any car that is (a) bigger, (b) driving faster, and (c) being driven by an Italian.

European road sign for Yield


This is a good direction to follow at all times, regardless of sineage, since the local drivers have a much better idea of what they're doing and where they're goiung than you do.

European road sign for One Way Street
Senso Unico

One Way.

Note that, even though in Italy this seems to mean "It's OK simply to point your car the right way but then put it in reverse and back down the street," this is not a driving technique to be attempted by visitors.

European road sign for historic center

Center of town.

Sometimes accompanied by the Italian for for center, centro, (or centro storico/ historic center). Just follow the bullseye, and you'll find your way to the heart of the city every time.

Tips & links

Car rental & driving resources
  • Car resources
  • Emergency service/tow: tel. 803-116
  • Highway agency: Autostrade.it (traffic info, serivce areas, toll calculator, weather)
  • Italian automotive club (~AAA): Aci.it
  • ZTLs: Ztl-italia.blogspot.com (lightly outdated, but handy, links to cities' traffic-free zones)


Useful Italian phrases for car travel
car automobile (ow-toh-MO-bee-lay)
macchina (MAH-keen-ah)
gas benzina (ben-ZEE-nah)
diesel gasolio (gah-ZOH-lee-oh) / diesel (DEE-zell)
Fill it up, please al pieno, per favore (ahl pee-YAY-noh, pair fa-VOHR-ray)
Where is... Dov'é (doh-VAY)
...the highway l'autostrada (lout-oh-STRA-dah)
...the road for Rome la strada per Roma (lah STRA-dah pair RO-mah)
to the right à destra (ah DEH-strah)
to the left à sinistra (ah see-NEEST-trah)
straight ahead diritto (dee-REE-toh) / avanti (ah-VAHN-tee)
keep going straight sempre diritto (SEM-pray dee-REE-toh)
thank you grazie (GRAT-tzee-yay)
please per favore (pair fa-VOHR-ray)
yes si (see)
no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? (PAR-la een-GLAY-zay)
I don't understand Non capisco (non ka-PEESK-koh)
How much is it? Quanto costa? (KWAN-toh COST-ah)

» more
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  • Car resources
  • Emergency service/tow: tel. 803-116
  • Highway agency: Autostrade.it (traffic info, serivce areas, toll calculator, weather)
  • Italian automotive club (~AAA): Aci.it
  • ZTLs: Ztl-italia.blogspot.com (lightly outdated, but handy, links to cities' traffic-free zones)

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