One word: Hell.
Italians are true to their reputation; these are not the best driving conditions! They use the hard shoulder as a lane when they don’t feel like queuing , they undertake, and they get so close behind you on the motorway you can practically smell their cappuccino breath. I did wonder whether they get so close behind the car in-front so they can slipstream and therefore conserve fuel – Maybe they’re geniuses?!
The sheer amount of dented cars on the roads and traffic congestion due to crashes would suggest not.
On the highway you spend the whole time alternating between the fast lane (move out of the way unless you’re wanting to go WAY over the speed limit) and the other lane (where you get stuck by someone going WAY too slow).
Road works and tunnels make driving an even more challenging experience. We had road works literally every 10 minutes with speed limits reducing from 100 to 40 km/hour and roads reducing from 2 to 1 lane constantly. Italians don’t care about speed limits so you find yourself trying to keep up with the flow of traffic (which is a constant 10-20% above the limit!).
There are also many tunnels and most of them are narrow and unlit, which means you spend much of the drive putting your sunglasses on and taking them off again. Something to do I guess.
Some roads are also very windy… The list of cons is basically endless.
I personally prefer driving as it gives so much more freedom than trains or bus, but be warned. If you’re used to orderly roads, driving in Sicily will be a big test of your driving ability and patience.
- Go for it! Italians way of driving is mad so be mad too otherwise you won’t get anywhere.
- Watch out for undertakes when changing lanes and double check the left lane before overtaking as if someone is coming, he will not slow down for you!
- Be wary that most of the slip roads off the highway don’t give you much notice or time to slow down so be confident with your exits!