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Tips for Expats Driving in Florence

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Florence.
Tips for Expats Driving in Florence

1. Driving in Florence

Driving in Florence can be quite challenging, especially for newcomers. The city is known for its narrow, winding streets and heavy traffic. Additionally, many areas in the city center are restricted to residents only (ZTL zones), and driving in these areas can result in hefty fines. It’s also worth noting that Italians are known for their aggressive driving style, which can be intimidating for foreigners.

2. Recommended Car

Given the narrow streets and limited parking, a small, compact car is recommended for driving in Florence. This will make it easier to navigate the city and find parking. Additionally, many Italians drive manual cars, so if you’re not comfortable driving stick, you may want to specifically seek out an automatic.

3. Parking in Florence

Finding parking in Florence can be difficult, especially in the city center. Most parking in the city is paid, and it can be quite expensive. There are some free parking areas outside the city center, but these tend to fill up quickly. It’s also worth noting that many parking spaces are reserved for residents, so always check the signs before parking.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive in Italy with an international driving permit (IDP) for up to one year. After that, you will need to obtain an Italian driver’s license. It’s important to note that an IDP is not a standalone document, but rather a translation of your home country’s driver’s license, so you’ll need to carry both documents when driving.

5. Obtaining an Italian Driver’s License

To obtain an Italian driver’s license, you will need to pass a written exam and a practical driving test. The written exam is available in multiple languages, including English. However, the practical driving test is typically conducted in Italian, so some knowledge of the language is beneficial. You will also need to provide a medical certificate confirming that you are fit to drive.

6. Tips for Driving in Florence

Always be aware of the ZTL zones and avoid driving in these areas unless you have a permit. Use a GPS or navigation app to help you navigate the city and find parking. Be prepared for aggressive drivers and remember that honking is common in Italy. Finally, always carry your driver’s license, IDP, and insurance documents when driving.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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