It’s time to learn the Italian road signs! Some may look similar to signs from home, while others may leave you scratching your head.
Based on my time driving here as a cycling guide, trip planner, resident, and licensed driver, I feel like I’ve seen them all!
I’ve photographed and explained the most common and most important road signs you’ll need to know while driving in Italy.
Andiamo – let’s go!
SHAPES AND COLORS OF ITALIAN ROAD SIGNS
Italian road signs give indications depending on their shapes or colors.
SHAPES OF SIGNS
SQUARES or RECTANGLES are informational signs.
TRIANGLES are warning signs.
CIRCLES with red borders are ‘not allowed’ or ‘do not’ signs.
CIRCLES that are blue are compulsory signs.
COLORS OF SIGNS
BLUE signs are for non-toll roads.
BROWN signs are for points of interest, which are places like national parks, museums, and monuments.
WHITE signs are for hotels and public services (hospitals, train stations, police stations, sports stadiums, etc) and urban roads.
Good To Know: Italian roads are classified as:
AUTOSTRADA (toll motorway, green signs)
STRADA EXTRAURBANA PRINCIPALE (major highway, blue signs)
STRADA EXTRAURBANA SECONDARIA (minor highway, blue signs)
STRADA URBANA (urban/city road, white signs)
STRADA BIANCA (dirt/gravel road)
IMPORTANT ITALIAN ROAD SIGNS
You’ll probably recognize this one, because it’s like stop signs in other parts of the world. It’s even in English!
Good To Know: Italian drivers don’t always come to a complete stop at stop signs. Keep that in mind if you’re at the same intersection (or if you’re a pedestrian crossing the street).
You must yield to others at the intersection or traffic circle.
You’ll see this sign when the road narrows, there’s construction work, or part of the road has been washed away. It means you need to yield to cars coming toward you in the narrow section.
TRAFFIC (Coming Toward You) GIVES PRIORITY
Like with the GIVE PRIORITY sign, you’ll see this sign when the road narrows, there’s construction work, or part of the road has been washed away. It means the traffic coming toward you should give you priority.
Still, be cautious while you’re driving in that section of the road.
This is the maximum speed limit.
Good To Know: If it’s raining, the speed limit automatically decreases by 20 km/hr on faster roads like the Autostrada. So, instead of 130 km/hr, the speed limit becomes 110 km/hr.
Good To Know: The END MAXIMUM SPEED sign is a white round sign with black numbers and a black almost-vertical slash. For example, in the photo above, when you leave Pievasciata, the speed may go back to what it previously was (50 km/hr). To indicate this, you’ll see the END MAXIMUM SPEED sign with the slash through the ’40.’
DO NOT ENTER – Type 1
Restricted vehicular access. If you’re driving a rental car, don’t enter a road that has this sign. Sometimes you’ll see this sign with a black silhouette of a vehicle inside the circle – it means that vehicle can’t enter the street. For example, if you saw the above sign with a black bus inside, buses aren’t allowed to enter (but other vehicles can unless otherwise posted).
DO NOT ENTER – Type 2
No vehicles are allowed to enter. That means you! These Italian road signs are usually posted at the beginning of a pedestrian only street (like in the photo above) or to keep you from going the wrong way down a street (for example to keep you from entering a highway on the off-ramp instead of the on-ramp).
No vehicles are allowed to drive past the sign!
Good To Know: There are also blue circular signs with white arrows (see photo below) that indicate you must travel in that direction (right, left, or straight ahead). These DO NOT indicate that the street the arrow is pointing to is one-way, so expect traffic may travel in both directions.
This sign indicates the required direction of travel.
At the intersection in the photo, after stopping at the stop sign, you must turn right. The street you’re turning onto may be one-way or may have traffic moving in both directions.
ZTL – ZONA TRAFFICO LIMITATO (Limited Traffic Zone)
ZTL signs take different forms, including:
- White circle with red border and details on restricted entry (times, days, vehicle types) – sign on right in photo above
- White circle with red border and ‘zona traffico limitato’ (and possibly with details on restricted entry) – sign in center of photo above
- Electronic sign, usually red when active (no entry allowed) and green when inactive (entry allowed) – sign on left above
When you see a ZTL sign, it means you’re about to enter a limited traffic zone. It doesn’t mean vehicles can’t enter – it means don’t enter the zone unless you have permission. Residents have permission, and you do as a visitor if:
- You’re staying in a hotel in the ZTL. You’ll need to give your license plate number with the hotel so they can register it with the authorities (so you won’t get a multa, a fine).
- You’re parking in a parking garage in the zone. The staff of the garage will register your license plate number with the authorities.
If you don’t have permission to enter the ZTL, don’t enter. You will be fined!
Good To Know: Remember, sometimes the ZTL is inactive, and you can enter freely without being fined. There will either be a green light OR the sign will say inattivo (inactive) OR there will be hours posted on the sign when the cameras are inactive.
Read more in our Guide to the ZTL in Italy.
This means you cannot pass on that stretch of road (typically due to heavy traffic in the area, road work, or curvy roads).
Good To Know: If there is a red truck on the left instead of a red car, the sign indicates trucks aren’t allowed to pass.
RIGHT OF WAY / END RIGHT OF WAY
These Italian road signs mean you have the right of way and traffic entering from side streets is supposed to yield to you. When your right of way ends, you’ll see the RIGHT OF WAY sign with a black slash through it.
Good To Know: The ‘slash through the sign’ indicates that whatever the sign was telling you is complete or no longer applies. You’ll see them through town signs indicating you’re leaving town, through speed limit signs indicating that limit is finished, through pedestrian zone signs indicating it’s no longer a pedestrian zone, etc. Exception: the NO PARKING sign.
TRAFFIC CIRCLE AHEAD
This sign indicates a traffic circle is coming up on the road.
Italians (and Europeans) love traffic circles (aka roundabouts). You’ll see them in big cities and small villages and everywhere in between.
This sign indicates you are entering a traffic circle and the direction the traffic moves.
This sign indicates a pedestrian only zone. You may not enter the zone unless you’re one of the exceptions listed below the sign (usually for deliveries, emergency services, or transporting disabled passengers).
IMPORTANT ITALIAN PARKING SIGNS
This may indicate an outdoor parking lot or a parking garage. In larger cities, you’ll often see a digital sign with a number indicating the number of spaces remaining in that lot/garage.
It may also have a small white rectangular sign below indicating when the no parking is valid. For example, ’13-15’ means you can’t park there from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Another example, ‘1° venerdì’ means no parking on the 1st Friday of the month.
In the photo above, you can’t park there EVER (from 0:00-24:00), and if you do, you’ll be TOWED.
You may not stop along the stretch of road. In the photo above, the small white sign with the two black arrows indicates the sign applies to before and after the posted sign.
Good To Know: Don’t confuse this with the ‘no parking sign,’ which has a red slash, not a red ‘x.’ No stopping means you can’t pull over for any reason (and therefore can’t park either).
This sign means leave the passage free. You’ll usually see it in front of garages or driveways – places that cars need to be able to move in and out of. So, don’t park your car in front of it!
MORE ITALIAN ROAD SIGNS
ENTERING URBAN AREA
This sign indicates you’re entering an urban area.
Good To Know: You’ll see this type of sign in other colors. BLUE indicates you’re entering a province (while driving on a non-Autostrada road), GREEN indicates you’re entering a province (while driving on the Autostrada). Provinces are make up a region. For example, Pisa and Florence are both provinces in the region of Tuscany.
LEAVING URBAN AREA
This sign indicates you’re leaving an urban area.
Good To Know: As with the ENTERING URBAN AREA sign, you’ll see this type of sign in other colors. BLUE indicates you’re leaving a province (while driving on a non-Autostrada road), GREEN indicates you’re leaving a province (while driving on the Autostrada).
DIRECTIONAL CITY/TOWN SIGNS
These signs tell you which direction the city/town is in and how far away it is (in kilometers).
CENTRO (City Center)
This sign indicates the city center.
ELECTRONIC SPEED CONTROL (CONTROLLO VELOCITÀ ELETRONICA)
These Italian road signs indicate there is electronic speed control ahead. Italian law requires warning, so pay extra attention here for the speed control.
These Italian road signs mark electronic speed cameras. The machines measure your speed and if you’re above the limit, it will take a photo of your license plate number as you pass.
This sign indicates the road is bumpy ahead. The white sign below indicates the bumpy section is for one kilometer in the direction the arrows are pointing.
This sign indicates the road isn’t a through road. It either dead ends or leads to other roads that dead end.
This is a very helpful sign in small villages with narrow roads. Pay close attention because it’s not fun to reverse out of a tight road!
This sign warns that the road ahead narrows. In the photo, it narrows on both sides.
Sometimes the sign will only indicated narrowing on one side (if the right side is a straight line and the left shows narrowing, only the left side narrows).
This sign warns that the road ahead may be slippery. In the photo above, it warns of the slippery road if it’s been raining or snowing. The vertical arrows below indicate it’s a continuation of the warning.
TUTTE LE DIREZIONE (All Directions)
This sign points you in the direction of where to get on major roads. The translation of tutte le direzioni is ‘all directions.’ You’ll usually see it when you’re in a city or a confusing part of a town. It’s the traffic gods ‘throwing you a bone’ and helping you get out of town.
Important Italian Road Sign Vocabulary
Here are some words that you’ll see on Italian road signs:
|servizio||service station (gas)|
|passo carrabile||keep clear|
|carta di credito||credit card|
|alt stazione||stop to pay toll|
|area pedonale||pedestrian area|
|ZTL||limited traffic zone|
|area successiva||next area|
|senso unico||one direction|
|eccetto||except for / excluding|
|lun/mar/mer/gio/ven/sab/dom||Monday, Tuesday… Sunday|
Languages Used on Road Signs in Italy
Yes, we’re in Italy, but other languages are spoken in certain parts of the country:
|Where in Italy||Languages on Road Signs|
|northwest (near France)||Italian, French|
|north (near Austria)||Italian, German|
|northeast (near Slovenia)||Italian, Slovene|
|north (Ladin Valleys)||Italian, German, Ladin|
You may also want to read our posts on
Renting a Car in Italy
Renting a Car in Florence
International Driving Permit – Why and How to Get One
Can I Rent a Car in Italy With a US license?
Italian Gas Stations and Getting Gas in Italy
Are there English signs in Italy?
There are English signs in Italy, especially in places like restaurants in tourist destination. Official sigs, like Italian road signs, are always in the official language. While you’ll always find signs in Italian, in some parts of the country road signs will also be in French, Slovenian, German, and Ladin. One major Italian road sign is in English – the STOP sign.
What is an A road sign in Italy?
The ‘A’ on an Italian road sign is for ‘Autostrada,’ the network of toll highways that run throughout the country. The Autostrada signs are also always green.
What do stop signs say in Italy?
Stop signs in Italy are in English – they say ‘STOP.’