Italy forms a long peninsular with a mountainous spine, leading from the Alps down into the Mediterranean Sea. Hiring a car in Italy, you'll soon notice differences between north and south. In fact, Italy has only been one country for around 150 years and there are big cultural differences between, say, the colourful chaos of Naples in the South and the neat design of Milan in the North. The historic treasure trove that is the capital Rome sits somewhere in the middle but, wherever you go, Italy has a fabulous residue of history that includes the Roman Empire and the Renaissance.
Rome is an exciting, vibrant city today and if you add the treasures of the Roman world and the Renaissance, plus the attractions of the unique Vatican State, it's a world-class destination. It has plenty of competition within its own borders, though. In the Alpine foothills, the Italian Lakes provide some of the world's most romantic landscapes, while the Italian Riviera around Portofino and the Cinque Terre on the north-west coast offer breath-taking coastal scenery. And if you rent a car in Italy, try the spectacular drive around the Amalfi Coast in the southwest ' it's one of the world's greatest drives.
Traffic in Italy drives on the right side of the road. It's a legal requirement that everyone in the vehicle must wear a seat belt. The national speed limit is 130kpm (81mph) on the motorway, 90kph (56mph) outside built-up areas, and 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas. These limits are reduced in the case of rain, snow or poor visibility. Also note that at traffic lights, a flashing amber means 'proceed with caution'. Vehicles being overtaken must keep as far to the right as possible and not accelerate. Drivers must give way to vehicles approaching from the right except where signs indicate otherwise.