Getting to Tuscany by car
Italy has a good system of highways, as described on the official website of the company that manages the system, Autostrade.
The main points of entry into Italy are:
- Mont Blanc turnnel from France at Chamonix which connects to the A5 for Turin and Milan
- Grand St. Bernard tunnel from Switzerland which also connects to the A5
- Brenner Pass from Austria which connects to the A22 to Bologna
Italy has a good system of highways, as described on the official website of the company that manages the system, Autostrade. This site is a must for planning car travel since it has real time information on road conditions and driving directions.
Roads are generally good throughout the country and there is an excellent network of autostrade (motorways). The road network comprises regional, provincial and state roads and motorways. Regional, provincial and state roads have blue signs bearing white lettering, the motorways green signs bearing white lettering and numbers.
The main north-south link, which skirts Florence, is the Autostrada del Sole, which extends from Milan to Reggio Calabria (it is called the A1 from Milan to Naples, the A3 from Naples to Reggio Calabria). To the north of Florence, the A1 links to Bologna on a busy, winding stretch with lots of tunnels (goes through the Apennine mountains) and to the south to Arezzo and Rome. The closest exits to downtown Florence are "Firenze-Certosa" and "Firenze-Signa". Remember that the autostrade are toll roads so you pay depending on how much you have travelled on them. You can pay with credit cards, cash or Viacard. You can purchase a Viacard from toll booths, fuel stations, some banks, tourist offices, and tobacconists.
A fast expressway leaves the A1 south of Florence at "Firenze-Certosa" to connect to Siena called the Firenze-Siena. The A11 expressway begins just outside of the northwestern part of Florence, past the airport and near the "Firenze-Nord" A1 exit and connects Florence to Prato, Pistoia, Lucca and, eventually, the A12 expressway on the coast.
If you have time to spare, consider using the systems of state roads (strade statali) which are sometimes multi-lane dual carriageways and are toll-free. They are represented on maps as "S" or "SS". The provincial roads (strade provinciali) are sometimes little more than country lanes, but provide access to some of the more beautiful scenery and the many towns and villages. These are represented as "SP" on maps. You'll be traveling on a lot of these if you wish to see most of the smaller towns in Tuscany.
For example, several back roads allow you to cross the Apennines into Tuscany from the region of Emilia-Romagna in a far more picturesque style than the A1. One of these is the SS302, also called Via Faentina, which starts in Faenza, goes through Borgo San Lorenzo in the Mugello and arrives into northern Florence.
More about roads in Moving around Tuscany.
You must get an International Driving Permit (IDP) to accompany non-European licenses and old-style green European licenses. The IDP has your driver license information translated into 10 languages but it is only valid as long as it accompanies your own drivers license. The IDP must be issued in the same country as the drivers license. If you have an U.S. driver's license, you can apply for an IDP through the AAA. The more recent EU pink/green licenses can be used in Italy without an IDP.