Italy has an area of over 300,000 square kilometres. It is approximately 1,130 kilometres long and has approximately 7,600 kilometres of coastline. Over a third of the total area is mountainous, over 700 metres high, and the Alpine ranges in the north and the Appenines range down the centre can make travelling round the country somewhat challenging.
When Italy was a destination on 'The Grand Tour', intrepid visitors struggled around the country by boat, foot and donkey, encountering a multitude of perils on the way. However, modern-day transport facilities in Italy are mostly well developed and armed with the correct information, visitors should be able to reach their destinations in relative comfort.
There are 3,408 km of motorways in Italy, used by 4 million motorists. They are mostly well maintained, fast and fairly free of traffic. They operate on a toll system. As you enter a stretch of motorway, you will pass through an 'Alt Stazione' where you take a ticket from an automatic machine. When you exit that part of the motorway system you will pass through another 'Alt Stazione' where you present your ticket and pay the toll charge. Payment can be made automatically with cash or credit card, or at a manned kiosk. It is possible to buy a 'Telepass' which allows you to pass through the 'Alt Stazione' without stopping. The Automobile Club Italiano (ACI) is the Italian breakdown organisation equivalent to the AA in Britiain. If you breakdown anywhere in Italy, dialling 116 will put you through to the nearest ACI centre. On the motorways, there are emergency telephones every 2 kilometres.
There are three types of train in Italy. The Eurostar is the premium grade. It is fast, comfortable and good value for money. Getting around Italy, italian transport, trains in italy, eurostar, intercity trains, regional trains, buses, ferries, italian motorways, toll charges, coach travel in italy, italian car hire The Intercity trains are less modern but still relatively fast and efficient. The Regional trains tend to be the oldest, the slowest and the least comfortable, especially in the south. However, they do amble around the countryside, stopping at all the most inaccessible places, so they too have a role to play. The rail fares in Italy are generally very reasonable.
In Italy there is a very efficient inter-city bus service. The buses are modern, comfortable, fast and well equipped. They also provide a very economical way of traveling around the country. See our bus timetable for details.
There are a lot of islands off the coast of Italy, including the major ones of Sardinia and Sicily, so naturally there are a lot of ferries traveling backwards and forwards. The major ferry terminals are: Genoa, Civitavecchia, Napes, Palermo. Ancona, Bari and Brindisi. There are other, smaller ones at Livorno, Piombino, Catania, Porto Torres, Portoferraio, Salerno, Savona and Venezia. See our ferry timetable for details.