The Autostrada map shown below shows all the fast toll roads in Italy. It is interactive for those of you with browsers supporting the Flash plugin. If you don't have flash, a static map will be shown.
On Italy's toll roads, you'll take a ticket and pay when you exit the autostrada or hit a tangential road near a very large city.
Although most of the autostrade are not as scenic as the smaller roads, the maximum speed of 130 kilometers per hour makes getting between cities much faster than the declining maximum speeds on the national roads.
Clicking on a road or on a button will highlight that particular autostrada, and give some information on the distance between cities along the route. Click the highlighted autostrada again brings you back to the map of all the autostradas. A solid maroon highway is a "tangenziale" designed to get you around a major city. Usually tolls will not be charged on a tangenziale.
An alternative map will be shown if you don't have Flash or use a device that doesn't allow it. It won't be interactive, but it will show the autostrade.
A good source of maps and atlases is our partner, Longitude Maps. They have lots of hard to find Touring Club Italia maps and atlases. I like the detailed atlases, because you can flip through them while you're in the car rather than try to unfold a huge map.
Plan your long travel, if you can, on a Sunday. On Sunday, big trucks, whose speed on the autostrada is limited, don't run on Sundays. The major cause of short backups caused when trucks going 90 km/h attempt to pass trucks going 89.99999999 km/h.
An autostrada is an Italian toll road. When you enter an Autostrada, look for a gate marked "Biglietto" (ticket) with a green light, where you will take a ticket. Don't enter gates marked "Viacard" or "Telepass" unless you have one. We've prepared a video of what it's like to pay at an autostrada toll booth: Italian Autostrada Video.
Generally, you pay the toll at toll booths when you exit the autostrada or when the autostrada ends (when entering a tangenziale, for example). Usually, the tourist will look for the booths that allow cash payment, since some of the payment methods only work with Italian credit and debit cards or other means meant for residents. In major tourist areas (around Florence for example) there will be a sign directing "tourists" to the cash lanes. Hand your ticket to the person in the booth and pay the amount that comes up in the LCD panel near the window.
The maximum speed on an autostrada is 130 km per hour. There are speed traps called autovelox, and recently the fines have increased for speeding. The posted speed may be slower, especially if road work is being done. You must drive with your lights on.
Autostrada tolls can be quite expensive. Usually there is a toll-free state road, or Strade Statale, that parallels the autostrada. Sometimes these can be quite slow going, especially if they pass through towns, so the tourist on a limited time budget may wish to use the faster roads.
Unlike in the US, the left lane of an autostrade is used for passing only. Unless there is very heavy traffic, drive on the right.
The official web site of the Italian autostrada system is Autostrade S.p.A, where you'll find limited information in English.