How to get the Italian Driving License
Written by: Maheshwaran Jothi
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Dec. 5, 2019
Italy is a beautiful country, especially in the countryside. Because the real essence of Italian life and culture is more visible along with these areas more than the busy and mechanized life in major cities. Even though most cities in Italy have a good public transport system, it would be difficult to enjoy the greens and vineyards without driving in your own car.
Now comes the most difficult question. No, it is not about if you know driving or not. You may be driving for decades in your home country. But if you just relocated to Italy, then you need to get your new license here - exceptions are always there. For those from EU countries, they can exchange their licenses here.
But, if you are those unlucky herds like me from the non-EU region, then be ready to get back to your study table!
Add to that, the exams for the driving tests are NOT available in English. Yes heard me right. You need to take those tests in the Italian language.
What does the Law Say?
After the pain in getting your Nulla Osta, work permit and successfully collecting your Permesso from Questura, if you thought that that's the end to the bureaucracy you are mistaken, my friend. Of course, if you are lucky to get settled in one of the major cities like Milan, then public transport is really good. Milan has almost all sorts of transports from light rail to Tram to buses to subways. So, there is limited need to have a car.
As I mentioned before, if you want to explore the Italian village and town, then be ready with your license. Expats from non-EU countries ¨C welcome to the next struggle. What does the Italian driving law say? It says that you have got a max of one year to study, practice and take up the driving test to own your license from Italy. And the first year of your relocation, you enjoy the privilege of driving with your home country license.
This first year of a grace period is for you to get accustomed to the Italian language, and get ready to appear for the license tests.
A small word of caution - There will be many people who keep boasting about driving with their home country license even after past the first year of relocation. Remember, he or she was just lucky. And there is no guarantee that you will be equally lucky to have not been caught by Italian police. So, you better be safe than sorry!
"La patente di guide" or driver license in Italy
Meet The Friendly Autoscuola
If someone told you that it is impossible to get accustomed to the Italian language and appear for the exam, the first thing to do is - cut his/her friendship. Yes, it is very much doable. Just like any other thing, all you need is a dedicated effort to get this through. And follow my trips I am going to share in this article. I bet, you will thank me when you put your hands on the Patente!
For people who relocated to Italy, there are actually two steps that you need to pass to excel and grab the Italian driver¡¯s license. First is the language. And the second is the lessons for the driving test.
Let me share a secret here, there are so many non-profit organization that conducts free Italian classes in almost every neighborhood of Italy. And every comune in Italy also conducts regular free and paid classes for foreigners. So, do not waste time. Join one of those classes the day you find them.
You do not need a literature level expertise in Italian. All you are looking for is to understand the basics. Once you feel a little more comfortable, you can approach the Ufficio Motorizzazione Civile for getting your license. It could actually cost a lot less than going through the Autoscuola or the driving schools. But, by now I am sure you are well aware of the Italian bureaucracy.
So, think again. Do you want to continue the pain or just go ahead with the driving school and get things done?
As far as the cost is considered, yes it will cost around 600 euros for the regular driver¡¯s lesson. It includes the mandatory 6 hours of practical driving lessons too. And if you do not know driving, then you will require additional driving hours and need to spend around 30 euros per hour of lesson.
For sure, it is expensive, but that is how it works. Believe me, forget doing all those DIY stuff, and head to the Autoscuola (No I am not representing any schools here!)
How are the tests organized?
Once you register yourself in the Autoscuola, you can start your lessons
and practice tests right from the school.
The lesson starts with the very basic. Do not be surprised if the lesson starts with the definition of roads. Remember these are the same tests be it a kid who just completed his/her 18th birthday or anyone who may have held a driver¡¯s license and drove for years outside the EU.
The lessons for theory are summarized into 25 chapters. As with any driving lessons, this will teach you on the different signs, speed limits, and other responsibilities, including the basic first aid and maintenance of the vehicle.
You will be given a set of 40 questions in the exam. The exams are conducted online. Each question will be a multiple choice question and you are supposed to pick the right ones.
Out of 40 questions, you are allowed to error up to 4 errors. As long as you are within the 4 error limit, you do not need to worry about appearing again for the tests.
If you clear it, give a pat on your back. Yes, I have heard from several Iocals that these exams are really hard to break. The questions will be so tricky that it would appear to confuse you to the core. But why worry? The practice is the only weapon you would need.
The classes in the autoscuola will help you to be familiar with the type of tricky questions that will appear during the exam. Concentrate carefully and keep practicing the sample tests.
Generally, there is no limit to the number of classes you can attend in a given Autoscuola. As long as you are not confident, you can continue to keep attending. The day you feel confident, you can book a slot for your exam.
The results will be handed out on the same day. And once you pass, you will be handed over with the ¡°Foglio Rosa¡±. This is like the ¡°Learner¡¯s License¡± that you can use to learn driving on the Italian roads.
Foglio Rosa, What's Next
The Foglio rosa entitles you to learn driving along with your instructor on the Italian roads. As per law, there are mandatory hours of classes that you need to take up ¨C like driving at night, driving on the Autostrada etc.
You will need to take up at least a minimum of 6 hours of driving lessons. You may be an expert driver, but remember, the instructor is even more experienced with the tests, law requirements and expectations of the officers visiting for the verification of your driving test.
So, believe me. Just blindly follow the instructor¡¯s advice. Because the instructors know well on what to be expected in the exam for a PASS. The techniques could be as simple as how to hold the steering wheel or how to stop & get out of the car, but you must follow his instructions.
From the date of appearing the online tests and retrieving your Foglio rosa, you have like 6 months of time to learn and appear for the driving test in the Ufficio Motorizzazione Civile.
Let me tell you something very interesting about the day of driving tests. When you visit for the practical driving tests, you will be handed over with your driver¡¯s license. Yes, it is your license to drive in Italy, your hard work for the past few months or years. But, you can only see it and confirm the details printed on it. Don't get excited. The license will only be handed over after you successfully clear the test.
If you succeed, then Congratulations!!! Party time.
Limitations for New Drivers
I know you will be planning to get on the Ferrari and have fun on Italian roads the day you are handed with your Patente. But, sorry to play a spoilsport. In Italy, irrespective of age, or the experience in driving you could have, all drivers getting the new driving license are considered as kids only!!! Yes, welcome to the club of Neo-Patente! Till the completion of 3 years, you are not allowed to drive above 100kmph even on those Autostradas. In the first year, you are not allowed to drive any cars above 55Kw of power per ton. You may cry, crib or complain. No use, face the reality, that is how it works in Italy.
Let us look at some of the free resources available for help in our
preparation for driving license tests.
Me personally, have been using the QuizPatente site and their Mobile application almost every day. I can say that this site is a treasure for people looking to pass the Italian Driver¡¯s license test. It has all the chapters with details and pictures to help you visualize the signs, streets etc. Using their mobile application, you can practice it anywhere & anytime when you are free.
According to me, the best thing from this site is the simulated online tests that you can take up for free. This greatly helps you to familiarize the way real exams will be conducted. As I said before, the questions in the exam are mainly to trick & trap you. So, the more you practice these tests, the more chances for you to clear the exam easily. (The driving school often gives you a book and access to certain web-based software to test your knowledge - Editor)
Initially, I bought almost 3 different multilingual books for the driver¡¯s test. It took almost a year to figure out that it was these books that made me look at the test with fear. Reason? The translation offered in this multilingual book is really bad that you will hate to read it. Moreover, the final exam is going to be in Italian. So, start preparing from day one using the Italian language. Use the QuizPatente app on my mobile, and practice it every day. You will get plenty of time during your travel on Milan¡¯s public transport. Good luck!
The author Maheshwaran Jothi lives in Milan.