Sicily by car offers tips for foreigners planning their own tour of Sicily; you find info about driving in towns, on highways or regular roads, parking cars etc…
Sicily by Car is for those who like to take the “matter” in their own hands, because, let’s make it clear – to fully enjoy your vacation in Sicily you need the car.
This fascinating island has so much to offer - from bustling cities to idyllic hilly countryside covered by vineyards, orchards of olive and orange trees, dotted with architectural marvels and filled with cultural treasures left by ancient Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians and subsequently Normans, Arabs, Spaniards and French rulers. It’s is impossible to “savor” such country and enjoy its richness traveling on foot or by using the public transport!
I’m pretty sure you already read tons of blood freezing (or raising pressure) blogs pointing to “lunacy” of Sicilian drivers and perpetual chaos on the streets. But after spending almost three months behind the steering wheel on Sicilian roads and streets I can say that such stories do not reflect the reality, but rather the need for sensationalism!
Even the regular roads like Strada Statale (SS) and Strada Provinciale (SP) can be impressive
Let me start with two statements:
In the northern Sicily tunnels are not an exception but rather the reality forced by the mountainous landscape
And three conclusions:
Road signs are pretty clear although sometime you have to make an effort to understand their meaning (here is a warning that this SP 92 has many bends and so you should drive carefully).
General info for drivers:
You may expect the clarity of road signs (Blue indicate major roads: SS and SP), Brown are indicating Tourist related sites)
White signs indicate "administrative" and government buildings as well as sites of general interests
But expect also "unexpected" like here when coming to an intersection you see only the back-side of road signs
Please note that Sicilians are very friendly but rarely speak any foreign language. They will keep talking and explaining for several minutes regardless of the fact that we do not understand them.
That is why it will be wise to learn few practical words:
Distributore di benzina
Classification of Sicilian roads:
From driver’s point of view, Sicilian network of roads consists of Highways as well as National, Provincial and Local Roads. Although such classification lacks consistency, because it combines technical category (Highways) with administrative ones (Managed by Central Government, Province or Municipality), it somehow represents roads in order of their importance and quality. And I think, it helps you not only to smoothly navigate through the web of island’s roads but also to make “educated” decision when selecting your itinerary.
Highways (Freeways, Motorways) are identified by a capital letter “A” (for their local name Autostrada) followed by a number (for example A18). All highways’ road signs are always displayed on the green background!
Be aware that on main roads the maximum speed is limited (here a rare example of warning!)
More often you will see camera, but once you see them it may be too late :-( (Good thing is that they are not hidden like in many other countries)
Sicilian main roads are classified based on their managing authorities and belong to either Strada Statale or Strada Provinciale. The corresponding road signs have blue background.
Strada Statale (meaning “State Road”) in reality represents National Roads (similar to French RN – Route Nationale). These roads are managed by the Central Government and are identified by the capital letters “SS” followed by the number (for example SS114….).
From the administrative point of view, Sicilian highways belong to the group of Strada Statale, however due to their clear “technical superiority”, they are classified as a separate group of roads.
Strada Provinciale (meaning “Provincial Road”) represents roads managed by Provincial Governments (Sicily has nine provinces: Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Palermo, Ragusa, Syracuse and Trapani). These roads are identified by capital letters “SP” followed by the number (for example SP1…..).
For completeness we will also mention Strada Comunale (Municipal Road). Corresponding road signs are displayed on the white background.
Unfortunately many cars on Sicilian roads are quite old, so do not expect that everybody will be respecting new legislation. Regardless what others are doing, make sure that your headlights are ON, it is about your safety!
You wouldn't see this sign very often :-(
This will be more common situation!
Bottom line is – before starting your Sicilian Road Odyssey get familiar with control switches in your car!
See related topics:
--> Parking in Towns
If you enjoyed this visit, then please share your experience with friends :-)