The Italian Driver’s License Exam – Get a Grip on Order of Precedence

The order of precedence at Italian intersections can be a bit confusing.

At least that was my experience when I spent several months studying and practicing for the Italian driver’s license exam. At first, I thought, “This part is going to be a no-brainer.” Then I realized, after seeing intersections of sometimes five and six roads converging, “Not so fast, mister.” In my typical American overconfidence, I’d surmised that this would be a simple matter of giving precedence to cars on my right. But, as you’ll learn, it’s not just about position but anticipated paths through intersections. And, this can be compounded by the presence of a tram or other “special” vehicles entering an intersection.

Prepare for the Italian driver's license exam by knowing intersection precedence rules

Expect five questions about intersection precedence on the Italian driver’s license exam.

If memory serves me correctly, this topic comprises one-eighth of the forty exam questions. You can miss ONLY four questions without having to go through a month’s wait before you can retake the test. So, you’d better have a solid command of who goes first and in what order at Italian intersections.

Don’t fret, however. You can tuck this section under your belt with enough review and practice (through a phone and pad app that turns studying for the exam into a game). Be sure to read my post about the joys of preparing for the Italian driver’s license exam.

I wasn’t prepared for the numerous intersection configurations.

Once I was doing some self-testing, I realized that I definitely did NOT have this completely figured out. Some intersections with diagrammed traffic flow were easy. Others caught me by surprise. So, I kept going through the examples over and over again until the logic really stuck.

I’d encourage you to check out this link from Quiz Patente Online, which offers a very thorough explanation of the order of precedence at intersections. There is a second lesson link so that you can cover the full gamut of possibilities. One thing the article says is that the more complicated scenarios involving trams or other special vehicles don’t appear on the test, but I can’t vouch for that. And, that might have changed. Best to be prepared for it all, not just for passing the exam but for making driving in Italy safe for you and others.

Be prepared for at least five questions on the Italian driver's license exam regarding rules of precedence

Give yourself ample time to study!

Once you become an Italian resident, the clock starts ticking. You have one year to still drive using your U.S. driver’s license. After that, if you’re caught driving without an Italian license, you can be in a heap of trouble. Loads of people trying slipping under the radar, but don’t risk it.

I gave myself a solid nine months. Getting ahold of the official Italian driving manual can be difficult. Usually, you have to get one through a driving school (and be signed up for a class). And, getting your hands on a book that has a side-by-side Italian-to-English translation is not easy. One exists, but not in the States that I’ve been able to find. Still, diving into an all-Italian manual will help start building your language skills. If you’re like me, an initial freakout will soon be replaced by greater and greater comfort.

The Italian driver’s license exam puts U.S. driving exams to shame.

Driving safely in Italy involves a solid knowledge of the rules of precedence at intersections. That’s why it is such a meaty portion of the exams, and one that you’ll want to get under your belt so you can tackle the other “biggies.” In Italy, you’re expected to have a much broader knowledge about driving rules than you’re used to if you come from the States. Then there are the parts of the engine (and braking system), and the rules and obligations of emergency roadside assistance.

So, take my advice, and start sooner than later. If you’re moving to Italy in a year’s or two year’s time, get started now!

By |2020-07-12T19:34:41+02:00July 12th, 2020|Driving in Italy|10 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. Thomas July 14, 2020 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    Jed, The guide appears to be exactly what I was looking for! I also saw another study guide for language. Frankly, I should spend a fixed amount of time each day on my current material. Unfortunately, placing my current books NEAR my bed , while sleeping, hasn’t helped.
    Grazie a te per aiutare.

    • Jed July 22, 2020 at 5:50 pm - Reply

      Happy to help, Thomas. I have a good friend who is utilizing that manual. In the beginning, having that material anywhere near my bed resulted in restless sleep. But, when I knew enough to start playing with online app, and it became a game, I actually looked forward to it. The app was probably the best tool for keeping me engaged and tracking my progress.

  2. Thomas July 14, 2020 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Hello Jed, Thank you for the link to the exam book. Although the description says other languages, I can’t find if English is included. I will try email for information.
    Thank you again for your very helpful, enjoyable and informative comments.
    We enjoy your snippets of practical advice.

  3. Bill July 14, 2020 at 3:45 am - Reply

    Hi Jed, Good article. My wife and I are moving to Italy in two years and this is my biggest fear/concern. I am still needing to learn Italian and can’t imagine not driving. Do you know if there is a school for English speaking to prep for the test?

    • Jed July 22, 2020 at 5:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Bill, Sorry for the tardy reply. You ask a really good question and I’m sad to say that I don’t know. I think I would have heard about it. One avenue you might want to explore is to contact one of the sites for hiring online private language tutoring (like SuperProf) and reach out to some of the people to inquire as to whether they’d be up for tutoring you through the manual. Or you can ask a driving school here. Unless you have signed up with them (you’ll have to do that anyway, the law requires a certification for a driving school) that may not be so helpful. But, once they have your money, maybe they’ll have ideas.

      • Bill July 23, 2020 at 5:06 pm - Reply

        Thank you Jed, that was very helpful information. This is a great article and conversation piece seeing people might not realize the challenge and the one year requirement. I am learning Italian now with Rosetta Stone and will be around my Italian family when we get there and this will be priority number one so hopefully, I’ll be ok! As always, much appreciate your blog and your art! Be Safe and Viva Italia!

        • Jed July 31, 2020 at 10:49 am - Reply

          Thanks, Bill! I did Rosetta Stone for a couple of years and found that it was a very good way to dive into the language. And, when I took more structured classes (and studied at driving school) I didn’t feel so panicked or out of my depth. Stai sano!

  4. Thomas July 13, 2020 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    Jed, I will not take the driver license test. My knowledge of Italian is insufficient to the task. However, as we are in Italy for several months each year, I would like to study the exam. Will you please provide the name of guide with the side by side translation. Thank you Thomas

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