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!