La patente di guida requires dedication to these resources:
Your faithful companions on your journey earning your license are the Italian driver’s manual and the accompanying workbook. Make them your friends even though you will probably be incredibly overwhelmed when you find them in your hands by your driving instructor. When I first attended driving school and received my copies, I perused the Italian driver’s manual, gulped, and tried to breathe. Never before in my time in the States had I seen a driving manual so thick and so comprehensive. “Surely I can’t be expected to know all of this!” I exclaimed to myself as if to repel a dark force coming over me. Well, I WAS expected to know all of “this” if I wanted to get an Italian driver’s license.
I absorbed very little in the first class I was attended. Why? Because I was busy trying to figure out what I had to learn and how the heck I was going to do it. I am one of those creative types who have a balance of left and right brain skills. That means I pride myself on creatively approaching a challenge, while simultaneously needing a linear plan for reaching the finish line. The classroom was not the place to figure this out. I needed to be safe at home with quietude.
Hunkering at home with the Italian Driver’s Manual
At home, I opened the manual further and decided to study just four pages. Those pages took me two hours of referring to an Italian-English dictionary and making translations. I made sticky notes to keep track of the content. The manual is over 300 pages. If my studies of the Italian language had been more advanced, this would have been much less daunting. Still, as my Italian partner pointed out after looking over the manual, much of the language used is fairly archaic. The manual uses words and terms that aren’t readily found in modern conversation. Yikes!
After attending a few classes each week during the first month, I made a decision. I needed to be more knowledgeable and therefore more at ease with the contents of the manual before I actually could get something out of class. Still, I attended class every so often to start training my ear to hear Italian spoken in this setting.
For six months I carved out time every day to study the manual and to use online websites dedicated to studying (and using Google Translator). I’ll share more of these resources and study tips in a subsequent email.
Here are some specifics about the Italian Driver’s Manual.
Pay attention because these are the things on which you will be quizzed. The manual begins by grounding you in the important road definitions, types of vehicles, and types of licenses. Have Google Translate on and toggle back and forth between languages.
- Warning signs (38 signs)
- Signs of the right of way (14 signals)
- Prohibition signs (40 signs)
- Mandatory signs (32 signs)
- Signs of integration (26 panels)
- Indication signs (60 signs)
- Complementary and work-in-progress signs (18 signals)
- Intersections and right-of-way (rules and examples)
- Speed, Distance, Security Limits
- Overtaking, vehicle position, Changes of direction
- Traffic lights, agents of Traffic Police
- Road Markings
- Stop, Stop, Stop and out, Triangle
- Definitions Road, behavior on the highway
- Certificate, license
- Cargo vehicles, Road safety and causes of accidents
- Responsibility and behavior in case of accident, First Aid, Physical state of the driver
- Light and sound devices
- Panels, Towing, Pollution
- Constituent elements of the vehicle, lenses, Insurance, restraint systems
In “Intersections and right-of-way“ you will have to study a wide array of overhead diagrams. These demonstrate different types of intersections (some with as many as 5 roads intersecting)and different types of conditions. It explains the types of cars and indications in which direction they are intending to turn. At first, I could not, for the life of me, figure out the underlying reasoning between the right of precedence. Then the metaphorical light bulb of realization went off.
“Responsibility and behavior in case of an accident, First Aid, Physical state of the driver.“ Here you will be required to understand what procedure you follow if an accident occurs. There is a specific form you must keep in your car that has to be filled out. This also covers civil and criminal responsibilities, and what to do if there are injuries. You are obliged by law to stop, even if you aren’t involved in an accident, and render medical assistance. Don’t fear, there are defined limits of responsibility until qualified emergency medical help arrives. Be prepared to know what to do if an injured passenger has a foreign object lodged in his or her eye. I bring this up because it was one of the questions on my exam.
In “Constituent elements of the vehicle, lenses, Insurance, restraint systems,” be prepared to learn how different types of engines are constructed and how they work. The same goes true for braking systems. I don’t know about you but for my driver’s license tests in the States I wasn’t required to know the specific workings “under the hood”.
Resources beyond the Italian Driver’s Manual
A useful online resource is the QuizScuolaGuida website. This is the Google translated version. Be aware that, while Google does a great job in this regard, the translations are not always “smooth” – particularly when it comes to translating material that contains words not commonly used in modern Italian. Online resources like this came in very handy when I was working to translate the manual with greater speed. Other online studying resources are:
Your driving school will also provide you with a workbook. It comes with sample tests (answers are in the back) supposedly containing all possible questions you could be given on the exam. Your instructor should provide you with answer sheets to keep track of your progress. While the workbook is indeed useful, I found other online resources more user-friendly. More on that in the post about studying.
In closing, learning the Italian Driver’s Manual IS doable. And it can be fun—particularly if you are creative about how you approach studying and if you find learning methods that work best for you.
Hi Jed. As you know, I very much appreciate your posts. I’m getting serious about my move now so I’m going to be using your links faithfully. I do have a question, is there an age limit? I consider myself “a young, older person”. As always, thank you very much. ~ a
Ciao Angela! I’m glad you’ll be utilizing the links. Don’t forget about the Quiz Patente app for your smartphone and tablet. Turning the journey into a game really helps! After turning sixty, licenses must be renewed every five years. After seventy I think it’s every three (I don’t remember exactly). I don’t think there is an age limit on who can get or keep a license. In bocca al lupo! Jed
Hi Jed – I am busy with mine and its quite daunting. However your link to the English translation book was a huge help (thank you) and it got me through the first few months of studying when, like you, I was totally overwhelmed by the task. Your blog notes were also very helpful (and calming to know that there were others out there in the same position as me) Wish me luck :).
You’re right, Babette. It can feel like an insurmountable task at the very beginning. But once you start chiseling away, hope emerges! For the home stretch, the quiz patent app was my savior! In bocca al lupo! Jed
Excellent post and great links and resources. I passed the exam about 3 years ago with great difficulty after failing it twice. True you must take it in Italian, and the Italian used is not the “everyday speaking” Italian you are likely learning, even Italians say there are words and expressions on the exam they did not know. But the real catch here is that the exam is quite difficult, despite the language. I know Italian natives who failed it repeatedly. As Jed indicated, you need to dedicate time to know the manual well and you must be doing very well consistently on the online practice exams before you attempt the real test. One last bit, many questions appear to be duplicated but a slight change in wording could change the answer from true to false and vice versa, you must read them very carefully and watch out for trick questions, as there are plenty.
Excellent points, Neil! Those crafty changes of wording can really catch a person if they’re not being attentive. I remember seeing ten different variations of one question, half of which would be true and the other half false. Once I saw that I redoubled my efforts in testing myself, again and again, to not be fooled!
sir I want to know that there is any possibility to give patente B theory test in English in upcoming years
Hi, Harman. This is a frequent question. Unfortunately, I have no news that the Patente B theory test will be offered in English. It was offered in English many years ago, but not now. Studying a book with side-by-side Italian/English translation can be helpful for learning the terms you will see on the exam. I’ve included a link to Amazon.it in this thread should you want to explore it.
Hii anyone can help me to know how to get english translation driving books for italian patente
https://www.amazon.it/patente-cittadini-stranieri-listato-patenti/dp/8899120226 If you’re already in Italy, getting this is easy. If not, I’m sure you can get it shipped to your country with additional duties. Otherwise, I haven’t been able to find this book outside of Italy. Hope this helps!
We’re in a 10 month count down to move to Rome from the US. The original plan was no car – now we may need one. If I were to take Italian lessons based upon the language required to pass the driver’s test, would it be generally helpful in everyday life? Also, is there a way to view used car prices on line in Italy? Housing seems to be a challenge…
Hi Paul, if you can do without a car while living in Rome, I’d advise public transportation. But, if you’re not close to the city center, that could be an issue. There are a few places that I’ve loathed driving, and Rome was one of them. When I arrived in Italy my Peugeot lease worked out great for five months, until I had my permesso and residency card in hand. You have to have both to buy and register a car. As for the driving school and test, you will learn a few words and phrases that will come in handy but not a ton. There are so many terms specific to the parts of the car, to road signs and conditions, that it’s a pretty big ball of wax all on its own. But, for me, it ended up being fun, and I do think it did help grease the skids with learning Italian more broadly. In bocca al lupo! Jed
Hi, I’m Iris and I’m currently living in Italy. I am enrolled in scuola guida somwhere in Vicenza Italy. I find your blog very helpful especially for foreigners struggling for the Italian language. How I wish they would allow English in Patente final exam but they do allow only French and German. Thanks for sharing your Italian/ English translation and it is indeed a great help for me to comprehend intricate terms. God bless!
Hi Iris, I hope your journey through the scuola guida is going well! I would have done cartwheels if I could have taken the exam in English. Just recently I helped a friend locate the Italian driving manual with a side-by-side English translation. Oh, how I’d wished that was available when I went through the whole process!
Libro per esame teoria di Patente B di giuda – Manuale bilingue INGLESE
I found it through Ebay.it and ordered it for him.
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You’re very kind! Thank you!
Thanks. We are in Rome today. My husband is opening an office here and just signed the lease. Tomorrow we’re on the train to our house in Pesaro. Four years and most of the renovations should be done by July 1.
Hi Jed, I just passed the road test on the first try here in Madrid. I also passed the theory test on the first try. It is a major accomplishment to say the least. One benefit here in Spain is that the theory or written exam can be taken in English. The road test is 25 – 30 minutes and includes driving on the expressway. I recently read your post on accidents and saw your video- all very helpful.
Grazie, Yasmin. Brava for passing your driving tests. You’re so fortunate to have had the option to take it in English. That once was an option here but sadly, no longer!