The Italian Driver’s Manual – Definitely NOT Light Reading.

Italian driving manual and workbook.

The Italian driver’s manual and workbook (with sample tests) are large and comprehensive.

Your faithful companions on your to journey getting your license are the Italian driver’s manual, and the accompanying workbook. Yes, make them your friends, even though you will probably be incredibly overwhelmed when they are placed in your hands by your driving instructor. When I first attended driving school and received my copies (on loan from the school for the duration of the course), I perused the 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 heard little of the first class I was attending, because I was busy trying to figure out what I had to learn and how I was going to do it. I am one of those creative types who have a balance of left and right brain skills – which means I pride myself on creatively approaching a challenge, while simultaneously needing a linear plan for reaching the finish line. Class was not the place to figure this out. I needed to be safely at home with quietude.

At home, I studied the manual further, and decided to study just four pages. Well, those four pages took me two hours of referring to an Italian-English dictionary, and making translations on sticky notes, to begin comprehending the content. And, 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 partner pointed out after looking at the manual, much of the language used was fairly archaic with words and terms that aren’t readily found in modern conversation. I had a real job ahead of me…

After attending a couple of classes each week for the first month, I decided that first and foremost I needed to be more knowledgeable and therefore more at ease with the contents of the manual before I could get the most out of class. I continued attending class every so often to start training my ear to hearing 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 Google Translator, thank you Google). I’ll share more of these resources and study tips in a subsequent email.

Here are some specifics about the manual and what is contained (and on what you will be quizzed). The manual begins by grounding you in the important road definitions, types of vehicles, and types of licenses. Then it is organized by:

In “Intersections and above you will have to study a wide array of overhead diagrams demonstrating different types of intersections (some with as many as 5 roads intersecting) and different types of conditions (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. And, then the metaphorical light bulb of realization went off.

In “Responsibility and behavior in case of accident, First Aid, Physical state of the driver” 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), 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 (within defined limits) until qualified emergency medical help arrives. For instance, be prepared to know what to do if a injured passenger has a foreign object lodged in his or her eye (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”.

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 is packed 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 resource more “user friendly”. More on that in the post about studying.

In closing, learning the manual IS doable, and can be fun – particularly if you are creative about how you approach studying, and provided such creativity reflects learning methods that work best for you.

An important disclaimer: These are simply my opinions and observations based on my experience of getting an Italian driver’s license, and are in no way meant to be a substitution for your own research and decisions in how to proceed.



By |2015-11-09T21:42:56+01:00December 5th, 2014|Driving in Italy|11 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. Abin thomas September 1, 2020 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    Hii anyone can help me to know how to get english translation driving books for italian patente

  2. Paul May 2, 2020 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    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…

    • Jed May 5, 2020 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      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

  3. Iris September 26, 2019 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    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!

    • Jed October 16, 2019 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      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 and ordered it for him.

  4. June 3, 2019 at 11:01 am - Reply

    If some one wants expert view about blogging and site-building then i
    recommend him/her to visit this blog, Keep up
    the good work.

    • Jed June 18, 2019 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      You’re very kind! Thank you!

  5. Yasmin Rivera April 11, 2019 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    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.

  6. Yasmin Rivera April 2, 2019 at 10:50 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Jed April 11, 2019 at 1:58 pm - Reply

      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!

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By continuing to use this website you consent to our cookie usage and privacy policy. Ok