Italy's autostrade, or motorways, are usually quite efficient and they see little heavy traffic, at least outside of the major cities.
But in summer that all changes, as everyone escapes the baking hot cities for the cooler air of the mountains or the coast.
Not only do motorways become much busier, but many smaller roads, particularly in coastal areas and around holiday hotspots, become completely clogged with traffic.
Some 15 million Italians will be on holiday in the coming weeks, hitting the roads along with many of the the estimated 60 million international visitors that will pass through Italian airports during summer.
A traffic jam near Bolzano in northern Italy. Photo: Depositphotos
Cars are by far the most.used-form of transportation in Italy and at this time of year, it really shows.
The Italian government is urging people to avoid travelling at peak periods this summer, as not only is travelling on certain dates guaranteed to be stressful and unpleasant, but the roads will become more dangerous.
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At the presentation of the official traffic forecast last week, police chief Franco Gabrielli said: "Awareness of the risks is key when you start driving in months and days characterised, unfortunately, by a high mortality rate due to accidents.”
He added that the frequency of road deaths in August normally increases by seven percent.
Italy's roads are already among the most dangerous in western Europe, with 55 deaths per million inhabitants in 2017 according to Istat.
The dates to avoid
The official forecast, produced as part of the “Viabilità Italia” summer travel plans drawn up by the government, emergency services and and state road agency ANAS, notes particularly busy dates to avoid.
The last weekend of July, which this year falls on the 27-28th, is traditionally the date of the first “mass exodus” as many Italians start their summer holidays.
Saturday 27th is expected to be especially busy..
There are also traffic warnings in place forAugust 3rd and August 10th, both Saturdays, on which historically the highest traffic has been recorded:
Unsurprisingly, there are also travel warnings during Italy's famous August holiday, Ferragosto, when the whole country more or less completely shuts down.
Ferragosto is on August 15th, a Thursday this year, though the whole the week is celebrated.
This means there are warnings on the afternoon of Saturday 10, the morning of Sunday 11 August, and the whole weekend over the 17-18th.
A busy beach in northern Sicily in August 2017. Photo: Ludovico Morin/AFP
There are also travel warnings in place in early September, as the summer holidays come to an end, with heavy traffic predicted on Saturday 7th and the afternoon of Sunday 8th.
ANAS said that roadworks are being avoided where possible, but some essential work is still going ahead, making conditions even more difficult.
The highest number of roadworks are found in Sicily, with some 15 construction sites currently on the A19 Palermo-Catania.
For more information, you can see real-time traffic information on the ANAS website and app, or call the free information hotline on 1518 (in Italian only.)
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