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TRAFFIC: The worst dates to travel on Italy’s roads this August

Heatwaves and traffic jams are not a good mix - but both are inevitable during an Italian summer. Here are the busiest dates to avoid when travelling on Italy's motorways this month.

Italy's roads are predicted to be particularly busy on certain dates and times throughout August.
Italy's roads are predicted to be particularly busy on certain dates and times throughout August. Photo by DENIS LOVROVIC / AFP

Italy’s autostrade, or motorways, usually see little in the way of 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.

READ ALSO: The 7 signs that August has arrived in Italy

Not only do motorways become much busier, but many smaller roads, particularly in coastal areas and around holiday hotspots, become completely clogged with traffic.

The increased number of vehicles on the road isn’t just inconvenient: it can also be dangerous, with traffic deaths rising by an estimated seven percent in August.

That’s why the Italian government issues warnings each year advising motorists to avoid peak travel times, and even publishes its own calendar showing when traffic is predicted to be at its worst.

The official forecast, produced as part of the ‘Viabilità Italia’ summer travel plan drawn up by the government, emergency services, and and state road agency ANAS, notes particularly busy dates to avoid.

READ ALSO: How will Italy’s Amalfi Coast traffic limit for tourists work this summer?

The calendar is colour coded, with a ‘yellow’ spot indicating heavy traffic, ‘red’ indicating heavy traffic with ‘possible critical conditions’, and ‘black’ indicating ‘critical’ (i.e., dire) traffic. 

The roads in August are (predictably) set to be most crowded on weekends, the government’s forecast shows, with at least a ‘red’ level warning issued for Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month.

Italy's August traffic calendar warning.
Italy’s August traffic calendar warning. Source: Polizia di Stato

Traffic is anticipated to reach its worst levels on the mornings of Saturday, August 6th and Saturday, August 13th, which have been marked as critical ‘black’ periods.

Unlike in July, Fridays are also consistently a bad time to travel on Italy’s roads in August: ‘red’ warnings are attached to every Friday bar August 19th, which has a slightly lower-level ‘yellow’ warning in the morning (but a ‘red’ warning for the afternoon/evening).

READ ALSO: ‘Expect the unexpected’: What you need to know about driving in Italy

Traffic is expected to remain at broadly normal levels during the working week throughout the month bar the August 15th Ferragosto national holiday, which this year falls on a Monday; and August 31st, which will see a large number of Italians return from holiday (both ‘yellow’ days).

Yellow heavy traffic warnings have also been issued for the mornings of Monday, August 22nd and Monday, August 29th.

To cover the tail end of the holiday period, ANAS has also put out alerts for the first couple of weeks of September.

Motorists can expect to experience heavy traffic from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening on the weekends of September 2nd-4th and 9th-11th, with especially clogged roads (‘red’ warnings) on the morning of Saturday September 3rd and the afternoon of Sunday September 4th.

Generally speaking, congestion is usually seen on roads heading south or towards the coast in early August, while traffic jams are more likely going in the other direction in the first week of September as Italy begins il rientro, or the return to the cities for work and school.

Check the situation on the roads before you set off on motorway company Autostrade per l’Italia’s real-time online map.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Italy’s summer tourism boom driven by American arrivals

Tourist spending in Italy is set to return to pre-pandemic levels this summer, boosted largely by visitors from the US, says a new industry report.

Italy's summer tourism boom driven by American arrivals

Italy’s tourism earnings are predicted to total €17 billion this summer, restoring the industry to a state of health not seen since the start of the pandemic, according to a study released by the retailers’ association Comfcommercio on Monday.

Americans are the lead drivers of the recovery, the report shows, with 2.2 million US visitors expected to bring in €2.1 billion between July and September – 20 percent more than over the same period in 2019.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which parts of Italy will get the most tourism this summer?

Canadians, Australians and South Africans are also anticipated to make up a significant proportion of this year’s visitors.

The high value of the dollar against the euro is thought to be partly responsible for this year’s boom in US arrivals.

The euro slipped to parity with the dollar for the first time in nearly 20 years this month, as a cut in Russian gas supplies to Europe heightened fears of a recession in the eurozone.

It has since recovered a little, to around $1.02 per euro, but remains a huge bargain for visitors, giving tourists from dollar countries a spending power boost of well over 10 percent from six months ago.

The number of Spanish arrivals is also expected to return pre-pandemic levels this summer, with an estimated one million visitors due to arrive between July and September.

Domestic tourism is also up, with 35 million Italians travelling on holiday in their own country despite an ongoing cost of living crisis caused by soaring inflation and exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, according to a separate study by the agricultural association Coldiretti.

READ ALSO: Ferragosto: Why the long August holidays are untouchable for Italians

By contrast, the number of tourists coming to Italy from Asian countries is down; while EU sanctions introduced in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have seen Russian tourism drop to near zero.

Germany, a key source of tourism particularly in the Italian south, was down 27 percent in July compared to 2019 – a drop thought to be caused by air travel disruption.

In a typical year, the majority of Italy’s tourists (14.1 percent) come from Germany, figures from Italy’s National Statistics Agency Istat show. Around three percent come from the US, and another three percent from the UK.

“The return of foreign tourism after three years helps to consolidate our economic recovery. The outlook, however, is uncertain due to the decrease in consumption, the unrest in air transport and the unknown pandemic,” said Confcommercio president Carlo Sangalli in a televised statement.

“Support for the tourism sector must therefore be among the priorities of the next executive in terms of combating expensive energy and reducing the tax burden,” he added.

Italy will vote for a new government in late September after its ‘unity’ coalition government collapsed in July, triggering snap elections.

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