Driving For Members

The key vocabulary you’ll need for taking your driving test in Italy

Jessica Lionnel
Jessica Lionnel - [email protected]
The key vocabulary you’ll need for taking your driving test in Italy
Windscreen of a Fiat 500, parked in a street of Rome. Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP.

Taking your driving test in Italian may be a daunting prospect, but having a firm grasp of the key vocabulary will help you on your way.


If you’re looking to take (or retake) your driving test in Italy and do not speak Italian, French or German, you might have to brush up on your language skills; these are the only three languages you can take your Italian driving theory test in. English is not available.

To take your esame di teoria guida (theory test) the easiest route is to sign up with an autoscuola (driving school). Read more about taking the exam here and find some more resources for practicing the language needed for your Italian driving theory test.

READ ALSO: Who needs to exchange their driving license for an Italian one?

Once you pass the theory test, you'll receive authorisation to practise driving ahead of your practical exam with a foglio rosa (provisional driving licence). There must also be a 'P' sign on the back of your auto/macchina (car) for to indicate you are a principiante (learner).

At least six hours of practical driving lessons will be mandatory ahead of the practical test - even if you've passed a driving test before in another country.

So whether or not you're already confident behind the wheel, here's a rundown of the parts of the car you'll need to be able to identify in Italian.

To get the car going you’ll press and hold la frizione (the clutch pedal). You'll do this to innestare la frizione (engage the clutch). Slowly press down on the the acceleratore (accelerator pedal) to get going, before turning the volante (steering wheel).

If you are at an incrocio (junction) and specifically at an incrocio a T (t-junction) remember to turn on your indicatore di direzione/freccia (indicator) to girare (turn). You will also have to do this at a rotonda (roundabout).

READ MORE: The worst Italian driving habits - according to Italians

You’ll also have to use your freni (brakes) if there is a semaforo rosso (red traffic light), semaforo giallo (amber traffic light) or traffico (traffic).

You can guidare (drive) again when there is a semaforo verde (green traffic light).

You must also stop when there is a segnale di stop (stop sign) or pedoni (pedestrians) crossing the road. When your car frena (brakes), your luci dei freni (brake lights) will show.

You might need a lot of new vocabulary if your car develops a fault. Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen/Ritzau Scanpix


If it is raining, you'll use your tergicristalli (windscreen wipers) to wipe your parabrezza (windscreen/ windshield). If it is dark, but there are other cars, turn on your fari (headlights). If it’s exceptionally dark and there is no one around, turn on your fari abbaglianti (high beams). 

The pneumatici/gomme (tires) are also an important part of the car that you should keep an eye on in case one of them becomes a pneumatico/gomma a terra (flat tire). If you have this problem, you might have to visit a meccanico (mechanic).

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I drive a minicar in Italy without a driver’s licence?

After driving on either le strade (roads) or le autostrade (highways/motorways), you’ll eventually have to parcheggiare (park). You might have to reverse park in which case you'll have to mettere in retromarcia (go in reverse gear). After you’ve stopped, make sure to put on your freno a mano (handbrake) and check your specchietto (wing mirror).

After passing your practical test, you'll get your patente di guida (driver’s licence), which in this case will probably be a patente B (category B licence), from your local Ufficio della Motorizzazione Civile (Civil Motorisation office). After you receive your licence, you’ll legally be a guidatore (driver).

Just remember to wear your cintura (seatbelt) in the car as it is a legal obligation.


Other useful terms

One way – Senso unico 

U-turn – Inversione a u

Toll – Pedaggio

Disengage the clutch – Disinnestare la frizione

Roadblock – Blocco stradale

Licence plate – Targa

Battery – Batteria

Right of way – Diritto di precedenza

For more information on taking your driving test in Italy, check the Italian transport ministry’s page on steps to obtain a Patente B.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

Susannah 2024/03/14 20:01
Correction: the theory exam is actually 30 questions in 20 minutes. Three errors or less is a pass. It is recomended to download one of the free driving theory Apps and then do at least seven practice quizzes a day.

See Also