Driving in Palermo

This is probably the first in a series of Driving in Palermo posts. It is a subject about which there is much to discuss.

Everything that people tell you about driving in Palermo is true. It is chaotic. Drivers don’t exactly follow the rules. Parking is atrocious. There is occasionally some pretty heavy traffic, and almost everyone is angry behind the wheel.

All that being said, I do love driving in this city.

Almost all the cars here are beaten up. I once was told that scratches and bumps on cars where called “Neapolitan kisses”, but I think that “Palermitan hugs” would be better. My car was in my care for barely a week before someone scratched it when trying to park next to it. Prissy car owners need not even bother here.

You don’t really need a car for a trip to Palermo, as you can get around fairly easily by foot. But many visitors have a rental car as they then go on to explore the rest of the island.

If you do choose to drive in Palermo, my advice is as follows:

  • stay calm
  • breathe
  • forget the highway code as you know it – driving here is more intuitive
  • keep your eyes open at all times, and if possibile grow another pair of eyes before signing the rental agreement
  • watch out for scooters
  • ignore the honks, shouting and swearing from other drivers

I tell you from experience that once you have completed your first journey in the car in Palermo you will feel on top of the world. So park the car as soon as you can and go and enjoy an aperitivo – you deserve it!


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