Italy has a well-developed network of ferries and hydrofoils operated by a number of different private companies. Large car ferries connect the major islands of Sardinia and Sicily with the mainland ports of Genoa, Livorno, La Spezia, Civitavecchia, Fiumicino and Naples, while the smaller island groupings – the Tremiti islands, the Bay of Naples islands, the Pontine islands – are usually linked to a number of nearby mainland towns. Fares are reasonable, although on some of the more popular services – to Sardinia, certainly – you should book well in advance in summer, especially if you’re taking a vehicle across. Remember, too, that frequencies are drastically reduced outside the summer months, and some services stop altogether. You’ll find a broad guide to journey times and frequencies in the “Travel Details” sections throughout the guide; for full up-to-date schedules, and prices, contact the local tourist office.
Travelling by car in Italy is relatively painless, though cities can be hard work. The roads are good, the motorway, or autostrada network very comprehensive, and the notorious Italian drivers rather less erratic than their reputation suggests – though their regard for the rules of the road is sometimes lax to say the least. The best plan is to avoid driving in cities as much as possible; the congestion, proliferation of complex one-way systems and occasional incidents of naked aggression can make it a nightmare.