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    Driving in Sicily: Part One

    ow that autumn is just around the corner, it's easy to be put in mind of sun-drenched European destinations, such as Italy. And if you're yet to decide where you're off to for your holiday, Italy may well just have the combination of reliable sunshine, great food, and cultural attractions you're after.

    Often a somewhat underrated Italian destination, Sicily is a particularly fantastic place for a break - and it's worth bearing in mind that it's somewhere you really benefit from hiring a car. This is because having your own wheels will give you much more freedom to explore the island as you please, and get off the beaten track a little bit.

    So, we've put together a few tips on driving in Sicily, including some basic information about local driving conditions and ideas on where to drive to will follow in Part Two.

    What's driving in Sicily like?

    Of course, driving in Sicily has much in common with driving in the rest of Italy - you must drive on the right-hand side of the road, for example - but that doesn't mean there's nothing to note for Sicily in particular.

    Indeed, Sicily has something of a reputation for being challenging for overseas motorists. You needn't worry though - yes, the roads here can be somewhat chaotic (largely because many of them simply haven't been designed to deal with the large volumes of traffic in urban areas), but for the most part this is a problem that's confined to the bigger cities, such as the capital, Palermo.The good news is that you don't really need to drive within the cities themselves, so instead, park up and explore on foot. Use your car for getting from one destination to the next instead - something that's particularly useful if you're keen to explore the countryside.

    A quick tip for those of you who are planning to drive within the cities - try to avoid hitting the road between 8am and 9am local time on weekdays, as well as the between 1pm and 2 pm, as these periods are when the traffic is at its heaviest.Another thing worth bearing in mind is that the signage in Sicily isn't always great. So, always have a clear route planned out before you get behind the wheel, as well as a viable alternative in case the original doesn't turn out as planned - if there are diversions, say, or particularly bad traffic.

    A note on gas stations

    Outside of major highways, gas stations are usually open between 7am and 7pm Monday to Saturday, while those on highways are often open 24 hours a day. But opening times are not the only thing you should bear in mind when heading to fuel stations in Sicily. While it may sound unusual to English drivers, gas station espresso is part of the Sicilian lifestyle; the coffee you get here is strong and seriously good, and you'll find deli counters typically offer a very tempting mix of panini too. So, there's more than one reason to pull in for a quick stop!

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