Can I Sleep in My Car in Italy?


Men sleeping in a car with a red wine t-shirt

There are a lot of reasons to sleep in your car while traveling in Italy. You may want to save a couple of bucks, or you have to do it. Whatever your reason is, I will go deep down to this question and solve it for you.

So, can you sleep in your car in Italy? There is no law that prohibits sleeping in your car in Italy. However, it could become a crime in some places and situations. It is recommended to always take precautions before resting in your vehicle.

If you plan to sleep in your car in Italy, I inspire you to keep reading. There is still plenty of information that you need to know before moving forward.

Is It Legal to Sleep in Your Car in Italy?

Surprisingly, no law clearly expresses that it is illegal to sleep in your car in Italy. There is nothing about it either in the Road Traffic. This means that you are allowed to do it. You can sleep peacefully in your car and have no problem.

However, you should have some things in mind, even if it is not explicitly banned. On some occasions, it could become a huge violation. You must know all the other rules to avoid issues. They are indirectly related.

What Does The Road Traffic Rules Say?

First of all, some rules apply to all the cars on the roads. You can’t sleep in your car in places you can’t park. You can do it only if the parking lot is expressly dedicated to vehicles.

For this reason, you are not allowed to park on curves and some parking lots. Some examples of places that you can’t park (and consequently sleep) are:

  • Curves
  • Invalid parking spaces
  • Non-parking areas
  • Pedestrian crossing
  • Rest areas on motorways
  • Emergency lanes
  • Limited traffic area for unauthorized vehicles (ZTL)
  • In the second row (double parking)
  • In front of the garbage
  • Potential places that risk the flow of cars
  • Etc.

You can find more information on the Arts 157, 158, and 159 of the Italian Road Traffic Rules. So, make sure to choose the correct place before you go to sleep in your car. There are plenty of free parking lots that you can use. 

Can You Sleep in Your Camper Van?

Don’t worry; the same rules apply to camper vans and all other vehicles. However, check if it is forbidden or not in that specific place. Most of the time, you will find a sign that says if campers aren’t allowed.

Also, there are many areas assigned to campers and other big vehicles. They are very popular in Italy and not expensive at all. You can find these areas on the CamperOnline website if you plan to go camping.

Where Can You Sleep in Your Car Legally?

If you are going to sleep in your car, you must find a proper place to do so. It must not have any prohibitions, as I mentioned before. Also, it needs to be safe to stay at night so you can rest comfortably.

According to the Supreme Court of Cassation, it is not a crime to camp on the streets. You are allowed to sleep in your car as long as there is no prohibition. Also, it doesn’t matter if your presence bothers other people. But make sure you are on the rule.

Finding the perfect place to rest in your car is not that easy. There is a lot of stuff to take into consideration. Sleeping in your vehicle may be illegal in some places, but here are some ideas:

Several cars parking

1. Shopping Centers Open 24H

It is completely legal to sleep in your car in shopping centers open 24 hours. They are one of the best options you have to park. In fact, a lot of people do this when they are traveling for a long time.

Pros of Staying at Shopping Centers 24 Hours

In shopping centers 24 hours you can stay as long as you want. They are also easy to find and suspicion-free. The safety here is pretty good since many people visit these centers. Besides, they have bathrooms and often free WiFi.

Cons of Staying at Shopping Centers 24 Hours

The only downside that you could notice is the noisy environment. You may hear early in the morning the sound of horns and engines.

2. Churches

Churches are also a good place to stop resting in your car. Most people are friendly, so you are unlikely to face issues. Also, you have the opportunity to listen to the word of God. My life has entirely changed since I founded Him.

Pros of Staying at Churches

The environment near churches is peaceful, and you will often find a good atmosphere. You will be safe if you park your car here. You are unlikely to have to move your car, but make sure it is parked correctly.

Cons of Staying at Churches

Most churches have a limited number of parking lots.

3. Rest Stops

Rest stops are another great option if you are going to ride for a long time. They are made specifically for these situations. Also, you can easily reaccess the highway to continue your road.

Pros of Staying at Rest Stops

Rest stops are designed specifically for tired drivers. They are 100% legal to use, and no one will come to bother you. Also, they have bathroom facilities for both men and women. Another thing is that they are connected to highways.

Cons of Staying at Rest Stops

You may feel unsafe in some occasions, but it is not a big deal. They are lonely, and you won’t find many people there. If you are going to camp on rest stops, make sure to be aware of your surroundings.

4. City Street Parking

There are many vehicles parked in the city so that you will be just one more of them. However, don’t stay too long in the same place to avoid suspicions. In some areas, you are required to have a permit. It isn’t always legal to park and sleep in your car there.

Pros of Staying at City Street Parking

Parking in the streets of the city is by far the simplest solution. You can sleep in your car as long as there isn’t any sign that prohibits it. Most of the parking lots in the city are safe even at night. But make sure you study the area.

Cons of Staying at Rest Stops

There are no bathrooms nearby the area, and it isn’t very easy to find one. Most of the time, you will also find a noisy environment. Another thing is that pedestrians will often look at you and your items.

Besides, sometimes there are schedules to respect. Make sure you know all of them before parking and going to sleep.

5. Fast Food Outlets, Grocery Stores & Shopping Malls

They are pretty convenient like shopping centers (open 24 hours). However, it isn’t always legal to park and stay at night on these slots. Sometimes you will be asked to move your car or even to leave it. You are unlikely to face that, but be careful.

Pros of Staying at Fast Food Outlets, Grocery Stores & Shopping Malls

The upside of parking on these places is security. There are plenty of security cameras in each parking lot. Also, you will have access to bathrooms, food, and even clothes. They are easy to find, and there is enough space for everyone.

Cons of Staying at Fast Food Outlets, Grocery Stores & Shopping Malls

The noisy environment can be a problem if you struggle to sleep. Also, it may be illegal to stay at night. Every mall has different policies, so make sure you learn them. It is unlikely that someone will ask you to leave or move.

Is it Safe To Sleep in Your Car?

You will be safe to sleep in your car in most areas since Italy is a relatively safe country. However, I recommend you to inspect the zone and see if it’s safe. Also, remember to close the door correctly. Just take the usual safety precautions.

Another thing you should do is to cover the windows with a shirt or something like that. This will help you avoid the looks of people. Make sure you also know if there is any scheduled activity where you are going to park.

When Can’t You Sleep in Your Car?

You are not authorized to sleep in your car in some cases, even if it a proper place. There are municipal bans that forbid it on some dates and hours. You could get a financial penalty if you don’t respect these terms.

If it is the first time you get caught, the police will write you an order of not doing it anymore. The Italian Penalty Code states that you must obey it. If you continue doing the same, you could get arrested for up to three months.

Can You Sleep Drunk in Your Car?

Probably, sleeping in your car after drinking is one of the most usual situations in Italy. The driver knows he can’t continue, so he chooses to rest in his car. He did the right thing? Let’s see these two cases:

Case A: After some drinks, the driver decides to go home. He knows he can’t drive, so he rests in his car until the effects of the alcohol disappear. So, he stayed in the exact place where he parked his car. He didn’t move a finger from where he was. Is that correct? YES!

Case B: The driver decides to go homes after some drinks. But instead of staying in the exact place where he parked his car, he decides to drive a few miles. After that, he feels bad and chooses to stop to rest. Is that correct? NO!

In fact, you can sleep only in your car drunk if you never took the wheel to drive it. But if the police lead to prove otherwise, then you are guilty of driving drunk. Sometimes it is even obvious! Don’t do that.

If you want to know what is the drinking age in Italy, check out this helpful post. It will clarify any doubts you may have.

Do The Police Check?

The police will probably check you when sleeping in your car. But don’t worry, they won’t make you any problem. If you are on the rule and you have nothing to hide, don’t be afraid. Remember always to be courteous to them and do what they say.

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