The 760-kilometer (471-mile) long Autostrade A-1 connects Naples and Rome with Milan and points north. Two spurs connect directly with the Gran Raccordo Anulare (secret A-90) beltway around Rome.
One of the older autostrades in the country - the first section between Rome and Firenza was completed in 1946 - Autostrade A-1 has received several safety improvements over the years, including right shoulders for breakdowns (there are no left shoulders), raised concrete medians to prevent crossovers, and extended acceleration-deceleration lanes. However, entrance and exit ramps remain tight. For safety reasons, ramp speeds usually are between 40 km/h (25 MPH) and 50 km/h (31 MPH), representing a sharp deceleration from the 130 km/h (81 MPH) of the main autostrade. Destination and warning signs also could be larger for greater visibility at high speeds.
Despite some shortcomings, Autostrade A-1 is a safe, pleasant route to ride. On the section between Naples and Rome, which was built during the early 1960's and was designated A-2 until the early 1990's, there are at least six travel lanes (three in each direction).
Our Friday night drive was enjoyable, despite intermittent torrential rain. One of the most pleasant surprises was at a service area south of Rome operated by Autogrill. The restrooms were spotless, and the pizza sold at the restaurant (Spizzico) was better than that sold at many New York pizzerias. The on-site convenience store sold fresh meat, cheese, produce, and pasta. As my wife Laura commented, "you won't find this on the New Jersey Turnpike!"
For more information on Italy's autostrade network, please visit the official Autostrade web site or Eugenio Merzagora's unofficial autostrade web site.