Prices at the pump recently broke through €2 per litre in some stations, a psychological threshold for car enthusiasts in the home of gas-guzzling sportscar marques such as Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Average prices across Italy are around €1.87 a litre, compared with a European Union average of €1.60, according to Italian car industry think-tank Promotor.
Atlantia, the company that operates most of Italy's toll roads, said traffic volumes in the July-August holiday period fell 5.9 per cent on the year before, while traffic on the fast inter-city trains rose 13 per cent in the first half.
“In the last year car pooling has jumped 250 per cent in response to rising fuel and costs,” said Marco Menichetti of environmental protection watchdog Legambiente. “Some people have ditched their second car, some even their first."
Many Italians are also opting for fuel-efficient smaller cars or multi-purpose family vehicles.