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Autostrada sign

Autostrada (plural: Autostrade) is the Italian word for a motorway/freeway. It is also a loanword used in several countries including Poland, Romania, Switzerland (Italian-speaking Ticino), Lithuania, Albania, Belgium, Egypt, Lebanon and Israel.

Italy's Autostrade have the speed limit of 130 km/h (81 mph) for cars, and 80 km/h (50 mph) for trucks. During times of heavy rain or snow, the speed limits for cars is lowered to 110 km/h (68 mph). There are plans to raise this limit to 150 km/h (93 mph) for cars on selected segments.

Autostrada del Sole near the city of Reggio Emilia

History

Italy was the first country in the world to build such roads, the first one being the "Autostrada dei Laghi" (Autostrada of the Lakes), from Milan to Varese, built in 1921 and finished in 1924. This system of early motorways was extended in the early 1930s with the Autostrade Milano-Bergamo, Naples-Pompeii south to Naples, Florence-Sea, north to Florence, Bergamo-Brescia, Turin-Milan, Venice-Padua. Plans to further extend it southward to Sicily were scheduled in 1940.

In the 1930s the Fascist government built over 160 km of new motorways and improved 1,500 km of existing roads connecting the major cities of Italy. Construction ceased in 1941 due to World War II and the extensive bombing by the Allied forces; the war caused the best part of the highway network to fall into ruin. From 1952 through 1955, plans to rebuild the major links emerged.

In 1955, Italy was rebuilding itself, the quality of life was increasing, and the Italians slowly but steadily bought cars and enlarged the user base of cars, scooters, motorbikes, and motorcars and trucks for transporting goods. In 1956, the first stone of the autostrada Milano-Roma-Napoli (now listed as serial number of "A1" or "Autostrada del Sole" (Highway of the Sun) was engraved. By 1960, the route Milan-Florence was opened to traffic, and the entire route from Milan to Naples was completed in 1964.

The majority of the modern Autostrade were built during the 1960s and 1970s; today, it is the fifth largest motorway network in the world covering over than 3400 kilometers of routes.

From the 1980s to the 1990s, many Autostrade were improved with the addition of a third lane (Rome-Naples), and between the end of the 1980s to the end of the 1990s, many motorways in the north of Italy were expanded to four lanes per direction.

Presently the largest effort of the Autostrada system today is to add a third lane in either direction on the motorway from Salerno to Reggio Calabria.

See also

External links

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