Italy's highway system, one of the world's best, in 2002 totaled an estimated 668,669 km (415,511 mi) of paved roads, of which 6,460 km (4,014 mi) were expressways. These expressways carry heavy traffic along such routes as Milan-Como-Varese, Venice-Padua, Naples-Salerno, and Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome-Naples. A major highway runs through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, connecting France and Italy. In 2002, there were an estimated 32 million passenger cars and 2.9 million commercial vehicles.
In 2002, Italy maintained a total railway trackage of 19,786 km (12,295 mi). The government owns and operates 80% of the rail system, the Italian State Railway (Ferrovie dello Stato-FS), including the principal lines. Connections with French railways are made at Ventimiglia, Tenda, and Mont Cenis; with the Swiss, through the Simplon and St. Gotthard passes; with the Austrian, at the Brenner Pass and Tarvisio; and with the Slovenian, through Gorizia.
The navigable inland waterway system, totaling about 2,400 km (1,490 mi), is mainly in the north and consists of the Po River, the Italian lakes, and the network of Venetian and Po River Valley canals. There is regular train-ferry and automobile-ferry service between Messina and other Sicilian ports. Freight and passengers are carried by ship from Palermo to Naples. Sardinia and the smaller islands are served by regular shipping. Regular passenger service is provided by hydrofoil between Calabria and Sicily, and between Naples, Ischia, and Capri.
As of 2002, Italy had 467 merchant vessels totaling 8,499,248 GRT (10,383,988 DWT). Genoa and Savona on the northwest coast and Venice on the Adriatic handle the major share of traffic to and from the northern industrial centers. Naples, second only to Genoa, is the principal port for central and southern Italy, while Livorno is the natural outlet for Florence, Bologna, and Perugia. Messina, Palermo, and Catania are the chief Sicilian ports, and Cagliari handles most Sardinian exports.
In 2001 there were 135 airports, 96 with paved runways. Italy's one national airline, Alitalia, which is almost entirely government-owned, maintains an extensive domestic and international network of air routes. Rome's Fiumicino and Milan's Malpensa and Linate are among the most important airports, being served by nearly every major international air carrier. In 2001, Italian civil aviation performed a total of 1,521 million freight ton-km (945 million freight ton-mi), and carried 31,031,000 passengers on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.