“license plate”~ PhotoHunt

I believe this is an older type of European license plate. I spotted this car in Stresa. I do not know what NO stands for. Oh wait! Maybe Novara?


Here is another older license plate. I saw this car in Reggio Emilia. My guess is that RE stands for Reggio Emilia. Either that or maybe the person owning the car is or was a king? Re is the Italian word for king :)


Same red car as above ~ I find it very interesting how the letters/numbers are all in one line on the front license plate.


I also took a photo of the front of the black car in Stresa but the license plate ended up being much too tiny to see once I resized the photo. The license plate was black with white letters/numbers again all in one line.

Here is what I believe is a more modern day license plate found on cars in Italy & Europe. I have no idea what DF stands for.


I’m still trying to figure out just how you tell what country a car is from. I don’t think it is a mystery for those living in Italy though. I guess I just never paid much attention before. It definitely is much more subtle than the way license plates in different states in the US are identified.

As far as Italy goes though, I now have a hunch that the first two letters on the license plate stand for the town or nearby larger city where the car is registered. That is if I am correct in guessing that RE stands for Reggio Emilia and NO stands for Novara (a larger town not too far from Stresa).

To further support this theory or hunch, here is a photo of an older car I saw in Spello. My guess is that PG stands for Perugia. Spello happens to be a small town located near Perugia.


As I think more about this, my guess is that the letters PG and NO probably pertain to the type of postal code used where smaller towns take on the abbreviation letters of a nearby larger town or city. If this is the case, I am not sure why RE would stand for Reggio Emilia. I would think cars registered in Reggio Emilia would have an abbreviation for Bologna. Although.. perhaps the owner of the Stresa black car is from Novara and the Spello black car is from Perugia and every town has its own two distinct letters?

Of course, I really have no clue about any of this. It is all just a bunch of wild guesses! I am definitely going to have to inquire about the license plate letters/numbers and what they stand for as well as how you tell the difference between say a Swiss car and an Italian car (as far as where the car is registered) when I return to Italy this summer.

It could end up being quite an interesting conversation.

6 thoughts on ““license plate”~ PhotoHunt

  1. Hi Girasoli, very cool collection of photos and interesting topic for future discussion on your trip. I never thought about the distinctions on the plates in Italy (or Europe), but now that I think of it, we have them here in the US where each State has their own plates. I’ll be interested to hear what you find out when you travel there in June.
    Have a great weekend.


  2. In Spain the first two letters were the city the car was originally bought and licenced in, so even if you moved you’d have to keep the same letters. They changed them since then and now I don’t actually know what they’re like, as licence plates don’t usually catch my eye.


  3. Great photos! I wonder if it refers to the province where the car is registered (for example, Perugia is one of two provinces in Umbria as well as the provincial capital.)


  4. girasoli, cool shots.
    I have been thinking about you. With the tragedy in Japan, we have been tuned to the news and in touch with some of our friends on Maui. Hope all is going well with you.
    P.S. It’s been so long since I checked on blogs, I miss reading them, need to get them back on my routine.


  5. Hi..
    I’m from Italy and I can explain how our number plate schemes work.
    In the first picture there’s a 1948-1976 plate (white numbers on black) based on the old system in which at the beginnig there’s a two-letter code, that is the province, followed by a progressive number code.
    “NO” is the provincial code of Novara, that was the town where the FIRST owner lived, which means that today the vehicle could belong to another guy from a different town.
    In the second picture there’s a 1985-1994 plate (black numbers on white) based on the same old system I explained above.
    “RE” is the provincial code of Reggio-Emilia, that is big enough to have its own province.
    You said that re means king in italian language… yes, it’s true.. but I doubt that an italian king goes around with a french (!?!?!) car ;)
    In the third picture there’s a current plate based on the new system (started in 1994) in which there’s an alpha-numeric combination of two letters, three numbers and two letters again, making a unique large progressive code up.
    I know, it’s less “romantic”… but it’s more efficient, cheaper and has million of combinations.
    Therefore “DF” is just a piece of a bigger code.
    Anyway in this kind of plates you can find the provincial code in the right blue band, but it’s absolutly NOT compulsory: it’s a simple sticker that the car owner is free to change or just take off.
    Why that very old car with a new plate?
    Because maybe it’s been imported for the last 15 years from the United Kingdom, which has its own license plate system (not valid if the owner lives here).
    Have you seen the driver (an old car lover for sure)? He’s sat on the right as in UK & Ireland!!
    In the last picture there’s the same kind of plate of the first one.
    “PG” is Perugia.
    I hope you’re satisfied now ;)


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