Italy was the first country in the world to build motorways, i.e., fast roads, reserved for motor vehicles.[citation needed] The Milano-Laghi motorway (connecting Milan to Varese) was devised by Piero Puricelli, a civil engineer and entrepreneur. He received the first authorization to build a public-utility fast road in 1921, and completed the construction (one lane each direction) between 1924 and 1926. By the end of the 1930s, over 400 kilometers of multi- and dual-single-lane motorways were constructed throughout Italy, linking cities and rural towns.

The Autostrade are roads forming the Italian national system of motorways. The total length of the system is about 6,758 kilometres (4,199 mi). In North and Central Italy this is mainly as tollways, with the biggest portion in concession to the Atlantia group which operates some 3,408 km. Other operators include ASTM, ATP and Autostrade Lombarde in the north-west, Autostrada del Brennero, A4 Holding, Concessioni Autostradali Venete and Autovie Venete in the north-east, SALT and Autocisa in the center, all under the supervision of the state-owned ANAS.

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