Runaway 13-year-old takes his father's Mercedes on 500 mile European joyride

The teenage years are turbulent times for any young person but the notion of a "teenage strop" was given a whole new meaning this week when a 13-year-old boy piloted his adoptive father's car 500 miles through Europe after a family bust-up.

The boy set off on Thursday afternoon from the small town of Pederobba in Northern Italy, armed with his father's high-powered automatic Mercedes-Benz and 200 euros in is pocket, in an attempt to reach his birth family in Poland.

German police stopped the boy on a motorway just outside Leipzig but not before the young tearaway had driven for almost 24 hours straight without anyone raising an eyebrow.

"The boy's sister and natural parents are in Poland and it seems he was going there to meet his sister," said an Italian police spokeswoman.

Media reports said the boy had an argument on Thursday afternoon with his adoptive mother.

"The boy has told his parents he is sorry and has recognized he was in the wrong," the police spokeswoman said, adding that he was on his way back to Italy.

According to newspaper reports the boy loved cars and was an expert go-kart driver.