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View Full Version : Rental cars in Italy. Why.....


Santyclaws
September 3rd, 2009, 07:40 PM
Why is it, that when you speak to people about travel in Rome, they'll tell you to take the hop/on hop/off bus, OR take a guided tour?

Is it that confusing? Are the drivers so bad that you take your life into your hands if you rented a car? Too congested? No parking?

:confused: Santy

euro cruiser
September 3rd, 2009, 07:46 PM
For perspective, I've been to Italy, often Rome, two or three times a year each year for the past eight years, and I wouldn't advise any of these options.

No bus can get close to many of the most important sites of Rome, besides, everything is so close you can walk from one side of the city to the other in about an hour. So, don't waste time and money on the HOHO bus.

Guided tours are nice, especially if you have limited time, but the best ones are on foot. If you ride in a car, you miss so much. Again, as said above, everything is so close.

Finally, driving. I've driven a car out of Rome but never in. There's no need, plus, it's illegal. Rome has a strict ZTL policy and only authorized cars can drive within the zone limits. The fines are high and rental car agencies pass them right along to the renter.

GSPLover
September 3rd, 2009, 07:57 PM
Why is it, that when you speak to people about travel in Rome, they'll tell you to take the hop/on hop/off bus, OR take a guided tour?

Is it that confusing? Are the drivers so bad that you take your life into your hands if you rented a car? Too congested? No parking?

:confused: Santy

Probably more than the drivers, you hit the two hot buttons with " Too congested? No parking?".

Lived in Italy 3 years. Went to Rome many times. Drove once - never again!

cruisemom42
September 3rd, 2009, 08:46 PM
For perspective, I've been to Italy, often Rome, two or three times a year each year for the past eight years, and I wouldn't advise any of these options.

No bus can get close to many of the most important sites of Rome, besides, everything is so close you can walk from one side of the city to the other in about an hour. So, don't waste time and money on the HOHO bus.

Guided tours are nice, especially if you have limited time, but the best ones are on foot. If you ride in a car, you miss so much. Again, as said above, everything is so close.

Finally, driving. I've driven a car out of Rome but never in. There's no need, plus, it's illegal. Rome has a strict ZTL policy and only authorized cars can drive within the zone limits. The fines are high and rental car agencies pass them right along to the renter.

I completely agree that walking is the BEST way to see Rome. All other sightseeing methods are a distant second.

Here's an idea of what it's like to park in Rome:

http://mw2.google.com/mw-panoramio/photos/medium/680517.jpg


And here is a shot of Rome traffic:

http://www.nishioka.com/italy2004/CIMG0233.JPG


Some might say there's not much difference between Rome traffic and parking in Rome -- except that you can't leave your car in traffic....;)

GSPLover
September 3rd, 2009, 09:18 PM
cruisemom42 -
Great shots! Love it! Says it all in pictures!

Santyclaws
September 3rd, 2009, 09:42 PM
Wow! I'm going to have to send those photos to my parents! (they are the ones going).

LOL! I haven't done too much research regarding Italy to know why you wouldn't want to rent a car. Now I know!

Too congested. Got it! No available parking. Got it!

Thank you!

Hlitner
September 3rd, 2009, 10:24 PM
I love the OPs name. Ok, lets talk honestly about cars in Italy. We have driven well over 10,000 miles throughout Italy (most recently this past May) and routinely rent cars when on cruises and when we stay in the country. I have long advocated renting cars in many posts, but the only places in Italy I would not recommend driving is Rome and Florence. The problem is the traffic can be awful, parking is a real problem (and can be very expensive) and it honestly is a stupid way to get around Rome. Even most Romans avoid driving in their own city in favor of using their feet and public transit. When we are driving in Italy and happen to drive to Rome, we park our car at our hotel and never use it again until we leave the city. As to getting to and from Rome from the port of Civitavecchia, it is actually easier and faster to just use the train (not to mention a lot cheaper).

Hank

euro cruiser
September 3rd, 2009, 10:38 PM
Equally important as the congestion and parking problems, the ZTL makes it illegal (and therefore, expensive) in many cases. The ZTL zone has been expanded over the past couple of years, so even a place you could drive to as recently as last summer may now be off limits for big portions of the week.

Sometimes a hotel can get a temporary pass for guests but I sure wouldn't count on it - if you're determined to drive in Rome, check first!

lisiamc
September 4th, 2009, 07:02 AM
There is no way I would ever drive in Rome! :eek: I needed a lesson in how to cross the road, since traffic doesn't stop when the little green man is lit. (Wait for a suitable gap in the lane closest to you, take a deep breath, and start walking at a steady pace. Don't speed up. Don't slow down. Don't make eye contact with the drivers. Don't flinch when they miss you by inches. Try to find a nun to walk with :))

Lisa

Coolcruise02
September 4th, 2009, 09:08 AM
cruisemom42...Great Pictures!!

LovesSicily
September 4th, 2009, 09:42 AM
Love that Smart car! We drove from the car rental at Termini station to Tivoli ONCE and only once, my husband was dreading that day trip for days and will never drive in Rome again. When you have motorcycles passing you on the sidewalk you know it's time to park the car, that is, if you can find a place to park it! We have driven around Sorrento and from there south to Sicily and all around Sicily several times, nothing compares. Two feet, the metro and taxis are the way to go in Rome.

agabbymama
September 4th, 2009, 10:30 AM
Wish I could download photos, my photo of the SmartCar shows him parked sideways between the the other two cars, with his front end pointing toward the street and his rearend over the curb, not parallel parked like cruisemom42's shot.

Santyclaws
September 4th, 2009, 10:49 AM
Thanks Hlitner.

I just watched some youtube videos showing the horrendous traffic in Italy. I cannot believe the disreguard for stop signs with flashing red lights!

There has to be pedestrians getting creamed left and right, yeah? Accidents too? I feel for the old guys who take a little longer to cross the road.

cruiser87654321
September 4th, 2009, 10:59 AM
Actually, having driven lots of time in Italy we have seen few accidents. Despite evidence to the contrary, the Italians are good drivers, they drive differently to many people, but they are quite good at it. They drive aggressively, and you have to adapt your driving style to theirs. Red lights are just a suggestion;).

Big cities are not good driving expereinces for those who are unfamiliar with them, but that is the same worldwide. Parking is the same, if youknow where to park it is fine, but actually gettin to theplace through the maze of traffic, and traffic systems, ring roads, one ways etc is much more difficult. So, train in and walk for the major cities would be my advice. The rest of Italy is great for driving around.

euro cruiser
September 4th, 2009, 12:55 PM
Wish I could download photos, my photo of the SmartCar shows him parked sideways between the the other two cars, with his front end pointing toward the street and his rearend over the curb, not parallel parked like cruisemom42's shot.
That's one of the main benefits of the Smart Car - it is approximately as long as a typical car is wide, so it can be parked head in (or rear in) to the curb and not stick out from cars traditionally parked parallel to the curb.

Sominex
September 4th, 2009, 12:57 PM
Probably more than the drivers, you hit the two hot buttons with " Too congested? No parking?".

Lived in Italy 3 years. Went to Rome many times. Drove once - never again!
We're renting a car and will be travelling from Positano to Rome; can anyone tell me where I should drop off the car and take a taxi to our hotel? I originally thought FCO airport but that's out of our way.
Thanks,
Som

euro cruiser
September 4th, 2009, 01:48 PM
Your drop off options will depend on which company you rent from. Have you already selected a rental company?

Will you have the car while in Positano, or are you planning to pick it up as you leave? Most rental companies have offices in Sorrento - you can then look at drop off locations in the EUR (south of Rome) or on Via Tiburtina (well outside the city walls and the ZTL zone). I've picked up a car at Via Tiburtina, driving there is no more difficult than any four lane road in New Jersey.

Sominex
September 4th, 2009, 03:30 PM
Your drop off options will depend on which company you rent from. Have you already selected a rental company?

Will you have the car while in Positano, or are you planning to pick it up as you leave? Most rental companies have offices in Sorrento - you can then look at drop off locations in the EUR (south of Rome) or on Via Tiburtina (well outside the city walls and the ZTL zone). I've picked up a car at Via Tiburtina, driving there is no more difficult than any four lane road in New Jersey.
Hi ... we're flying into Milan and driving to Como for a few nights then touring Portafino & Cinque Terre before staying 2 weeks at a Tuscan Villa then on to Positano then Rome; we'll have a car the whole time but want to drop it off just before we reach Rome. We're renting through Auto Europe.
There is a drop off at 321 Viale Europe. Could we drive up the A1 then West on the E80 to Via Pontina North to this address?
Thanks Som

Hlitner
September 4th, 2009, 04:14 PM
We're renting a car and will be travelling from Positano to Rome; can anyone tell me where I should drop off the car and take a taxi to our hotel? I originally thought FCO airport but that's out of our way.
Thanks,
Som

Most of the major rental car companies maintain multiple offices in Rome including some at the major hotels as well as near the train stations. If you are comfortable driving in large cities I would recommend driving to your hotel, dropping your luggage, and than dropping your car at the nearest rental car location (you need to determine which location before you make your reservation). The drive from Positano is quite easy except for the section of the route that goes past Sorrento (there are signs...but you must be alter). You should give strong consideration to renting a GPS unit since that will route you through the Rome traffic to your hotel and rental car offices. By the way, you do not want a car in Positano since parking is a real hassle or very very expensive. There are a few pay parking garages within Positano (if there is room they are expensive) or its possible to park for free along the Amalfi Drive (above the town)....but the nearest spots can be a mile from town. There is also some on the street parking, but finding one of those spaces is like hitting the lottery.

Hank

euro cruiser
September 4th, 2009, 04:14 PM
That's the EUR location.

Yes, you'd come north on the A1 and take the Roma Sud (Rome South) exit to A90, then exit onto SS 148. It won't be hard.

I'd strongly recommend purchasing the Touring Club Italiano maps for the areas you'll be driving in. Especially in Tuscany you'll need the close in view these maps provide.

From the EUR you can take a taxi (the rental car office can call one for you) into the city. The metro goes to the EUR but I imagine you'll have a fair amount of luggage for that long a trip and, in those circumstances, the metro isn't a wise option.

euro cruiser
September 4th, 2009, 04:17 PM
If you are comfortable driving in large cities I would recommend driving to your hotel, dropping your luggage, and than dropping your car at the nearest rental car location (you need to determine which location before you make your reservation).
Be very careful about this. Rental cars do NOT have authorization to drive in the ZTL zone in Rome and the fines are hefty. If you are driving on a Sunday, all is well (the zones are not in effect on Sundays), but other than that, driving to your hotel could be a costly mistake.

euro cruiser
September 4th, 2009, 04:20 PM
Hi ... we're flying into Milan and driving to Como for a few nights then touring Portafino & Cinque Terre before staying 2 weeks at a Tuscan Villa then on to Positano then Rome; we'll have a car the whole time but want to drop it off just before we reach Rome. We're renting through Auto Europe.Just a thought - have you looked into short term leasing? It's far more cost effective than traditional renting but it requires a minimum time frame - you might fall within the range.

LovesSicily
September 4th, 2009, 04:22 PM
We're renting a car and will be travelling from Positano to Rome; can anyone tell me where I should drop off the car and take a taxi to our hotel? I originally thought FCO airport but that's out of our way.
Thanks,
Som


As suggest by several other posters check with your rental company for the most convenient site in or around Rome. We rented a car at Termini Station, I believe we used Thrifty for the day rental. You can find many cabs outside the train station, there is a large taxi stand area outside the main entrance.

Sominex
September 4th, 2009, 05:12 PM
Most of the major rental car companies maintain multiple offices in Rome including some at the major hotels as well as near the train stations. If you are comfortable driving in large cities I would recommend driving to your hotel, dropping your luggage, and than dropping your car at the nearest rental car location (you need to determine which location before you make your reservation). The drive from Positano is quite easy except for the section of the route that goes past Sorrento (there are signs...but you must be alter). You should give strong consideration to renting a GPS unit since that will route you through the Rome traffic to your hotel and rental car offices. By the way, you do not want a car in Positano since parking is a real hassle or very very expensive. There are a few pay parking garages within Positano (if there is room they are expensive) or its possible to park for free along the Amalfi Drive (above the town)....but the nearest spots can be a mile from town. There is also some on the street parking, but finding one of those spaces is like hitting the lottery.

Hank
We have rented a B&B in Positano that we can drive right up to and they have offered us free parking where we'll leave it while we tour. We are staying near the Piazza Navona in Rome and we don't want to drive that far into the city so thought we could drop it off (we're renting from Auto Europe) at 321 Viale Europa by drive up the A1 and West on the E80 to Via Pontina North to the Rental office; is this a good way to go?
Som
P.S. I planning on buy the Tom Tom 930 with Europe Maps.

Hlitner
September 4th, 2009, 07:44 PM
We have rented a B&B in Positano that we can drive right up to and they have offered us free parking where we'll leave it while we tour. We are staying near the Piazza Navona in Rome and we don't want to drive that far into the city so thought we could drop it off (we're renting from Auto Europe) at 321 Viale Europa by drive up the A1 and West on the E80 to Via Pontina North to the Rental office; is this a good way to go?
Som
P.S. I planning on buy the Tom Tom 930 with Europe Maps.

Your post made me smile because this is the way we travel throughout Europe. With Autoeurope I assume you are getting your car from either Hertz or Europcar...both of which have many locations in Rome. If you get your Tom Tom (we have a Garmin 670 with Europe maps) you need not fear going into Rome. The Tom Tom should take you on a pretty direct route and you might want to just consider dropping the car near the Termini Train station. We often walk from the Termini over to the Piazza Navona (our favorite spot in Rome) or its a pretty reasonable taxi ride.

Hank

euro cruiser
September 4th, 2009, 09:00 PM
If you get your Tom Tom (we have a Garmin 670 with Europe maps) you need not fear going into Rome.
Hank, do you know if the Tom Tom or Garmin have the ZTL information programmed in, so they won't route you through the "no drive" areas?

Hlitner
September 4th, 2009, 10:01 PM
Hank, do you know if the Tom Tom or Garmin have the ZTL information programmed in, so they won't route you through the "no drive" areas?

Now that is a darn good question for which I have no answer. In fact, it never even occurred to me until I saw your post. The darn thing is that I would normally be looking for ZTL signs (or check a local map in advance) but when I use my Garmin I normally do not even pay attention to most signs. And than there is also the issue of daytime ZTL zones vs nighttime ZTL zones. But, if one is driving from the south (Positano) and drop the car at the Termini you would not enter any ZTL zone. Since Sominex's hotel is in the Piazza Navona area it would indeed be in the major ZTL zone. It is possible to get permission to drive in the ZTL zone, but it means contacting the hotel (usually the concierge) and asking them to make the proper arrangements with the police. For us, this would be more trouble than its worth and we would probably just drop near the Termini.

Hank

Sominex
September 4th, 2009, 11:27 PM
That's the EUR location.

Yes, you'd come north on the A1 and take the Roma Sud (Rome South) exit to A90, then exit onto SS 148. It won't be hard.

I'd strongly recommend purchasing the Touring Club Italiano maps for the areas you'll be driving in. Especially in Tuscany you'll need the close in view these maps provide.

From the EUR you can take a taxi (the rental car office can call one for you) into the city. The metro goes to the EUR but I imagine you'll have a fair amount of luggage for that long a trip and, in those circumstances, the metro isn't a wise option.
Thank you this was very helpful...
Som

iancal
September 6th, 2009, 01:58 PM
You could also drop your car in a city in Tuscany that has a direct rail contection to Rome. We use AutoEurope as well. The Hertz office is about three blocks from the Florence train station but you need to be very careful with the zones in Florence. We usually pick up a car there and drive staightaway out of town. We did go in the 'zone' in Assisi in error late last Sept. but have never rec'd a ticket for it. Could be the camera was not functioning or blocked. You need to be careful in Tuscany. There are a number of photo radar traps. You will not know about them until the charges start showing up on your credit card. They have caution signs for these.

Sominex
September 7th, 2009, 09:45 AM
Hank[/quote][quote=Hlitner;21112161]Now that is a darn good question for which I have no answer. In fact, it never even occurred to me until I saw your post. The darn thing is that I would normally be looking for ZTL signs (or check a local map in advance) but when I use my Garmin I normally do not even pay attention to most signs. And than there is also the issue of daytime ZTL zones vs nighttime ZTL zones. But, if one is driving from the south (Positano) and drop the car at the Termini you would not enter any ZTL zone. Since Sominex's hotel is in the Piazza Navona area it would indeed be in the major ZTL zone. It is possible to get permission to drive in the ZTL zone, but it means contacting the hotel (usually the concierge) and asking them to make the proper arrangements with the police. For us, this would be more trouble than its worth and we would probably just drop near the Termini.
Hank, do you know if there are ZTL zone throughout Italy...i.e. Como, Genoa, Tuscany, Sorrento etc? We're going to take a Bus from the Villa to Florence so won't be driving there or Rome as we'll drop the car off beforehand.
Thanks,
SOM

Hlitner
September 7th, 2009, 01:26 PM
Hank[/quote.
Hank, do you know if there are ZTL zone throughout Italy...i.e. Como, Genoa, Tuscany, Sorrento etc? We're going to take a Bus from the Villa to Florence so won't be driving there or Rome as we'll drop the car off beforehand.
Thanks,
SOM

There is also a ZTL zone in the central part of Florence and a small ZTL in Pisa. In Florence we always stay at the Hotel David which is outside the ZTL area and can be easily accessed by car. Another reason we like this hotel is that they have free parking and the managment is very friendly and runs the place almost like a B&B. Regarding Pisa, we have driven there a couple of times and never found any ZTL signs. We also never got a ticket....but apparently the zone does exist. Here is a link to a good web site that will give you more info than you want to know about driving in Italy.
http://www.bella-toscana.com/traffic_violations_italy.htm

For us, the major problem with driving in Italy is their new-found love of speed cameras. We think the Italians realized they could copy France and England and try to make lots of money with cameras. Over the past few years we have seen those darn cameras multiplying....particularly on the main Autostrade. Some folks have found a nasty surprise on their credit card statements months after returning home when they get charged hundreds of dollars for speeding violations (this is done through the rental car companies).

Hank

Sominex
September 7th, 2009, 01:43 PM
There is also a ZTL zone in the central part of Florence and a small ZTL in Pisa. In Florence we always stay at the Hotel David which is outside the ZTL area and can be easily accessed by car. Another reason we like this hotel is that they have free parking and the managment is very friendly and runs the place almost like a B&B. Regarding Pisa, we have driven there a couple of times and never found any ZTL signs. We also never got a ticket....but apparently the zone does exist. Here is a link to a good web site that will give you more info than you want to know about driving in Italy.
http://www.bella-toscana.com/traffic_violations_italy.htm

For us, the major problem with driving in Italy is their new-found love of speed cameras. We think the Italians realized they could copy France and England and try to make lots of money with cameras. Over the past few years we have seen those darn cameras multiplying....particularly on the main Autostrade. Some folks have found a nasty surprise on their credit card statements months after returning home when they get charged hundreds of dollars for speeding violations (this is done through the rental car companies).

Hank
Hi Hank thank you again; this forum is amazing for all the information needed!!!
Jean

nparmelee
September 7th, 2009, 03:27 PM
In the cities, its the traffic and parking and ZTL zones that can lead to expensive tickets later which is why you want to take public transport. In the countryside its a totally different ball game, a car can be a great asset. We rented a car for driving around Tuscany this last May, picked it up at FCO, dropped it off at P. Roma in Venice. It was great having a car there, gave us a lot of freedom to take our time in some towns, less in others, depending on what we wanted to see and do that day. I would not drive into Florence, Rome, Milan, Bologna or Naples. Driving into Venice was bad enough on a Friday of a three day weekend, the line to get into the parking garages was really bad. If we ever do something similar, we'd drop the car off further out from Venice and take the train the rest of the way into Venice proper.

We saw many interesting driving habits, our joke was that lane lines, stop signs, lights were all just suggestions. We saw very few accidents though. Looking at cars, there are appear to be quite a few fender bender bumps and scrapes, Naples probably had the most beat up cars. For the speed cameras, stay with locals if you can, if you see sudden braking, it means there is likely an active speed camera, they all speed up again as soon as they are past it. There are usually warning signs just in front of the speed cameras, but not always and not always with enough time to slow down and sometimes you se the warning sign but no speed camera box. We also saw some speed boxes that must not have had active cameras since everybody just zoomed past those too. We decided to slow down whenever we did see one, just in case.

ihilani
October 16th, 2009, 08:17 PM
Aloha:

Our cruise ends in Venice and we would like to do a few days in Rome after the cruise. Is it possible to drive from Venice to Rome? It looks like most of if is highway driving and passes some nice towns on the way. We don't intend on keeping the car in Rome so is there somewhere we could return the car and then taxi it to our hotel? Is it affordable to renta car in Italy or would we be better off taking the train or plane? Thanks much.

Springchicken
November 8th, 2009, 09:00 AM
Aloha:

Our cruise ends in Venice and we would like to do a few days in Rome after the cruise. Is it possible to drive from Venice to Rome? It looks like most of if is highway driving and passes some nice towns on the way. We don't intend on keeping the car in Rome so is there somewhere we could return the car and then taxi it to our hotel? Is it affordable to renta car in Italy or would we be better off taking the train or plane? Thanks much. Our same situation! We will be on the Crown Princess cruise ending May 27, 2010 and want to get back to Rome. I'll appreciate any help on this situation. Are there private drivers who would take us back to Rome and how costly would it be?

cruisemom42
November 8th, 2009, 09:46 AM
Our same situation! We will be on the Crown Princess cruise ending May 27, 2010 and want to get back to Rome. I'll appreciate any help on this situation. Are there private drivers who would take us back to Rome and how costly would it be?

A private car and driver from Venice to Rome would be extremely expensive. Much more reasonable to take the train; you'll still have a chance to see the scenery that way if you don't want to go the rental car route.

Hlitner
November 8th, 2009, 11:25 AM
It is absolutely possible to drive from Venice to Rome (we have done this a few times) and it can be a wonderful journey since you can explore Tuscany, Umbria, and other regions depending on your route and time. As to cost, if you are renting for 3 or more days you can often get some great deals from the consolidatiors (discounters). We personally recommend checking both Kemwel and Autoeurope (actually sister companies) who usually offer discounted rentals from Hertz and Europcar (often with very low or zero deductables on collision). Keep in mind that gas is expensive and diesel cars are always cheaper for fuel in Europe. Also be aware that Italy is using more and more speed cameras on their main Autostrade (interstate-like roads) so you might want to watch your speed). As to the expense of rentals (I have posted this info previously) on our most recent visit to Italy (this past May) we paid about $615 for an 18 day rental (with zero deductable) which is only $34 a day (and it was from Hertz!). We got that particular rate through Kemwel. Personally, we do recommend using trains if you simply want to go from point A to point B and simply see a few cities. But if you want to truly experience Italy outside the major cities you need a car just like you do in the USA.

Hank

euro cruiser
November 8th, 2009, 02:35 PM
Personally, we do recommend using trains if you simply want to go from point A to point B and simply see a few cities. But if you want to truly experience Italy outside the major cities you need a car just like you do in the USA.
I completely agree with Hank on this. I've done a fair amount of driving in Italy and find it no more difficult than driving somewhere at home that I've never been, except for the added challenge of the signage being in Italian.

Regarding the cost, Hank got a GREAT rental fee there, that's a lot less than the norm, from my experience at least. Also, remember that most cars in Italy have standard transmission and if you require an automatic, that will probably increase the cost.

If the cost isn't prohibitive and you have the time, by all means drive if you want to. You can spend some of your planning time researching interesting places to stop along the way and great restaurants to try.

In May you'll have lots of hours of daylight to work with but, even so, you'll need to plan carefully as it is a fairly long drive (it's more than 300 miles and takes nearly six hours if you drive straight through, don't stop and don't get lost).

roninrome
November 9th, 2009, 06:12 PM
Living here - and driving here - I'd agree with what most posters have said. Avoid the big cities such as Naples, Florence, and Rome. Naples is by far the most difficult city we have ever driven in; almost led to a DIVORCE! Florence and Rome have many ZTL's. We live near the Vatican, so we're fortunate NOT to have to deal with the ZTL problem.

If you're coming into town on a Sunday, that's an easy day to drive... unfortunately, most of the Rental Car drop-off's are closed, or close at 1300. Check out your's for more options.

We ride a motorino primarily and although parking is far easier, you do have to be alert to the challenges of driving in Rome. Streets change names every three blocks or so- traffic signals and driving "rules" are optional. My last time in the States my wife had to tell me to quit "driving Italian!" Did not realize I was doing so until folks pulled up to a red light and yelled at me - LOL. Driving in Italy is... different - so prepare yourself.

You will need an IDP (International Driving Permit) to drive in Italy. It is the law. Some rental car vendors will ask. Others do not. But if you are stopped by the police (or have an accident), you'll certainly want one of these. In five years of driving here, I've only been asked twice... but glad I had one. For more info, CLICK HERE! (http://cruiseforums.cruisecritic.com/www.roninrome.com/2009/04/08/the-idp-question/)

Get ALL the insurance coverage... Be assertive, be alert, and BE CAREFUL driving in Italy! Good Luck!

euro cruiser
November 9th, 2009, 09:02 PM
You will need an IDP (International Driving Permit) to drive in Italy. It is the law. Some rental car vendors will ask. Others do not. But if you are stopped by the police (or have an accident), you'll certainly want one of these.
Good point. I've never been asked for it by a rental company and I know people who figure if the rental company isn't insisting on it, why bother. Ron's given the reason why you should bother.

In the States, they are extremely easy to get at AAA offices. It costs less than $20 and takes about 15 minutes - then you walk out the door with it. At my local AAA office they even do the photographs (just like a passport photo) so it's one-stop shopping.

kayo kruiser
February 2nd, 2010, 08:52 PM
Hi

We're flying into the Florence airport, renting a car and then driving to a B&B south of Chianti (Castiglion Fiorentino). this will be our base for 3 days of exploring Tuscany before we head to Rome. Just north of Rome, we are staying in another B&B for 2 nights before leaving on a cruise. I need some advice on the transition from Tuscany to Rome.

On our last day of Tuscany touring, we want to go to Orvieto. Would it make sense then to continue driving south to Rome and dropping off the rental car there? We'd then need to take the commuter train back towards the B&B (Montebello Station). Or, if there is a rental car drop off location in Orvieto (which I haven't yet checked on) should we take a train from there to Rome and then back track again to Montebello. (Montebello is supposed to be only a 20 minute commuter train ride from Piazzale Flaminio Station in Rome.)

I'm also having difficulty finding any commuter train schedules/prices that cover this area.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

euro cruiser
February 2nd, 2010, 09:31 PM
On our last day of Tuscany touring, we want to go to Orvieto. Would it make sense then to continue driving south to Rome and dropping off the rental car there? We'd then need to take the commuter train back towards the B&B (Montebello Station). Or, if there is a rental car drop off location in Orvieto (which I haven't yet checked on) should we take a train from there to Rome and then back track again to Montebello. (Montebello is supposed to be only a 20 minute commuter train ride from Piazzale Flaminio Station in Rome.)

I'm also having difficulty finding any commuter train schedules/prices that cover this area.

Montebello is on the Roma-Viterbo urban railroad. You can see the system map here: http://www.atac.roma.it/files/doc.asp?r=4

What are you planning to do while staying in Montebello? It might be hard to do much at all without a car, you're a fair distance from Rome if your intention is to see Rome. If that's the case, why not stay in town?

I suppose you could see about a drop off point for the car in Viterbo and catch the train there.

kayo kruiser
February 3rd, 2010, 10:19 PM
Thanks for the link to the system map. That's really helpful!

The B&B we've booked near Montebello Station is called Flavor of Italy. They said it's only a 20 minute ride to/from Rome using the commuter train at this station. They'll drive us from the B&B to the station so we can give up our car for those last 2 days.

I'm totally unfamiliar with the area. Where is Viterbo?

thanks again for your help.

browneyes7
August 5th, 2011, 11:12 AM
Equally important as the congestion and parking problems, the ZTL makes it illegal (and therefore, expensive) in many cases. The ZTL zone has been expanded over the past couple of years, so even a place you could drive to as recently as last summer may now be off limits for big portions of the week.

Sometimes a hotel can get a temporary pass for guests but I sure wouldn't count on it - if you're determined to drive in Rome, check first!

Are the ZTL zones clearly marked? We have been thinking about renting a car in Rome and driving from Rome to Munich and back to Rome. We have done a little research and it appears it would be quite expensive driving a car from Rome to Munich and back. With the cost of gas, tolls, and highway taxes and the stress of actually doing it, I would rather take a train or plane. My husband is the one who wants to drive it. I'd love some input from you and others who have driven in Italy and other parts of Europe. Any info is appreciated! :)

pete_coach
August 5th, 2011, 11:27 AM
Are the ZTL zones clearly marked? We have been thinking about renting a car in Rome and driving from Rome to Munich and back to Rome. We have done a little research and it appears it would be quite expensive driving a car from Rome to Munich and back. With the cost of gas, tolls, and highway taxes and the stress of actually doing it, I would rather take a train or plane. My husband is the one who wants to drive it. I'd love some input from you and others who have driven in Italy and other parts of Europe. Any info is appreciated! :)
They are marked....at the beginning of the zone and only if you know where to look. The signs are not consistant.
You could always get the car at the airports and avoid the downtown area. Rome is a nightmare for traffic. Very slow and congested at best and a parking lot at worst. Most European cities are traffic problems. The cities and town are hundreds of years (or more) old and the roads and streets were built for people and donkey carts. Cars just don't fit well LOL. Cars are also small over there...and mostly standard shift. Automatics cost a lot. Also, your credt card may not cover insurances in Italy and insurance will ocst as much as the daily rental fee. I rented in Italy many times while on business and was some glad the company picked up the tab.
The highways in Europe are first class, no problems driving on them and, while I always recommend a train in Europe, properly planned, the drive would be very nice. Get a GPS with European maps.

browneyes7
August 5th, 2011, 11:46 AM
They are marked....at the beginning of the zone and only if you know where to look. The signs are not consistant.
You could always get the car at the airports and avoid the downtown area. Rome is a nightmare for traffic. Very slow and congested at best and a parking lot at worst. Most European cities are traffic problems. The cities and town are hundreds of years (or more) old and the roads and streets were built for people and donkey carts. Cars just don't fit well LOL. Cars are also small over there...and mostly standard shift. Automatics cost a lot. Also, your credt card may not cover insurances in Italy and insurance will ocst as much as the daily rental fee. I rented in Italy many times while on business and was some glad the company picked up the tab.
The highways in Europe are first class, no problems driving on them and, while I always recommend a train in Europe, properly planned, the drive would be very nice. Get a GPS with European maps.

Thanks for your help! On one site my husband found it mentioned having to pay highway taxes. Is this done at the toll booths, or where? I can't remember the name of the site. (My husband isn't here now for me to ask him.) But this site gave an estimate of the cost between each of the cities we would be visiting....as to the toll cost, gas cost, and the highway taxes cost. ??

pete_coach
August 5th, 2011, 02:02 PM
Thanks for your help! On one site my husband found it mentioned having to pay highway taxes. Is this done at the toll booths, or where? I can't remember the name of the site. (My husband isn't here now for me to ask him.) But this site gave an estimate of the cost between each of the cities we would be visiting....as to the toll cost, gas cost, and the highway taxes cost. ??
There are tolls on most Italian highways, the AutoStrada. There will also be tolls through some tunnels when going to Switzerland and Germany. The highway "taxes" will be part of your car rental fees. You could be dinged extra if you want to take the car out of the Country, you had better check that. You should try and get a deisel vehicle, while fues costs the same you will get a lot better mileage (the European diesel vehices are al ot better than the ones here, they are actually very good and you probablyy would not know or feel the difference between them and gas vehicels)
Like in the US, the cost is dependant on how far you drive on the toll road. Gas prices, well, they will vary quite a bit. Again,like inthe US, if you stop at a highway rest stop, the price will be higher. In towns, villages and cities, gas stations are not as visible as they are at home. They may just be a small cutout on the street with one pump and you have to pay attention to find them.
Plan on gas being at least about 6 dollars per gallon (1.50 euros per litre), probably a bit more though.
Here is a site that may give a bit of an idea http://www.travelmath.com/

bobalink
August 5th, 2011, 02:29 PM
We recently returned from vacation where we rented a car and drove for the first time in Italy. I posted this info on another thread yesterday, so I have copied it below:

Car Rental:
Auto Europe
http://www.autoeurope.com/

I researched everything online and then when I knew what I wanted, I called them. They were very helpful and assured me that they could get an automatic transmission sedan for me. (I haven't driven a stick shift since I was a teen, and I wasn't about to have a refresher course in Italy ;))

Going through AutoEurope was easy, fully covered insurance, good email communication, etc. Renting an automatic isn't cheap, I don't have my receipt here, but you can check prices on their website.They upgraded us to a beautiful, black, Mercedes. It was equipped with a GPS but the guy at the rental agency didn't really know how it worked, so I had to figure it out.

I did get an International Drivers Permit, but they never asked for it. You can get that at your local AAA office. It was $23. (15 for the IDP and 8 for the picture.)

You can read all about Driving in Italy on Slow Travel. There are some things to be careful of. There are places referred to as ZTL - Zona Traffico Limitado - where you are prohibited to drive unless you have a special permit. Those areas are typically in the city center. We did not have any problems in the Tuscan hill towns. Just be aware of them, don't enter or you will receive a ticket in the mail. Just park at the base of the town and walk up into the town.

I printed out the Traffic Signs and got familiar with them, purchased some good maps and researched.

http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/drivin...s_speeding.htm (http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/driving/traffic_cameras_speeding.htm)

Slow Travel website will also explain Parking - white or blue spaces, parking meter/tickets, etc.

Driving on the Autostrada was an adventure. Italians drive fast and tailgate. Going through the Toll Booth the first time was a bit scary, but there is an attendant who collects your euros.

I know it sounds difficult, but trust me, if I can do it, anyone can. :)

Autostrada website has good information:
http://www.autostrade.it/en/

wcook
August 5th, 2011, 02:54 PM
If you use google maps for directions, they give you estimated costs, including tolls and local gas costs. These are not all that accurate, of course... but they will give you an idea as to whether is will be $20, $200 or $2,000.

Hlitner
August 5th, 2011, 10:31 PM
Fun thread. We have never driven from Rome to Munich but have done more then our share of driving over much of this route. You are talking about approximately 600 miles of driving (each way) which can be done in about 9 hours (assuming you do not make frequent stops). Personally, we would love to do this drive since it does go through many parts of Italy that we love. In our opinion whether your drive should depend on the amount of time. If you can spare a few days (or even a week) for the drive then it can become a wonderful trip with many interesting stops enroute. If you just want to go between the two points as fast as possible then the train or air makes much more sense.

Regarding the ZTLs and signs, the signs that mark ZTLs are relatively small and can be missed. There is also the possibility that a sign on your route will be missing (that is no excuse and you will still be fined). It is wise to pull up a map of the ZTLs online (before your trip) and pay attention to the areas that must be avoided. If you do wander into a ZTL you will probably not be aware of any violation until weeks (or months) late when you discover a nasty charge added to your credit card statement. Most rental car companies also assess an additional "administrative" fee so a single violation can easly cost over 100 Euros.


Hank

browneyes7
August 6th, 2011, 06:10 PM
We recently returned from vacation where we rented a car and drove for the first time in Italy. I posted this info on another thread yesterday, so I have copied it below:

Car Rental:
Auto Europe
http://www.autoeurope.com/

I researched everything online and then when I knew what I wanted, I called them. They were very helpful and assured me that they could get an automatic transmission sedan for me. (I haven't driven a stick shift since I was a teen, and I wasn't about to have a refresher course in Italy ;))

Going through AutoEurope was easy, fully covered insurance, good email communication, etc. Renting an automatic isn't cheap, I don't have my receipt here, but you can check prices on their website.They upgraded us to a beautiful, black, Mercedes. It was equipped with a GPS but the guy at the rental agency didn't really know how it worked, so I had to figure it out.

I did get an International Drivers Permit, but they never asked for it. You can get that at your local AAA office. It was $23. (15 for the IDP and 8 for the picture.)

You can read all about Driving in Italy on Slow Travel. There are some things to be careful of. There are places referred to as ZTL - Zona Traffico Limitado - where you are prohibited to drive unless you have a special permit. Those areas are typically in the city center. We did not have any problems in the Tuscan hill towns. Just be aware of them, don't enter or you will receive a ticket in the mail. Just park at the base of the town and walk up into the town.

I printed out the Traffic Signs and got familiar with them, purchased some good maps and researched.

http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/drivin...s_speeding.htm (http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/driving/traffic_cameras_speeding.htm)

Slow Travel website will also explain Parking - white or blue spaces, parking meter/tickets, etc.

Driving on the Autostrada was an adventure. Italians drive fast and tailgate. Going through the Toll Booth the first time was a bit scary, but there is an attendant who collects your euros.

I know it sounds difficult, but trust me, if I can do it, anyone can. :)

Autostrada website has good information:
http://www.autostrade.it/en/

Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. This is so helpful, and I really appreciate it!:)

browneyes7
August 6th, 2011, 06:11 PM
There are tolls on most Italian highways, the AutoStrada. There will also be tolls through some tunnels when going to Switzerland and Germany. The highway "taxes" will be part of your car rental fees. You could be dinged extra if you want to take the car out of the Country, you had better check that. You should try and get a deisel vehicle, while fues costs the same you will get a lot better mileage (the European diesel vehices are al ot better than the ones here, they are actually very good and you probablyy would not know or feel the difference between them and gas vehicels)
Like in the US, the cost is dependant on how far you drive on the toll road. Gas prices, well, they will vary quite a bit. Again,like inthe US, if you stop at a highway rest stop, the price will be higher. In towns, villages and cities, gas stations are not as visible as they are at home. They may just be a small cutout on the street with one pump and you have to pay attention to find them.
Plan on gas being at least about 6 dollars per gallon (1.50 euros per litre), probably a bit more though.
Here is a site that may give a bit of an idea http://www.travelmath.com/

Thank you, Pete. You are making me feel much more comfortable about doing this! :)

browneyes7
August 6th, 2011, 06:17 PM
Fun thread. We have never driven from Rome to Munich but have done more then our share of driving over much of this route. You are talking about approximately 600 miles of driving (each way) which can be done in about 9 hours (assuming you do not make frequent stops). Personally, we would love to do this drive since it does go through many parts of Italy that we love. In our opinion whether your drive should depend on the amount of time. If you can spare a few days (or even a week) for the drive then it can become a wonderful trip with many interesting stops enroute. If you just want to go between the two points as fast as possible then the train or air makes much more sense.

Regarding the ZTLs and signs, the signs that mark ZTLs are relatively small and can be missed. There is also the possibility that a sign on your route will be missing (that is no excuse and you will still be fined). It is wise to pull up a map of the ZTLs online (before your trip) and pay attention to the areas that must be avoided. If you do wander into a ZTL you will probably not be aware of any violation until weeks (or months) late when you discover a nasty charge added to your credit card statement. Most rental car companies also assess an additional "administrative" fee so a single violation can easly cost over 100 Euros.


Hank

Thanks, Hank. You are always so helpful on CC! We will have about 10 days to do this. We fly into Rome late Oct. 14 and leave from Civitavecchia October 26 on a transatlantic cruise home to Galveston. I'm sure it will be quite an adventure! :)

Hlitner
August 6th, 2011, 07:57 PM
I should have mentioned something about both Autoeurope and Kemwel. These are teriffic companies for longer term car rentals in Europe. They are actually sister companies and have their co-located offices in Maine. They provide a toll free number in the USA and also have toll free numbers throughout most of Europe. These companies are known as "consolidators" because they contract with major rental car companies and are able to often provide excellent pricing. However, unless they have recently changed their policy, they do not deal with any rentals that are less then 3 days in length. I should also mention that these companies normally provide cars from either Hertz or Europcar...

Hank

Karennella
August 6th, 2011, 08:43 PM
We hired cars in three different places last year in Italy, including Sicily, and we think the drivers are much better than here in Australia. In a month we did not see a single accident or car broken down, whereas on the way home from the airport, a twenty minute drive, we saw three.
But we are having four nights in Rome next month and will collect our rental car on the last day, before leaving for Perugia. My daughter lives in London and they do not own a car, as it also has congestion zones, good public transport and parking difficulties.
We found the autostradas in Italy excellent, especially compared to our pathetic examples of expressways here in NSW.

RMorningglory
August 7th, 2011, 10:31 AM
Our ship arrives in on a Sunday and I see it as a bit of a double edged sword. Some things will be closed ie: Vatican Museums. The plus is that there are no restrictions on driving on a Sunday. With my dad's mobility issues and since I have done the in depth museum thing several times before I figure I'm going to take the bull by the horns and drive into Rome on a Sunday.

Can anyone give me specific advice on a "Sunday Drive"?;)

bobalink
August 7th, 2011, 10:40 AM
Our ship arrives in on a Sunday and I see it as a bit of a double edged sword. Some things will be closed ie: Vatican Museums. The plus is that there are no restrictions on driving on a Sunday. With my dad's mobility issues and since I have done the in depth museum thing several times before I figure I'm going to take the bull by the horns and drive into Rome on a Sunday.

Can anyone give me specific advice on a "Sunday Drive"?;)

You are a brave person. I would not drive in Rome for all the tea in China.

For traveling with someone with mobility concerns, contact Romeinlimo and have them drive you CLOSE UP to all of the sites.

Last summer we did the City Highlights Tour with RIL, and it was fabulous. They are experienced and equipped to maneuver their small sized Mercedes sedan through the very narrow streets. You will see so much more having them take you than you could on your own. They know the way around, the short cuts and it is comfortable!

Whatever you decide, enjoy your visit to Rome!

RMorningglory
August 7th, 2011, 12:31 PM
You are a brave person. I would not drive in Rome for all the tea in China.

For traveling with someone with mobility concerns, contact Romeinlimo and have them drive you CLOSE UP to all of the sites.

Last summer we did the City Highlights Tour with RIL, and it was fabulous. They are experienced and equipped to maneuver their small sized Mercedes sedan through the very narrow streets. You will see so much more having them take you than you could on your own. They know the way around, the short cuts and it is comfortable!

Whatever you decide, enjoy your visit to Rome!

I thought of this... we are 4, too many for a sedan so now if we do that we're in a van and paying a lot. The car is $113.00 total... And its a Sunday. I'm 42 and have driven in Europe a lot... just not in Rome.

euro cruiser
August 7th, 2011, 01:11 PM
I've driven in Rome and lived to tell about it. Sunday makes it easier, unless (and this is a big unless) there is a scheduled march that day. Over the past ten years I've lost track of how many protest marches I've run into in Rome, and they tend to happen around the Colosseum area and usually on Sundays, so the Via dei Fori Imperiali gets screwed up. That's an issue because if you look at a map, you'll see that there are very few "main" street in Rome.

You didn't mention parking, are you planning to do that or will you be on the move the entire time?

RMorningglory
August 7th, 2011, 01:30 PM
I've driven in Rome and lived to tell about it. Sunday makes it easier, unless (and this is a big unless) there is a scheduled march that day. Over the past ten years I've lost track of how many protest marches I've run into in Rome, and they tend to happen around the Colosseum area and usually on Sundays, so the Via dei Fori Imperiali gets screwed up. That's an issue because if you look at a map, you'll see that there are very few "main" street in Rome.

You didn't mention parking, are you planning to do that or will you be on the move the entire time?

I truely appreciate your insite and advice. I know there is a large car parking lot at the Villa Borghese (http://www.sabait.it/park/it/Roma/40N0002_RM_RomaVillaBorghese) and I thought that could be the ticket for most of the day. Even with a hefty parking charge I'm saving 400 euro from the tour price. That's a lot of lunch! I think my dad would be able to walk one way from the Spanish Steps to Piazza Novona and Hotel Raphael where we plan to have lunch. After that I can walk back, get the car and pick him up along the river bank or we can all take a taxi back to the car park. The car just gives a little more flexability to do what we want and how. On a Sunday I can be patient and drive them by the main stuff. I could never do that on a weekday so that's why I'm leaning this way.

maryann ns
August 7th, 2011, 01:39 PM
I would stick to public transit or taxis. With planning taxis would surely save money over a rental and be much less stressful.

My husband and I have driven in Europe many times, including Paris and Florence, but would not drive in Rome.

iancal
August 7th, 2011, 03:47 PM
We drive in Europe, and specifically in Italy, fairly often. Our main reason for never driving in Rome is not the drivers or the traffic (not to say that this is not a pain) but rather finding a parking place and paying for it. It may be my heritage, but I can never see taking a rental car to Rome for a few days. paying the per diem car rental fee AND paying the parking fees when I know the car will simply sit in it's parking stall whilst we are there. We tend to do a lot of one way rentals with a combination of rail and ferry trips mixed into the equation.

RMorningglory
August 10th, 2011, 06:19 PM
The full day tour price on our cruise including lunch is $229.00 PP and we're there on a Sunday so no Sistine Chapel. I rented the car for $119.00 and have been to all the locations at least 3 times before and can give a highlights tour in my sleep. With no driving restrictions on a Sunday I think I'm good. Once again, if anyone has insite specifically about driving in Rome on a Sunday I'm all ears. :D

Hlitner
August 10th, 2011, 06:32 PM
We have driven more then 10,000 miles within Italy but Rome would be my least favorite place to have a car. That being said, you are correct that Sundays make things a lot easier although we would recommend parking your car in a central location (such as near Termini) and using your feet an public transit to get around Rome. Even on Sundays it can be a hassle dealing with parking and traffic can still be an issue near some of the major tourist destinations (especially in the afternoon).

Hank

euro cruiser
August 10th, 2011, 07:37 PM
Really, truly, the best advice is to park the car and make your way around on foot. Maybe do a drive by first, but then return to actually visit the sites. Even on Sunday you won't be able to park easily, on many streets parking is restricted for residents and the fines are significant.

There are large parking garages at the Vatican and at Villa Borghese. Closer in there is parking in Piazza in Piscinula, on the Trastevere side of the pedestrian bridge over the Tiber. There's an attendent who takes your money and you can leave the car there all day.

agabbymama
August 10th, 2011, 08:43 PM
Palermo, Messina, Salerno, Naples and Rome were the absolute pits to drive in on any day. We spent a month driving through Italy. We were almost hit 3 times by vespas going through red lights. At one red light, there was a car stopped in front of us, so we stopped. Then a car came up behind us, and kept honking his horn, even though the light was red. The guy in the front car finally opened his door and stepped out, turned around and looked at the driver of the car behind us, we could plainly see he was a police officer. The guy didn't honk his horn anymore. When the light changed, we all proceeded.

Even the locals have problems, on our tour from Naples to Sorrento, the taxi driver we hired got us to Pompeii and on to Sorrento just fine. Upon returning to Naples, the traffic was horrendous. As we drove through town on a mini-tour, the taxi driver didn't stop quite soon enough and bumped the car in front of us. This caused a little delay as he got out of the taxi and walked up to the car in front. Now we couldn't understand a thing they were saying, but there was lot of arm waving, raised voices, and I worried it might come to fistacuffs, but they walked away from each other got in their vehicles and proceeded. He apologized profusely to us that we had to witness such a tirade. Kind of funny, because here our taxi driver would have been at fault for rear ending the car, but he acted like it was the other guys fault.

There was a photo of smart cars parked in Rome, and I commented that my photo showed a smart car parked sideways. I'm going to try and post it. The picture is small, but we are on the HoHo bus and this is the street along the river.

RMorningglory
August 11th, 2011, 05:26 PM
Really, truly, the best advice is to park the car and make your way around on foot. Maybe do a drive by first, but then return to actually visit the sites. Even on Sunday you won't be able to park easily, on many streets parking is restricted for residents and the fines are significant.

There are large parking garages at the Vatican and at Villa Borghese. Closer in there is parking in Piazza in Piscinula, on the Trastevere side of the pedestrian bridge over the Tiber. There's an attendent who takes your money and you can leave the car there all day.

Thank you so much for these specifics. I appreciate it very much. I will take your advice and make my plan as noted. YEAY!!! :)

vacation fool
August 23rd, 2011, 01:57 PM
We were planning to fly to Rome and take the train to either arezzo or chiusi where we would then rent a car. I was told by someone that the car rental agenices all close by noon on Saturdays which happens to be the date that most house/villa rentals begin. She said we would have to rent the car at the airport in Rome and drive to Cortona. Now, is this true? After reading many posts not looking forward to driving from Rome to Cortona. :( Any suggestions/information is greatly appreciated.

bobalink
August 23rd, 2011, 05:13 PM
We were planning to fly to Rome and take the train to either arezzo or chiusi where we would then rent a car. I was told by someone that the car rental agenices all close by noon on Saturdays which happens to be the date that most house/villa rentals begin. She said we would have to rent the car at the airport in Rome and drive to Cortona. Now, is this true? After reading many posts not looking forward to driving from Rome to Cortona. :( Any suggestions/information is greatly appreciated.

Last month we spent time in the Tuscan hill towns. We rented our car through Auto Europe. We flew into Rome, took the train to Chiusi, where we picked up our rental car.

The rental agency was a few blocks from the train station, and we walked to it. Arrived around 2:30pm on a Monday. They were on their "siesta" until 3pm. The rental agency is on the second story of a car repair shop.

They told me that they would have picked us up from the train station, if I had called them. I wasn't aware of that, so lesson learned. When we returned the car, they took us to the train station. Very easy!

I had reserved an automatic transmission car, not knowing what make/model it would be. We got a beautiful, black Mercedes with a GPS unit. That GPS unit was awesome, even though we had some very good maps.

Perhaps Auto Europe can give you the hours for the rental agency and you can contact them directly. They may possibly make arrangements to meet you at the agency after hours. Just a thought.

Hlitner
August 23rd, 2011, 05:16 PM
Just keep in mind that if you want to use AutoEurope or Kemwel (its sister company) they only deal with 3 day minimum rentals.

Hank

vacation fool
August 23rd, 2011, 08:49 PM
Last month we spent time in the Tuscan hill towns. We rented our car through Auto Europe. We flew into Rome, took the train to Chiusi, where we picked up our rental car.

The rental agency was a few blocks from the train station, and we walked to it. Arrived around 2:30pm on a Monday. They were on their "siesta" until 3pm. The rental agency is on the second story of a car repair shop.

They told me that they would have picked us up from the train station, if I had called them. I wasn't aware of that, so lesson learned. When we returned the car, they took us to the train station. Very easy!

I had reserved an automatic transmission car, not knowing what make/model it would be. We got a beautiful, black Mercedes with a GPS unit. That GPS unit was awesome, even though we had some very good maps.

Perhaps Auto Europe can give you the hours for the rental agency and you can contact them directly. They may possibly make arrangements to meet you at the agency after hours. Just a thought.
I will see if i can find their number and call them to inquire about after hours. Wondering if they close on Sunday?

Just keep in mind that if you want to use AutoEurope or Kemwel (its sister company) they only deal with 3 day minimum rentals. no problem with that as we will have it for at least 5 days if not a week.

Hank

bobalink
August 24th, 2011, 12:26 AM
I will see if i can find their number and call them to inquire about after hours. Wondering if they close on Sunday?

I do believe they are closed on Sundays. I would not hesitate to contact the rental agency directly and simply ask if they can make special arrangements. We found them to be very helpful, and they were able to speak English reasonably well.

If you are not familiar with a GPS unit, make sure they show you how to use it before you leave the lot. We had to figure out how to use ours, as the guy at the rental agency was not familiar with that particular one. It was a challenge, but we did it. "She" had a British accent, and by the end of our trip, we had given "her" a nickname.:)

Our overall experience with the car rental agencies, tour operators, hotel proprietors, etc. is that they are usually willing to be flexible with your itinerary, regarding arrival time. They are used to working with Americans and tourists coming from all over the world at all kinds of times. We found them to be very accommodating. At least that was our experience.

Hope it all works out for you. Enjoy your vacation!

bobalink
August 24th, 2011, 12:34 AM
vacation fool,

One more thing...

If you have not yet found a place to stay while in Tuscany, I can recommend a wonderful agriturismo (farmhouse/villa). We stayed at Villa Mazzi in Montepulciano. It is about 30 minutes from Chiusi, where we picked up our rental car.

Villa Mazzi is flexible with their reservations and do not require a full week stay. The owners, Loredana and Mario, are wonderful. The views are amazing and Montepulciano is a great "home base" convenient for exploring the other hill towns.

Their website: http://www.villamazzi.it/azienda.en.php

All the rave reviews on Trip Advisor are accurate. The pictures on the website are authentic, too.

Happy planning!

vacation fool
August 24th, 2011, 10:52 AM
Well, it is true that rental car offices close before noon on sat and are closed sunday too. So was thinking that if we fly into Rome on friday, we could take train to somewhere in umbria and rent car there, tour a bit and stay overnite before driving to cortona on sat am. What towns do people recommed to stay in for one nite? We will be tired from the flight and would make it an early nite so someplace that is worth seeing for a few hours.....thanks everyone. I like to have a plan A and B :)

Bobolink, thanks-i did check out villa mazzie. Our first choice though is a private villa where we are the only ones staying there. I have not called the rental agency to see if they would stay open for us as i have no idea what our flight times will be this far out. I did notice when looking for flights that unliike flying nonstop to Paris where we got in very early, that most flights to Rome from MIA have layovers and do not get in til early afternoon. Then the train and it could be early evening til we get there. Not sure they would be willing to do that when they close before noon.
So its either drive to Cortona from Rome on sat or fly into Rome on fri so we can get a rental car wherever we decide to take the train to. thanks for your suggestions.

Hlitner
August 24th, 2011, 04:34 PM
You could certainly take the train to Umbria or Tuscany and rent a car. But why not just rent a car at the airport (we assume FCO) and drive. Its actually easy to drive from FCO (you do not go anywhere near Rome) and most of the rental car dealers are located inside one of the large garages attached to the terminals. If booking a rental car for 3 or more days you can often get a pretty good deal from some of the auto consolidators (these are discount companies) such as Autoeurope or Kemwel. While it seems to make sense to take a train to get your car, you may discover that many trains are not so cheap these days, and you still need to manage your luggage. For us it has always been easier to grab a car at the airport, toss our luggage in the car, and then we are off! If you get into Rome early in the morning you could even stop at a place like Orvieto for your morning coffee :)


Hank

vacation fool
August 24th, 2011, 08:52 PM
You could certainly take the train to Umbria or Tuscany and rent a car. But why not just rent a car at the airport (we assume FCO) and drive. Its actually easy to drive from FCO (you do not go anywhere near Rome) and most of the rental car dealers are located inside one of the large garages attached to the terminals. If booking a rental car for 3 or more days you can often get a pretty good deal from some of the auto consolidators (these are discount companies) such as Autoeurope or Kemwel. While it seems to make sense to take a train to get your car, you may discover that many trains are not so cheap these days, and you still need to manage your luggage. For us it has always been easier to grab a car at the airport, toss our luggage in the car, and then we are off! If you get into Rome early in the morning you could even stop at a place like Orvieto for your morning coffee :)


Hank
I am willing to consider the car rental directly at the airport if we do not have to drive thru Rome. I read on a forum where someone actually posted the driving directions from the airport to Cortona. It said 97 miles and took 90 min? I have read other descriptions on house rental sites that say Rome is 2.5 hours from Cortona? Is the airport actually an hour from Rome itself or is what i read wrong? Do you know how far the airport is from either Cortona or Montepulicano from personal experience? I have read your posts on alot of threads and i know you are well traveled-you lucky guy!;) So thanks and keep the great info a comin' .....

euro cruiser
August 24th, 2011, 08:55 PM
Cortona is about 150 miles from the airport in Rome (FCO). Using the autostrada you should assume at least two and a half hours to make the trip. You don't go into Rome at all, you take a beltway around the city.

I'd be willing to bet big money that the post you read contained directions from the airport in Florence, which is about 85 miles or so from Cortona, and would take about an hour and a half of driving.

vacation fool
August 24th, 2011, 09:21 PM
Cortona is about 150 miles from the airport in Rome (FCO). Using the autostrada you should assume at least two and a half hours to make the trip. You don't go into Rome at all, you take a beltway around the city.

I'd be willing to bet big money that the post you read contained directions from the airport in Florence, which is about 85 miles or so from Cortona, and would take about an hour and a half of driving.

Thanks for confirming the distance. I knew it sounded too good to be true ;)

Hlitner
August 24th, 2011, 11:05 PM
We have actually driven this route (twice) and also spend a couple of days in Cortona. It is a really nice town, although it probably would not be quite so popular except for the "book." We have never stayed overnight in Cortona because it just never fit into our itinerary as the place to spend an evening.

As we said previously (confirmed by Euro) you do not drive anywhere near Rome, You simply head around Rome's ring road until you get to the A1. Traffic on the ring road can be heavy, but it usually moves at the speed limit and is just like driving on any major city bypass in the US. Within 30 min you will be quickly moving away from Rome and out in the countryside. We love driving in Italy (have driven more then 10,000 miles within the country) and often try to avoid the fast autostrade in favor of the 2 lane country roads that go through some fantastic areas. There are many options when driving to Cortona if you want to spend extra time and get off the A1. We do strongly recommend that anyone driving in Europe either rent (or buy) a GPS. We love our GPS because we sometimes love getting delightfully lost with the knowledge that our trusty Garmin Nuvi can get us to our destination whenever we ask "her" for the route.

We get "flamed" on CC sometimes because we often post that rental cars are much more adventageous then trains. We think European trains are great to get from Point A to Point B, but to really see Italy you need to be out and around in a car. We now spend a majority of our time (when in Italy) in places that are generally not near train stations. Also, in recent years the European trains have become a lot more expensive on many of the longer routes..to a point when it can actually be cheaper to use a car. And finally, we travel with luggage and like being able to toss it in the "boot" without worrying about hauling it around train stations, finding a place for it on trains, etc. That being said, keep in mind that you must always protect your valuables when driving in Italy. Never leave your car if there is any luggage visable through the windows and never, ever leave valuables in a car. Of course it is the same if you use trains. Never leave your luggage alone!

Hank

vacation fool
August 25th, 2011, 12:45 PM
We have actually driven this route (twice) and also spend a couple of days in Cortona. It is a really nice town, although it probably would not be quite so popular except for the "book." We have never stayed overnight in Cortona because it just never fit into our itinerary as the place to spend an evening. We are planning to homebase there as it is easily a short drive to many of the hilltowns.

We love driving in Italy (have driven more then 10,000 miles within the country) and often try to avoid the fast autostrade in favor of the 2 lane country roads that go through some fantastic areas. Can you share those country roads? Would love to avoid autostrada and see countryside instead. There are many options when driving to Cortona if you want to spend extra time and get off the A1. We do strongly recommend that anyone driving in Europe either rent (or buy) a GPS.We have a gps would have to get update for italy or we can rent one with the car rental. We love our GPS because we sometimes love getting delightfully lost with the knowledge that our trusty Garmin Nuvi can get us to our destination whenever we ask "her" for the route.



Hank
Thanks

vacation fool
August 29th, 2011, 11:19 AM
vacation fool,

One more thing...

If you have not yet found a place to stay while in Tuscany, I can recommend a wonderful agriturismo (farmhouse/villa). We stayed at Villa Mazzi in Montepulciano. It is about 30 minutes from Chiusi, where we picked up our rental car.

Villa Mazzi is flexible with their reservations and do not require a full week stay. The owners, Loredana and Mario, are wonderful. The views are amazing and Montepulciano is a great "home base" convenient for exploring the other hill towns.

Their website: http://www.villamazzi.it/azienda.en.php

All the rave reviews on Trip Advisor are accurate. The pictures on the website are authentic, too.

Happy planning!

bobalink-just to let you know that we scrapped our idea of renting a private villa and have decided to rent the la loggia apt for 4 at villa mazzi :) how did you give loredana the deposit by wire transfer?

bobalink
August 29th, 2011, 01:16 PM
bobalink-just to let you know that we scrapped our idea of renting a private villa and have decided to rent the la loggia apt for 4 at villa mazzi :) how did you give loredana the deposit by wire transfer?

Lucky you! You are going to love the view from Villa Mazzi.

I had to set up a PayPal account (very easy) to send the deposit.
https://www.paypal.com/

Please come back and give us a trip report.

euro cruiser
August 29th, 2011, 01:36 PM
I discovered that one of my banks (Wells Fargo) will send a wire transfer free of charge, so that's how I've been handling rental deposits.

vacation fool
August 30th, 2011, 11:02 AM
Am waiting for loredana to sent me her bank info so i can do the bank transfer.It sometimes takes 2 days until i hear back from her. I guess not everyone is on their computer as much as some of us are :) I had opened a paypal account earlier this year when i needed to pay for things for our april european trip. A few weeks after we came home, the account had been compromised so i closed it and really do not want to open another one. :(