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Best way to get to Venice & volterra

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We are traveling to Venice for a few days and then to Volterra (small town south of Florence) for a week. We can fly from the US direct to Rome, but either Venice or Florence requires a plane change in Europe.

What's our best option? Fly to Venice or Florence & rent a car? Fly nonstop to Rome and take the train or a car to Venice? We've traveled in Europe a lot but this is our first time in Italy so we're not sure of the pros and cons of train v plane v car.

We're also wondering about car rental policies. (In France it was no problem to pick up a car in one city & drop it off in another, and we might want to do that here also.). TIA!

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