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car rental companies Italy

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Hi, all. My fiance and I are traveling to Italy for our 3 week honeymoon in late June/July (have already received great advice on places to see in Puglia) and would like to rent a car. Our potential itinerary is:
Flying into Paris June 15 stay until June 18, fly to rome
June 18-22 Rome
June 22-July 1 drive south of Rome on the coast (is Naples a must?)then spend a week or so in Puglia
July 2-10 Tuscany/Umbria
July 10 Fly out of Milan

We also really like the idea of trains, but it seems like everyone says you need a car in Puglia and in tuscany/umbria a car is nice to have to be able see the countryside..

I've seen autoeurope suggested a lot on this forum and looked at rates. It's $500 for 2 weeks for a manual car and $1200 for an automatic (fiance doesn't know how to drive a manual and doesn't want to learn in italy!). Do you guys know if autoeurope is way better than going through Orbitz or Expedia? Its cheaper on those sites, but confusing as to whether that quote includes "italian" insurance or what. I know when you go through 3rd party sites you can get surprised by insurance fees upon pickup. Seems like autoeurope includes the insurance package in their quote, is that correct? So, no extra fees once you get there?

Any advice on this itinerary and best companies to rent from and also where we should pick up and drop off the car? For example, is driving in florence such a pain that we should drop it off elsewhere?

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    I have rented through, as they're a New England based consolidator/middleman. Their rates sometimes beat the rates of the companies they run you through if you try to rent direct.
    You will have mandatory CDW in Italy, however the rates are substantially lower than in the U.S. They may try to tie you into a secondary coverage that includes theft of possessions left in the car--and decline that option.
    I would stick with Hertz (direct) or AutoEurope if the rates are comparable. If you join Hertz' frequent renter program, you may get some lower rates or freebies.
    It seems that most people visit Rome, Florence and Venice on their Italian first trip. Puglia is a vast region on the southernmost part of Italy on the Adriatic. We just don't see many on any websites going there.
    I would suggest you turn the car in at Florence and take the train to Milan. With $9 per U.S. gallon unleaded, sometimes the train's just so much cheaper from city to city.

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    Autoeurope or Kemwel (sister companies) is generally the cheapest for one-way rentals. You also have assurance that all the required insurance is included (but check the deductible). My experience has been that has been cheaper on RT rentals (returned to the same location) with no deductible. However, the insurance is basically similar to when the credit card carries the CDW insurance: the renter pays and then bills the insurance carrier (in this instance Economy Rentals), and while I have rented from them in Italy, Turkey and Poland, I have never had any insurance claims to test how reliable they are in this respect.

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    Is this your first time in Italy? If so, it seems to me that you are trying to do an awful lot in about 3 weeks, especially since your itinerary also includes Paris.
    I just returned from one month in Rome (I've been there many times) and a 3 day stay there seems very short! I spent a month in Puglia in 2012, three weeks of which was without a car. But we did have a "home base" in a rented house in Ostuni, so we didn't have to lug around our bags when we took day trips to other cities in Puglia -- such as Bari, Monopoli and Lecce (the Florence of the south).
    We spent one month in Umbria last year (again not my first time there) and we spent 8 weeks in Florence one Summer several years ago. I know those regions fairly well, and I think it would be very hard to see Tuscany and Umbria in only 8 days. Even if you narrowed that down to just Florence, Siena, Perugia and the area around Assisi, that gives only about 2 days in each place. Do-able, but exhausting!
    And I'm wondering why you are flying out of Milan (where I lived for a year) instead of Florence or Pisa, since you plan to be in Tuscany at the end of your trip? By the way, Milan is a terrific city as well.
    I've driven in lots of big Italian cities (Milan, Rome, Bari, Catania, Palermo, etc) and none are a pain to drive in if you know the streets well, as most of us do not, and if you are comfortable with the driving style of Italians -- which I prefer to American drivers!!!
    I also think that an itinerary should be based on what you want to see -- great art, great nature or ?? For example, I think that a fabulous place for part of a honeymoon trip would be Stresa on Lago Maggiore (about a hour northwest of Milan). If you want to fly out of Milan, then Stresa is a wonderful place to relax and wind down your trip. It is very romantic and lovely, with views of the Alps and boats taking you to different islands in the lake. There's also a funicular that takes you to the top of Mottarone, with spectacular views. You can take a train or cab from Stresa to the Milan airport, Malpensa. So, unless you are determined to go to Puglia, you could tailor your itinerary to Paris, Rome, Florence/Siena (maybe Umbria) and then a few days at the end in Milan and Stresa. In this way, you may not even need a car, saving money, time and energy. Just some thoughts!

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    Something to add: if you decide to go mostly by train, on Saturdays the fares are "two for one" for most trains in Italy. Go the the trenitalia site to explore. And if you are based in a city like Florence, you can take the "blue buses" to most small, interesting villages where the train can't go. The blue bus station is very close to the train station in Florence. Almost all Italian cities have these local buses, eliminating need of a car.

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    It is all about insurance in Italy--and deductibles.


    A. Of course you should if your driving skill & confidence would allow you to drive a rental car in Vermont, Colorado or California. But, be advised of these tips:
    * Avoid driving in the major cities except for picking up or dropping cars
    * Have good maps—study them in advance—and have a GOOD NAVIGATOR.
    * Stay in the right lane except when passing and use your rear view mirrors

    A. It is best to rent your car before you leave for Europe. The best source we have found is [888-223-5555] who is a broker for several car vendors. They will quote you prices to include the variables that are often omitted by others, such as unlimited mileage, mandatory insurance coverage with some deductibles, and VAT taxes. It is wise to compare prices and coverage with their sister company at Autoeurope will match any comparable quote, and are famous for their customer satisfaction if problems do arise with the vendor. The best model will depend on your needs, but for best value we suggest you select a compact car with manual transmission. Automatics are available but will cost you about 30% more and may limit your model options & pick up locations.

    A. Yes & no! They are certainly aggressive, but they are also more skilled than many USA drivers—both are a function of necessity. Italy is one of the most crowded countries in the world and the drivers have evolved these characteristics
    * They are notorious tailgaters. If that bothers you, pull over and let them past.
    * On the AUTOSTRADE they will drive fast, but will stay in the right lane except when passing and will use their blinkers when passing—YOU SHOULD TOO !
    * They will often pass on 2-lane roads with traffic coming. Frankly, they expect you, and the oncoming car, to adjust to the shoulder and make 3 lanes of traffic.

    1. Learn the meaning of the sign “ SENSO UNICO” and take heed [ONE WAY ].
    2. Be sure to get your ticket when you enter the AUTOSTADA system & be prepared to pay the toll when you exit it [ rule of thumb—300 km=15 Euro]. You can use your credit card in the VIA lane at the toll both, or buy a debit VIACARD in advance.
    3. Do NOT attempt to follow road numbers—that will frustrate you. But, do pay attention to the directional signs that point to your destination [ TO MONTALCINO]. And, be aware if that road leads eventually to a larger city [ ROMA—SIENA ETC.]
    4. Unless you have a diesel car, you will want to fill the tank with benzina from the green pump. Most stations will pump gas for you and will take credit cards.

    NOTE: As of 2005, an International Drivers Permit [IDP] is required in Italy.
    You can obtain them from your local AAA office. You will need a valid US driver’s license, two passport photos, and $20. The photos can be taken at the AAA office.

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    hypathia: thanks! this is not my first time in Italy but will be my fiance's first and also my first time really spending more than a week there. i know it is a lot and we do want to cut out something, but not sure what! fiance really wants to see florence and we both really want to see rome. aside from that we just want to good food and drink good wine. our budget is kinda tight so we want to go to puglia as everyone says is less touristy and less expensive than most of italy (esp the north), plus the beaches look amazing! i spoke with someone who recommended paestum and a small town with a black sand beach called matarea just south of paestum, so we wanted to see that too. don't care too much about seeing naples on this trip. The countryside in umbria and tuscany looks just lovely for relaxing and drinking wine...yes i agree it's probably a lot, so we will need to cut something out! flying into paris and out of milan because i used my airline miles and that was all that was left.

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    Hi Lauren,
    Interesting that you mentioned Paestum, because after over 25 trips to Italy, and seeing most of the regions and major cities, I must say that Paestum is my favorite place in Italy. The 2500 year old temples to Hera, Athena and Poseidon are magnificent, as is the rest of the archaeological zone and the museum across the road. But I don't know about Summer there, because I went in March, 2012.
    Italian drivers are NOT CRAZY!! They are amazingly skilled and understand spaces and how to get along with all the others sharing the streets and roads. They are awesome!!!
    As far as the advice given by bobthenavigator -- I would add that often you may come to an intersection, and the name of the place you are going is indicated by three different signs, each pointing in a different direction. So, following signs is not always foolproof. Also, a sign pointing to the name of the place you want, but with an arrow pointing to the left, actually means "straight ahead," not left turn. (if that sign is on the right side of the road.) In the US, an arrow pointing left usually means turn Left, but not always in Italy. So, driving in Italy is an adventure, not for the driving style, as much as for the road signs or lack thereof.
    I agree with Michael that Kemwel is a great company to go with. They actually contract with lots of different companies besides AutoEurope. I've had Kemwel rentals from Hertz, Europcar, and several other companies. And the big bonus is that ALL the insurance is covered in the quote with NO deductible. (unless this has changed since 2012, last time I rented a car in Europe).

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    And the big bonus is that ALL the insurance is covered in the quote with NO deductible.

    Only in one chooses to pay extra. This is what I found on the Kemwel web site while running a week's rental (Milan to Rome)as a check:

    C.D.W. Deductible: Approx. EUR 1,098.00, VAT included.

    Anyone renting a car must read the conditions before committing to anything, although cancellation with Autoeurope and Kemwel costs nothing if more than 3 days ahead of time.

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