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Itinerary Advice: Catalunya+Valencia

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I need urgent input from you gentle folks as I have to make reservations. Most of my 8-day plan is semi-firm but can adjust based on sage advice:

Mar. 11: Depart NYC
Mar. 12-15: Barcelona with possible day-trip to Gerona
Mar.16: Drive rental car to Valencia and stay 3 nights to experience Fallas
Mar. 20: Depart fronm Barcelona for NYC

Questions/Issues:
1. We would really likie to drive to Valencia to take in the sights and stop in Tarragona en route. Good idea or take the train?
2. Fodorites have mentioned skipping out on the Fallas "burning night" (3/19). Opinions?
3. For the return, almost all flights from Barcelona ar early morning so that means a VERY early departure from wherever to the airport. Driving back to Barcelona, I would like to stay a night in Peniscola. What do you think? Any ideas on how to best make our way back to catch a 6.30 am flight? I have explored departing from Valencia or Alicante but those connections are long.
4. Do I need an International Permit to drive in Spain? What about insurance?

All help is sincerely appreciated.

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