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Rental car at Lake Garda? Also trains from Venice-Lake Garda-Rome

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Hi all,

I am trying to do internet searches to answer all my questions for myself, but I feel there is so much to consider and I'm going around in circles. I hope that someone here can offer advice. In a nutshell my questions are:

1.) Should I have a rental car at Lake Garda and
2.) Where should I pick it up?

I understand that you can often book train travel the day of travel or day before, but I'll feel more comfortable knowing that I have everything arranged ahead of time. I'll be travelling with my husband, my mother and 2 children. We're also travelling in August which will be a busy time so if trains ever do fill up, this would be the time, so I'd really like to settle this now.

We are staying in Sirmione on Lake Garda. I know there are lots of opinions on where to stay on LG and I did look at mid-lake (convenient) and northern (maybe more beautiful) locations, but I couldn't find accomodations that had everything I was looking for and fit the 5 of us, so we decided on Sirmione.

I've read varying reports on whether it's worth having a rental car at Lake Garda. Of course it'll be August, so there will be traffic. And I really would love to take the ferries as often as possible. I'm having a hard time understanding the ferry schedule, but not considering traffic it seems like it could sometimes be faster to drive to the northern part of the lake rather than take the ferry. Speed isn't our only concern, a ferry ride will be much more enjoyable than driving, but sometimes it seems like it could be hours and hours to get where we want. We'll also be going to GardaLand (which I know will be hot and crowded, but still we will attempt it!) so I'm not sure if I would need a car for that.

I know I can take a train from Venice S. Lucia to either Desenzano or Pescheria. The prices are what I consider to be reasonable, we can do it without changing trains, which is preferable, and the times seem convenient. My question is more about the rental car. Pescheria seemed more convenient to Sirmione, but I'm not finding rental car agencies listed there. I see at least one agency in Desenzano but I'm not sure if it's convenient to the train station.

Would I be better off taking the train from Venice to Verona and pick up a car in Verona? We could then return it to Verona and take a fast and easy direct train to Rome.

If I pick up the car from Desenzano, should I return it there and take a train, switching in Verona, or just drive to Verona to get the train to Rome? Is there one car rental agency in verona that is most convenient to the train station?

One more question, we all want to pack light, but will the size of car I will need for 5 passengers be too large to get around? I know that to drive to our hotel in Sirmione we would have to go down extremely narrow streets.

Thanks in advance!

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