Can I find a van in Italy for 7 people?

Old Jan 5th, 2011, 05:29 PM
  #1  
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Can I find a van in Italy for 7 people?

Our family of 7 is going to Italy in June and we would like to take some trips into Tuscany but I think with 7 of us we are pretty much limited to wherever the train goes. We would really like to explore the country roads but I'm thinking they probably don't have a van in Italy to hold 7 people. Any and all suggestions would really be welcome.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 05:34 PM
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They certainly have vans in Italy - but 7 people plus luggage will not fit in a van for 7. Are you looking at day trips? Or will the van need to hold luggage too - for which you would need a van for a t lest 9 people.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 05:40 PM
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Or you can opt to use a guide with driver for the day. Luca of hillsandroads.com has a van that would fit your entire family. He is a wonderful guide much admired on this forum. We loved our day with him.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 05:55 PM
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The thing about a van that will hold 7 people and their luggage is that it is awfully large for the small roads and tiny streets you are likely to encounter. In Tuscany this fall, we had two cars for 7 people and managed luggage and all even though the driving was often tight. But if you don't have at least 2 drivers, that isn't practical. Once you have decided on your itinerary, explore what modes of transportation will get you where you want to go - cars, van, public bus, train, guide with driver, etc.
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Old Jan 5th, 2011, 06:41 PM
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I've rented and driven 7-person vans in France, and they are definitely not too big to drive into tiny streets and alleyways. I've driven them all over the Périgord and Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence and places like Cordes-sur-Ciel with very narrow passages. Not a problem. That said, a 7-person van will only work for 7 people if they have hardly any luggage at all. Once you get into the 9-person van category, you're definitely looking at parking issues as well as problems navigating tiny streets.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 04:42 AM
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I agree that you would need a 9-person van to accommodate 7 people and their luggage. I've rented both 7 and 9-person vans several times, in Italy, France and Spain, and had no problems on the highways and even on smaller roads between towns. However, trying to navigate WITHIN many of the older towns we visited with a small bus was indeed a challenge, and I found it very nerve-wracking.

Most of the places we visited had reasonably good parking areas on the outskirts of even the smallest medieval towns, so that wasn't really a problem in my experience. I'd strongly recommend doing that, and not even taking a large vehicle into the old town centers.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 11:31 AM
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Get a wagon for 4 and a car for 3---you will love the freedom that gives you on a daily basis--and the cost may be equal to the big van.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 01:48 PM
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I think Bob's suggestion is a good one - it's something I've considered but not yet done. In September, there were 6 of us using a 9-peerson van along the Costa Brava north of Barcelona. Unless everyone agrees to to the same thing, all the time, or some just stay at the hotel or apartment, you're a bit limited.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 02:02 PM
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We were 7 people and rented a 9-person van in Italy. One of the 9 seats was a little fold-down seat in the front, between the driver and front passenger, so I would really say it would be comfortable for 8 people. We needed the 9-person size to fit 7 people plus luggage. Poor DH was the designated driver, as the others were elderly parents or our youngish kids.

It was not really a problem. Sometimes DH would have to drive somewhere and drop us off and then go find parking, since you need a somewhat larger parking space than usual. It wasn't too hard to find a space.

I agree with phillyboy that you can use the van to get close to your destination, park at the outskirts and then walk or taxi to the historical center. We did this a couple of times.

Another thing is that some of the roads in Tuscany are small, windy and hill. The effect of travelling on those types of roads is magnified in a larger vehicle, so there was one particular night my FIL felt a little queasy on the drive. But, it was a really small, windy road to a restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

The only major problem we had was when we drove to Villa d'Este (outside of Rome). Somehow we accidentally got onto a pedestrian-only street. We were quite stupid to do this, but somehow it happened. Once on the narrow street, it was impossible to turn around with the van, so we had to find a policeman to help us back up to a turnaround spot. I don't expect many people would have this problem though! I certainly hope you don't, whether you are in a car or a van.

The 9-passenger van really wasn't too bad. I think one of the drawbacks, in a way, was that when we ran into trouble (on the pedestrian street), there were too many people giving the driver helpful suggestions. But, generally, it was really nice to travel all together. The logistics of having 2 cars, even if we'd had 2 drivers, would have meant that our group was split up more, as it's much harder to stay together when taking 2 cars, finding parking for 2 cars, taking a different turn than the other car, etc.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 07:07 PM
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Thank you all so much for your help and your suggestion of the 9 person van. I will look into renting one of these as I think it will definitely give us more freedom. Two cars really would not work for us and I had given it some thought beforehand. By the time this trip gets here in June we should all be on the same page as to what we want to do and see. We have divided into 4 groups and has taken a region or city to study and we have a meeting a month to talk it over. Thanks again for everyone's ideas and solutions. What company should I check out for the van?
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 07:41 PM
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Call Auto Europe. Be prepared for lots of driving issues, but go for it!
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 06:44 AM
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StCirq,
Thanks for the info. I will definitely keep out of the city centers to avoid any problems.
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 06:43 PM
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Where will you be based, when you have the van? We were at a country apartment, with lots of easy parking. Where will you return to and have to park your van each evening? Maybe you can consider the ease of parking the van when you pick your accommodations...
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 03:06 AM
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travelgirl2 makes a very good point. Don't attempt to base yourselves in Florence as driving there is fairly fraught for most tourists.
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 01:20 PM
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We are flying into Venice, staying there for 2/3 days. Should we get car there or train it to Florence and get car there?Were not really planning on spending time in Florence.But would like to tour Tuscany by van rather than passing thru on a train.We are headed to Rome from there. Will I have to drive this van into Rome? I would rather not.
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Old Jan 8th, 2011, 02:26 PM
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tony,

Orvieto and Foligno (Umbria) are easy towns to return. As for picking up - you might need to get your 9 person van at oneof the larger cities. Be sure to ask about GUARANTEED availability for that type of vehicle. Many times you don't get what you reserved...such as an automatic.

We once reserved a small (but not economy size) and got involuntarily "upgraded" to a much larger car - which we DID NOT want!
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