Car or train??

Sep 24th, 1999, 01:52 PM
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Car or train??

Because we have a "free" rental car for 8 days in Italy we had thought that was what we should do, but after reading many postings here it seems everyone travels by train. We have to give up the free car. There are four of us traveling together. We plan to start in Milan, making day trips from there for the first several days and then driving towards Rome. Any thoughts?
Sep 24th, 1999, 02:20 PM
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WHEN MY Husband and I are in Italy we pick up a car in Milan and head down to where he is from, which is Tuscany. the car allows for more flexibility. Just remember to leave your (if you're American)bad driving manners, I live in the DC area, at home. In Italy the driving is very different. Most highways are two lanes, and the left is ONLY for passing, and I mean quickly, and getting back over. there have been several posts here concerning driving in Italy. It is not unusual for someone to pass you on the left going 150 miles per hour. They mean business. I don't mean to scare you, just to tell you how it is. Overall, I think driving is safe, and we do it all the time. I think the train is great if you are going to a bigger city, that is on the train line. But frequently we just drive arounf Tuscany and visit hilltowns, and love the freedom of the car.
Sep 24th, 1999, 02:26 PM
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I have not traveled in Italy by car and I normally praise the trains, but "free" is certainly a better deal than several days of train fares times four people, if costs are a consideration.

I'm sure people on this forum can make driving suggestions for your daytrips (to the Lakes, for one place)and you may decide the car is a good idea after all.
I just know you won't want it within the city limits of Milan and Rome as traffic is nighmarish in any large city, familiar or not.
Perhaps put off making the decision until you get some more advice re driving and daytrips.

Sep 25th, 1999, 07:03 AM
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When I answered one of your prior posts, it was not clear you would have a car ... you mentioned a week in Milan and 3 nights elswhere.

If you only have 3+ days after leaving Milan, I guess you either forget about Rome and spend them on route, in which case a car would come handy unless you decide to spend most of the time in Florence, or go to Rome as quickly as possible, in which case I would leave the car in Milan and catch the train.

Regarding daytrips out of Milan, there are some that a car would come handy and others that are better done by train.

For instance, I would never use a car for daytrips to either Venice or Florence out of Milan. On the other hand, I would be glad to have a car to tour Lake Como or Verona/Lake Garda. With a car you may also plan to visit the Certosa in Pavia and then stretch it to Piacenza and Parma. You may also drive to Genova and along the Riviera del Levante.


Sep 26th, 1999, 09:50 AM
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Thanks for the great info. Can you tell me if day trips by car to the South of France would be possible from Milan or would we be better to take the train? Also, if we do decide to take the train between Milan and Florence and Milan and Venice, is it better to buy some kind of week pass or just pay each separately?
Sep 26th, 1999, 01:48 PM
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In principle, if the Mont Blanc tunnel is up and running, you could reach Chamonix in a little more than 2:30 hours (depending on how much time you loose in the tunnel). On the other hand, the drive to, say, Monaco or Nice, should take something over 3 hours. Once (to my knoledge) there aren't any convenient trains to either city, the car would remain as the only option.

Regarding train costs, if indeed you're going to be there next summer (after June 25 and before September 10) you won't be able to benefit from a 30% discount group travel (which would apply to the 4 of you outside above day period). But you may get the Biglietto Chilometrico, which costs Lit 206,000 for 2nd class and is good for 3,000 km.
Considering that the rail round distance from Milan to Venice is 534km, and you're 4 people this would add to 2,136km, leaving you with 864km
still to burn, good for one round trip to Florence (632km). The other 3 of you would have to buy separate round trip tickets to Florence. If you decide going to Florence first, you burn 2,528km and the rest is good for a one way ticket to Venice.
It'll now depend on how you're going to reach Rome. The Milan-Rome rail distance is 632km. For the 4 of you it would add to 2528km. So, if you're going indeed to visit both Venice and Florence and use the train to go to Rome, 2 Biglietti Chilometrici are called for. You would detract FROM EACH PASS 2 round trips to Venice and 2 round trips to Florence, leaving you with 668km in each pass, which would be good to take care of the Rome trip for two of you. The other two would have to buy separate tickets.


Sep 27th, 1999, 08:46 AM
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I just returned from Itay and we travelled by car. LAthough it was not what I originally wanted, it worked out well. It i smuch more comfortable with respect to luggage..and much safer. Also, you are much more free to stop in any town as you wish...leave your luggage in teh trunki and vist the town...and pick up and go as you wish.
The drawback however are many. First, although the highways are great, getting into and out of teh cities are TERRIFYING EXPERIENCES! Italian drivers have a system of driving...VERY different from Canada at least! Anyways, like I said getting in and out of the city is a problem. Also, in Rome and Florence..and of course can't really park your car unless you are a resident of teh city. If you do park in teh historical centre...your car will be tagged and towed at an enormous friend learned from experience. The alternative is to park long-term...BUT you will find NOTHING for less than L30.000 per day.
This is why trains can be so convenient. Did you know that there is a Rail pass for Italy which allows up to 3000km for under L200.000. The good thing is that you can also have up to 5 people using it. Just to put it in perspective...Rome - Florence- Venice -Rome is only about 1400 km. Between gas, tolls and long term parking you will definitely spend more than teh cost of a 3000km pass.

My advice is PACK LIGHT and get a train pass. As comfortable driving may seem..and yes there are some are much better off taking the train.

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