Car rental strategy for northern Italy.

Nov 26th, 2007, 12:23 PM
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Car rental strategy for northern Italy.


How would you like to save perhaps $500 on your next car rental in Italy? Well, you probably can if you decide to start and end your trip in Germany or Switzerland. Here is an actual scenario that proves the point.

A recent client nearly had a heart attack after getting a quote for a mid-sized car with automatic transmission for Malpensa [MXP] airport in Milan. He was quoted over $1300 for a ten day rental, with the drop off also at MXP. Wow, over $130/day was about twice what he had budgeted. So, we changed his itinerary and saved him over $500. How? We decided to fly into Zurich and get the car in Lugano---not a bad diversion for any itinerary that includes the fabulous lakes region of northern Italy. After landing in Zurich he trained to Luzerne for two nights before continuing on to Lugano[LUG] by train to get the car. It proved to be an enjoyable addition to his trip that included two lakes destinations in Italy and several days in the wine regions of Piemonte.

Car rental prices in Italy are just much higher than adjacent countries, primarily due to the mandatory insurance rates. Lower rental rates are also valid in Germany with Munich[MUN] being a good choice as a launching pad for trips into most venues in northern Italy. Here are some examples:




AUTOEUROPE 729 584 496 1303 993 853

GEMUT 663 388* 378 1235 621 583

AVERAGES 696 486 437 1269 807 718

SAVINGS N/A 210 259 N/A 462 551

• *Price is for sub-compact with automatic upgrade to compact model.
• DISCLAIMER: Rental prices can vary by season and locations. These prices are a snapshot in October, 2007 for these two vendors only. Prices may vary when you actually get a quote, but the point is still valid. The prices will always be higher in Italy, especially for automatic models.

There are additional benefits to considering this itinerary strategy. You get to add more options in your quest to find the best airfares, or free seats using award miles. Besides the obvious destinations of Munich and Zurich, you can also consider Stuttgart as a viable choice to save on airfares. That gives you three other options rather than just considering Milan & Venice.

But the primary benefits to me are the wonderful destinations that you can add to your northern Italy itinerary. I have always loved an itinerary that includes the Salzburg area, the castle country of Bavaria, the Dolomites, or even Lake Garda with other destinations in Italy. That is especially true for any family trip or for those who are seeking the ultimate in natural beauty. And, the drive from Munich airport to Val Gardena in the Dolomites is only four hours and includes some great scenery past Innsbruck and through the Brenner Pass. The drive to Salzburg or Garmisch is only about two hours.

Any Zurich itinerary should include at least two nights in lovely Luzerne either going or coming, and one night in Zurich to enjoy this unique city. The additional rail costs will be offset by the fewer car rental days. Of course, you could get the car in Zurich, but I have always preferred using the very efficient rail system in Switzerland. And, Lugano itself is a terrific destination to enjoy for a few hours before driving an hour to Lake Como or wherever.

To me it is a win/win scenario. The only catch may be adding enough days to your trip to make it all feasible. You will probably need at least twelve days to include two or three Italy destinations with the transitional venues. I have included Tuscany in my own itinerary that began and ended in Munich, but it may be a bit of a stretch if your time is limited. But, saving between $200 to $500 on just the car expense for your next trip to Italy can sure buy you your fill of gelato and cappuccinos---always a good idea.

bobthenavigator is offline  
Nov 26th, 2007, 01:21 PM
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Grazie! Very helpful info. Does this mean that now flights into Zurich and Munich will be more popular, and harder to get???

Just kidding.
Dayle is online now  
Nov 26th, 2007, 01:31 PM
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rsmbsm is offline  
Nov 26th, 2007, 02:38 PM
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One could also land in Milano and take the train to Lugano.
Michael is offline  
Nov 26th, 2007, 02:44 PM
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>> One could also land in Milano and take the train to Lugano. <<

Yes. And airfares should be factored into this equation.

It's my sense that it costs less to fly to Milan (from the US) than to Munich or Zurich.

Am I right about that?

TuckH is offline  
Nov 26th, 2007, 02:46 PM
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Tuck, Not really---toss a coin.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Nov 26th, 2007, 03:43 PM
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"To me it is a win/win scenario. The only catch may be adding enough days to your trip to make it all feasible."

That just makes it a win-win-win scenario. Anything that makes me extend a trip makes me happy.

Thanks for the info.

maitaitom is offline  
Nov 26th, 2007, 06:19 PM
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Prego Tom !
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jun 6th, 2009, 10:31 AM
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Topping for Chris
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jun 6th, 2009, 04:50 PM
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Recently priced airfare ATL to MXP and ATL to ZRH. It's $220 to $250 less to fly to Zurich. This is on Delta, both would be direct flights.
Big_Red is offline  
Jun 9th, 2009, 05:36 PM
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Just looked up your profile, interesting we are going to Northern Italy in September too, do you know Black Mountain, near Asheville?

I have a rental query for you. We are doing a Peugeot Buyback program French). The rental is reasonable and we were delighted with the cost savings. Problem. My hubby made the mistake of thinking we could pick up our car in Bologna. Wrong! We could pick it up at Malpensa,(MIlan) with a $180, upcharge. Not good.
So we figured we'd rent a car in Italy, drive it for 10-11 days, (over $700), drop it off in San Remo, take the train to Nice, pick up Peugeot at the Nice Airport and continue on our trip though France and Spain. With what you've written, maybe just picking up the car right away (that is, take a train from Bologna to Milan and come back to Bologna) would be a better idea. So we'd lose half a day, but probably save $$ in the long run. What do you think??
Crisco0 is offline  
Jun 9th, 2009, 07:40 PM
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Hmmm ! Sure, I know Black Mountain--my daughter lived in Asheville for 3 years.

I would need to run the numbers but it seems to me you are better off keeping one car for the duration. It also speaks to the other benefits of the buy back program---full coverage and roadside assistance---I like the program. There is a surcharge anyplace you pick up outside of France.
bobthenavigator is offline  
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