Car rental Tuscany/FCO questions

Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 06:35 PM
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Car rental Tuscany/FCO questions

Hi fellow fodorites,
Planning a Tuscany visit next April (pre cruise from Venice) and will be flying into FCO on Good Friday most likely.
I have driven a lot in France and the US (but obviously I am from right hand drive territory) but our one previous driving trip in Italy introduced us to a whole new world of craziness
An auto is essential (can drive manual but a few less things on the wrong side of the car to worry about in an auto) and they seem few and far between in the smaller car rental locations I have looked at. We don't necessarily want to visit Rome as the cruise docks there later in trip so I am thinking maybe staying near airport on the Friday night and hiring a car on Saturday to go up to Val d'Orcia? I would have more choice of cars from the airport location.
I know its only a few hours drive to Val d'Orcia and we do land at 1330 but will have been travelling for 20 plus hours and don't want to risk setting off on Friday. Does that sound feasible? It seems that Fumiciano has an OK waterfront and a night there might be reasonable to settle into Italy?
My second question relates to car drop off - I am just starting to get my head around the whole ZTL situation and wondering where the best place to drop car would be? We plan to go to Florence after Val d'Orcia but not sure if train into Florence after dropping car somewhere would be better?
Thank you, I am a bit out of my depth in Italy so appreciate any thoughts, more questions to follow no doubt
Oz
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by ozgirl View Post
I know its only a few hours drive to Val d'Orcia and we do land at 1330 but will have been travelling for 20 plus hours and don't want to risk setting off on Friday.
Oz
Excellent plan! It would not be safe to drive without some rest first.
Sorry I can't help with your other questions.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 07:29 PM
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Why donít you take the train from
FCO to Florence, than rent a car at the airport to explore Tuscany. You can either than drop the car back in Florence and take the train to Venice or just drive to Venice
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 09:53 PM
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I agree with taking the train to Florence. Staying in Fiumicino would be low on my wish list. But take the train to Venice unless you have lots of time to visit stops along the way.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 03:52 AM
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Ok, train to Florence is a good thought, we would miss both the direct trains from FCO on the Friday so probably still have to spend the night and go next day but that would save the one way drop off.
How would the ZTL situation be for pick up in Florence?
oz
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 08:34 AM
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We have picked up and returned cars in Florence on two different trips without issues. It can be a little dicey getting across the Arno and staying out of the ZTL when you return it. Since you may also end up with a "wrong-handed" stick shift, you may want to simplify it. Two possible alternatives: 1) Train to Florence and pick up the car at the airport (I haven't done this, others on the board recommend it). 2) Depending on where you wish to stay in Tuscany, take the train to that location and pick up your rental. For instance, we have taken the train from Venice to Florence, then the regional train to Siena and picked up our rental there.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 02:09 PM
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I think you almost always have a better chance of getting the sort of car you want (auto v. manual) if you pick up at an airport. It's also usually much easier to drive away from an airport than a city location.

How many days do you have for this part of your trip?

It''s not necessarily a given that you would miss the afternoon direct train from FCO to Florence. It departs at 3:08 p.m. But even if you can't catch this particular train, I wouldn't spend the night in Rome. I'd train to Roma Tiburtina and then take the fast train to Florence. Obviously, having to make this connection is less convenient, but the overall travel time is only 10 minutes longer than the direct train.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 03:11 PM
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Take the train to Florence, and then what is your plan? Get a car to drive to Val d'Orcia? Or stay in Florence?

If you stay in Florence, I would get the car at the Florence Airport on the way OUT of Florence before driving to Val d'Orcia. It's an easy taxi for bus ride to the airport. But that's me and I have a low tolerance for risks.

However, if you're just going to Florence in order to rent a car, that doesn't seem like a good plan to me.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 07:23 PM
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In the original post, her plan was to visit Florence after the Val d'Orcia. I would see Florence first, then rent the car for the time in Val d'Orcia (still don't know how many days here).

Timewise, it might make more sense to drive the car to Venice rather than do the multi-step option back to the Peretola Airport + taxi + train, but it depends on the starting point in the Val d'Orcia and travel preferences. I think driving the autostrada is dead boring, but driving to Venice would allow for an interesting stop or two... Ferrara, Padova, or perhaps Ravenna.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 11:44 PM
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Hi again, thanks for these comments. We have our eye on a lovely vacation rental that is Saturday to Saturday only so need to go there first and Florence afterward en route to Venice.
Jean I think you are exactly right re airports having best chance/choice auto hence my leaning toward that as a rental option.
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Old Aug 4th, 2018, 04:59 AM
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We rented from/to Florence "downtown" this spring.
All the major companies had their offices on Borgo Ognissanti - a stone's throw from SMN train station.
The route from and to the pick-up/drop-off location (parking garage) is inside the ZTL, but the streets to access and leave the garage are outside the ZTL - like a free corridor cutting through the ZTL.
But: If you are worried to make a wrong turn leaving the city center or upon returning the car, Hertz (and I think it will be same with the other companies) offered the option to white-list the car in the ZTL system to be on the safe side. For next to nothing.. I think the "fee" was 1 (one) euro. (Only for the days of pick-up and return, respectively - not in between!)

Re: automatic vs. manual transmission
AFAIK, auto is a guaranteed feature when you make a reservation. Unlike diesel vs. gas/petrol which is a mere "preference" which can or cannot be honored, auto has its own 4-letter-code. And may not always available, esp. not at smaller locations. Those locations which accept automatic transmission rental reservations must have one car available when you show up.
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Old Aug 4th, 2018, 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Cowboy1968 View Post
AFAIK, auto is a guaranteed feature when you make a reservation. .
That has certainly not been my experience! (And thank goodness, as I prefer manual.)
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Old Aug 4th, 2018, 05:51 AM
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I'm surprised to hear that, kja.
IME, it is MUCH more costly to rent automatic transmission than manual in Europe.
I wonder how the rental car companies then deal with this issue? Did you get a refund?
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Old Aug 4th, 2018, 05:58 AM
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@ Cowboy1968: IMO, manual transmissions are standard (no pun intended!) and are less costly. Renting a car with an automatic transmission is NOT guaranteed, as I understand it. I was surprised that you stated that auto is a "guaranteed feature", as I would not consider it guaranteed at all -- although I've never tried to rent an automatic, I've certainly read many reports of people who THOUGHT they reserved an automatic, only to find that none was available when they showed up.
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Old Aug 4th, 2018, 06:45 AM
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That's what fueled my confusion.
When I rent, for example, from Hertz in Florence, the cheapest weekly rate is a "mini" or "MXMR" category with manual transmission for appr. €180 (non-refundable prepaid)
The same type with automatic transmission comes with the NCAR code and costs appr. €250 per week, also prepaid, non-refundable.
The third letter designates the type of transmission. It's not a feature or preference but a different booking class.

So what happens when I show up in Florence and they have no auto?
Do I get partially re-imbursed? Hertz can obviously not keep the €250 and give me a car for €180 and just say scusi?
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Old Aug 4th, 2018, 08:54 AM
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For the OP, I don't think the issue is what the cost would be. She wants the best chance of renting an automatic transmission car.

Personally, I don't trust a car rental company to guarantee anything other than a car with four wheels. A big city office near an airport will likely have the promised type of car, and I think your chances of that are better in low/off season than high season or holiday periods, but I still don't put total faith in a guarantee/promise. If you absolutely need or want an auto trans car, I'd rent at the airport. As the Florence airport is so close (and driving away from airport very simple), it would be an easy decision for me.

I'm sure if you read the fine print of the reservation confirmation, you'd find some language that let's them off the hook for some things. I don't know why the idea of a partial refund seems odd.
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Old Aug 4th, 2018, 04:15 PM
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Thanks everyone, I book and pre-pay through a wholesaler here in Oz and have always got an auto ( as cowboy says they are a guaranteed providing they are available at that location on booking) - the issue is that many of the smaller locales simply don’t have them hence my original question ��
I guess it boils down to choosing between FCO and Florence airport pick ups - the advantage with Florence is I could avoid the one way drop off ( if we don’t drive on to Venice) and sounds like the ZTL might be manageable there?

(Our normal practice is to do a lease from Citroen, usually for a month, so we ARE guaranteed exactly what we book but this will be too short term for that.)
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Old Aug 4th, 2018, 05:18 PM
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( if we don’t drive on to Venice)>

Don't be afraid of driving to Venice - can drop car off at end of causeway and hop public vaporetto boats or water taxis or walk to your hotel. Only problem though with that is the causeway years ago when I took trains into Venice the adjacent access road was often rather backed up - so train could be nice and book far enough in advance to grab discounted but limited in number discounted tickets and save a day of car rental. And it's rather a boring drive on autostrada though could stop off somewhere en route for a few hours.
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Old Aug 4th, 2018, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Jean View Post
I don't know why the idea of a partial refund seems odd.
I did not say it was odd. On the contrary, I would not only expect but demand it.
Since others stated that it was such a common occurance that they had booked auto but received manual, but it never happened to me so far, I was just curious how it got dealt with in real life.

Re. pick-up FCO vs. Florence
I think this depends on your personal travel preferences.
If you want to get your traveling done on the arrival day, I'd continue on to Florence by train.
If you want nothing more than a place to crush after those 20+ hour flights, I'd stay near FCO.
I would be leaning towards the first option, but OTOH most people from overseas who visit Europe come from North America and just have that 8-12 hour hop across the Atlantic to deal with. And may still have more energy to move on by train than those poor fellows who already spent a full 24hr day on planes from the other side of the world.
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Old Aug 5th, 2018, 01:06 AM
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Hello again, yes cowboy that exactly applies to us - around 22 hours I think
I think either option is doable and will do some more research but answers so far have been very helpful thank you.
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