Drive or not?

Jul 3rd, 2000, 06:29 AM
rich brier
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Drive or not?

Could someone tell me if it pays to rent a car we are driving from Milan and working our way over to Naples.kind of winging it I have heard that if you are going to Venice(which we Are) you cannot find anywhere to park.Does it make any sense to take the RR and rent cars by the day for each city?
Jul 3rd, 2000, 07:22 AM
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I don't think that there's a definite answer to your question, Rich. It depends on how confortable one feels driving a car, what value one puts on the flexibility a car provides, and the ratio of the time on wishes to spend visiting small cities/towns to the time in the big 3!

I don't mind driving and I put a high value on the flexibility it gives me. The last 5 or so times we went to Europe, we went for a month, of which 10 days in the average were spent in cities where the car was of no use (remained parked all the time). But the car served us very well the rest of the time, so we rented all the way. In our case, this actually also ended up being more economical than renting/returning it in every single big city.

There are no parking problems in Venice. It ain't that cheap though. Unless you find hotels with free parking facilities, parking is not cheap in Florence and Rome either.

Personally, I love to visit sites enroute when travelling between cities where I'm supposed to spend the night. I don't like doing it, though, when I'm doing it using public transportation. I hate having to take care of luggage. Except for Venice, I also like the idea of driving directly to my hotel to dump the luggage and the time I save going back and forth to a train station, waiting for trains and stuff.

In your case, therefore, it'll depend on how much you're willing to pay for the "priviledge" of having a car and the sites you want to visit when travelling between cities relative to the sites you can do without.

As a general rule, though not as convenient as with a car, one may visit most neighboring sites on daytrips out of major cities by using exclusively public transportation. From Venice, one may easily visit Padua, Vicenza and/or Treviso using the train. Though stretching things a bit, one may also visit Verona and Ferrara. From Florence, one may visit San G. and Siena using a bus, or Pisa, Lucca and Arezzo, among others, by using the train. Once again stretching things somewhat more, even Orvieto and Assisi are "doable" out of Florence. If you base yourself in Siena for a couple of days, most of the Central and Southern Tuscan hill towns are reachable by bus. In Rome, it wouldn't be that difficult visiting Ostia Antica and/or the Tivolli Villas using public transportation. In Naples, once again, Pompeii, Sorrento, etc may easily be reached by using the local train.

Were I to spend about two weeks in Italy, with 5 nights outside the big 3, I would rent a car. Of course, where to rent it and where to return it would depend on the cities outside the big 3 I was planning to spend nights. I would probably restrict it to a single rental, in order to minimize the time lost filling the paperwork, picking and droping cars, etc) and would use public transportation outside this rental period.

Jul 3rd, 2000, 08:15 AM
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If I understand your inquiry correctly, you're asking about renting car for use WITHIN the cities. The answer to that is a big NO. You don't want the hassle of driving around any of the cities. Plus, it's not easy to find places to park (near impossible in Rome). If anything, you would want the car between cities for convenience, as Paulo mentioned. However, if you're just going from city to city, you're better off taking the trains.
What did you mean?
Jul 3rd, 2000, 09:32 AM
the turnip
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As another poster said, cars IN the city are a major headache! I would let your itinerary be your guide. If you really want to see out of the way places a car is certainly the way to go. If you're planning to stick mostly to the cities then ditch the car and discover the freedom of using the trains. We too usually drive but on our recent Italy trip used the trains instead and loved it!

Have a great trip!
Jul 3rd, 2000, 12:30 PM
Mary Ann
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Paulo really says it well. Cars are NOT needed or wanted within most cities. However,there is greater flexibility between cities as well as your own timetable instead of the rail. We always drive, last time there was 4 of us, so it was more economical. We rarely wanted the cars once we get to the city. The only time it was more useful was the french riviera where the trains leaving Monte Carlo left too early. In Venice, many hotels provide discount coupons for the parking garage Tronchetto. There was absolutely no parking problems last September. Actually, of all the countries, Italy was the most hazardous to drive in (based on our experience with other drivers, road signs, and air pollution controls). These along with Tolls (which all major highways in Italy have), parking cost, gas cost and route planning, flexibility, time constraints, etc. should all enter your considerations and decide what is best for you, your peace of mind and the enhancement of your trip! Happy Travels.
Jul 6th, 2000, 06:09 AM
Susan Orwig
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We just got back from 2 weeks in Italy, picking up a car at Rome Fuimicino and dropping it off in Milan. We loved having the car, as Paolo said, it gives you enormous freedom to visit towns you were not expecting to. The beauty of Tuscany, etc. is that from many of the towns you can literally see the next town, castle, and it is so enticing to just drive over. In towns, you can usually park within 1/2 mile of your hotel, so not too bad. The worst experience was returning the car in Milan, because most city maps do not indicate all of the one-way streets. But we will definitely drive next time we go again. Good luck.
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