driving in Italy

Apr 16th, 2012, 09:39 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 2
driving in Italy

I'm about to travel in Italy and I've been told I may not need an International Drivers License anymore; that they are being 'phased out'.
Can someone who's travelled recently let me know if this is true. We'd like to rent a car in Siena for a week. Also, any recommended websites for rentals would be appreciated.
swellsurfer is offline  
Apr 16th, 2012, 10:11 AM
  #2  
 
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I am not aware of that change. This may help:


DRIVING IN ITALY & SOUTHERN EUROPE

Q. SHOULD WE DRIVE IN ITALY?
A. Of course you should if your driving skill & confidence would allow you to drive a rental car in Vermont, Colorado or California. But, be advised of these tips:
* Avoid driving in the major cities except for picking up or dropping cars
* Have good maps—study them in advance—and have a GOOD NAVIGATOR.
* Stay in the right lane except when passing and use your rear view mirrors

Q. WHAT CAR SHOULD I GET AND WHERE DO I GET IT?
A. It is best to rent your car before you leave for Europe. The best source we have found is www.autoeurope.com [800-223-5555] who is a broker for several car vendors. They will quote you prices to include the variables that are often omitted by others, such as unlimited mileage, mandatory insurance coverage with some deductibles, and VAT taxes. It is wise to compare prices and coverage with their sister company at www.kemwel.com. Autoeurope will match any comparable quote, and are famous for their customer satisfaction if problems do arise with the vendor. The best model will depend on your needs, but for best value we suggest you select a compact car with manual transmission. Automatics are available but will cost you about 30% more and may limit your model options & pick up locations.

Q. ARE ITALIAN DRIVERS AS CRAZY AS I HAVE HEARD?
A. Yes & no! They are certainly aggressive, but they are also more skilled than many USA drivers—both are a function of necessity. Italy is one of the most crowded countries in the world and the drivers have evolved these characteristics
* They are notorious tailgaters. If that bothers you, pull over and let them past.
* On the AUTOSTRADE they will drive fast, but will stay in the right lane except when passing and will use their blinkers when passing—YOU SHOULD TOO !
* They will often pass on 2-lane roads with traffic coming. Frankly, they expect you, and the oncoming car, to adjust to the shoulder and make 3 lanes of traffic.

OTHER ROAD TIPS FOR YOUR DRIVING SANITY:
1. Learn the meaning of the sign “ SENSO UNICO” and take heed [ONE WAY ].
2. Be sure to get your ticket when you enter the AUTOSTADA system & be prepared to pay the toll when you exit it [ rule of thumb—300 km=15 Euro]. You can use your credit card in the VIA lane at the toll both, or buy a debit VIACARD in advance.
3. Do NOT attempt to follow road numbers—that will frustrate you. But, do pay attention to the directional signs that point to your destination [ TO MONTALCINO]. And, be aware if that road leads eventually to a larger city [ ROMA—SIENA ETC.]
4. Unless you have a diesel car, you will want to fill the tank with benzina from the green pump. Most stations will pump gas for you and will take credit cards.

NOTE: As of 2005, an International Drivers Permit[IDP] is required in Italy.
You can obtain them from your local AAA office. You will need a valid US driver’s license, two passport photos, and $15. The photos can be taken at the AAA office.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Apr 16th, 2012, 10:25 AM
  #3  
 
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As far as I know they are stil required to rent a car.

As for driving - if you are confident, assertive (NOT aggessive) and serious about following rules of the road - plus able to parallel park in very small spaces - you shuold be fine. But do realize that other drivers take the rules seriously and will have little patience if you dither about.
nytraveler is offline  
Apr 16th, 2012, 10:37 AM
  #4  
 
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Posts: 22,961
Although we never drove, hub and I got Intl. Drivers Lic. at Triple A. Good info from bob about about it.

Also, pedestrians have the right of way but many are cavalier about ignoring the rules of physics. If you are from America, you might not be as careful since you are used to pedestrian walk ways and light signals that organize pedestrians!

Be alert and keep out of the way is good advice. "Beep" around a blind curves.
TDudette is online now  
Apr 16th, 2012, 12:11 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 47,707
I do all my European car rentals through AutoEurope.

Haven't heard anything about the International Driver's Permit (it's not a license) being phased out (where did you hear that?), and it's required by law, not to rent a car (chances are the rental outfit won't even ask you about it), but to drive one. So if you plan to drive a rental car, you'd best get one.
StCirq is offline  
Apr 16th, 2012, 12:19 PM
  #6  
 
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Getting an IDP is as easy as going to your local AAA office, forking over a few bucks, showing your existing license and done. Essentially all it does is put your information in a universally recognizable format. That said it is often required to rent a car and can come in helpful if stopped.

And I've heard nothing about it being dropped, as many places really appreciate having something that is easily understood when looking at foreign information.

dave
daveesl is offline  
Apr 16th, 2012, 01:01 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,951
We rented from http://www.economycarrentals.com/ in Sicily and had no problems. This broker was cheaper than Autoeurope, with no deductible--but read the fine print.
Michael is offline  
Apr 17th, 2012, 02:05 AM
  #8  
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Thanks everyone.
I knew it was easy to get one at AAA, just didn't want to if I didn't need to. Good point about the rental agency not even asking...perhaps that's why my sources said you didn't need it (they weren't asked)
swellsurfer is offline  
Apr 17th, 2012, 03:14 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
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You are unlikely to need it unless you have an accident. Then you will need it -- a lot.
Ackislander is offline  
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