Italy Car Rental Planning Questions

Mar 13th, 2007, 02:19 PM
  #1  
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Italy Car Rental Planning Questions

Sorry about prior title...forgot the Italy part. Below is repeat of my original question:
I have ffb (fodorís forum burnout) and frankly am starting to be miffed that I cannot get the rest of my trip planned! Iím mainly spinning my wheels with logistics. If I could decide on the car thing and get those reservations made, all would be well in my world.
May 9 - 23
Rome for 3 nights, Tuscany 5 nights, Cinque Terre 3 nights, Venice 3 nights. Fly into Rome and out of Venice. The only reservations so far are our hotels in Rome and Venice. And the flight of course.
Proposed Itinerary:
Pick up car (where? Rome Train terminal? Since we donít want to go on the Autostrada is this OK?) and drive to Southern Tuscany for 2 or 3 nites.
Drive on to Northern Tuscany for 2 or 3 nites.
Here is the first question: At this point should I turn in the car somewhere in Northern Tuscany and take the train to Cinque Terre or should I drive to La Spezia and turn in the car there at the train station? This is my main sticking point at this point for planning.
Next question: I am trying to keep from overplanning this trip like I usually do. My DH and I have already booked places to stay in Rome and Venice, but nowhere else. Friends that have travelled in CT and Tuscany have told us that it should be ok to wing it in Tuscany and Cinque Terre. This way, without reservations, we could stay potentially however long we want to at whatever place strikes our fancy. Is that ridiculously naive or entirely possible? Iíve never travelled that way before and it sounds very laid-back and appealing.
I was born 40 years old, so I've never been laid back, but would like to try for that this trip!
Thanks so much!
PS I always always plan my trip with books and this board. It rocks!
Retired1 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2007, 03:01 PM
  #2  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hi R,

>Pick up car (where?

Many folks like to train to Chiusi or Orvieto to pick up the car.

See www.trenitalia.com for trains.

> should I drive to La Spezia and turn in the car there at the train station?

I would.

Re reservations:

How much time do you want to spend looking for accomodations?

Middle of May is shoulder season. You might get lucky.

>we could stay potentially however long we want to at whatever place strikes our fancy. <

As a person who spends a goodly amount of time planning his trips, I generally have a good idea of how long I want to spend in a particular place.

It's possible that, one day, I will find a place that is so wonderful that I will wish that I had stayed longer.

In that case, I will go back.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
Mar 13th, 2007, 03:10 PM
  #3  
 
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I just got through booking a car from autoeurope, I will pick it up at termini in Rome and drop it off at FCO. I don't want to make reservations either for most of this trip and I will be traveling on the shoulder season. I want to wing it this time too. I have done it in the past and it is so freeing. If you want to linger and not rush off to your reserved location you can! Last time I did this I called ahead from a guide book while I was having an afternoon snack at a cafe, would book for later in the day.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Mar 13th, 2007, 05:44 PM
  #4  
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Thanks to both of you for your answers. It is most helpful to hear others' opinions.
Thanks again!
Retired1 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2007, 07:31 PM
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Hello my friend-- We are currently planning a very similar vaca. in Sept. Our plan is -- Fly to Rome, train to Orvieto spend 1st nite and rent car. Drive to tuscany spend 4 nites near Siena. Drive to Santa Margharita,turn in car, and spend 4 nites exploring Cinque Terre. Train to Rome for 4 nites and home to SFO.
Trow out Venice and we duplicate. From my research,(this wonderful message board and a couple of "tourist books"), I believe the car rental in Orvieto is within walking distance of the train sta.. The same applys in Santa Margharita. I would imagine La Spezia to be as convienent, but you'd better ascertain that from one of the knowledgable travelers that frequent this site. Have a great time! Let us know how it goes.
norcalmike is offline  
Mar 15th, 2007, 07:23 PM
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Logistically, I think it makes more sense to train from Rome to the C.T., (Rome Ostiense to La Spezia on a nonstop train takes 3:55) and stay there without a car. Then after seeing the C.T., pick up a car in La Spezia, do your travelling in Tuscany, drop it off in Chiusi, and then go on to Venice by train. It seems like you're backtracking south, but the C.T. is way west, and a rail journey from La Spezia to Venice will take 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours, and you will need to make at least one change. From Chiusi to Venice on a nonstop is 4:23 hours.
lovisa is offline  
Mar 15th, 2007, 07:40 PM
  #7  
 
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Also, if you are apprehensive about driving on the Autostrada, you absolutely do not want to pick up your car anyhwere in Rome, the driving is much crazier than on the autostrade.

Rather than dropping off (or picking-up) a car in La Spezia you might consider Lucca which has good rail connections to the C.T. as an alternative because the mountains cram everything including the roads into a narrow populated strip between Viareggio and La Spezia, and you would be forced to drive through that strip.
lovisa is offline  
Mar 15th, 2007, 11:38 PM
  #8  
 
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Just booked a VW TDI 5 dr w AC via www.tigerrentalcar.com (a broker for several - Budget in my case).
Mid May pick up in downtown Palermo on Fri PM and drop off the next Fri late AM at FCO.
280 Euro - all included.
M
mikemo is offline  
Mar 17th, 2007, 02:59 PM
  #9  
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Thanks to everyone--this is very very helpful info that I will definately use.
Thanks esp. to LOVISA for the tip on re-organizing the middle part of our trip (ie Rome to CT then on to Tuscany, Venice.) I think that would be a better way to arrange the trip.
I don't know what I would do without all of you!
Thanks again.
Retired1 is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2007, 10:15 PM
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Here's one heads up on your car rental:
when I booked a car to drive from Rome to Umbria (and there are nice things to see on the way ...) I carefully checked out the available models and booked a Fiat 4-doour sedan, not large, but not the tiniest (I wanted some protection) and with a trunk large enough to acommodate two large bags and our extra little stuff - you don't want to travel in a rental car ANYWHERE with the back seat filled with your belongings, as all tourist destinations attract a certain number of "opprtunist" thieves. Anyway, we were upgraded to the Alfa Romeo in the same car class: a dream to drive, very roomy inside, but with about 25% less trunk space. We were lucky: we JJUST squeezed our two big bags in, then tucked the other things (purchases, mostly) into the corners. The lid barely shut!

I had never driven abroad, but loved the experience driving in Italy. Maybe it's because I live in NYC, but I thought the Romans were not bad drivers - wild, but definitely alert. Getting out of town wasn't bad, getting back to the car rental later (it was a round trip rental) a bit trickier. But most roads I traveled in Italy were well-marked (if you know what you're looking for) Street signs in Rome slightly less so, but not bad.
Have fun!
tomassocroccante is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 08:59 AM
  #11  
 
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I am just curious-we are planning to rent an Alfa 159 for 4 of us, 4 suitcases (20-24" each). Which Alfa did you rent-hopefully it was a smaller one than we are planning on getting otherwise I may need to change our plans. Th
anks.
neglex is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 09:32 AM
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Good question.
The 159 is the successor to the 156, which is what we had. I just checked the Alamo Italy website, and they show that there is area enough for 2 large and two small bags (they have an option ofr medium bags, but only use the large and small icons with the cars ....)
So that sounds like it will work. Our bags were two 26" (it was October so we had clothes for two seasons - and the weather turned out to be summery) Will four rollaboard size bags fit? I don't know. I'm guessing probably.

We found the car comfortable, and we were two guys, 6' and 6'2". I don't recall what the legroom was like in back, but it is a very nice car. It's the same size class as the AUdi A4 or BMW 3-series, but to me seems slightly longer and lower.

I'm assuming you know that in Italy your car will have a standard shift unless you request - and pay extra for - an automatic. I loved driving there - yes, an occasional missed sign or misinterpreted one, but it was a plasure. Roads up in Umbria and Tuscany are scenic without the white-knuckle thing you get on the Amalfi coast. We drope up by way of the Via Cassia, through Sutri, Viterbo, then east to Orvieto - first view of Orvieto glowing golden in the late day sun was gorgeous, and much preferable to arrival from the A1, IMO. As often in the US, the freeway for speed, the smaller highways for scenery.
tomassocroccante is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2007, 09:45 AM
  #13  
 
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Just want to second the view that driving the autostrada is easier than small side roads. Everybody seems kind of sane on the autostrada. Off it, they're passing on blind curves, etc.
Mimar is offline  
Mar 25th, 2007, 09:09 AM
  #14  
 
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I didn't find the two lane or other highways between towns problematic - in fact, I thought they were well-marked and in good condition. But everyone will have their own take on the drivers ...

RE: the Autostrada, one caveat: some people are driving VERY fast, so keep a closer eye than usual on your review mirror, especially when about to pass. A faster car can fly up beind you in that passing lane just as you're about to pull around!
tomassocroccante is offline  
Mar 25th, 2007, 09:37 AM
  #15  
 
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Hi Retired 1,

We are in the same boat as you...our first trip to Italy and I'm guilty of overplanning. Thank you for posting this message because I am also stuck on the same logistic issues.

As far as Cinque Terre is concerned, we were originally going to "wing it", but another Fodorite (Sally) posted links to 2 inns in CT (La Mala in Vernazza and Arpaiu in Manarola). Once I checked out these amazing places, I am definitely going to book one of them. I thought the only accomodations you could find in CT were cheap sparse rooms and these 2 places are gems.

http://www.arpaiu.com
http://www.lamala.it/en/index.html

Our plan is to drive our rental car from Florence and drop it off in La Spezia to train to CT. This was recommended to us by Fodorites.

Don't you just love this site? Such a wealth of great info and tips. This will be a spectacular trip thanks to you Fodorites!

Good Luck!
adventureseeker is offline  
Mar 26th, 2007, 04:29 PM
  #16  
 
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We need to rent a small automatic car in Tuscany but can't seem to find one for an affordable price..any?
pick up in siena and drop in lucca
jaimeenid is offline  
Mar 26th, 2007, 07:29 PM
  #17  
 
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Automatic transmission comes at a premium in Italy and most places outside US. If you don't feel confident with a standard transmission, you'd better plan on the Auto. Handling a standard is that much tougher on the steep hills.
tomassocroccante is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 04:52 AM
  #18  
 
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We usually rent automatics in Italy,but not in other European countries.
They are more expensive and it takes some shopping around.
While many people swear by Autoeurope,they selmond have been willing to match the prices I get.
jabez is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 04:55 AM
  #19  
ira
 
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Hi J,

>While many people swear by Autoeurope,they selmond have been willing to match the prices I get.<

From where?

ira is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 08:39 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
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re: Ira/Jabez (et all)

Which is the best place to rent a car in Italy?
(I did try to do a search for "car rental" before posting a repetitive post and this we post #152 in my search, so thought a good place to start & continue - if this has already been beaten to death, please provide a link to a relative post)

We're flying into Milan / Bergamo & departing Milan / Malpensa. Need a car for 13 days.

also, 2nd question - we're planning on going to rome for a day or two but don't want to drive in the city - any recomendations for a place to stay outside of rome that will be easy to get into the city? (me, dh & daughter-13, well travelled, loves to shop; not whiny)

thanks all!
dreppy is offline  

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