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Italy trains and car hire

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Nov 13th, 2013, 07:56 PM
  #1
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Italy trains and car hire

We will be in Italy for 15 days end of June into early July.

How far in advance should we make any train reservations we may need. We are trying to decide on car rental which will help decide on the train rides we may need.

Venice is our first stop then going to friuili for two nights, on to Bologna for three nights before going to Tuscany for one week.

Should we rent a car for the drive and two days in Friuili drop off the car, train to Bologna, then pick up a car again when heading to Tuscany or keep the car the entire time?

Looking at Auto Europe website it gives me an option with insurance and an option with insurance without any deductible. What does everyone normally choose? In the US we normally do not take insurance as it is covered by our regular auto insurance and also through our credit card. Not sure if insurance in Italy is automatic without option out of it.
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Nov 13th, 2013, 08:23 PM
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Whether renting a car is a benefit or a headache depends on what you are doing with it. If it is just a transport to big cities, it is more likely to be a headache. Tuscany angle depends on how you defined Tuscany. Many automatically say Tuscan=car. This is too simplistic. Some itineraries in Tuscany calls for a car while not others.
Regarding insurance, first read your credit card fine prints. You will most certainly see the wording like "coverage is worldwide except for vehicles rented in Ireland, Israel, ITALY, Jamaica, etc."
It seems you have traveled to Italy before, but as a cruise? Before boxing yourself into certain itineraries with a car, beware that most large enough historic towns prohibit cars in the historic centers during the time tourists usually drive around. The demarcation of the ZTL zones are not necessarily obvious to tourists, and some communities vigorously enforce the regulation using video cameras. The fines are not trivial amounts.
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Nov 13th, 2013, 08:35 PM
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>>>beware that most large enough historic towns prohibit cars in the historic centers during the time tourists usually drive around. <<<

That include Bologna.

>>>Should we rent a car for the drive and two days in Friuili drop off the car,<<<

Where in Friuli? Often a bus is a better option than a train, but it depends on your plans in Friuli.
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Nov 13th, 2013, 08:50 PM
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Lots of smaller towns have ZTLs too.
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Nov 14th, 2013, 01:30 AM
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First of all, Venice. You can do exactly one thing with a car there: park it so forget that.

I cannot speak to your need of a car in the Friuli region since needing one will depend a lot on what you want to see and do.

Just to get between the places you mention in Italy does not require a car. Parts of Tuscany don't really require one, either.

Are you really really familiar with the territory? You might consider getting a car with a GPS or renting one while there since it can alert you to the speed cameras if nothing else.

As to train reservations, you can make them as far ahead as 90 days or more. You can make them online using the www.trenitalia.com website or the www.italiarail.com website

Regional trains do not require reservations.
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Nov 14th, 2013, 01:48 AM
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Yes, where in Friuli?
You don't need a car for places like Udine, Pordenone, Gemona, etc, whereas a car may be a good solution for touring in the mountains.
The same for Tuscany:
no car needed for Florence, Lucca, Pistoia, Siena, Grosseto, Arezzo, Giglio Island, etc., but for smaller and more isolated places.
Which places do you plan to visit during your stay at Bologna? May be you will need a car for that, unless you go only to places like Ravenna, Faenza, Modena, Parma, etc. where public transport is very good.
Standard fast train tickets can easily be bought until the departure date of the train. For discounts, book in advance in the web.
Example Venice - Bologna: standard fare 30 EUR, discounted we fare 19 EUR. If you take a regional train, however (lasts 30 min longer), you pay only 11 EUR and can get the ticket at any time.
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Nov 14th, 2013, 03:18 AM
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Most of us come with a clickety-clack rhythm of the rails sound track and what I believe is that most first trips are best by train. However, as every year train prices goes up every year so hiring car is a better option. When you are in a car, you are totally free, going where you want, when you want. Car saves your time in locating budget accommodations. If the reservations are full, you can simply move to next city. Therefore, car is a better option.
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Nov 14th, 2013, 04:52 AM
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I always leave off the insurance and rely on my credit card to cover it. I had one claim ever, and the credit card company was prepared to cover it, but it was pretty much bogus and the rental agency could not substantiate that the scratch was "fixed", so the credit card company wiped out the charge. Just make sure that you use a card that has the coverage.

Also, Italy requires an international drivers permit, which is a translation of your English-language drivers license, that AAA can do.

I always make train reservations for fast, long distance trains in Italy as soon as possible (I think 4 months out is when they open up) because the price starts out super cheap then steadily increases over time (except for Regional trains - - which can cost a lot less than fast trains and only be a few minutes slower, like on the Venice-Bologna route; you can get Regional prices by pulling up departures within the next week or so on Trenitalia - - they are not listed for trains further out).
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Nov 14th, 2013, 11:45 AM
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>>>Therefore, car is a better option.<<<

It really depends on which cities/towns. Cars can be a hindrance in many (ZTL) and expensive to park (30-45€ per night).

>>>dfourh on Nov 14, 13 at 7:52am
I always leave off the insurance and rely on my credit card to cover it.<<<

You can't rely on most credit cards for insurance in Italy as the majority of them exclude Italy in Europe. There are a few Visa cards (not all - you have to check with your specific Visa) that will cover.
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Nov 14th, 2013, 12:07 PM
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I definitely know you do not need a car in Venice the plan is to pick it up after our stay there as Venice is our first stop. I understand that some cities you cannot go into the center of the towns without a permit my question is really based on whether we are better off driving from Friuli to Bologna or dropping off the car and training to Bologna then picking up another car for our stay in Tuscany. Will a three day gap make that much of a difference in pricing? or more of a headache to pick up two different cars

We have driven in Sicily before. our last stay in Italy was only in Rome and Venice so we didn't rent a car for that portion only once we arrived in Sicily

Friuli we are planning on visiting the Cividale del Friuli and that area. While in Bologna we plan visiting Reggio Emilia and probably Parma. Tuscany we are staying in Greve in Chianti and from everything we have read public transportation isn't the most convenient. We haven't made a plan on where we are visiting yet in the Tuscany area

thank you
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Nov 14th, 2013, 02:40 PM
  #11
ekc
 
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We stayed in the Cividale area in Friuli and I would definitely recommend a car there. And one would make your stay in Greve easier. To save the hassle of dropping off/picking up in Bologna, especially if you would use it to visit Reggio and Parma, I would just keep the car for the whole trip after leaving Venice. I usually recommend train travel, but for your trip it sounds like a car makes sense.
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