Italy trip in October - Please help

Sep 17th, 2010, 09:51 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7
Italy trip in October - Please help

Hi,
Thank you all for your wonderful ideas in the past. My husband and I will be in Loro Ciuffena from Oct. 2 to 9 and then need to get ourselves to Rome from Oct. 9 to Oct. 14.
We are flying into Florence and will pick up a car at the airport. Any suggestions on car rentals? When we leave on the 9th, we plan to take a train to Rome, so where should we drop the car off? Do you think we can leave it at the train station or must we go back to the airport? Are the train station and airport in Florence near each other by chance?
You can tell I've never been to Italy before.

Once in Rome, can you give me some idea of a suitable neighborhood for an older, active couple? Hotels, bb's, price range around $200 per night. Restaurant suggestions in Rome would be appreciated, too. We've used to living on a budget, but can splurge once in a while.

Will use Visa card for purchases and will have purchased euros in States prior to departure. Any other budget-wise ideas, sights, etc. would be really appreciated. This came up suddenly and don't have much time to research.
fran is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 10:10 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,572
Call the company that issued the credit card before you make use of it - tell them about your plans and your trip so that the transactions will not be blocked ("unusual and suspicious activity" since you probably don't already often make foreign purchases with the card).

Buy only a small amount of Euros before leaving home, the rate is bad at home. And stock up your checking account where you have an ATM debit card, also call the bank and tell them, and tell them tn increase in the daily withdrawal limit in case you need a lot of cash for an emergency, and use the debit card more than the credit card when in Italy.

ATMs (called Bancomats) give good rates, and a small fee per transaction doesn't add up to much if you take good chunks at a time, not piddly amounts every couple of hours.

Visa will charge you a total of 3 percent on credit card purchases, plus you may run into the dreaded chip-and-pin problem (chip-and-pin without signature is now the norm overseas) with your old-school American "swipe-and-sign" card that may not get accepted in places, especially in machines where there is nobody around to help.

So - get your spending money from ATMs in Italy, in Euros, at the best rate available anywhere, and pay in cash as you go.

Bring back some Euros, they make great gifts for anyone among friends and family headed for Europe.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 10:56 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
The ATM's at banks in Italy do not charge any fee to use their ATM's. ATM's at locations on than banks are allowed to charge a fee I believe. And usually the ATM's only allow about 250 or 300 Euro regardless of what limit your US bank allows. But you can do more than one transaction of course. So if you use the ATM's at banks in Italy the only fee you should incur, fran, is the fees your US bank charges.

The Florence airport is not real far from the Florence train station. I believe I read recently that a Fodorite paid somewhere between 15euro to 20 euro for a taxi. Family members have always returned their rental car to the airport even though they were not departing from the airport as they have always found that quite easy to do.

You will have a wonderful trip! I have often thought the first visit to Italy is the best of all.
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 11:03 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,509
This may help you. Consider Orvieto for your car drop:


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  
Sep 17th, 2010, 11:10 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
Fran, do be sure to bring your US issued driver's license too as the IDP just translates your US license into something like 15 languages including Italian of course.

Also, in my experience the Italian ATM's only allow withdrawals from checking accounts, not saving accounts. I found that out the hard way one time. I had to have my daughter call my US bank (she is a customer too) and have the bank transfere funds from my saving's account to my checking account. And if you "mentally" use a 4 letter word for your PIN be sure to know the numbers as the Italiam ATM's only have numbers on the keypad. Regards.
LoveItaly is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 11:17 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,899
October is a popular time to visit Rome so many of the better value accommodations are not likely to be available so close to your arrival date. I suggest you reserve soon. You have about 140E per night to spend which is on the low end of mid range in Rome.

Many like the area around the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. You can start with venere.com and see what is available in your price range in that area. Cross check with hotel reviews on TripAdvisor.com.

I like the area around the Villa Borghese and also Via Veneto but have no recommendations in your price range.

For restaurants, do a search as there are numerous threads on this subject in this forum.
kfusto is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 01:07 PM
  #7  
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Posts: 7
I have always thought that Fodorites are the best people, and certainly the most knowledgeable travelers around. Your thoughts, perceptions and kindness today confirms that. Thank you all. I'll drop the car at the airport in Firenze and take a cab to the train station. I'll follow your advice to get only a small amount of Euros before I leave and I do plan to use my debit card and fill that account. That works.
I'll get to work on the hotel in Rome right now.
Fran
fran is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 01:40 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,572
Re. the International Driving Permit - you probably will never have to show it, but it costs very little and who knows, it might save you a hassle - have it with you but don't produce it unlesss asked, most people you show it to give you a blank stare it is so uncommon. Just use your own drivers license.

Start here - this is the form to get it:

http://www.aaa.com/vacation/idpapplc...d=212&secure=N
DalaiLlama is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 06:35 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 39
We use http://www.economycarrentals.com/default.aspx where available when we go to Italy. Midsize diesel for 10/2-10/9, pick up at a/p and drop at railroad station is $336. If u return at railroad station be sure and plan ur route in carefully so that u don't go into a restricted area of Flr and get a ticket in a couple of months.

We are going 9/22 leaving 10/2 and econo car was lot less than autoeurope, etal.

Check with u credit card about insurance. Most will NOT cover you if u pay for extra insurance. Get them to explain it carefully. Econo has the extra included in the price and u don't have an option of not taking it so credit card ins will work with it.

We have stayed around the Pantheon couple of times, but like the Campo de Fiori area better for food and hotels are cheaper. Rich Steves has some good recommendations. Tripadvisor as already mentioned has good reviews.

ATM's are everywhere. Be sure and call bank and credit cd to tell them u will be there. no need to take money. Flr a/p has ATM on the way out.

Have a good trip.
charlesg is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 06:58 AM
  #10  
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Posts: 7
I need your help with another question. I would like to take the train from my time-share in Loro Ciuffena to Florence for a day trip. Would you know what the nearest rail station would be? We would like to avoid driving all the way into Florence. We would also like to take a day trip from Loro Ciuffena to Assisi on October 4 for the feast and think it would be better to go by train than car. Is this a good idea? Would be get the train from the same station as the trip to Florence?

I really appreciate your help. Thanks.
fran is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 07:29 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,134
There's a train station in San Giovanni Valdarno, not too far from Loro Ciuffenna. You're wise not to try to drive in Florence.

Yes, same station for Assisi. There's a train leaving at 8:44, takes 2 hours, no changes. The station in Assisi is at some distance from the old town and the basilica of San Francesco. You'll have to take a taxi.

Ordinarily I'd say just drive to Assisi. They have big parking lots. But these may be crowded on a feast day.

Back to money. Credit cards charge a varying exchange rate according to your bank. Our Visa cards from credit unions charge us only the system rate of 1% over the bank rate. Ditto for ATM withdrawals.
Mimar is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 07:52 AM
  #12  
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Thank you, Mimar. Your information is very helpful.
fran is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 07:56 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 32,292
>>>>Re. the International Driving Permit - you probably will never have to show it,<<<

Had to show mine last month when I picked up my car.
kybourbon is offline  

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