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Rental Car Advice for Florence

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Jul 19th, 2011, 11:54 AM
  #1
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Rental Car Advice for Florence

My future wife and I are going on our honeymoon to Italy at the end of August. We are flying into Florence and spending the night and then the next day we are heading to Greve in Chianti and we are spending the next three days in the Tuscany region. I have seen plenty of travelers suggest renting a car for seeing Tuscany, so I have decided I will go for it.

With that said, I need help. Can anyone give me any general advice for renting a car in Florence and what company we should rent from? I was planning on picking up the car in Florence and also returning the car in Florence (because we are coming back). Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks!
Europhile7 is offline  
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Jul 19th, 2011, 11:59 AM
  #2
 
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Try Autoeurope.com or Kemwel.com or economycarrentals.com for fairly standard rates--these three are brokers. From there you can look for cheaper rates.
Michael is online now  
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Jul 19th, 2011, 12:37 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: May 2009
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AutoEurope worked for me. You can pick the car in the Airport. The airport is actually not far from the city so instead of getting the car upon your arrival take a cab to the city and next day take another one to the airport. From there you can take the road to Chianti. Same procedure when coming back.
Also, bring a GPS with you with the Italian map loaded. It'snot hard to navigate the Italian highways but you'll get some peace of mind with the GPS. Last, note that most of Italian cars are not automatic and the driving style is much more aggressive than in the US.
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Jul 19th, 2011, 12:41 PM
  #4
RJD
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I have used AutoEurope several times to rent cars in Florence for trips to Tuscany and Umbria. All the rental shops are on a street near the main (SMN) train station. They are close to the edge of town but you will still need a good map showing one way streets. Or maybe rent a GPS unit with the car.
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Jul 19th, 2011, 01:02 PM
  #5
 
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General advice with Florence? Don't driving into the center of Florence unless you want to flirt with ZTL fines.
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Jul 19th, 2011, 01:44 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Ditto Greg's advice. You are constantly under traffic cameras and just don't be surprised that 6-8 months after your trip your cc gets hit from the car company with a paperwork fee that they paid to the municipality for your info and then your cc getting hit with the fine. As in our case the municipiality had no authority to charge the card for the fine the three times they tried. Then we got a notice from the cc about a fraud attempt on the card and had to get new cards.

Same thing happened in Rome and we are still receiving fine notices and it'll be two years.

They drive extremely fast and furious and with alleys, streets and one ways with speeding, honking italian drivers, it is extremely hard to drive in the city centers. Pick up the car at the farthest car rental facility that you can even if you have to pay more or take a cab there. It's better than driving in the city center.

Search for car rental in the forum and you can get additional situations and ideas of what to do. Enjoy. jk
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Jul 19th, 2011, 05:55 PM
  #7
 
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You can pick up at the Borgo Ognassanti office and scoot out of town over the river with no problem---I would return it at the airport unless you can retrace your steps.


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  
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Jul 19th, 2011, 06:54 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
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We had no problem getting out of Florence by being VERY careful to follow the directions. But going back in is not a matter of simply retracing your steps due to one-way streets, etc. So don't try to drive back into the center. A taxi ride from the airport into town is lots cheaper than a ZTL fine!
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Jul 19th, 2011, 07:37 PM
  #9
 
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>>>Same thing happened in Rome and we are still receiving fine notices and it'll be two years.<<<

That's not fraud. That's the Italian tickets you owe. The camera snaps your license, the police track it to the rental car company, rental car company provides your info to the police charging you a fee on your credit card for providing your info (it's in your rental agreement how much - Hertz was 45€ I think last time I rented from them), the police issue a ticket to you through a collection agency that handles their tickets for them.

You can read about here:
http://www.bella-toscana.com/traffic...ions_italy.htm

Traffic signs:
http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/drivin...s_speeding.htm

You need an IDP to drive in Italy. You can get it at AAA. You can take your own photos with a digital camera (use passport setting) or AAA will take them. You don't have to be a member.
kybourbon is online now  
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Jul 19th, 2011, 07:54 PM
  #10
 
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Renting the car near the Florence train station from Europecar was a NIGHTMARE. First, their sign on Borgo Ognissanti (mentioned abouve by Bob) is much harder to see than the other nearby rental company offices and the pick up office is a block further away than the others.

They employ one of the most obnoxious young men I've met--anywhere in the world-- to deliver the car to you. He is rude, unhelpful e.g. "Here's the keys--now go!" and contemptuous of women drivers (and probably women in general). If it werent such a hassle to reach Europecar's customer service (read about it on the internet) i'd have filed a detailed complaint.

Unfortunately, the counter guy who gave us the papers failed to give detailed directions for using complicated little streets for returning the car.(On the return trip i saw a young woman at the counter going over the necessary fine details with her customer). Even with GPS (or b/c of GPS' ignorance of one-way streets) the return was horrible, and took far too long (when we had a train to catch) with one way streets, beeping horns, tailgating vehicles, etc. We finally left the car in a big public garage nearby. Other firms like Hertz and Avis use tha
t as their normal drop off car-return; Autoreupe's sign to use it only after business hours.

Evidently, the other rental companies care something that the Florence branch of Europecar doesnt care about: their customers' ' satisfaction.

When we arrived at the office who should be there, sarcastically yellling at us for not being able to return the car right on the street (where there is NO parking, incidentally) ...the same awful young man. The counter staff merely said, "Thank you; no problem."
Never again will I rent Europecar in Florence. If I'm fortunate enough to get to see Tiscany again, I'll ask Kemwel/AUtoeurope (who ARE grat towork with) to broker from another car company, even if it means paying a bit more.

Jan and Greg are right...if possible, avoid driving in the center of Florence. I am dreading those late "viloation" notices, even though unaware of any we might have incurred in that crazy area nr the train statin. But if you MUST rent in Florence (vs the airport) don't rent from Europecar.

Alos, Europphile, did you want to see Florence itself, or just the Chianti countryside? I ask because if you don't plan spending time IN Florence center, and you arrive late, there might be a hotel nr the airport, which will shuttle you back to the airport car rental the next morning.
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Jul 21st, 2011, 04:02 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 3
Toscany is a real pleasure! Great plan! Well, first of all it could be a good decision to rent a car out of center of Florence because of the traffic jams. But there is an extra fee zou normallz have to paz for picking an auto up at the airport. Something about 20 euros.
Companies - Sixt (my favorite one), Europcar (I don't like them because of their service and broken Navigation), Herz (have nothing to say about)
Must have: rental car insurance because Italians do drive and park like crazy. Check if your credit card has it than there is no need to pay for it extra but to pay the car with this particular credit card. If you're from Canada you can check it here http://insureye.com/insurance_toolkit. If not - ask your bank directly.
And if you have time in Toscany spend your time for launch here http://www.casafrassi.it/ristorante.asp?id=4. that was a real Toscany. It's not sooo far from Florence (just near Siena) but fascinating. The road is small and very romantic and on your way you can meet all the vine degustation farms. If you go to casa Frassi - remember that they have their own wine (delicious) and fantastic Apple Grappa.
Have a good time!
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Jul 21st, 2011, 04:19 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
Have done both tigercarrentals.com best rates for me
in RURAL tuscany IF I rented would only drive in the country
AVOID dangerous florence Car is a GIANT liability there
the cameras are everywehere you can easily end up with
a parking or traffic ticket amounting to hundreds of euros
fleecing clueless tourist drivers has become an industry there.Stay at the Baglioni or the Westin SPG.com good deals Walk7Train around www.seat61.com cheaper easier better what I did in May had awonderful town head over to www.lucca.info and www.metropole.it impossibly romantic and lower tourist.

Congrats!
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Jul 22nd, 2011, 08:26 AM
  #13
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Thanks everyone!
Europhile7 is offline  
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Jul 29th, 2011, 09:05 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
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I have rented from Hertz twice in Florence, leaving from their via maso Finiguerra location and then driving to Greve without difficulty. It always helpful to have a GPS, but leaving from there, you are not driving in the direction of restricted streets. It is also an easy walk from most of the hotels in the Duomo area. It is trickier to return a car back to Florence in terms of avoiding tickets for entering restricted streets, so last trip we elected to return the Hertz car in Orvieto. This was simple, as Hertz there is right at the train station, so we just dropped it off and hopped on the train to Rome. If you decide to use Autoeurope, and plug in the above pickup and dropoff locations, you will be still using Hertz through Autoeurope. The Hertz people have been efficient and reliable.
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