Rome to Florence via train or car?

Jun 20th, 2003, 11:46 AM
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Rome to Florence via train or car?

We are travelling from Rome to Florence via train on a Monday in July (staying in Florence 3 days). We were going to take a day trip to Siena from Florence via train the next day. Now I'm thinking we should just rent a car on that Monday in Rome and hit Siena on the way to Rome. Since museums will be closed on Monday anyway, that will give us two full museum days in Florence. Any thoughts / suggestions? Is it safe to leave all our luggage in the parked rental car while we explore Sienna?
JeremyLA is offline  
Jun 21st, 2003, 06:46 AM
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KatWoman is offline  
Jun 21st, 2003, 07:29 AM
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We rented a car in in Rome once, drove up the coast and spent the nite in Panzano, just south of Siena. Then drove to Florence the next day.

We had little trouble getting out of Rome and really enjoyed the drive. Florence was a little hectic, but to our suprise, we drove right to the rental return (Hertz), near the train station.

We did not visit Seina since we had been there before. The drive thru Chaniti region was nice, as was Panzano. A nice change from the frenzy in Rome and FLorence.

In Panzano, we left the car in the lot outside of town overnite, but did not leave anything in it. No problems.

Hope this helps . . Rich
Rich is offline  
Jun 21st, 2003, 08:11 AM
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I'm admittedly a "car person" when it comes to traveling in Europe. I always see places I want to visit as I drive along, or I find something on the map that I want to investigate. If you can drive in everyday big city traffic and on American freeways, then you can drive in Italy. You will really enjoy the scenery and having the freedom to stop when and where you want. Give yourself a quick tutorial on the major highway signs, though.

As for leaving stuff in your car while you explore Siena, I personally have done that and have not had a problem. I have parked just outside the city walls and left the car in a parking lot.

As a matter of fact, I have never had anything taken from my rental car anywhere in Europe, and that includes every country in eastern, central, and western Europe. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I don't worry about it any more.

Anyway, my advice is to rent a car and enjoy the drive. Good luck.
Wayne is offline  
Jun 21st, 2003, 01:58 PM
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Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated.
JeremyLA is offline  
Jun 21st, 2003, 03:04 PM
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I am prejudiced. I would never drive in Italy myself. The cars go very very fast on the major highways, and in big cities I've seen driving behavior that seems to follow no rules or paterns at all. But I know many people don't mind driving, and with a car you can choose to go off on side roads on a whim to visit places you might see up on a hill in the distance that look appealing.

In the years I've been reading this board, no one ever seems to mention that whether or not to drive should depend on how compatible you are with your travel companions. So I'm going to be blunt and mention it.

My first trip to Europe was when I was 16. My father qualified for a very cheap airfare, and so my parents and I took off for London, Italy, and France for about a month. In some ways it was a wonderful trip, because I saw so much beautiful scenery and such a range of places from big capitals to medium-sized gems like Siena to a tiny mountaintop town in Sicily. It was perfect for me, in a way, because it was the summer right before starting college, and the images from this trip gave me insights into the history and literature that I'd be studying in just a few weeks. BUT in other ways the traveling was pure torture, since I was alone, cramped in the back seat of a Volkwagen, with no one to interact with for hours and hours at a time. There was a lot of squabbling in that car, and there was no way to escape from it.

I suppose with a family or a group or friends who are very compatible, it might be enjoyable to travel that way, but if your traveling group is one that tends to leave one of the members on the outside of things, if it's one that tends to bicker a lot, or to disagree about smoking or window air, for example, traveling trapped together in a car could be real hell. With train travel, you can move around more, you can interact and talk to other passengers, have fun practicing speaking in a foreign language, and while of course you cannot stop to explore an interesting little town on a whim, in some ways you are much more free. So...take a very realistic look at the nature and quality of your friendship or your family relationships before deciding whether you and your companions will be happy together during long long drives.
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