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Car rental in Florence . Airport vs train station

Which is better?
We are staying close to train station but need an automatic vehicle.

Posted by
2072 posts

I have never had a problem getting an automatic at a non-airport location, but I have sometimes had to put in an advance request. Some prefer to leave from the airport because there is no issue with driving through a ztl, but with proper driving directions, one can generally avoid ztl. You can look at locations on a map site. If you don't know about ztl, do read up on that!
If you still feel nervous about leaving from downtown, sometimes it makes sense to hop on a train and pick up the car in a smaller town. I'd choose based on what direction you are headed, and I wouldn't make heading back to the airport my first choice.

Posted by
4962 posts

audrey, are you renting a car after you check out from your Florence accommodations, and heading elsewhere in Italy? Or are you renting and driving while still staying in Florence? If you rent at/near the train station, will you be lugging your luggage on foot to the car rental office to continue your trip? Or using a taxi or public transit to help with that process? With the airport, walking to the airport would be more challenging.

Posted by
2127 posts

We always book with AutoEurope.com.
Go to their site and see what the cost difference is.

You will definitely need a reservation and especially if you need automatic, shouldn't be a problem getting automatic at either location but pick up at airport will cost more so it depends on your comfort level driving out of Florence and avoiding ZTLs. I am assuming you will NOT be driving in Florence.

All drivers will need to get an IDP- (or equivalent?) don't know where you get that in Canada- perhaps someone else here can advise.

Posted by
1398 posts

IDP's used to be able to be obtained through actual BCAA or CAA stores, but I don't know if they even exist anymore.
If not, it must be possible to do it online.
They are about $25.

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks. I know about the IDP. We get it at CAA. We are leaving Florence for Montepulciano and touring Val D'ORICIA. We are then returning rental and taking train to Rome. Our apartment is near the train station so we will probably walk to station or taxi to airport.
I will have GPS so should be able to avoid ztl (fingers crossed).

Posted by
12282 posts

The rental car offices are not at the Florence SMN station. They are all located on a street called Borgo Ognissanti, about 10 min walk south of the station. You don’t run the risk of being caught by the camera while you exit the ZTL, so no reason to go all the way to the airport, especially because the airport rental center isn’t really that easy to find or to navigate out of.

More importantly, if your next destination after the Val d’Orcia is Rome, it really makes no sense to return the car in Florence. The more sensible choices are:
1. Either drive to Rome and return the car at one of the Rome car rental office, or
2. Return the car in Chiusi (not far from the Val d’Orcia, and take the train to Rome.

Posted by
2166 posts

I will have GPS so should be able to avoid ztl (fingers crossed).

I think that Most ZTL fines are caused by people following the GPS instead of paying attention to road signs. The GPS won't read the signs on your behalf.

It won't warn you about a ZTL ahead of you, either: You could have a permit or live inside the restricted zone for all the GPS knows.

To my knowledge, Waze is the only app of any help re ZTLs. Unfortunately it needs an internet connection and it doesn't distinguish between a speed camera on a motorway and a ZTL camera inside a city center.

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you Roberto for your advice. I am renting from that particular station and heading immediately south out of the city. If I understand you correctly, if I'm exiting a ZTL there is no concern? The car will be eventually dropped in Bari.

Posted by
14 posts

So would you recommend renting from the airport?

Posted by
1398 posts

You need an automatic car, but are you comfortable driving a stick shift in case they have no more automatics when you get there?
I have heard of this happening in Europe (and home), and putting a dent in people's plans.
Automatic cars are less common in Europe.

Posted by
2278 posts

That sounds like a very low risk to me. I used to be unable to drive stick and I never had any issues getting automatics in France or neighboring countries. This was several years ago and automatic transmission is now far more common.

The one thing that is more likely to happen is to get a larger car than what you booked, because automatic city cars or subcompact cars are rarer. If it happens, it can be annoying to drive a full-sized sedan in Italian roads and streets, but it is not a deal breaker.

Book sufficiently in advance, and don't stress about it - Florence is a major car rental location.

Posted by
2127 posts

We’ve always been able to get an automatic with advanced reservation

Posted by
12282 posts

No need to go to the airport whatsoever, especially if you are already staying near the SMN (Santa Maria Novella) station (Florence main station). There are plenty of automatic rental cars at the Borgo Ognissanti locations (lots of "stick shift dysfunctional" Americans rent from there).

You can walk to Borgo Ognissanti to pick up your car. Just make sure when you do, you don't plan to go back to your hotel because, depending on where the hotel is exactly located, you may not be able to drive back to it, at least not easily and possibly without incurring into a ZTL camera. Therefore when you go to the rental car office on Borgo Ognissanti, take the rest of the party and your luggage with you. If you rent from Hertz or Avis Budget or Europcar (the major companies in Italy), the garage where they park their cars is on the first and second level of the multistory garage called Garage Europa (see link below), just east of the corner with Via Curtatone.
https://goo.gl/maps/iiXmVVchozQPs7Vt8

The actual rental offices are:
HERTZ: across the street from the garage
EUROPCAR (new office): across on the same side of Hertz but slightly more to the right toward via Curtatone
AVIS-BUDGET: next to the garage entrance, on the same side of the street, just to the right of it facing the garage.
Once you rent the car, you will be given the paperwork to pick up the car inside the garage.
As you exit the garage, if your intention is to go to the A1 Autostrada freeway, exit the garage and turn right (no other choice since Borgo Ognissanti is one way). Go straight through the roundabout (about 50 yards after the garage) to Via il Prato. Drive on via il Prato for another 50 yards to the Stop sign at the intersection with Via Rucellai. Turn right (north) on Via Rucellai all the way to the end (unless you want to hit the church in front). At the stop light turn left onto Via della Scala, a one way street (stay on the left lane as the right lane is for buses only). Straight (west) for another 150 yds till you reach the street light below.
https://goo.gl/maps/U8CAk59vL4dxh4eW8

You are now outside the ZTL after the street light. There will be no cameras during this journey from the garage to here.

At the light go straight a bit then left. Just follow the green signs to A1 - ROMA.
https://goo.gl/maps/E5ME5Yfq4WAx4hs69

The freeway entrance called FIRENZE SCANDICCI is about 7 km away from here. Just keep an eye on the green signs to the A1 (and listen to your GPS).

Buon viaggio.