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Car Rental Question


We are heading to Italy later next month and will be renting a car for about 4 days in and around the smaller villages of Tuscany. I notice when shopping around that some of the better deals are rental companies that are perhaps unique to Italy. Examples include Ecovia, Sicily by car, Optimo Rent, Autovia. Target Rent. In this instance we will either pick up and drop off in Florence or Lucca.

Does anyone have any experience with these companies. Better to stay with the more global rental companies?


Posted by
2700 posts

I have rented cars in Italy twice from local agencies and never had a problem. But, my preferred way of renting is to use AutoEurope, a consolidator located in Portland, Me. Great customer service and prices. Remember that most credit card companies, including American Express Premium Car Rental Protection, will not provide any coverage in Italy. If given the option, I always choose the zero deductible rental though it costs more. On three occasions it has saved me a lot of €€€.

Posted by
2185 posts

Just want to confirm Philip's comments above.
Our preferred rental car provider is AutoEurope as well, and this after a lot of trial and error with other companies in Europe. We've always found their pricing to be competitive, and their clearly stated insurance options de-mystify what can be a confusing and frustrating element of renting a car in Italy. Can't beat them for convenience and peace of mind when renting a car in Europe.

Posted by
2626 posts

Avoid Sicily by Car like the Plague.

When renting from small companies, take pics of the car's bodywork, many pics. And let them see you.
Those companies have only one way to make money with your rental: find a scratch to repair and charge you the administrative fees.

Be also aware that any town has a ZTL and rental companies can charge you a $ 45 fee per fine. It's written on the rental agreement that nobody reads.

Posted by
1321 posts

Avoid all the names you listed. While AutoEurope is reputable, they also offer companies with less than stellar reputations at times. Stick with Avis, Hertz, or Europcar and pay a bit more. Remember AutoEurope is only a broker - your contract is with the car provider.

Posted by
386 posts

Hope I'm not too late, but I wanted to throw in my 2 cents. For our trip to Sicily, Auto Europe actually came in higher than Hertz. Not to say that it will be the same for the mainland, still, I'd check around. Costco, if you're a member, often has pretty good prices. I'm sure you know to check through AAA and your insurance company, credit cards and the like. Sometimes you get lucky.

Posted by
3884 posts

In Sicily, we rented from Avis, full coverage, zero deductible. Edited: Didn’t have any trouble.. I would say to avoid Palermo and Catania by car.

Posted by
14773 posts

To follow up on Wanderlust, I usually start with Autoeurope but the check out the best options directly with the companies. Sometimes Autoeurope is better, sometimes not. One thing I've learned is to read the fine print. Sometimes fees are included in the company quotes but not the Autoeurope quotes. Insurance is sometimes included in one but not the other. Be sure you know exactly what Autoeurope's quote includes.

Posted by
5324 posts

I lived in Germany over 25 years ago and loved driving to Italy. However, no way would I want to drive in Italy these days.

I have read many posts on these threads of people getting enormous tickets after returning from their trip.

Posted by
2185 posts

"Be sure you know exactly what Autoeurope's quote includes"

That's good advice for the quotes you receive on any of the individual rental company websites, and is frankly why we switched to AutoEurope in the first place. Trying to determine what was included, particularly regarding the matter of insurance, got to be such a frustrating hassle that I finally gave up on it, followed the advice of other posters here to look at AutoEurope, and have never looked back. They're the only ones we've found that explain clearly in their quotes what's covered, what isn't, and what the cost tradeoffs will be. Trying to get an apples to apples comparison of the total cost of a rental on individual company websites, especially in places specifically excluded from CC insurance coverage, requires doing a deep dive into the fine print of their contracts which even then can be confusing.
I always cross-check the quotes I receive on AAA, Costco, USAA , and elsewhere and have never gotten a better deal on the total cost of a rental car that I do thru AutoEurope.

Posted by
138 posts

Be sure you have an IDP before you leave the US. It sounds like most agencies ask for one when you pick up the car but even if they don't you don't want to be caught without one.

Posted by
3280 posts

Rental car insurance is one of the thorniest issues connected to travel. One more caveat. No matter which company you end up using, read the details of the insurance they are offering. “No deductible” may not mean what it appears to say. I was once about to purchase it, when I noticed that windows, tires, and undercarriage were excluded. Any deductible or exclusion, however, opens the way for the rental company to charge you for tiny scratches or dings, up to the limit. I actually seem to remember a poster on this site complaining of being charged for an undercarriage dent, of all things!
For those reasons, outside of Italy, we use the Amex Premium rental car insurance. In Italy, we depend on the insurance provided by our Chase visa card. We have had occasion to file claims with both, and I have no complaints about how they were handled. Again, it’s prudent to check any cc before renting, to get current coverage stipulations for the particular card you plan to use.

Posted by
2185 posts

Following up on Phrank's comment regarding the IDP - per the AutoEurope website having one is a legal requirement for renting a car in Italy, which I assume means that if you don't have one you'd void your insurance. Other posters here have reported that some rental car providers won't release the car to you unless you present it at the desk ... along with your regular license.

Posted by
103 posts

Yet another vote for Auto Europe. We have rented from them many times and the price has always been good compared to other vendors . They will meet or beat the price if another vendor is cheaper providing all else is equal. Often there are various car rental companies that Auto Europe offers. Usually the Europcar option offered by Auto Europe is the best value but on occasion it is Hertz or another. In any case it depends on your situation. For example if you need to have an extra driver, say you wife or husband, check the extra driver fees. Those can add up and vary between vendors so that has influenced our choices. Same for the insurance option should you need that. Those and other fees are not initially listed in the price comparison window but those fees are disclosed within each rental company info. Never had any trouble presenting out Auto Europe voucher at the rental counter. Just finished an Italy rental with no issues.

Posted by
633 posts

Yes on Autoeurope [using the toll free number]. Leaving Florence you would want to arrange your car at Via Palagio degli Spini, the complex near the airport; reached by taxi. This will be helpful:

If heading south after Tuscany, Chiusi is a handy place to dump the car and take the train. Avis is closest, closed Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

Posted by
158 posts

Hope it's not too late, but if it is, the advice to all is still valid. Sicily by Car in my experience has the oldest, most used cars of the bunch of them. Don't be surprised if the interior smells like stale smoke, or if there are cigarette burns on the seats. They can be cheaper than the rest, but you do get what you pay for.