Looking at rental car prices, I'm wondering if it just might be easier to hire a private car and driver for a few weeks in Sicily. Has anyone had any recent experience with this option?
It’s easy but not easy on the wallet. Prices start at 30€ per hour plus VAT (22%).
So if you need a driver at your disposal for 8 hours a day, it’s about 40€ an hour, or almost $400 a day. You said a few weeks without specifying, but let’s assume 2 weeks with use of a driver for 10 days during that period, you are looking at at least $4,000. I’m not considering the possibility that you need the driver for over 8 hours or that he might need to spend the night in a hotel away from his basis.
If you rent a car and drive yourself, prices vary depending on the vehicle, but a compact in normal times shouldn’t cost more than $300 a week, all insured with no deductible. Lately prices have skyrocketed because of the pandemic, but not to the point of being over $500 a week for a compact.
Interesting question, and I don't have recent experience with that, but would you be putting the driver up for the night, in whatever lodging, wherever you'd be going? Hiring them just as a chauffeur, telling them where to drive, or taking a tour from them? And using the same car and driver the whole several weeks, or getting a new ride each time you got to a new destination?
I haven't priced out car rentals in Sicily lately, but our trip a few years ago, renting at the Palermo airport was basically Sixt or Europcar. Perhaps there are others now, but have you seen prices from both of those?
Ok this is of no help with your question, but it made me think of a funny story.
My mother-in-law is from Sicily, and her twin sister still lives in the house where they grew up. Once a year, for their birthday in September, my mother-in-law goes down to Sicily to visit with her sister.
They hire a taxi driver to take them around because neither of them drives. (This is in Messina, and my husband’s aunt lives a little bit out of the city, so they need a car to get around, besides which they are 80-something years old).
Anyway a couple of years ago this was the case, and they went out for the birthday lunch, and my husband asked them, well what about the driver, what was he doing all this time that you were in the restaurant? they told him not to worry, they had taken him in with them, BUT ALL HE WANTED WAS A COGNAC at the end of the meal. They are hiring this man to drive them around and he is drinking on the job ?!!!!
Italian portions for after dinner drinks are fairly small, a little cognac won’t affect him and his BAC would be well under the limit.
We hired SicilyLife for transfers and recommend them highly. They drive all over Sicily taking visitors to various sites. It certainly will not be a money saving strategy as other posters have mentioned.
Thanks for your replies. Let me expand on my request for information.
I am looking for price quotes for the entire itinerary with a car and driver (no guide), in which case the driver would remain in town with us so as to be available for day trips chosen on the fly, itinerary adjustments and, obviously, the stress of driving and parking would be eliminated. But, there would also be a lot of time the driver would be on the clock for which we wouldn't actually be using him, so that will cost us. Consequently, I also would like pricing only for transportation between points as listed below. In the case of pricing per leg, we'd either have to forgo the day trips or hire a taxi/Uber. Public transportation would be difficult as we have more baggage than I would like (medical equipment, not 6 pairs of shoes!) and my husband is elderly and has mobility problems.
Number of nights as follows:
Departure from Palermo 4 nights OR
Departure from Cefalu 3 nights (so far undecided about where to start car portion of trip)
Petralia Soprana 2 nights
Zafferna Etnea – one night
Catania 3 nights
Syracusa 5 nights
Ragusa 3 nights
Agrigento 3 nights
Trapani 4 nights
Palermo 1 night (prior to departure; departure from Trapani to PMO flight at 1200. Alternatively, departure for Palermo the afternoon of November 5). We depart Palermo on November 6.
I've sent out about a dozen inquiries to private car companies last night, so am hoping for quick responses so I can decide. I have a feeling I probably will end up booking each leg separately with a local driver if we go that route, but would prefer working with one company.
Europcar is quoting $1590 for the vehicle I require (I'm getting nailed with automatic transmission charges, but I am so out of practice with a manual, I'm a little nervous to rent one. That may change, nerves or not.) Sixt is quoting $1590 for a smaller car. Rentalcars is quoting $1000 also for a slightly smaller car, also automatic, but on their website, their dates/dates of the week don't match the calendar. I couldn't find a phone number on their website. Did I miss it?
We had planned to hire this driver for September 2020 for a leg of our Sicily trip. Unfortunately due to the lockdown we had to cancel. Roberto was recommended by a couple of RS forum contributors in a trip report. Hopefully his business survived the Pandemic.
Contact Sicily Life, send them your proposed itinerary to get a quote.
I just checked prices on www.AutoEurope.com and found that a midsize car with automatic transmission should cost you about $500 a week (with no deductible insurance option).
They don’t have smaller size cars with auto transmission, otherwise a compact or economy with manual transmission would be under $300 a week.
Well, that quote is interesting. They quoted me $2400 for an automatic compact for 3 weeks, with "INSURANCES, CDW, THP (CWARZE), whatever that is. I had previously presumed I would use our credit card-provided car rental insurance. The agent also said that Italy, and therefore AutoEurope, no longer allows the client to use credit card coverage at all for insurance purposes. Therefore, they only rent in Italy with full coverage. This is a change from a few years ago when we last rented. I plan to call back later today to see if I get the same story from another agent.
So far, the private driver/car option for the segmented trip has come in at Euro 1260, 1850 and 2250, with the 2250 quote including stuff I didn't ask for. Comparative shopping is a good idea. Still waiting for Sicily Life and others to reply. Stay tuned.
That in Italy you need to buy insurance from the company is a well known fact. I don’t even think credit cards insurance cover Italy at all. I always rent through AutoEurope and when I call I always also quote the price I see online. I don’t know which year you are going but prices this coming November are just about $500 a week for a midsize automatic (I chose Palermo). Obviously you could save with a compact or economy with manual transmission, but midsize is the smallest they have with auto transmission in Palermo. Automatic transmission are not as popular in Europe as they are in America therefore companies purchase few in their fleet because they are hard to resell in the used car market.
Just go to the AutoEurope website I linked above and select the dates of travel. Under the coverage option check mark the “no deductible” box if you want full coverage with no deductible (which I recommend).
If your travel dates are not in 2021, then wait, because it’s too early to book now for Nov. 2022.
A rental car would be much cheaper. With the private driver you will also pay essentially for not only his time, but food and lodging too. Plus a portion of the fee going to the agency the driver works for. Driving in Sicily was pretty straightforward although I thought the rural roads were poorly marked.