Italian Riviera-ish to Aix-en-Provence

Hi. I am looking for the most interesting place in the Italian Riviera for about 2 weeks until I go to Aix En Provence. I am a single, cool woman. I am a part time journalist so I want to know if there are amazing things that you know about around the coast there that are newsworthy, besides the typical food, water, vistas....Is there an eco trend or is there a factory still making 100 year old products? And then my other question is that when I am ready to drive to Aix, what is the most cost effective car rental company. I am thinking of flying into Pisa, driving to Genoa, then to Aix and back to Pisa over the course of a couple weeks. Any thoughts? Any unforgettable people, things, places, festivals you think I should see?

Posted by rebecca
san antonio, texas, isa
7 posts

Hi there-My daughter and I did a Provence, French Riviera, then Italian Riviera trip last year. We drove. Are you renting a manual or automatic transmission? Manual transmission is less expensive, but consider the drive; very hilly narrow roads that switch back and forth into the mountains. The main highway is fine, safe. But, I am sure you'll want to venture into the small towns tucked into the mountains. I knew how to drive a manual transmission, but will never do this again! I would put the vehicle in 3rd gear, thinking that I could safely climb at this speed, but the car would stall, then roll back, and getting it re-started as I rolled back was oh so scary. The roads are bad enough with an automatic, but driving a manual adds to the stress level.
Comments to be continued on the next reply...

Posted by rebecca
san antonio, texas, isa
7 posts

You may want to spend some time in Cinque Terre. These beautiful quaint towns were severely damaged by flooding in 2011. I think an article on its recovery, both restoration and financial would be interesting. I have found that Auto Europe has the best prices and includes auto damage-insurance into its total package. Make sure to have a source for GPS. I rented cars with GPS built in. I couldn't have done the traveling without it; well I have in previous years and was a wreck. Lastly, if you hear anything that is "suspect" with the vehicle while driving, rattling engine, etc, go to the nearest rental office or airport and ask to exchange your car. 3 years ago our rental car broke down between Sienna and Florence. No one stops to help folks on the side of the road, at least not us, until finally a family from Holland stopped to help, but "the wife" was angry that we weren't suffering a medical emergency. Broken down car,I guess doesn't count! The best rental company I have found is Auto Europe; they have very reasonable prices, and include insurance and other fee's. Lastly, if you are traveling alone you may want to consider renting a European cell phone. Its very safe, but it may offer you some reassurance to have it.
rebecca

Posted by rebecca
san antonio, texas, isa
7 posts

Apologies for dividing up my reply, but the reply box wouldn't take my full message! Don't hesitate to email me for further questions. I come back from Europe every year, swearing I will never drive there again, but continue to because it really allows you to venture into those little places that the you can't make by train.
Good luck! Boca lupo!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8738 posts

Rebecca, didn't you learn where the hand brake was? Trying to start the engine while rolling backwards is highly unsafe. You will see Europeans using a combination of the 3 pedels plus the handbrake. On a hill come to a halt, clutch out, handbrake up, selekt first gear, apply gas, let clutch out slowly, release handbrake and off you go. And maybe try 2nd gear on steep hills which gives much more grunt than third. Come down steep grades in the gear you would have gone up in.