It's funny that I just answered a post about driving in Europe and I basically stated that I would rather chop off my hands than drive in Europe. So I was planning on taking the SENA bus from Siena to Assisi, which was 1.25 hours compared to 3-4 hours on a train. So it was a no brainer to chose the bus for travel. Well, according to a poster, that route is no more. Which leaves me 2 options, train or driving. Driving would yield less travel time than the train, plus I could easily sneak in some hill towns that I was going to save for another trip. But that means I would have to rent from Florence, drive to San Gimnano (spelled wrong I am sure)for a quickie tour, then off to Siena for 2 nights, then off to Assisi 2 nights, a quickie tour of Orvieto and off to ROme. In Rome, is where I am done with a car (if I chose to drive). How aweful is it to get out Florence with a car? Is there a car rental agency that will let me leave it in Assisi so I do not have to drive to Rome (leaving out me visiting Orvieto)? I googled but did not seem to find any agency that I could rent from Florence to Assisi. How aweful is it to drive into Rome? I am staying near Termini and I think that there is where I would have to drop a car off if I use Eurocar or Avis. A have a few fears in life: The giant grasshopper (called lubbers) here in Florida and having to drive in Europe. So someone tell me that it is going to be ok or completely tell me to stick with train because it is not going to be ok.
Driving in Florence and Rome is awful and best not to try! It truely is for the crazies! I think you would enjoy bus travel from Florence to Siena to San Gimi and then to many surrounding hill towns. When leaving Siena, pick up car from Avis in Siena then to drive to Assisi, Cortona, Orvieto and Umbria (drop car off). Then train in to Rome. Other option would be to pick up a car rental at Florence airport.
Assisi might be too small for a rental car place. Just pick up the car in Florence and haul tail, nothing to it; you'll zip out of Florence and the rest is easy. Approachng Rome, stay on the E45 freeway until you get to the A24 and follow your nose; you'll hit the Termini area with only a couple of turns (and miss the ztls) where car places abound. Some folks seem to favor droping the car in Orvieto and taking the train the rest of the way in; I can't speak to this idea, but there are car places close to the train station..
If you rent out of Florence's airport, you will be fine. I wasn't thrilled about driving in Italy, but really it is not that much different than driving here. Just do NOT DRIVE in the cities themselves, especially Florence or Rome, but not Siena either (ZTL cameras galore). If you pay extra for an automatic car, then it really is just like driving here with a few things to think about like the speed cameras and customs (aka, do not drive in the left lane unless you a passing, a custom i really loved actually). But it's really not much different. But as someone with a few irrational fears myself, I understand that you are scared. but only you can decide if you can deal with that or not. One thing I would advise you though is to treat the vacation like a vacation. If you have to miss Assisi or Orvieto b/c of a transportation issue, you will get to see other fantastic places instead. A vacation - especially in Italy IMO - is meant to be stress-free. If you think driving will stress you out, then don't do it. Alternatively, while it sucks that the bus stopped running, you simply cannot let it "ruin" things for you - you will have a great trip no matter what. And other things could have easily gone wrong. Train strikes can happen, it can rain and make it hard to go sight-seeing, etc. If you let everything ruin your trip, then you spend too much time worrying about what could go wrong instead of what amazing things are in store for you. Finally, 3-4 hours on a train in Italy is nothing to me. I find train travel in italy largely relaxing and easy. My personal recommendation to you would just be forgo the driving b/c it seems like it would make you more nervous than would be worth it, and just take either an early morning or late evening train as the schedule allows. You'll only be losing a couple hours which in the scheme of a trip is not a big deal, and you lose a lot of the stress. Seems worth it to me in your case.
Hhhmmmm......picking up a car in Siena and dropping off in Orvieto. Not a bad idea and it keeps me from the big city drives. I am going to look into this option.
I saw your reply on the post about the route cancellation. You said you're traveling November-December? If so, you have plenty of time to work this out. I rent cars and drive in that part of Italy, once I'm done with Florence or Rome. I've picked up in Florence and driven out with any problem. I would not want to drive in urban Rome. Autoeurope.com is a great place to start. You can find rental office locations throughout Italy and see their hours and estimated rates for cars. But I would call their 1-800 number in Maine and go over your itinerary and questions directly with one of their humans.
HOLD ON! Before you give up on the Siena to Assisi direct bus route, you should e-mail SENA at email@example.com to VERIFY whether the route is no longer offered!!!!! I think I know why that other posting said that the route is no longer in service, but I'm not convinced that this is the case. You really need to verify at the "source".
I just returned a car at the Florence airport less than a week ago. It was a piece of cake. The airport is right off the highway. It is not hard to drive in Italy. If you drop the car off at the Rome airport you could avoid driving in the city.
Hopefully someone here can provide some uppdated information on the Bus situation between Assisi and Siena. The SENA website still lists that route, but there are very limited departures (from what I can determine, one trip per day departing in late afternoon, which is not the most convenient). ¶ My preference on that route would still be the train, as the travel time is not that long. The shortest trip is a train departing Siena at 13:28, arriving Assisi at 16:44 (travel time 3H:16M and 2nd Class Fare of €10.55, which for me would be much preferable to renting a car - it would be much more relaxing and still get to Assisi at a good time to check into the Hotel and have a nice dinner). Cheers!
I have just emailed SENA to see if the route is disappearing or staying put or maybe just temporarily suspened. I will keep the forum [INVALID]d as I do get some info. I do appreciate everyone's input. perhaps I was a bit dramatic in my original post but from personal experiences, have always been glad that there is top notch public transportation in Europe so I do not have to drive. But then again, I do not want to waste too much time on a train to go such a short distance as well. I am sure a drive in Tuscany and Umbria would be an amazing driving experience but I just do not want to be that tourist driving around in an unknown environment upsetting all the locals because I do not know what I am doing.
Stick to the train. I also absolutely hate lubbers myself ever since one jumped on my shoulder from an areca palm. GROSS!!!!!!!
Sorry for the use of all caps. It's not my usual style, but I thought that the information was significant enough (given the conflicting reports), that it was important to highlight it in some fashion.
If you must drive a car, rent in Siena and return in Orvieto. If you bring your own GPS with European maps and know how to use it, it will be a piece of cake. Just make certain you have plenty of small cash for toll booths just in case. Otherwise, I would just take the train. It would certainly be faster than a bus and far less hassle than a car.
I agree with Scott re trying to rent and return in smaller places if possible. Can't agree less with him and others re hassle of car v. train. Just got back from 2 weeks in Italy. Tried the trains again for part of the trip and will not get on one again[INVALID]unless a Eurostar from one big city to another without a change. Cars are hassle free, based on 10+ years of driving in Italy and you get to SEE the countryside instead of freight yards, tunnels and backs of ugly apartments. You get to go and come when you want. No bags(even if on rollers) to carry up and down and up and down steps as you go from platform to platform changing trains. The car is clean. The food, whereever you stop, is better, that is, eatable. The drinks are cold, not lukewarm. The experience of meeting Italians is more enjoyable. The driving is not very different than South Florida except the people in Italy seem to actually have driver's licenses as opposed to South Florida!! Kelly-I think you will enjoy this unexpected change in your transportation. I can't imagine "seeing" Toscana by train.
I keep hearing mix options about the train from Siena to Assisi. I'm personally staying in Chianti before heading to Siena for a day trip with the intention of traveling to Assisi the same day in Siena. So an mid-afternoon bus or train is ideal. I keep reading mixed information. www.sena.it is not showing any results for a bus from Siena to Assisi. www.trenitalia.com shows trains leaving out of Siena to Assisi taking anywhere between 3.5-4.5 hours with two changes. Any recommendations?
I JUST GOT A REPLY E-MAIL FROM SENA BUS LINES. THE SIENA/ASSISI BUS SERVICE IS STILL IN OPERATION, BUT IT DEPARTS FROM THE BASILICA OF SANTA MARIA DEGLI ANGELI (Assisi's train station down the plain) RATHER THAN FROM ASSISI PROPER (there is a local city bus which connects to and from Assisi proper). ON THE RETURN TRIP FROM SIENA, THE BUS STOPS AT SANTA MARIA DEGLI ANGELI AND SHOULD TERMINATE IN PIAZZA SAN PIETRO IN ASSISI PROPER. See the SENA website for further details: www.sena.it Here is the text of the e-mail (in Italian): le linee Sena sono a partire non più da Assisi bensì da Santa Maria degli Angeli o da Perugia. Per ricevere ulteriori informazioni, contattare il nostro ufficio booking al numero 0861/1991900 oppure visitare il nostro sito internet www.sena.it.
(((((ssshhhhh..... thanks for the information .....but........ please don't shout ..... thanks)))))
I have found all of your replies informative and amusing. Thanks for taking the time to research to help me on my travel endeavors. I emailed SENA but I have not gotten a reply yet.
Driving is'nt really that bad. Just bring a GPS, a good backup map and a determined attitude. Even Rome wasn't that bad.
I am going to conquer my fears. When leaving Siena, I am renting a car for 2 days to drive me to Assisi. But before I get to Assisi, I will visit montepuciano and Orvieto. Then on my way to Rome, I will drop the car off on Orvieto and off to Rome I go via train. I am going with a GPS and have googled my drive. I will be nervous but will be brave. For kicks adn giggles, I looked to see what it would cost to rent a Ferarri and then choked when it was like 10 grand a day. So I am going with a VW Golf instead. Thank you, everyone for your thoughts, advice and words of encouragement.
I have driven in Roma and florence and Roma is not so difficult. Florence is another story, especially with the ZTL areas. I like driving in Italy, but you must pay extra attention while doing so. A few suggestions would be: 1.) check out Autoeurope.com and 2.) if you drive buy a gps with the European maps. Autoeurope is a broker and they assign you to the cheapest vendor. Having a car gives you extra freedom to stop at some place you see while driving by. Buon viaggio, RB
The anti-car bias is ALWAYS present. Are there ZTL's in Italy. YES. Are they signaled. YES. Can you stop at any highway stop and buy an urban map of the city so you ALREADY enter it knowing about the ZTLs, which you then avoid by: (1) just not crossing the forbidden access signs, (2) looking out at the GPS, (3) programming beforehand your route withing the city. No big deal. Some newer GPS signal the ZTLs on their base map.
All true, but there are also a few more considerations: (1) fewer and fewer Americans are used to driving a manual shift car; (2) automatic shift cars in Italy are very expensive; (3) driving habits in Italy are very different from those in the US; (4) gasoline is more expensive, and the highways have tolls; and (5) the driver cannot enjoy the scenery, because he must always keep his eye on the road.
I drive all over Northern Italy and always look at where I am as well as the road ahead. Really its not so bad in the north, or an the Autostradi. I enjoy it. In the city, in the countryside, its a bit more fun, especially with no GPS. Make sure you sense check the GPS route, then go for it. If you are nervous, they will smell your fear, then it will be worse.
We are two senior citizens who rented a car last year from Ciampino Airport and drove up the western coast of Italy stopping at the cute villages along the way.
We drove through the Chianti area over to Siena, Assisi, Cortona, Santa Maria degli Angeles, over to Pescara, L'Aquila and many other villages. We even found an agriturisimo in Sora but while turning around ended up in a ditch but the kind owners of the agriturisimo helped us out..a long story and I won't go into it here..from there we continued into Rome (which we didn't want to do but decided this was the best way for us as we had much luggage and packages) where our apartment was waiting, dropped off all of our luggage, etc. then continued to Ciampino Airport again to drop off the car then we took the train to the Termini and then a bus to our apartment.
Don't be afraid of the driving. Once you are out of the city area, you'll enjoy the drive.
I guess what I'm saying is that we are two senior citizens who were a little leary also but we just did it and found it was a lot of fun...and you can do it too. Yeah, we had a few tooting horns but we learned a lot and are planning to do it again next year.
Mary and Loretta
For someone still trying to get between Assisi and Sienna: there is a regular shuttle between the train station and the historical center. The Basilica of Santa Maria Degli Angleli and the trains station are within comfortable walking distance.
"Seniors" Way to go Mary and Loraine! Would love to hear about your "ditch" adventure.