We are flying into Rome and have accomodations in the countryside, about 5 miles from Cortona for a few days and then another country hotel in the Chianti region. Is it hard to negotiate traffic when one rents a car at the airport? Would it be better to somehow find public transportation to Cortona, or the nearest town with a rental place, and try to rent a car somewhere around there? We want to tour Tuscany and Umbria, but worry about finding our way around Rome and out of the city. Anybody have experience with this?
Catherine - It is not as bad as you think! Live the adventure. I got lost almost immediately heading out of the airport but within 45 minutes or so I got oriented and used to the signs, etc. Driving in Europe is a snap. Have fun!
Thanks for the encouragement Jon. I am still weighing the different possibilities for getting out of Rome. See my new post and let me know if you have any answers.
Catherine - I angsted about the same issue as we are heading to Umbria as soon as we get off the plane. Used Maporama.com to check routes and it seems you do a big semi-circle around Rome which made me feel better about driving. The freedom and flexibility of going to the little villages outweighed my angst.
Driving in the big cities can be crazy but the countryside is not bad. You really need a car to explore the small towns in Tuscany and Umbria. ViaMichelin.com has great driving directions.
Airports are not too bad as they have freeway-like access, and signs point to the freeways, or, from free way to airport, and then coming into the airport you will see signs pointing to car rental return. It is not a 'gimmee', but not too bad. Do not attempt to drive within a medium or large size city. I have done it several times and now am even leary of a city the size of Sienna.
I always take the train or bus to the airport and then rent a car there as it's easy to leave there and go to wherever you're going. Good signage leaving and returning your car at all airports.
Catherine, I would definitely rent a car and drive thru the countryside. I love to drive in Italy and all over Europe. Our last trip we drove into and out of Rome, and it was not that big a deal.
In September we are flying into Rome for a few days, then picking up a car in the city and driving southern Italy for the rest of the trip. It really is pretty easy, and Italy has wonderful roads. One of the great things on the Autostrada is when there are toll booths you can pay with a credit card and not worry about having correct change, etc.
I would definitely rent a car. We just returned from Italy for one month and rented a car in Venice and drove to the area you are speaking of around Cortona. We stayed at a wonderful castle overlooking Lake Trasimeno, and drove all over for 2 weeks. We rented a car and it just happened to have a navigation device in it. Although it was in Italian, a person helped us make it in English and helped us put in destinations,etc. It was great. We went to the Sibillini Mountains and everywhere.When you get to your destination it waves a checkered flag. As for getting out of the airport, most car places will give you a map and tell you how to get on the autostrada. Make sure you rent your car here because it is cheaper. We used Auto Europe and they were great and have used Hertz, also.
It is crazy driving in Rome.....I would recommend taking a train out of Rome and renting the car out of town...That would be easier and less stressful.
backing up what Marilee said, what I found good was taking a train from Rome to Orvieto. There is a Hertz car rental place right next to the train station. So, look for rental location convenient train, and either a small town, or an airport location.
Catherine, we just got back for a trip to Italy, and we rented a car in Rome and use it for the rest of our trip. Driving on the Autostradas is a snap, and a car is necessary when going to all of the small towns, but it is really wise to buy a GPS (TOM TOM, or similar), or rent one with your car, to be able to navigate thru some of the large, or small towns. This is our 4th trip to Italy,and I always driven without a GPS, but I am NOT going back without one.
Rent your car thru here thru AutoEurope for the best prices. To avoid the 20/ 25 % markup,do not start your rental at the airport (there is NO charge if you drop it off at an airport. But it would be so much easier for you to pick up a car at the airport and drive from there. Since we were staying in Rome, we picked up our car at the Borghese park in the middle of Rome, and then drove out from there. It was OK leaving Rome from there....they gave us great diections and a neat little map. But it would have been easier with a GPS.