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4 months in Florence ... car rental

Like your feedback. My plan is to do a car lease in France and drive from Nice to Florence. My understanding is you get a better deal in France vs Italy. I priced it out with a compact using Renault Eurodrive for $3482 the four months. sound reasonable?

Posted by
17899 posts

I know this is a common comment on the Graffiti Wall, but I still have to ask, do you have some kind of a visa to stay in Europe (Italy) for four months? The normal Schengen visa is for 90 out of 180 days. Without a special visa, you can't stay for four months.

Also, you're spending almost $3500 for car rental, not including fuel. Using advance purchase tickets and regional passes, I normally spend about 15€/day for transportation (about $2250, total, for 4 months). Sound reasonable - no!

Posted by
31255 posts

jr,

As Lee mentioned, you'll need to give some thought to the issue of the Schengen travel rules. Regarding the car, could you clarify why you need a car during your time in Florence? The public transportation is excellent, and unless you're going to be spending a lot of time in small hill towns or whatever, that would likely be more cost effective than a car.

Note that for driving in Italy, you'd also need an International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. Failure to produce one if asked may result in fines which are payable on the spot! You'll also need to do some homework on the ZTL (limited traffic) areas, which are especially prevalent in Florence (hefty fines for violations).

Some further information would be helpful.....

Posted by
792 posts

We are actually staying in a villa about 10 miles outside Florence. My wife is a professional artist and this trip is about her painting the landscape of Tuscany. So a car is a must have. Having a IDL is not a problem. I'll have to find more info about a visa. Know where to start with that?

Posted by
8889 posts

As Emily says, you will need to get your visa from the Italian Embassy, in whichever country you live in. If your wife is doing the working, she will need a work visa and you could apply at the same time as a dependent. Unless either of you are EU citizens, then there is no problem, citizens of any EU country can live and work in any other EU country, and bring dependents in by right.

Some other issues you may encounter. Once you (and your wife) get a permanent visa you will be classed as residents (no longer tourists) and different rules apply.

  • The concession to allow you to use a non-EU driving licence + IDP is only for tourists and only for a certain time. After a certain time you need to pass an Italian driving test. The time limit is usually 6 or 12 months, but it would be worth checking.
  • Using a foreign-registered car permanently is only permitted for a certain time, after which you must re-register it in Italy (with Italian plates).
  • After a certain time you will need to start paying Italian income tax.
  • You may need to join sign up for Italian Health Insurance.
  • Make sure you clear it with the leasing company that the car is staying in Italy. There may be insurance or car servicing issues (for example, they may have a deal to do all servicing with a certain company, which only has branches in France).
  • Make sure the car is big enough to fit in an easel, canvases and other painting equipment.

Otherwise, enjoy your 4 months.

P.S. Note it is an International Driving Permit = IDP. You can only get it from official sources in the country of your driving licence. The firms selling International Driving Licences (or Licenses) on the net are selling worthless fake documents.

Posted by
11613 posts

The Schengen rules are not to be taken lightly. You must get this in place before you go. I remember the pre-Schengen days of going to Europe for 4-5 months at a time; miss them.

Posted by
792 posts

So I have to go to the Italian Consulate in Philadelphia (serves Virginia) to get a Visa?

Posted by
1589 posts

Yep & be prepared to provide hard evidence of income.

Posted by
792 posts

I'm beginning to think just making it a 3 month trip would be simpler

Posted by
21032 posts

Jr -- When do you plan to go? That is critical in this discussion. I am reading between the lines but I don't think you recognize the significance of obtaining the proper visa. You will find on this site postings of fines of $500 for overstaying one day thinking that 3 month and 90 days as being the same. Someone was banned from return for a number of years for overstaying by two weeks. Europe, just as the US, has a big problem with illegal immigrants and those who overstay visas. Assuming US citizen, your Schengen visa is automatic the day you step into the Schengen zone but it is only good for 90 days out of 180 consecutive days. You can play some games ducking in and out of the zone and extend you total time but it is still 90 days in the zone. If you don't have the proper visa and you give the wrong answer to the immigration officer you could denied entry. Obtaining the proper visa can take time and paper work so if you are going next year then now is a very good time to get started.

Worry about the car and villa later when you know that the visa is available. This is a little bit of the cart before the car. Good luck.

PS Since you posted while I was preparing my response - Yes, 90 days solves a lot of problems. The other issue is that a French rental car might not like having their car in Italy for 90 days. Some rental companies limit where their cars can be taken.

Posted by
792 posts

Thanks Frank. Our plan was to go from July through October next year, so I have time to get my ducks in a row. The car will be a buy-back lease.

Posted by
25144 posts

If the purpose of the trip is work - professional artist is work - a Schengen visa waiver won't work. As noted above it is needed to have the proper work visa. If you and your wife turn up at the border (French border in this case?) with all the art supplies, easel, etc., and don't have the right visa or don't answer the questions to the border agent's satisfaction, and they are very good at their jobs, as noted above you may have to buy full price tickets home without leaving the airport.

It can be done, it just needs to be done right. I'm sure you will do it right; don't be surprised how long it will take though. If you start now you may find that it is a bit close for getting the visas before that planned trip.

And views of Tuscany in paint can be wonderful.

Posted by
792 posts

good points Nigel. I don't know if it requires a work visa or something else . Although my wife will be painting, she won't be selling her work in Italy and it is not commissioned artwork. So this probably more of a pleasure/tourist trip, if that makes a difference in a visa application.

Posted by
6279 posts

I do know artists that have spent a month or two in Italy painting or drawing or photographing for works that they intend to sell commercially in the US. As long as your wife doesn't plan to earn any money from her painting while in Italy she should not need a work visa. It's basically just a painting holiday then. If she plans to set up easel and paint in any of the towns, she should definitely inquire as to whether a permit is required for that.

As far as how long you are there, I do think it's a much easier proposition to reduce it to 90 days rather than jump through the hoops to get a long stay visa. Not worth the hassle in my mind for an extra month. Now, if you wanted to stay longer, like 6 months or more, then it might be worth the effort.

As for the car, it might be worth leasing in France but you'd have to research that option well and be sure you know all the restrictions/requirements for taking the car to Italy for the whole time before you make your decision.

Good luck. I envy you 3 months in Italy.

Posted by
792 posts

Thanks Nancy. I am leaning toward the 3 month stay as you and the other fine folks here have suggested. We were in France last year for a month and a half and that was pretty fantastic. There, our little house was paid for since my wife had a artist-in-residency grant. We only paid for air travel, car, and food. You only live once - we intend to enjoy our older years :-)

Posted by
16832 posts

Renault USA does say they provide [insurance and road assistance] in Italy. Remember that technically, you own that car. Repair coverage is subject to the terms of the insurance policy you choose. When I did a French car lease years ago for (6 months, pre-Schengen), I drove it all over western Europe.

If you spent the same $3500 to buy a used car (as Australian travelers have been known to do, although it's not a popular solution on this forum) it would be possible to later sell it and recoup some value, but that would certainly come with some stress, paperwork hassles and no guarantee. (And it's illegal to just ditch a used car that you're done with.)

Does the villa offer any suggestion for local car rental near them?

Posted by
792 posts

Everything I have read on this this site and others suggest for anything over a month , rather than rent, use a buy-back lease for a car. Insurance is included and you can drive anywhere in Europe you want. My plan is to pick up the car in Nice,FR and make a beautiful 4 hour drive to Florence. Cheaper to get it in France. There are NO limitations for where you take the car anywhere in Europe.

Posted by
3074 posts

Just to underscore the seriousness of the Schengen visa issue, I know a little from close relatives who've had some experiences. My daughter worked in university education-abroad programs for many years. One of the students didn't get the visa and overstayed. Upon attempting to leave from Belgium, she was thrown in jail, and later fined $500. She could have been banned for 10 years. My brother lives half time in Florence. Each time he renews his visa he has to present a hefty stack of documents. There's no clear time line on the processing, so if you decide to stick with the 4 month plan, get busy now. It's Italian bureaucracy you'll be dealing with, after all.

One reason car leasing is cheaper if you do it in France is that the companies levy a fee for picking up and/or dropping outside of France. The time I checked it was $400, so getting a car in Nice and returning it there seems well worthwhile. I would check around on prices; but keep in mind that leasing prices include insurance, no small cost. I wouldn't dream of going through the hassle of buying a used car.

Posted by
792 posts

After all the comment about the visa issue I have decided its just not worth the headache to stay 4 months. I'll keep it at 90 days. I'm still leaning toward the buy-lease for the car. I really appreciate the eye opening comments from the forum. I would have been completely clueless without them. I thank you all, Rick Steve and staff for providing this valuable source for travel information.