Hello, my two friends and I plan a 2 weeks trip in Italy. Our base set up in Cortona, 3 days in Venice and 3 days in Rome. We're planning to do day trips for Rest of days in Florence and Siena. We're thinking to rent a car from FCO driving to Cortona, and use the car for those day trips, eg. driving in Cortona, and driving to Florence, Siena, Venice. We'll return the rental car back to FCO when we go back Rome before we flight back to USA. We wonder if it's a good idea renting the car or taking train during our trip. Thank you!
MM, Renting a car is certainly one option, but there are a few "caveats" to be aware of..... For driving in Italy, EACH driver will require the compulsory International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. Failure to produce an I.D.P. if requested can result in fines on the spot! You can easily obtain an I.D.P. at any AAA office for a small fee (Passport photos required). You'll also need to be aware of the dreaded Zona Traffico Limitato areas, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in Italy ( especially in Florence). Passing through these zones can result in expensive fines! Recent posts here would seem to indicate that authorities in Italy are becoming more aggressive in collecting the fines from foreign drivers using Collection Agencies based here. There may also be charges from the rental car firm for providing renter information to law enforcement. I'll defer to the "collective wisdom" of the group here, but for a SHORT two week trip, IMO the best combination will probably be a combination of train and rental car. Use the car for getting around to hill towns that aren't well served by public transit, and use trains for longer trips for visiting Florence and Venice. For Cortona you'll be travelling from the Camucia-Cortona station. You'll need to use the Bus from the town to the station. There are also some "caveats" on using trains in Italy. If using Regionale trains, you MUST validate tickets prior to boarding the train on the day of travel or face hefty fines, which will be collected on the spot! If riding trains which have compulsory reservations (Freccia, etc.) you MUST have valid reservations for the train you're riding on or again, hefty fines! Happy travels!
Thank you so much Ken! very helpful guidance.
Renting a car to see the Italian hillside is the way to go for three people. Negotiating the rural roads in the region is pretty easy, as Cortona is pretty quiet and off the beaten path. Biggest problem is finding parking in Siena and Florence. Maybe Roberto will chime in on best places to park where you can ride city buses into the city center. Driving from Florence to Bologna (north of Florence) is pretty busy, but otherwise the trip into Venice is like driving in Arkansas. It's 150 miles Florence-Venice. Just be careful driving the causeway from Mestre into Venice, as they have radar/cameras giving tickets. Another option is turn in your car at Orvieto (Hertz/AutoEurope), and take a train into Roma Termini and out to FCO airport.
Note: I try to rent and turn cars into city locations, as airport rentals often have obscene taxes and carrying charges. Turning cars into airports can also further confuse an already confusing situation.
Thank you David! I found apartment in Del Dose in Venice, and wonder where would be the best to park the rental car during the 3 days in Venice. I found a deal from rentalcars.com for 9 days rental. Has anyone use the website for rental before? Thank you!