Please sign in to post.

Rent a car in Italy or use public transportation

I am normally a public transportation fan in Europe...but my wife and I will be in Italy for 2 weeks in July/August and I found a rental car for $5 a day through Thrifty. We fly into Naples and out of Milan. Any advise, dos or don'ts, etc.?


Posted by
7983 posts

I have had cars for a portion of my two trips to Italy. I wanted to drive in Tuscany to visit the small hill towns. Driving and parking can be a challenge. If you don't need a car to achieve your sightseeing goals I would stick with the train.

Posted by
5918 posts

It really depends on what your plans are for your trip.

Are you hitting the big cities Rome-Florence-Venice-Milan-Naples or some combination thereof? Take the train, it will be much easier and less hassle.

Are you spending most of your time for example staying in the countryside and visiting various hill towns ? A car would be best.

Some combination of the two? It depends on what, and in what order.

Posted by
733 posts

Really???? I would seriously look into that offer as I have never seen anything close to that price so I'd want to make sure it's "real" before I did any planning based on it. Other costs to consider besides whatever the "price" is include local fees and taxes, second driver fees, and other things paid locally. And of course you need to consider parking, tolls, gas. Insurance. Different pick up and drop off location fees.

But assuming you really do find an amazing deal you'd need to consider where you want to go. You don't want a car in any city - first off you can't drive into the center as most towns (even small ones) have 'limited traffic zones' and if you drive in them without a permit you incur large fines (usually sent to you via the car rental agency months later). But besides the basic problem of driving in unfamiliar cities, parking can be very costly and inconvenient.

However, a car really is nice to have if trying to visit small hill towns in Tuscany/Umbria or exploring mountain areas like the Dolomites or Val d'Aosta. Since you are flying into Naples are you planning to visit the Amalfi Coast - I would NOT want a car there in mid summer. But if you want to venture over to Puglia then a car is an asset and driving around there is pretty easy.

Posted by
6177 posts

We always rent cars in Italy but not while in cities. On our first trip there many years ago we tried the trains. We didn’t like using them, schlepping luggage on and off.
We like to explore different areas and a car provides the freedom to do that.
I never have seen a price so low. Check it out very carefully.

Posted by
9518 posts

Like Isabel, I question what is included for $5 a day. It is probably Euro 5.00 to start. Mandatory insurance will be several times that amount. What rental company?

Whether you need a car depends on your itinerary. Can you share that with us?

Posted by
11927 posts

Thrifty, like Alamo and a few other "budget" companies, are notorious for the "upsell" at the counter after you book what initially appears to be a low price. Like Laurel, I suspect that $5 does not include the mandatory insurance.

Posted by
20961 posts

It just depends on where you are going. Parking and TLzones are the big headaches with a car and the TLzones can get expensive. Our guide line to use a car where convenient public transit is not available. Most of the Tuscany area outside of Florence would be car territory especially if visiting wineries, etc. And $5/day would raise lots of red flags for me. Make sure it is not a fake web site.

Posted by
698 posts

We rented a car in Sicily for 1 EUR a day, but by the time we added fees and insurance, it was not cheap. I was surprised by the daily rate at first, but not after I added everything up. We were happy with the rental and there was nothing shady about it. No surprises, other than they charged us less than expected for insurance due to the length of time we had the car. Again, it wasn’t a bargain, but the cost was fine.

You will also pay for parking, gas and tolls and possibly tickets. Look at your itinerary. If you are going from city to city, public transportation might be more convenient and cheaper.

Posted by
3639 posts

I wouldn’t let the perceived cost determine your choice of transportation. Look at the factors you have used in the past to decide if you need a car for this route. The $5 is probably a small piece of the total car rental price.

Personally, we have always taken the train all over Europe and love the ease of that method of transportation. Occasionally we needed to also take the bus, but we also found that to be fine for an hour ride.

Posted by
9518 posts

Sorry, I missed that it is through Thrifty. I entered a sample reservation for 12 days and there are cars at a low per week rate but the upcharges are big. £49.85 becomes €218.05, €140.00 becomes €438.66, so be sure you are considering all of the fees and expenses as well as inconveniences of parking in some places. Again, it would help if you listed your itinerary.

Posted by
7088 posts

Any advise, dos or don'ts, etc.?

Determine what the true cost of the rental is. Like Laurel, I did a fictional booking on Thrifty. Best rate I found was 6 euro per day ( 42 per week) base cost 84e--- adding the 145e of taxes fees,etc it came to 230e for the 14 days.

Whether a car is a good idea depends on where you are going.

Posted by
31216 posts

When I first saw your statement about a rental car for $5 per day, that famous old adage came to mind... if it seems too good to be true....

For driving in Italy, note that each driver listed on the rental form will require the compulsory International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. These are easily available for a small fee from any AAA / CAA office.

It would also be prudent to do some research on ZTL (limited traffic) zones which exist in many towns, as each pass through one of those will result in hefty fines, which you may not know about until several months after you get home. There are also speed cameras (including the Tutor system), tolls and high fuel costs. Your cheap car rental may end up costing you far more than you planned!