Renting a Car in Italy? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
If you want to visit the small towns in Italy during your vacation, you will want to consider renting a car.
The pros and cons of renting a car in Italy:
- You can travel more comfortably and quicker than by using public transit
- Some small towns are best reached by bus, others by trains – you don’t need to worry about this if you’re driving a car
- You can pick up and drop off at the airports, saving one transfer
- It’s easy to transfer your luggage between places (imagine lugging your luggage through train stations and bus terminals and negotiating on and off the bus or train)
- A family or group of friends can visit together easier when in a car rather than spread throughout the public transit seats
- If you are staying in a villa outside of town, you will have a method to reach your villa (it may not be serviced by public transit)
- It is likely more expensive to rent a car than use public transit
- You have to figure out routes yourself (watch for my upcoming blog on driving in Italy)
- The narrow roads, tight turns, and pedestrian city centers can be terrifying to navigate
- It may be more relaxing for all—especially the driver—to use public transit
- You’ll want to acquire a map and/or GPS navigation system or app before the trip (more on that in the driving blog)
- You should have an International Drivers License, which is easily obtained in the U.S.
- You will need to share the road with motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, pedestrians, and farm equipment — are you up for the challenge?
- Even with a car, especially if you’re staying near the city center, you may still be lugging your baggage through the cobblestone streets as parking may be blocks from your hotel!
SO HOW DO YOU DECIDE?
- Your destination and lodging — are they easily reached by public transit?
- Your budget — compare the two options and decide which is best.
- Which of the pros and cons above strike you as the most and least hassle?
- Do you have the driving skill and courage to drive in Italy? Seriously, not everyone does and there is no shame in it. Italians are used to driving there. Tourists, especially those accustomed to wide-open spaces, freeways, and huge mall parking lots, may not be comfortable—or adept—at driving in Italy.
- You may choose to have someone else do the driving. Yes, there are abundant car services for hire to negotiate transfers in Italy. Not inexpensive, but something to consider if you don’t like the other options.
This is your vacation! Choose the method of transit that works in your budget and allows you to best enjoy the trip. Buon Viaggio!