When planning to travel internationally, you probably have a lot of questions. With so many new exciting experiences headed your way, you’ll have a lot of decisions to make about what to book, where to stay, and how to get there! One of those decisions is whether or not to rent a car in Italy.
As a travel company focusing on unique experiences in the hidden gems of Italy, our founder, Sierra Busch, has accumulated experienced the pros and cons of renting a car in Italy first hand. Today, she’s sharing that pro/con list and how exactly to go about renting a car in Italy!
Watch the Coffee Chat replay or read Sierra’s advice below! By the end you’ll understand the pro’s, con’s, and process of acquiring Italian rental cars and be ready to make the right decision for yourself!
Pros to Renting a Car in Italy:
1. Ease - Having a rental car in Italy gives you ultimate freedom during your travels. You can go anywhere anytime without having to worry about the logistics of public transportation! This can help you reach the far-flung villages of Italy and create your own authentic, meaningful, and local experiences that make your trip to Italy so special!
2. Freedom - Your sense of discovery will be at an all time high! You will be able to pull off the road at any point and see anything you want.
3. Optimize Your Time - Logistically, you will save so much time. Since you won’t have to take public transportation, getting places will be so much quicker and will allow you to pack more experiences into your trip.
Cons to Renting a Car in Italy:
1. It can be stressful at times. Obviously, renting a car in Italy can be stressful. There is the added stress of doing the actual renting of the car as well as figuring out a new type of vehicle in a new country and navigating foreing roads However, I find in Italy most roads and signs are intuitive but you can always brush up on driving rules and signs beforehand.
2. It can be hard to park around Italy. You will have to pay for parking and often parallel park. To help with this stress, look ahead of time to find the main parking lot of the place you are going. There is often a main parking lot outside of the city center in villages where you will want to park, this way you won’t have to parallel park in a village. I always make a point to ask a local after I park to be sure it’s ok. “Posso parcheggiare qui?”
3. Cost - Financially, renting a car can be a con for sure. It will be more expensive than using public transportation and you will have to pay for gas. You just have to weigh whether the freedom and time saved is worth the extra cost to you.
4. Pesky ZTLs - There are also limited traffic zones, called ZTL’s (zona traffico limitato), in Italy which are places where tourists and sometimes locals are not allowed to drive during certain hours or anytime. If you drive in one of these zones by accident, a picture will be taken of your license plate and they will fine you. To avoid this, you can usually look up these zones ahead of time online. If you’re not sure whether you’re about to enter a ZTL, roll down your window and ask a local, they can help you! “È un zona traffico limitato? Posso entrare qui?”
All of these cons are “handleable” and manageable, so don’t stress! Once you get past the intimidation factor of renting a car in a foreign country, you will see that the pros of being able to adventure far and wide without any constraints far outweigh any parts that may scare you.
How to Rent a Car in Italy:
1. It is very important to rent your car as far ahead of time as possible! The earlier you are able to rent your car, the cheaper it will be, and the more likely you are to get the type of car that you want.
2. As with most things these days, you can rent your car online. All you need to know is which airport you will be flying into and which airport you will be flying out of. These places will show you where you will pick up and drop off your rental car!
3. When trying to find out where you should rent your car from, you can do some research online to find out where to get the best price. AutoEurope.com is a website that compares prices of rental cars and can help you navigate where you want to get your car.
4. Once you have started looking at Italian rental car companies, be sure to read the customer reviews! While there will often be a lot of negative reviews (rental car companies tend to be rough to work with when you need it most), it can still help to give you some indication on what to expect before choosing to work with a company.
5. As far as choosing a car goes, manual cars will almost always be cheaper than automatic cars, so if you can drive a manual, definitely go that route! To put it into perspective, for a one week vacation, with picking up and dropping off the car at the Rome airport, we found a manual compact car that would cost $264.00. While an automatic car in the same situation would cost $404.00 for the week. There are sometimes glitches where you can find better prices though, so keep your eyes peeled for those!
Note: If you aren’t an experienced manual driver, now is not the time to learn. You will find yourself on many steep hills and tricky situations, so having the peace of mind of an automatic may be worth the extra cost!