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One of the best ways to see ‘La Bella Italia’ is to rent a car to travel around. This will give you complete freedom while you’re there and once you get used to the rules of the road it’ll make your travel that much more convenient than if you were relying exclusively on public transport. Back home in Philadelphia, I do not own a car. I live in Center City and I either walk or take public transportation. But getting around in rural Italy as an expat or tourist is not easy without a car. So I do enjoy renting a car on occasion and driving around Tuscany.
There are some important differences between renting a car in Italy compared to the United States which you need to be aware of when visiting or living there.
Should You Rent A Car In Italy?
There’s many reasons why you might want to consider renting a car in Italy but there are some things you need to keep in mind as well. For instance, Italian drivers have a reputation for taking risks and being quite dangerous. This means that you’ll have to be a little cautious while you’re getting used to the new rules on the road as well as the local drivers!
It also depends on where you are visiting; for example, if you’re staying in Rome then it’s probably going to be far easier to rely on public transport due to the confusing roads that are packed with traffic. There is also a serious shortage of parking spaces in the city and plenty of narrow, windy roads. That said, if you’re venturing further afield then renting your own car is almost certainly going to be the best option for you.
Overall, the benefits far outweigh the risks of renting a car in Italy, so don’t be put off by the other drivers or the slightly different rules of the road.
- Renting a car will save you time since it’s much quicker to get from A to B than if you were using public transport.
- The routes of public transport, including buses, are quite limited, which means that you can’t get to certain places in Italy, particularly in the rural parts of the country.
- When you’re driving a car you’ll feel more like a local!
- Unlike on public transport, when you rent a car you won’t have to carry your luggage around with you; instead, you can just put it in the trunk of the car.
- If you’re using public transport, instead of renting a car, you’re going to find yourself relying on taxis on a regular basis. Firstly, taxis are very expensive compared to driving yourself and in many situations there may not be any taxis around which could leave you stranded.
- You can travel at any time to suit your own itinerary; there’s no need to wait for buses or trains or worry about unreliable Italian timetables.
Do You Need An International Drivers License To Rent A Car In Italy?
However, it’s easy to get an International Drivers License before you depart for Italy by visiting your nearest AAA office where you’ll have to pay between $20-30 for one. Your IDL will be valid to drive on the roads in Italy for one year after your arrival in the country.
In Italy it’s a legal requirement to have an International Drivers License (IDL) to rent a car and drive within the country as a foreigner. This is absolutely essential to drive in Italy and if you’re pulled over by the police without one you will face hefty fines and possibly worse!
Insurance For Car Rentals In Italy.
Unlike in the United States or other parts of Europe, basic car insurance is a legal requirement in Italy (for more, please refer to my article about car insurance in Italy). On top of this basic insurance, which will usually be included in the price of the car rental, you can choose to pay for additional types of cover as well.
This might seem strange if you’re used to renting cars in the USA, where you have to pay for the insurance separately. In fact, in Italy, the rental company won’t even let you take the car off the lot until they know that it’s covered because they too can face legal fines if they rent a car without it being covered by a basic insurance policy!
If you are intending on using a prepaid insurance policy on your credit card to pay you will also need to sign a waiver which confirms that you already have car insurance included on your credit card policy. This means that you’ll have to pay for any costs upfront and then only later you can reclaim it from your credit card company.
It’s worth remembering that most credit card companies do not include insurance for car rentals in Italy so you should be prepared to pay for it with the car rental company when you rent the car.
One thing to be aware of is that a major problem, particularly in Southern Italy, is theft from rented cars. For this reason you should never leave valuable items on the seats or that are clearly visible in your rental car while it’s parked in busy spots.
Automatic Transmission Vs Manual?
Unlike in the United States, the vast majority of cars in Italy, and Europe in general, have a manual transmission opposed to an automatic one. This will probably take a while to get used to but in no time at all you’ll be up to speed (I highly recommend that you learn to drive stick shift in the US before renting a manual car in Italy. It is easier to drive a manual transmission car on a flat surface, but it can get very tricky if you are trying to navigate hilly areas or streets). You can still rent an automatic car if you prefer but you will have to specify this in advance while making your reservation. An average car in Italy is underpowered compared to the cars in the US. You will notice that if you have a few passengers or heavy luggage, cars in Italy will tend to accelerate slower.
Can I Rent A Car In Italy And Drive To Other Countries?
In most cases you are allowed to cross borders with your rental car, particularly within the European Union. You should always check the Terms and Conditions before you do so since some car rentals don’t allow their luxury cars into some countries in Europe.
Just to be on the safe side, when you pick up the car, mention to the staff at the counter that you are planning to travel to a different country and ask if you need to buy extra insurance.
Many car rental companies will charge you a ‘cross border fee’ if you’re planning to cross country borders. This fee is not unusually excessive and is normally about 50 Euros per rental. The cross border fee should include the basic third party insurance, including theft and damage while you are in any other European country.
Can I Drop The Rental Car Off In A Different Location?
For many tourists who are travelling in Italy it may be far more convenient to drop off the rental car in another location to the one where they picked it up; especially if they are travelling out of a different airport to the one they flew in to.
Most major car rental companies do allow you to drop off the car at any one of their offices although you may have to pay an extra fee for this privilege. Just make sure to ask in advance and check the Terms and Conditions carefully.
What Are The Car Rental Age Requirements?
To legally drive a rental car in Italy you need to be 18 years or older and have had a driving license for at least one year or more. Some car rental companies will also charge you an additional fee of about 20 Euros per day if you are under the age of 25 years old.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s common for insurance companies to set a maximum age to rent a car, which in Italy is usually between 70 and 75 years old.
Can I Add Drivers To A Car Rental In Italy?
You can add extra drivers to the rental car agreement but you should also make sure they are properly signed on the pick up desk in the office of the rental company. Some companies will allow you to add an extra driver for free but others will charge a small extra fee for any additional drivers that you do add.
What’s The Best Way To Find A Car Rental In Italy?
Finding a rental car, particularly in a foreign country, can be a real headache but with the help of platforms like Auto Europe the process is hugely simplified. Auto Europe is a major car rental company that works on a wholesale basis and boasts nearly 25,000 rental locations in over 150 countries. Auto Europe has an excellent reputation for high quality customer service and was given an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau.
Prices for car rentals in Italy are extremely reasonable and start at around $60 per day in Italy, including major cities like Rome. Auto Europe provides a wide range of choices for the model of the car including campervans; so no matter what you’re looking for or how many are travelling in your group you’ll quickly be able to find the perfect option for your trip.
Renting A Car In Italy – The Perfect Way To Explore The Country.
Renting a car in Italy is convenient, relatively cheap and will open up opportunities in the country that you would never have otherwise. Public transport is very good in Italy but even so it can be extremely limiting if you are forced to rely on it during your time in the country. For this reason, rather than buying a car, it’s usually going to be better to rent one while you’re in the country, particularly if you are visiting as a tourist or not planning to settle down there.