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Driving in Rome....Sane or Insane????

Chicago, Illinois
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Driving in Rome....Sane or Insane????

My family, which will be in two cars, will be driving down to Rome from Lucca. I thought we would take the coastal road as that looks like a beautiful trip.

The more I read, however, the more I think I must be insane. Our Hotel in in the termini area so I thought it would be wonderful to return our rented cars to their place at the termini. BUT, this means driving in Rome. On a Saturday. I drive in and around Chicago all the time but from what I read, Rome is not Chicago. Please let me know if anyone thinks we could do this or am I just a poor, deluded American courting disaster?

We could just drive to one of the airports and drop the cars there, I guess but I don't know if that's any better.

I look forward to your help. Please be kind.


Singapore, Singapore
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1. Re: Driving in Rome....Sane or Insane????

Hi Paul. We've just been to Rome this past week. We did not rent a car nor from what we have seen would we ever recommend it. We did get in a taxi and were so surprised that the taxi driver didn't hit any other car or scooter. These people drive so close together, but they grew up driving there and know the dimensions of their cars very well. The scooters don't even bother to obey the law. If you're used to driving in the US, Europe is completely different. We're from Holland and even Rome was a shock to us. It's a lot like Paris with it's one-way streets, bumping other cars to wedge into a parallel parking space and no lanes marked in the round abouts. My father-in-law (from South Africa) drove in Rome last year and he said it was horrible. There were no signs and the street names are actually attached to the buildings so you will not see them until you are at the intersection. If you choose to drop the cars off at the airport, there is an express train that goes from Fiumicino airport to Termini station for 11 Euros per person. If you do choose to drive to Termini the best of luck to you and hope you have a good navigation system! And of course, enjoy Rome! It is a wonderfuly city... on foot!

Here & There
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for Sicily, Taormina
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2. Re: Driving in Rome....Sane or Insane????

Will be kind.....

Having taken driver's ed in NYC at rush hour, Rome didn't seem any worse than New York to me!

That said, Romans are very aggressive drivers, roads are confusing, traffic is heavy, and split second decisions have to be made. Drove alonf the waterfront in Genoa last week, and that was also a bit of challenge.

For peace of mind, return your rental in Orvieto, enjoy a leisurely lunch and see this beautiful Umbrian town, and take the 1 hour train ride to Rome from there.

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3. Re: Driving in Rome....Sane or Insane????

Mmmm.... poor, deluded American courting disaster ? Probably...

Even if you know the driving regulations ...where would you be when no-one else keeps to them ? .....If you keep the rules, e.g. stopping for a pedestrian crossing, you'll confuse the driver behind you and they'll run into you.

Where would you park ? and how ? When you decide to leave the car, are you prepared to take with you the radio and the satnav system, and all your valuables ?

Even pedestrians have problems... as a pedestrian, remonstrating with a motorist turning right and nearly running me over, when the traffic lights were red, I was told that if the driver is very careful, s/he is allowed to turn right, slowly, on a red light.....

Trains, public transport of all kinds - in Italy, are so frequent, so good, so cheap... why give yourself a nervous breakdown by driving ? !!!!

As a pedestrian, just take care crossing roads on foot - once you've decided to cross, steam straight ahead, don't look right or left and they'll drive around you. Don't hesitate, change your pace, or stop - you'll confuse the drivers and get run over. Keep to the pavements/sidewalk and you'll be o.k. - although you may have to negotiate your way around a couple of parked cars.

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4. Re: Driving in Rome....Sane or Insane????

By the way, I was remonstrating with that driver who nearly ran me over, because I'd hesitated on the crossing.... if I'd behaved like an Italian, and walked straight on at a regular pace, the driver would just have driven round me. As it was, I was accused of being the cause of possible accidents, because I took fright when I saw him turning on me - and stopped, stepping back again. He had to stop.... the driver behind him had to do an emergency stop, and all the drivers behind him beeped...... and he was turning out of the road at the junction on a red traffic light !

avon, mass., usa
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5. Re: Driving in Rome....Sane or Insane????

Insane. I can drive easily in Boston, NYC, LA, and even Palermo-- but Rome, no way. Narrow streets, haphazard layout, fast drivers who get upset if you don't drive the way they do, and NO PARKING! Why would you do that to yourselves when there are so many other good options? The trains, subways and buses are all very easy, reliable, and quick.

Why not find a town outside of Rome where you can return your rental cars and then hop on a train-- we've done that, and it worked.

Grand Rapids, MN
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6. Re: Driving in Rome....Sane or Insane????

Four years ago we returned our car to Termini as we were staying at the Mecenate Palace by the train station. I didn't think it was a big deal -- but it was a Saturday morning. I am from a town of 8,000 people so we are not too accustom to driving daily in a big city. We just made sure we mapped out the route and I made sure I knew the route to relate to my husband (the driver). The hardest part was finding the actual place to return the car at the Termini -- otherwise, it was not a big deal.

Having said that, I would not drive in Rome. Returning the car, though, was easy.

Changwon, South...
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7. Re: Driving in Rome....Sane or Insane????

haha I wouldnt even say insane...more like DELUSIONAL !?!?! :oP

The traffic in Rome was actually VERY interesting to me..I cant imagine someone not raised in that atmosphere even trying to manuver around...tho it seems many do.

All I can think of is...in America, we at least TRY to obey the traffic laws...Italians..hmm, I once heard someone say " Signs? what Signs ?" haha

In a 3 lane road it wont be unusual to see 4-6 cars lined up...and scooters scrambling in between those. Not to mention the large tour buses and taxis flying at the speed of light. :oP

Here is a picture I snapped while riding the 110open.


None of those cars are parked. Someone else mentioned the parking as well....


Scooters mostly on the sidewalks, tho I did see a car or two on the sidewalk too, and then the double and sometimes triple parked cars.

It is amazingly incredible! But nothing I personally could manage.

Destination Expert
for Brisbane
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8. Re: Driving in Rome....Sane or Insane????

We drove both in and out of Rome and found the hardest part was driving back in. This was simply because of the amount of traffic going into Rome. This is frustrating and adds a lot of time to the drive. Once in the City itself we had to come in past the Colesseum and up Via del Corso (drop bags off at hotel) and then on to the Termini Car Park to return our rental car. We had a couple of wrong turns but no too difficult. I think it's the fear of the great unknowm that is the worst of it so my vote is for sane. Arm yourself with a good map and a good navigator.

Saint Marys, Ohio
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9. Re: Driving in Rome....Sane or Insane????

Yes it CAN be done but the question is, "Do you really want to do this?"

Insane is an apt description of the driving in Rome. I know there will be those who say it's a walk in the park because they're from a big city and they're expert drivers, but wouldn't recommend it. It's simply not worth the hassle or risk. It would not be the highlight of your vacation believe me.


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10. Re: Driving in Rome....Sane or Insane????

It's been 5 years since I've been there, but I remember the driving. I am still in disbelife that I never saw an accident. Loads of honking and noise. There are no lanes it's a free for all. So hard to find street names, half the time didin't see them. If your a pedestiran watch out. Would wait till a big crowd was going to cross and cross the road with them. And I was only in a taxi a three times. My cousin but it best, It's like a video game. A contest of who can win so get out of my way.