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Car rental, bus or train in Tuscany?

Jkh
Washington DC
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373 posts
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Car rental, bus or train in Tuscany?

I know that some areas of Tuscany are more difficult to get to by bus or train and more easily reached by car. I intend to stay just outside of Florence (to travel to the western and northern towns I want to see) and then later in my 15 days in Tuscany, I will be staying in or around Siena (to see the towns east and south of Siena). So, can I rent a car for a day to go to certain towns and return it at at the end of the day and can I take a bus for the same purpose and return at the end of the day on a return bus to my accommodations? The same would be true of taking a train. I do not know if it is possible to rent a car just for one day and then get up the next day and rent a car again for that day. Thank you for your advice.

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Car rental, bus or train in Tuscany?

Tuscany is best seen by car. The bus system in rural Tuscany is not designed for touristic travel. You will have way more freedom if you have a vehicle, you can come and go as you want and you won't spend all of your time analyzing bus scedules that keep telling you that you can't get there from here!

Adelaide, Australia
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2. Re: Car rental, bus or train in Tuscany?

Check car rental www.auto-europe.com www.auto-europe.co.uk

Route planner www.viamichelin.com

You will require an International Driving Permit for Italy, read Top Questions to the right "Driving in Tuscan":

Bus services sitabus.it/sita-toscana/…20Siena.pdf www.trainspa.it

www.discovertuscany.com

Tuscany region www.italia.it/en/home.html

Accommodation www.venere.com

Jkh
Washington DC
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373 posts
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3. Re: Car rental, bus or train in Tuscany?

Thank you.

I will rent a car. So, when I approach a town I want to visit will there be parking lots outside the town so that I will not risk getting into a zone where I will be fined? How much are these parking lots?

And, since I am staying outside the wall of Siena (about 4km), would it be OK cost wise to taxi to and from the city for the day or would it be better if I drove, parked and paid for the parking? I am trying to not have the car be a burden. I don't mind driving, but am a little anxious about where to park and the expense of parking.

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: Car rental, bus or train in Tuscany?

Jkh...I think that you have made a good decision on renting a car In term of parking, parking restrictions and ZTL's I have found that Slow Travel deals with it pretty efficiently.

www.slowtrav.com/italy/driving/parking.htm

Start with the page I have given you and the move down the navigation on the right hand side of the page.

Where are you staying in Siena? At 4 kms away, sounds like it might be an Agriturismo, and if that is the case, pretty sure it will have parking.

It is a pretty safe assessment that if you park outside of a city wall, you will be in safe territory. To be on the safe side, just check online the day before about the town / village that you want to visit to see if if has a ZTL or to find out where you can find free or cheap parking.

Edited: 17 October 2012, 02:24
Perth, Australia
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5. Re: Car rental, bus or train in Tuscany?

Hello jkh from dinkumpom. I have just returned from Tuscany and after our experience we would alter our plans next time in relation to travel. The vast majority of car rental offices seems to be in Florence. We stayed in Florence for a few nights before travelling to Greve in Chianti. It would have been very convenient to have hired a car for our trip to Greve instead of using the bus, but we decided not to after reading many reviews about bad experiences in Florence such as driving down streets that were prohibited etc etc and then receiving fines. I believe there are cameras in these areas and as soon as your car tyre goes over the line, it takes a picture and you can't get away without paying the fine as they will hound you! This is the same throughout Italy.This also happened to a family member, so we know it is true. Although my husband is a very good driver and he has driven around the Arc de Triomphe and throughout Paris, he said he would be hesitant to take this on in Florence or any other big Italian city. There are lots and lots of little streets and when you don't know the area, you would be bound to make mistakes and turn into streets that are prohibited. After witnessing the crazy Italian drivers (especially taxis), we felt we made the right decision! You want to be able to enjoy your holiday and not to be stressed. If you are staying in Tuscany I wouldn't recommend relying on buses and wasting time. I am not sure if there is a car hire place in Siena, but there is one in San Gimignano called "Bellinis" who provided a fantastic service but at high cost to us. They provided a taxi to San G. to pick up the car (convenient as we stayed there to site see in the morning) 100 Euros Taxi + another 100 Euros for them to pick up the car from our accommodation + 2 days rental. Very expensive car hire for 2 days but it was very convenient. The driving experience throughout the small places in Tuscany was a good one and was stress free, particularly as we had GPS to make it easier. You will have to park outside the city walls though wherever you go.Try EuropeCar as I think they are in Siena. Or maybe contact your accomodation first and ask if they know of any car hire place in Florence that can deliver to you and at what cost. Failing that, find a car rental office and ask them directly if they provide a delivery service. You won't find car hire places generally in small towns, so that will definitely leave Florence or Siena. Good luck.

Hong Kong, China
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for Hong Kong, Osaka
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6. Re: Car rental, bus or train in Tuscany?

When you approach small towns, the town center might be off-limits to auto traffic entirely. You should see parking lots outside so just park there and walk into towns. Keep as much spare change with you as possible to pay for the parking fares at the automated vending machines.

A GPS is very helpful. If you won't have one or aren't a fan of such units. purchase the Touring Club Italiano Toscana map (available online) prior to departure. The TCI map is excellent. I used it for my Tuscany trip prior to my GPS days.

dinkumpomm: friendly advice, but I do suggest you break your helpful posts into paragraphs next time. Your post is almost impossible to read.

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: Car rental, bus or train in Tuscany?

I have been travelling to Europe constantly for over 35 years and there are some cities I WILL not drive in. Actually, I typically don't drive in large cities Paris, Rome) because transit works so well, but I don't drive in Florence for sure. It is a pain in the butt. Take a train from outside of Florence into the train station (SMN). Everything you want to see in Florence is an easy walk from there.

Kansas
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for Siena, Montalcino
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8. Re: Car rental, bus or train in Tuscany?

Jkh,

This may help discovertuscany.com/siena/tourist-info/parki…

Perth, Australia
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9. Re: Car rental, bus or train in Tuscany?

Thanks Sammyfloyd.

Paragraphs would have made it even longer and thanks for your advice but I will stick to the way I normally write my reviews. I can't see anything wrong with my post.

The receiver of my post will be very fluent in English and will understand all the helpful advice I have given. For future reviews perhaps I should consider sticking to only a couple of helpful comments and be mindful that the person I am helping might not be very fluent in English. But then there's a 'transalation' function on google to assist.

Unfortunately, you can't please everyone all of the time, but I tried my best to help a fellow traveller in need. 'Nit picking' isn't my thing whether I am a reviewer providing comment or whether I am reading other TA members' comments. Best to leave it out I think ...........

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
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for Tuscany
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10. Re: Car rental, bus or train in Tuscany?

Essential reading for anyone planning to drive in Italy. It covers the zones, parking regulations and everything else you need to know:

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g187893-i67-k583…

Look don't let the idea of the zones and parking costs put you off having a car. It really is the only way to explore rural Tuscany. The train service is great, but it is limited in the places it actually goes since so many towns in Tuscany are up on hilltops and the trains only run down on the flat parts. So a train station might be named Barga, Cortona, Montepulciano etc., but in fact they are several miles from the town itself.

Bus services tend to be very localised and are organised around the needs of school children and commuters, not tourists. So if you want the freedom to explore then you need a car.

One day car rentals are fearsomely expensive, so you are better to rent in blocks of several days. The major hire firms all have outlets at Florence airport (much better to rent here than in Florence itself), Pisa, Siena, Orvieto, Chiusi (I don't know where you are arriving from).

The only place to avoid at all costs with a car is Florence itself. If you are arriving in central Florence by train then it is better to take the bus or a taxi to the airport and rent there. If you plan to visit Florence at all then use public transport to do so, even if it means driving to a small train station and training in or driving to Scandicci and taking the tram in.

Siena is handleable. The above link given by travelsitaly will help you plan your parking and some of those car parks are just inside the city walls. Otherwise it is all very simple. You will find signed parking lots outside the other towns and villages you will go to and it is fairly cheap to park there and then walk in. Generally, the ZTLs are within the walls, but you will see them clearly signed and there is always an alternative route to take so you don't have to pass the sign.

So read up on the zones, know what the signs look like, avoid driving in Florence, plan your route and parking for any of the big cities such as Siena or Pisa, and then you can be justifiably confident and go out and enjoy driving around beautiful Tuscany and exploring it at your own pace.