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Should we rent a car in Tuscany?

Vienna, Virginia
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Should we rent a car in Tuscany?

Hi all! My fiance and I are headed to Italy next month for our honeymoon, with our first stop at the Castello Del Nero Hotel and Spa in Chianti, Italy. We want to explore the area a bit (vineyards for sure, maybe a day drip into Sienna or Florence) but are unsure whether we should rent a car or attempt public transportation (or hire a driver? Or.. bicycles?). On the one hand we've been advised to avoid driving in Tuscany if at all possible :) On the other hand, since we'll be outside Florence I'm not sure how viable public transportation will be. Any advice?

Adelaide, Australia
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1. Re: Should we rent a car in Tuscany?

A car will be convenient to enjoy rural Tuscany.

Car rental Siena or Chiusi www.auto-europe.com

Buses Florence to Siena www.busfox.com/timetable Arriving by train from Rome alight at Chiusi www.trenitalia.com Click on the UK flag for current train times.

Route planner ww.viamichelin.com

You will require an International driving permit for Italy, contact the AAA.

Be aware of traffic restrictions and ZTL areas in Italy, and you'll be ok

roninrome.com/transportation/driving-italy

Tuscany buses www.trainspa.it/train04/extraurbano.pdf

www.discovertuscany.com

www.italia.it/en/home.html

Edited: 06 March 2014, 02:40
Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Should we rent a car in Tuscany?

Not sure who is advising you not to drive in Tuscany. They are wrong.

Having a car is far and away the best way to explore Tuscany

Public transortation in Tuscany is set up to get Italian citizens to and from work and school. It's not geared towards touristic travel.

If you want to day trip into Florence.....take the train as there are restricted zones for cars. (ZTL's)

Clinton, Tennessee...
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3. Re: Should we rent a car in Tuscany?

I agree - a car is best way to go thru the countryside. We rented a car last year and plan to do it again this year. As others in replies here have advised, stay out of the marked zones; driving in cities can be tense so use public transport for those, but otherwise a car is good!

Saint Marys, Ohio
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4. Re: Should we rent a car in Tuscany?

Having a car and cruising through the Tuscan countryside, stopping to take fantastic pictures of the scenery, going to small villages that very hard to reach by public transport, stopping at small winery you stumble upon, all by yourselves on your honeymoon, is something you'll remember time and again. That way you make it YOUR trip. You can visit whatever you want on your schedule, not the bus or train schedule.

You can't drive into the hill towns, you park outside and walk into them.

You don't want to attempt driving in the cities as they have ZTLs, limited traffic zones, where you can be photographed and fined for violating them or a bus lane.

It's THE way to see Tuscany. There's no reason NOT to rent a car and drive in Tuscany, it's like driving in rural Virginia. Bicycles would only allow you see a small part of Tuscany. There are many tremendous hills there and we've seen plenty of very experienced bikers walking their bikes up some of them.

Get yourself a good road map of Tuscany, and be sure to get an IDP, International Driving Permit, from AAA; cost is about $15. You'll need that and your normal driver's license in order to rent a car.

Chicago, Illinois
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5. Re: Should we rent a car in Tuscany?

For spending time in Tuscany profitably a car is necessary -- the interesting hill towns, the abbeys, the gardens and the beautiful valleys are not very accessible without one. Be aware that the drunk driving laws are VERY strict compared to the US (much lower blood alcohol) so you should not attempt wine tasting tours and such without a driver or tour. Stop listening to whomever is advising you to not drive in Tuscany; they frankly don't know what they are talking about. Driving is easy. Knowing the rules of the road and understanding ZTLs is critical but not rocket science. It is VERY clear in small hill towns where you need to park as a tourist, so you are unlikely to blunder and of course don't drive in Florence.

What a great place for a honeymoon. We have done Tuscan travel with a car, three times in the last 30 years -- twice for a week and once recently for two weeks. You can see a handful of recent pictures in my photo blog; it is one of the most beautiful areas on earth.

janettravels44

www.janettravels.wordpress.com

Milan, Italy
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190 posts
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6. Re: Should we rent a car in Tuscany?

My advice is to rent a car (except for Florence, wher you couldn't circulate and you don't need it anyway).

You can visit Chianti with public transportation, but I don’t really advise you to do so, unless you have a lot of time. Buses are not that frequent, especially over the WE, and schedules are rather complicated (that’s Italy!)

To get to the Chianti area you should catch a bus (in front of Santa Maria Novella station) , here are the schedules:

http://www.acvbus.it/orari/365.pdf

As you will notice, you can get to Greve in Chianti (Chianti gateway) in roughly one hour, but then moving to main Chianti destinations (Castellina in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Volpaia, …) gets more complicated.

I would strongly suggest you rent a car (around 60 €/day for a cosy compact car such as Fiat 500), this would give you all the flexibility you need to discover and enjoy Chianti beautiful countryside. In case you opt for driving your own car, the best option is SR222, also known as the Chiantigiana road, a state 2-lane road that goes up and down the Chianti hills passing through most of the beautiful, typical villages of the region. It’s very scenic and relaxing.

Enjoy you honeymoon!

JP

www.delightfullyitaly.com

Seattle, Washington
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7. Re: Should we rent a car in Tuscany?

Having a car will definitely enhance your honeymoon experience, but driving one in Tuscany may present you with challenges to which you are not now accustomed. Given what you write, I assume that you will spend much of your time in the countryside, so you will drive mostly on secondary roads as opposed to expressways. These road generally twist and turn and have posted speed limits of about 30-35 mph. That's not necessarily a negative feature if you allow yourselves to slow down and enjoy the journey and whatever draws your attention along the way. In any case, having a car will allow you to visit places that would be very difficult and time consuming to reach by bus. And you'll have the ability to wander rather than holding to a fixed agenda. The only caution I offer is to try to avoid trying to cover too much ground. I found that I preferred keeping within an hour to an hour and a half's drive from my base was the maximum I wanted to travel. That's not such a large area at 30 mph.

Vienna, Virginia
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8. Re: Should we rent a car in Tuscany?

Thank you all SO MUCH for the replies!! This certainly clears things up :) Appreciate the advice and the links - sounds like a car is definitely the way to go in the countryside, and thanks a ton for the heads up on the ZTLs in the cities. I'm getting very excited - just 4 weeks away now!

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9. Re: Should we rent a car in Tuscany?

dont worrya bout international license no one will ask for this in my experience. and you def need a car for tuscany.

Edited: 10 March 2014, 02:44
Hong Kong, China
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for Hong Kong, Osaka
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10. Re: Should we rent a car in Tuscany?

Absolutely terrible advice. I (and many others in the forum) was asked for it. The last thing you want is to walk up to the rental car counter and be refused a rental, thus ruining all the hard work you put into planning. Now, you would have to improvise, perhaps with lodging and other "musts" locked in already.

Also, it is *legally* required. Should you be stopped by the police for any reason, and you cannot produce the document, you could get into even more trouble.

>>>dont worrya bout international license no one will ask for this in my experience. and you def need a car for tuscany.