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Car Rental Recommendations

Florida
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19 posts
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Car Rental Recommendations

Hi,

We (two couples) are planning a two week visit to Tuscany. We are staying in an apartment just outside Florence. We plan to make multiple day trips throughout Tuscany. Possbile excursions include Lunigiana , Carrara, Valle del Serchic and the Garfagnana, The Mugello, the Casentino and Tiber Valley and others yet to be determined.

We have not been to Tuscany before, however I have read that the roads in the mountains can be "tortuous," but the views stupendous.

When I read "tortuous" I picture roads with switchbacks and steep inclines. I am concerned that the rear seat passengers might become nauseated if the vehicle is too small. I would like the rear seat passengers to have a comfortable trip and be able to enjoy the vistas as we drive.

We'll be flying into Rome and taking the train to Florence. We will rent the vehicle in Florence.

What type of vehicle would you recommend (up to $700/wk)?

A related question, am I correct in assuming that a 50cc Vespa with two people aboard would not have sufficient power to climb some of these roads (considering a Vespa for some shorter outings)?

Dallas
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67 posts
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1. Re: Car Rental Recommendations

We have just returned from a two week trip to Italy. We had a Volkswagon Passat station wagon. There was plenty of room in the back for passengers. We needed a larger car to transport our luggage.

Some of the roads are a little hard for those prone to car sickness. There were two of us with that issue, but we made it work. The most difficult trips were to the hill towns like Volterra and San Gimignano. Our farmhouse apartment was up winding roads as well, but after the first couple of trips we got used to it.

Not sure about the Vespa, although that would make it easier to pull over when you get a good view!

Enjoy your trip. I would go back to Tuscany tomorrow!

Florida
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19 posts
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2. Re: Car Rental Recommendations

Thanks for your reply. I was thinking of an SUV type of vehicle in order that the rear seat pax would have a better view and feel less cramped. Do you feel the Passat provided enough space in the back seat and good visibility?

Glad you enjoyed Tuscany. We are so looking forward to the trip.

Do you have any "must see" recommendations?

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
Destination Expert
for Tuscany
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3. Re: Car Rental Recommendations

I have indeed got rather car sick myself in the back of a car in the Garfagnana and I really don't think a vespa with 2 people on it would be powerful enough up there, let alone on the relatively lengthy journey to and from that area from Florence.

Dallas
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67 posts
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4. Re: Car Rental Recommendations

Sounds like you are going to be North of Florence? Most of what you are planning are North or East of Florence I believe. We stayed about 1/2 way between Florence and Siena, so we were South of Florence. I would definitely hit some of the hill towns. My favorite was Volterra. It's not quite as commercial and a little smaller. Also Siena was beautiful. If you can spare a day, I would visit Siena. We didn't go to Carrara, but we did drive by there on our day trip to Cinque Terre. It made for long days but we did a day trip to Cinque Terre and one to Venice. We left the apartment at 5:30 am and returned at 12:30 am on our Venice day, but it was totally worth it! Cinque Terre wasn't quite as far, but worth visiting as well, especially since you are going to be so close in Lunigiana.

If you are staying in a farmhouse apartment, you might want to stay around there for a day. Ours had wonderful views and a pool. We did a few 1/2 day excursions and went back to relax by the pool. A few other guests at the farmhouse actually spent full days just relaxing around the pool.

Hope that helps!

San Jose, California
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5. Re: Car Rental Recommendations

I live in the Casentino/Valtiberina area. The roads can be winding, not necessarily steep drop offs, but some. Though there are plenty of relatively straight roads. One of my young sons does get car sick easily but we keep the window open for him and if it is a long drive, I give him the non-drowsy dramamine.

Renting an SUV is not highly recommended as they are a nuisance to drive through areas with narrow roads and passageways and an equal pain to park. I have something equivalent to a Fiat Croma. I have fit 4 passengers and 6 larger roller duffles!

Regarding the rental of Vespas. Unless you are skilled already on any type of a motorbike, I would not recommend it Especially if you have never driven in Italy/Tuscany before. I think it is highly dangerous. Cars zip around roads, bends and hills here at incredible speeds and they are often across the lanes.

Definitely read up on road rules and road signs - in the upper right corner of the Forum, you will find articles like "Driving in Italy" and "ZTLs" - read through those. Things like roundabouts, ZTLs, etc. You will need to get an IDP - International Driver's Permit - which is available at your local AAA office for about $20. You will need a passport photo for it. Once you are here, you must carry this at all times when driving, including your passport and normal DL.

Dallas
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67 posts
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6. Re: Car Rental Recommendations

I would also suggest two drivers. We had two drivers and it was much better. The last two times I rented cars in Europe I was the only driver. It meant I had to be well rested and alert. I also missed some of the scenery on those trips. Just knowing someone else could drive was fabulous. But make sure the drivers are experienced with a stick shift. There are many times you could be stopped on a steep incline with a car right on your bumper. That leaves no room for rolling back. Do make sure to read up on road signs and rules. But our experience of driving in Italy was the rules are just suggestions for the locals. :) We still obeyed the rules. If you've driven in Europe or the UK before you will be better prepared for Italy. But just know it's a whole new driving experience. Embrace it, though. We made it through 10 days with a car with no major or minor incidents!

For the IDP, call your local AAA. It takes about 15 minutes from the time you walk in. You leave with it. If you are a AAA member it costs a little less. Also, they will take your picture there for $10. Of course, we never needed it. But had we been pulled over they police would have asked for it so it's better to be prepared.

One more thing, we opted for the full coverage insurance. It cost us about $200 extra. But the deductible is 1000 euros. We did it for peace of mind.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: Car Rental Recommendations

$700 bucks for weeks rental does not give that much car for 4 adults plus luggage. Check out the Auto Europe website and you can play with the numbers an class of cars. Also remember 90 % of the rentals are stick so keep in mind you need a talented driver to keep the rest of the group happy.

All that aside it is the only way really to get to see the best of what Tuscany has to offer.

Naperville, Illinois
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for Naperville
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8. Re: Car Rental Recommendations

Regarding the cost of car, we have rented a midsize car from Autoeurope for $900.00 for 17 days. I have found that the pickup location varies the price of the car. The airport is always more expensive, and the downtown locations seem to be a little higher than the Oltrano side of the river. Just keep plugging different pick-up locations into their website to find the best deal. Right now there is a July 4th sale. I had reserved our car a few weeks ago and the price is cheaper right now, so they refunded the difference.

Florida
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9. Re: Car Rental Recommendations

Thanks everyone, very good information. When i mentioned renting an SUV I was thinking of a Suzuki Jimny which is much smaller than the US SUVs. Does anyone have any experience renting a Jimny (or similar vehicle) in Florence?

Florida
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10. Re: Car Rental Recommendations

Chelleds, Thanks for your informative posts. We are actually staying just south of Florence in the hills. We'll spend the first 5-6 days exploring Florence and then take 2 road trips over the the next 8-9 days. The trips we are planning came from a great little book "A culinary Traveller in Tuscany (exploring & eating off the beaten track). We'll probably overnight away from Florence once or twice during those trips. One night will be in Tereglio at an Inn called La Fagiana